So God tells Abram to leave his homeland, pick up his people and belongings and go to a land He would show him (Gen 12:1)! I know I’m not the only one who thinks that was daring of God. Too many others do, and if you beg to differ then let’s try this on you; quit your job, burn your every certificate, raze down your house to ashes, cut ties with even the least of your friends, pick your wife and kids (the only people worth carrying along) and go to a place I, Joseph, not God, will show you! That must be funny, right? Why would anyone in the world do such a crazy thing on account of my asking? I’m human, fallen like all others and likely a lot less wise than most. You don’t even know me beyond this blog, and if you do then you know am worse than the image my posts might create. Why would anyone trust me?
I would ask Abraham the same thing if I met him. “Why would you trust God like that?” Before you counter with how that was God, and not Joseph that he was trusting, maybe let me paint you the picture of the God he was trusting. First, this was a God he hadn’t known long; if any lady would meet a total stranger and he asked to marry her in a week, Simon Makonde kind of fast, she would know what I mean. Then, not only had he not known Him, but nobody around knew Him. Abraham was probably more famous than his God at the time. He probably knew his slaves better than he knew this God. There wasn’t a friend, or at least even a foe (the proverbial straw to clutch on) to bear witness of this God. Why would He still trust Him?
I think that what makes Abraham’s faith impressive is not the greatness of the God he trusted at the time, but rather His ‘leastness’. He trusted what every rational person would warn against. The world doesn’t boast many like him. His story inspires us, but we hardly act in reckless abandon like he did as we write our own. His faith qualifies as great because he trusted against what he would have naturally preferred (community, family, securities, wealth, etcetera) and instead for what another, God, desired. For us, our greatest faith for the most part shows when it is for the things we desire (education, marriage, career, health, et al) and not really for the purposes God seeks to accomplish through us. Run a quick survey of how many would be willing to commit their lives to serving in war ravaged places of this world if God asked so, and you will prove me right.
I know a man though. A man who I would say his faith almost borders closely with carelessness. The kind the world will scold you for while God delightfully commends you for; one with the Abraham kind of faith. His is the story I have for you today. I have no idea when he was born or what his childhood was like. I only know he is a few years older than Jesus was when he died and resurrected, and from what I see his little first born son behave like, I can accurately guess he must have been a cheeky lad growing up. My recollection of his life is not as replete with events, but the little I have of him is inspiring nonetheless. It only goes back as far as his early days in ministry.
His love for God must have intensified sometime in campus. Was it KU? I think it was. Higher learning institutions can be really influential on each of our faith journeys by the way. It tells a lot that so many will testify of either being drawn closer to God or farther from Him while there. Already sensing a passion to serve in ministry, he thought it helpful to enroll for the STEM (Short Term Experience in Ministry) program with Trinity Fellowship. From his stories, that must have been one lovely place to be in. Of course, considering that’s where he proved his mistari potent by successfully wooing this girl who would later marry him. I think it must have been an uphill climb kind of an experience. How do I know? How would you explain “men, if you can convince a whole human being with her every sense perfectly functioning to leave her life and become your wife, there’s just nothing in this world you couldn’t do” as someone’s best line of encouragement?
I’m not clear on whether it’s before he had married his wife Harriet or after, but at some point, Sam took a course called Kairos. Ask him what it was like and he’ll probably answer you with something close to “it altered my life completely. Probably left me more disoriented than I had been before.” He is not alone when it comes to feeling like that after a Kairos course. The way it brings you on page with the reality of the unreached peoples; their suffering and desperation for a truth they don’t have. How it mercilessly pierces through your understanding with the truth that we’ve had the Gospel for so long but reluctantly responded and failed to take it to the ones who need it. All that leaves you rueful, angry even. Angry at yourself. With good reasons of course. It’s only a one-week course, but with a potential to change your entire lifetime.
It did for Sam. Soon he felt the burden to reach North Africa with the Gospel. Ethiopia specifically, because it made sense to mobilize the Church there to reach its neighboring peoples and countries. He had already conquered his toughest feat on earth and married lovely Harriet. She knew the plan, and had agreed to it. No need to worry about ‘making your people my people’. Few understood them, least of all relatives. In a sense they were alone, with only God to share and a call to guide them. They would travel north by bus, perilous as it threatened to be. A flight was way above their means. The plan was set. A contact in Ethiopia? Check. Saved enough money for the tickets? Check. Someone to keep their little but treasured stuff for them should they need them someday? A friend had offered to, so check on that one too.
Just when everything was set, God redirected. What do you mean redirected? Did He suddenly stop to care that the North gets to have the Gospel or what? He still cared. Just that He cared also that I would be a part of the big story, His redemptive plan. He cared that you would be a part too. Definitely Sam and Harriet were disappointed, but their disappointment was worth it if only through their stay would a number of us be saved the regret of waking up someday near the end of our lives and realizing we missed out on the thing that mattered most while we lived. New assignment: mobilize the rest of the Church of Kenya and Africa to take the Gospel to the North! Only a man and his wife to do that? Yes. The same way through only a man, and his old barren wife God brought forth a people as countless as the stars.
You always want to pick it up from where you left it, so it made sense for them to start with Kairos. Students seemed more strategic, their energy and zeal making two indispensable gifts necessary for the big task. They took a number through Kairos, their little house serving as the venue since what they did wasn’t recognizable enough to be hosted anywhere else. For as many times as I’ve been around him sharing about that tough part of their lives, I have watched him smile. I’ve seen the slit between his eye lids joyfully fade at the memories of times when they both felt like quitting because they were dead broke and the frustrations kept piling. I’ve seen his heart assured at the recollection of how he threatened God to go for his certificates because he couldn’t bear to watch his family suffer.
Faithfully, God grew the numbers, and their credibility too. Missions Campaign Network (MCN), their organization was born. Kairos alone couldn’t serve the great need; more programs were needed. VOT (Voice of Truth), a two month (now seven weeks) missions and discipleship program would make for a great additional. Then it felt necessary to have something that would last longer and go deeper, because the demand for discipleship seemed greater. ANGAZA, a one-year mission school was the result. Today, more than 2000 individuals have gone through Kairos, 250 through VOT, and about 70 have graduated from ANGAZA. Numerous local churches have received missions training and tens of missionaries sent out to take the Good News to the unreached lands of this country (it shocked me too to find out that Kenya also has people who don’t have sufficient witness of Christ among them, when you and I know, or worse still come from places where you walk every one hundred meters and you bump into a church). Though commendable, the credits do not go to the faith of Sam and Harriet alone. They go also to the faith of husbands and wives, students, young professionals, churches, and all who believed in their vision enough to support it.
As faith, not fate, would have it, the vision now has outgrown hiring out a place for VOT and other events. It has out phased running ANGAZA in the little garage it has been two years now. (Loved the place by the way during my time there. “From the garage to the nations,” we would joke. Yet how real it is today whenever I remember those former classmates in the frontlines in Garissa and Marsabit). By God’s pure providence, a facility in Chaka, Nyeri county, that formerly served as an orphanage and had stayed unused for some five years has been offered at a very friendly rate. MCN will be moving all its programs there beginning May. The little road block to go over; a two million shillings (Kshs 2,000,000) worth of resources to start it all up. That’s where the beautiful story pauses. Not because it can’t go on, but because it waits for you to write it. With the 100, 500, 1000, 3000, 10,000, … you inscribe with your faith a name of a Somali, Moroccan, Eritrean, Libyan, Egyptian, Chinese or an Indian you may never meet until when we all gather home in heaven someday. With your giving, you help to fulfill what Abraham was promised, what Christ died for, what the disciples suffered for, and what we all should live for.
Among the resources needed are forty decker beds and eighty mattresses. A bed goes for about 10,000 and a mattress for about 3,000. You, as an individual or a group, could commit to buy one, two, or however many you can. “But, Joseph, I can’t afford any of that.” Maybe I should remind you that this is not about what you can afford. It’s about faith, and that has always been about what we can’t do. The fact we can’t is what makes it faith. It won’t be comfortable, but the eternal course for which you give makes the sacrifice worth it. There may not be any rewards for here and now. You know the promotion at work or sudden financial freedom and stuff like that? That’s on God to give you, not your giving to repay you. What I do promise is a reward in heaven, one not even I can tell you what it will be like.
If you thought this was only Abraham’s story, or Sam’s, you were wrong. It is your story too. A story God started in them with you in mind. It’s bigger than the facility in Chaka, the two million or MCN. It is The Big Story, spanning from Genesis to Revelation. It is the story of God redeeming all His creation back to Himself. It can be completed without any of us, but we will forever be incomplete without being a part of it. You may have no idea who Sam is, or myself. Should that stop you from giving? Perhaps because you think we’ve never offered any ministry to you? I don’t think so. You know who God is. You know about His Kingdom here on earth. That very God is the one we serve, and His kingdom advance. So it is to one that you know that you are giving, God!
So go, pick your pen (faith), and write your share of the story. Use any of the means provided below to send in your contribution. With the same zeal you are commanded to share the Gospel, kindly do share the knowledge of this initiative that seeks nothing but to spread the Gospel alone with everyone you know; your friend, fellowship group, church, etcetera. I know it will be done. And I hope we all will be told “well done” by the King of Glory when in heaven we reach. Blessings galore!!
How to give:
Go to MPESA menu
Select Paybill option
Enter 400200 as Business Number
Enter 01134419120900 as Account Number
Enter amount, then your MPESA pin
By Joseph Okoth
Intern at Missions Campaign Network (MCN)