Pastor’s Blog – Lokichoggio 2019

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18th July 2019

The course at the MERF compound in Lokichoggio has come to an end. Twenty-one students “graduated” here and another five were sent certificates at the Kaukoma refugee camp having previously been detained by the police for a minor visa irregularity. Of the twenty-six students, twenty-two were from South Sudan – 15 Nuer, 4 Muerle and 3 Anwak. Two students were from Tanzania and two were local Turkana students. They have covered Mark’s Gospels in detail, gone through Christianity Explained and Discipleship Explored which is based on Philippians. There has been some wide-ranging theological discussion taking in some Reformation history and principles as well as the relationship between the Law of God and the gospel. They now travel back to their homes and ministries on Friday and Saturday as a new group of students arrive and the course restarts all over again. The gospel potential is great – one student for example regularly preached to over 7,000 people. He had previously received no training at all.

At the graduation I preached from 2 Timothy 2 about the Christian leader as a soldier working with endurance, an athlete with discipline and a farmer with perseverance. Let’s pray for much gospel fruit in years to come. Tomorrow I fly to Nairobi before the onward flight to London.

A photo of the students who graduated today

Singing at the Graduation

 

15th July 2019

The time has flown by and the last week of lectures is about to start. We have worked our way through Mark’s Gospel thoroughly both in a workbook and Christianity Explained. Just when I was wondering how much was being understood there was a great encouragement-a former student called Stephen arrived at the compound. I taught him in 2014. He is regularly preaching to over 700 people. He said that he is using Christianity Explained all the time using the book I gave him 5 years ago! He estimates that at least 100 people have become Christians through the Bible studies he has done with them.

We are now working our way through Discipleship Explored using the text of Philippians. It is raising many questions. This morning I have been asked to explain the subject of the millennium!

The service on Sunday went well. I preached on blind Bartimaeus from Mark 10. The students sang Amazing Grace which Klaas-Jan and I taught them last week. I am due to preach at the graduation on Thursday on the Christian leader as a soldier, athlete and farmer from 2 Timothy 2.

The humid weather has caused a few problems. The compound manager has had to leave because his daughter who lives far away is sick. His deputy has also been taken ill with malaria. This means I am pretty busy. Please pray for me to know the Lord’s grace, endurance and strength.

 

10th July 2019

We are making good progress in teaching Mark’s Gospel and should soon start Christianity Explained. The dictum of Martin Luther of hammering the gospel into people’s brains has been our constant theme.

On Sunday I preached in the church here to about 120 people, half of whom were Turkana people from the local villages. Many of them were dressed in their traditional way with rows of beads around the neck. It seems that it’s much harder to persuade Turkana men to attend as the vast majority were women. I preached on the passage in Mark 2 where the Lord Jesus Christ heals a paralysed man stressing the need to trust in Jesus as a powerful Saviour. Just before I started preaching a large tree fell down just outside the church doors which caused a stir and made a good illustration of the need to respond to the gospel without delay!

Klaas-Jan and I are well. A number of students have been unwell with malaria. There are more mosquitoes around at the moment because it has been hot and humid with heavy rain showers on some days.

Pray for us!

 

7th July 2019

Spencer and Klaas-Jan today. Spencer preached this morning and they taught a Sunday School class.

  

   

   

   

   

 

5th July 2019

The teaching here is going well. Klaas-Jan has taken the morning session on How to Prepare a Sermon. It raised all sorts of questions:

  • Was Joshua in the OT the same person as Jesus in the NT?
  • Do the OT promises to Israel now apply to believers?
  • What does it mean that Jesus brings division in a family?
  • Who were the sons of God in Genesis 6?
  • What is the difference between the content of a sermon and the context of a sermon?
  • Why is the genre of a book in the Bible important?

Wow, so many questions!

We value your prayers.

Klaas-Jan & Pastor Spencer teaching the students.

  

Enjoying a break over lunch

   

Some of our other residents!

   

   

 

2nd July 2019

We are having a good time teaching Mark’s Gospel to the students. There are lots of questions:

  • The sinlessness of Jesus
  • Why Jesus did not have a sinful human nature
  • Are babies born sinless
  • What do we mean when we say that we are saved by faith alone
  • Is baptism essential for salvation
  • What does James mean when he says that faith without works is dead etc.

So, you can see that we are being kept busy!

The weather is hot and humid, so conditions are draining.
However, we are in good shape and pressing on.

We have now settled into the teaching routine here at the MERF compound. We start with morning devotions from 8.30 am – 9.00 am

Then teaching starts in earnest 9.00 am – 12 noon with a coffee break, then 4.00 pm – 6.15 pm. The afternoon sun is very hot!

We are making progress teaching Mark’s Gospel and are nearing the end of the parable of the Sower.

More prayer points:

  1. Pray that we will continue to know the Lord’s help in teaching and be wise about the level at which we pitch the lessons. The differential between the English of the best students and those whose English is minimal is quite wide.
  2. That all the students will fully grasp and understand the gospel.
  3. Klaas-Jan is leading devotions on Friday, and I am preaching in the church on Sundays.
  4. That the main issues that we need to address will all be raised and handled. Some critical issues are raised by the students themselves asking questions.
  5. That we will continue to have good health. Some of the students are complaining about health issues – mainly caused by recurring malaria.

 

29th June 2019

We have arrived safely in Lokichoggio and are settled in our accommodation in the MERF compound. There are 21 students mostly from South Sudan but also from Kenya and Tanzania.

We have started teaching Mark’s Gospel and are having some lively discussion. The issue of original sin was particularly interesting as it seemed to be a new concept to some.

The church building here is in the process of being extended as the congregation is growing with people sitting outside the church listening to the service. The students find it difficult to believe that most people in London do not attend church on a Sunday!

Some prayer points:

  1. For the Lord’s help in teaching that we will be clear, relevant and understood.
  2. That we will have strength for the day in hot and humid conditions.
  3. For the situation in South Sudan where there is still tribal tension and that this will not unsettle the students.
  4. For the older students who are already pastors, some preaching to congregations of up to 7,000 people.

 

27th June 2019

We have safely arrived at the Mayfield Guesthouse in Nairobi and have managed some sightseeing at an elephant and giraffe orphanage before flying to Lokichoggio tomorrow at 6.30 am.

Klaas-Jan, Samson and Pastor Spencer. (Samson is Michael Gray’s friend leading the work of Vision4Kids, Kenya

 

24th June 2019 –

In a few days’ time I will be leaving for Lokichoggio, Kenya, to teach there under the auspices of the Middle East Reformed Fellowship (MERF). A student from London Seminary, Klaas-Jan Gunnink, is joining me to assist with some teaching and to introduce him to the work that goes on round the year in Lokichoggio.

MERF have a compound in Lokichoggio where students from East Africa come to receive intensive pastoral training in four blocks of teaching over three months. Most of the students are from South Sudan. We will be teaching the final block of material – Mark’s Gospel, Philippians, Exodus and various other topics. The potential for the gospel is huge. The country of South Sudan is in turmoil with internal fighting and strife, yet the population remains open to listen seriously to gospel preaching. In many rural settings whole villages will come to hear the word of God on the Lord’s Day.

Photo of students who will be training with me and Klaas-Jan.

Please pray for us that we will know God’s grace and empowering as we teach and minister. Also, we value your prayers for safety in travelling and that there will be no problems with the flight from Nairobi to Lokichoggio internally in Kenya. We may well fly with Mission Aviation Fellowship who are great partners in the work of the gospel.

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