World Outreach in East Africa
Acts 14:7-15 contains an amazing story of healing at Lystra. The written account is clear: the customs, language and superstitions of people played a prominent role in how God's power was interpreted in ancient times. Obviously misunderstanding abounded. Misinterpretations are no less a problem today. Whenever the Gospel is announced in regions where citizens are unfamiliar with Christ the living God, either the Sun of righteousness will become visible or real to them or they may come to believe erroneously that a demon or native god is manifesting itself in a new way. I've seen it all before. Awareness of native traditions is helpful to any missionary endeavor. Two months ago my wife and I participated in a city-wide campaign among the Kikuyu people, the largest tribe in Kenya. Islam had made inroads there years ago. A pastor wanted some help. I wanted to be of some assistance to him. So a few years ago, I preached at night in Arabic on the local radio station there in order to aid the Christians in their resistance of Islamic proselytism.
The place is rife with other odd beliefs and practices. Cults of all kinds are overspreading the area. Ancestral religions, too, remain strong within some influential families. One Kenyan Pastor, who oversees a Full Gospel a movement along the Kenya/Uganda border, traveled a long distance to request repeatedly that I come to minister in his territory: a region where curses still are performed by witch-doctors, holding those who are fearful of them in bondage; a place where children often are kidnapped and sacrificed to evil spirits; an area where a few wives continue to copulate with their deceased husbands' corpses long after they have died. Of course the light of Christ is needed in such places. Over the years we have conducted various meetings in the Middle East and in Kenya, all of which have been extremely fruitful. So again we returned.
In the city-center of Nyeri, Kenya, our host church had established an upper room from which a mass of downtown city workers could hear God's word preached. Each afternoon the loudspeakers covered the area with African praise and worship. One by one people from all segments of society made their way to these hallowed grounds, drawn by the lively music, and at times by our preaching. Praise the Lord for the power of God unto salvation! One young man comes to mind. He was in desperate straits. His immediate family was a mess: family members had burned down his mothers' business twice, and his father's life was being destroyed through alcohol etc.
Indeed his story was not unlike that of thousands of others; but having lost everything, and while wandering through the streets, he heard me preaching from Habakkuk 3:2. He then came into the meeting and fell under deep conviction. Later my wife and I and our host pastor led him to the Lord as he knelt on the floor. We observed how tears of repentance gave way to tears of joy immediately as the fist of God beat back the clouds of despair in his life. Youth discover a marvelous thing when they find hope. In my final service an invitation to come forward to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was extended. Oh what a joy it was to see these souls filled to overflowing. Languages inspired by the Holy Ghost suddenly burst forth from their lips. Its a great day to be alive, and to God be the glory for furnishing another Day of Pentecost among the Kikuyu!
In the next installment we will share testimonies (and some needs) from some of WMF's dynamic workers in the mission field. Please pray for them. So press in and pull hard folks because Jesus is coming soon!