As much fun as it was gallivanting through the London streets, I confess: I breathed a sigh of relief as Bill and I boarded our final flight.  This second red-eye (from London to Nairobi) proved a little more true to its name.  (Excitement?  Nerves?  Vertical tilt?  Let’s just say it was thrilling to hear our flight crew announcing arrival in Nairobi.)

Getachew (far left below), our in-Kenya co-host (along with Alison Barfoot, next photo) met us on the other side of customs.  They took us for an American breakfast and then directly to our guest house to nap.  (Do these guys know how to welcome foreigners or what?!  Their gracious hospitality during every moment of our stay continues to blow my mind!)

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After a nice long nap for recovery (I’ve never been good with that “don’t sleep jet-lag recovery” strategy), Bill & I spent the afternoon swapping life-stories with Alison & Getachew.  One of Bill’s friends/seminary classmates, Mueni, (who lives in Nairobi) stopped over for about an hour of conversation.  (We’ll get more time with her next week.)  In the evening, the entire crew (minus Mueni) met up with my dear friends, Luke & Lillian (and, of course, their three beautiful children).  It was a wonderful reunion of old friends and new–an easy and delightful “first day” on the ground in Nairobi.

Things are beginning to ramp-up.

Today, Bill & I woke up early to join Mueni and her father, Motava, for the 7 a.m. Anglican service in downtown Nairobi.  It was fun to see that part of the city; the morning’s liturgy was beautiful.  We returned to our guest house just in time to depart again w/Getachew and Alison for church at Evangelical Victory Church (EVC).

The rest of today was spent in worship and fellowship with folks from this congregation.  They are an amazing faith-community, located in the Kairobangi slum neighborhood of Kenya.  (We’re told this is the second largest slum in Kenya, after the more infamous Kibera.)  EVC is known as the “church on the road” because of it’s position (you guessed it) … smack in the middle of a road.  There has been some tension with the Kairobangi leadership/government? (no surprise) and the church is under pressure to relocate, but … where?!img2008-11-16_0024

Literally thousands of people gather together for Sunday morning worship.  The children’s services are so large … EVC now hosts them as separate early morning events (plural form here, since the number of children in attendance requires several gathering spaces).  Then it’s on to Swahili/Women’s Fellowship services (9-11am), corporate worship (11am – 2:00pm), and — finally — the EVC youth servcies (4-6pm).

Several of the pastors/workers we’ll be serving together with during our conference (beginning tomorrow) spent the day with us.  (One of whom is Pastor Woche, pronounced “ho-chey” … sort of!)  Many of them have been working with this EVC congregation for years.  They describe this church as the “missional engine” behind the ministry happening in N/NE Kenya.  (The work Bill & I have traveled to learn about and – in some small way – support.)  Each of the stories we hear continues to increase my own (1.) disbelief in God’s power/goodness (how can it be that God has done this?!) and (2.) sobriety that I have been invited here, to join in fellowship with my brothers/sisters.  (Today at church, we heard testimony from a young man who accepted Christ two weeks ago.  Part of a rebel militia group, he had for years lived to seek revenge for his brother’s murder, claming the lives of many … until God transformed him through the Gospel of Christ.)

This evening, the conference leadership team we’re a part of met to discuss our specific “plans” (always held loosely here) and the conference participants themselves.  The stage is set for significant ministry & training.  Please be in prayer for traveling mercy (we’ll spend 5-6 hours in a jeep tomorrow; many of the conference participants will have been traveling for days).  Pray also for the cultural translation that needs to take place in the coming days.  (Five different languages were employed in today’s service at EVC, if that gives you any idea; the conference will involve even more diverse – and strategic – leaders.  I’m told nine out of the ten tribes listed as “unreached people groups” in N. Kenya will send representation to our gathering.)  Pray also for the reconciliation of Christ to find full expression as we all gather.  (Many are coming despite long-standing tribal grievances … to say nothing of the cultural/economic/social diversity inherent in our group.)

Only God can assemble, equip, bless, and use a group like this.

Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4

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the adventure begins …

November 16, 2008

Okay: not a lot of time here on the ground, so I’ll make this a quick photo-journal-project.  (With more & better commentary later?)

Jt & Bill in Chicago … Jt & Bill in London.  (Sorry: I forgot to snap a shot upon arrival in Nairobi for that really “not-so-fresh” look!  Trust us.)

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With a 6 hour layover in London, Bill & I began w/aspirations of checking out the “newly acclaimed” terminal 5 at Heathrow’s Int’l Airport.  (Our terminal 4 was desperately wanting, with shops/restaurants under construction at every glance.)  When security wouldn’t allow us exploration on the “inside” … Bill and I determined to play hardball.  (Take this, you policy enforcers, you.)  Yes, we went awol …

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And took our exploration outdoors via London’s tube … (we do have six hours, we kept saying to ourselves).

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We saw Wellington’s Arch …

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We stopped by Buckingham Palace …

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We visited Parliament.  (“Look kids, Big Ben!”)  BUT did we make our flight to Nairobi … ?!

while in kenya …

November 12, 2008

I’ll be supporting workers who care for the Borana peoples.

evening scripture

November 10, 2008

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.  Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4

the countdown is on …

November 10, 2008

In less than three days, I’ll be boarding a plane for Nairobi, Kenya.  My friend/colleague, Bill Gorman, is joining me for the big adventure!  Together, we’ll be exploring the prospect of more long-term partnership (what it might look like for folks from my community here in KC to engage in collaborative-relationship with our Kenyan brothers & sisters).

One of the most exciting things about my travel is a reunion of sorts with one of my grad-school classmates & his family: Luke & Lillian Jaoko.  We became close friends during my years in Chicago.

Here’s Luke with his youngest, Sheenah (born during our last year of seminary).  My roommate & I broke with all cultural-sensitivity and threw the Jaoko’s one big-phat-baby-shower.  (Complete with the competitive relay: “cell-phone-on-your-ear, baby-on-your hip, laundry-basket-in-your-hand … hanging-clothes-on-the-line.”  My team kicked-butt.)  But I digress …memory-card-1-pictures-045

Luke & Lillian: two of the most heroic people I will ever meet.  I’m incredibly honored to know them; ecstatic about our reunion.

Sobered by the many other heroes I will be meeting in the coming weeks.  (I’m dousing myself in Ephesians 4 these days; praying some of it will somehow get down deep inside me.)  Your prayers for God’s gracious work in and through me are coveted …

evening scripture

November 9, 2008

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From Him, the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4

evening scripture

November 8, 2008

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.  This is why it says “When he ascended, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”  (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower earthly regions.  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe.)  It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4