All of us have been drawn into simple/house churches believing that Jesus had more in mind for church than what we had been experiencing in the institutional church. At this present moment, we have the opportunity to explore more deeply Jesus’ idea of church by partnering with simple churches in Kenya in this time of their desperate need.
Let me give you some background.
In the Fall of 2006, three of my friends Greg Strand (Indianapolis) and Jan and Tina Cowles (Denver) were asked to come to Kenya by church leaders there to teach on simple church. What they found during their 16 day stay was a situation prepared by God. They ministered in several different cities but here is a comment from Greg following their 4 days of training in one of those cities called Kitale:
“Incredible conference! God has been moving powerfully. These men and women have been prepared by the Spirit with the same message we have been learning… The major training in listening to the voice of Jesus, Luke 10 teaching, community and doing life together has been readily accepted. They have a renewed vision to reach this area as the Spirit guides each one.”
Since that trip, scores of simple churches have been planted by the Kenyans in their own country and in surrounding countries. Greg and Jan and Tina have continued to stay in regular contact with the Kenyan leaders through email and phone (Skype).
In November of 2007, my friends, Roger and Brooks Thoman (Central California) traveled to Kenya to further encourage the leaders of the growing simple church movement there. Here’s what Brooks reported:
“But what I saw in Kenya, I also see in America and other parts of the world…The Reformation of the 21st Century, led by the Holy Spirit, is taking Christianity out of containers into the open spaces of the neighborhoods and nations of the world.”
Then, this last December, shortly after Roger and Brooks returned to the US, widespread violence broke out in Kenya as the result of a disputed presidential election. Thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands have lost their homes. Many of our new simple church friends have been deeply affected. Here’s an email from Isaac Cheduke to Roger just a couple of days ago on 1/31/08:
“So far since you left us I and my wife Colleta had managed to teach and multiply our Nakuru house church membership to thirty houses which has total number of 100 people. From these houses being the meeting points, people were being mentored to go and begin more house churches and continue multiplying in other surrounding areas.”
Roger – Obviously, the situation has now greatly changed and the following report is hard to even imagine:
“It’s unfortunate for us that in our process of the Good News spreading to broaden our Nakuru House church network in Kenya calamity has befallen us. All of us are displaced and our houses looted from, our businesses closed down, our women and girls raped, our members killed. Right now as I speak we need to bury ten of our members killed in this violence. Some of us have received death threats, but in the camp where we are, we have learned to stick together as a family. We pray together, read and discuss the word, sing praise and worship songs. We share our experiences and put all our trust in God. Surprising, for when we begin our services many people are joining us and we are telling them we are Nakuru House church and teaching them the gospel of multiplication. So far we have ten families which have joined us right in this camp.”
Isaac goes on the describe some of their imminent needs:
“I personally need to move my family to safety. My wife is being threatened to be raped and I have also received death threats. My two boys are not going to school anymore.” (Note from Roger: money we are sending this week has been partially earmarked specifically to get Isaac and his family to safety).
We need to bury our members who have been killed as a result of this violence. Currently there are ten bodies: 4 women, 3 men, and 3 children.
We have had three girls and five of our Nakuru house church women raped before their husbands and children. Three of them were raped with more than ten people and two of them with more than seven people. These women have not been thoroughly examined by a doctor and treated for lack of finances.
I need to move our members who are not the tribe of this place (Nakuru) to western Kenya. Otherwise they will be killed. There are ten families. What they need is only transport and Police escort. Here we pay police escort. These ten families are all numbering 30 people. Transport which includes police escort fee is KSH 3000($50) per person. Without police escort here traveling is like committing suicide…
Even though we are weak now but we are strong. Some of us have never been in such a situation, sincerely we don’t even know what to say or how to act. The more days go by the more it sinks in for us that it’s happening.”
This is where simple churches in North America and the rest of the world come in.
A number of us have felt that we are to present this situation to the simple churches here so that they can ask Papa how we are to partner with the simple churches in Kenya.
Here’s what we have done…
1. A Kenya Listening Team has been assembled. This is comprised of Greg Strand, Jan and Tina Cowles, Roger and Brooks Thoman and Dawson Mudenyo (a house church leader in Kenya). Their mission is to listen to what is going on in Kenya and to listen to what God is saying about what to do about it. Specifically, they will direct whatever funds are contributed to help in Kenya.
2. A website has been set up. Roger has set up a website to keep us informed on what is going on and what the Listening Team is hearing. http://www.simplechurchescare.com
Make sure you look at the short video at http://www.simplechurchescare.com/learn.html
Information on contributing finances is at http://www.simplechurchescare.com/donations.html
Here’s what we are asking you to do…
1. Look at the website. Take a look at the website to see what is happening. Share the info with your simple church.
2. Ask Papa. As a church, ask Papa what He want you to do.
3. Pass this on. Send this email on to other simple churches that you are in contact with.
So, here’s the bottom line.
This is an opportunity for us to step up and partner with brothers and sisters who are on the same journey we are on. We are not working through huge organizations or ministries here. We are working through relationships. I know the people on the Kenya Listening Team and I trust them. They know the house church leaders on the ground in Kenya and trust them.
Isn’t this the way we pictured simple church working?
“The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gifts to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.” Acts. 11:29,30.