Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Kenya Report

Scott and Janis were due to have arrived back in last night from their trip to Nairobi to explore opportunities for our church to partner with a school that is functioning in one of the worst slum areas of the city, right next to the city dump. They were expecting to spend the better part of the day today trying to get over jet lag, having left Nairobi on Sunday evening about 11:20 p.m. their time. We did receive 3 encouraging emails from them while they were gone. The first described their safe arrival and plans to attend a home for babies with AIDS on Friday morning. Dinner plans that evening were to meet up with an IMB couple serving in Nairobi. The wife of the couple has an aunt and uncle in our church. On Saturday they visited the school itself in the Korogocho area of Nairobi. Although school wasn't in session, the kids lined the streets to wave and scream their greetings. On Sunday morning, Scott preached in the church pastored by the man who oversees the school. A total of 7 people made decisions to trust Christ in the service. This Sunday, Scott will be sharing with the church family ways in which we can partner in this work as part of the KidsHeart Africa project. I'm including some photos of the children and of Scott and Janis with the kids at the school site.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Touching Lives in Nairobi

Our pastor and children's minister are leaving on Wednesday to explore first-hand the opportunities for our church to engage in a missions project in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. As most are well aware, the AIDS crisis has left millions of orphans in the continent of Africa. Nairobi is no exception. Dr. Harrison and Janis will be visiting in one of the worst slum areas (shantytowns) in the northeastern portion of Nairobi near the city dump. A pastor there runs a school that is meeting the needs of some 80 students each day--providing them a good meal as well as an education and sharing the love of Jesus with them. We made the connection to this ministry through two groups--CBF and Buckner Orphan Care International.

The pastor laid out just a general description of the trip and the needs in his message yesterday morning which focused on Jesus' giving of the new commandment to love one another. He made the excellent point that while the needs in Africa are absolutely overwhelming and many say that nothing can be done in the face of such pressing needs, we can at least do something. He and Janis will be meeting with the pastor of this school and exploring ways in which our church can assist this ministry among the "least of these."

In his absence this coming Sunday, I'll be preaching in the morning service on "More than Abundant Grace," using 1 Tim. 1:12-17 as a text, and springboarding into the message with an introduction based on the movie "Amazing Grace" to be released this coming weekend. The movie, in case you haven't seen the trailer, tells the story of the efforts of William Wilberforce to eradicate slavery in England, influenced by John Newton, a former slavetrader himself and author of the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Entertaining Video and Audio

Not to be outdone by some fellow bloggers with their links to entertaining videos and audios, I feel compelled to share a couple of fun links for your viewing and listening pleasure.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Missional Churches & Kingdom Priorities

I had the privilege while in Dallas last December to meet Milfred Minatrea during some quality sharing time between the leadership of the BGCT, BGAV, and the BGCM. Milfred has written an outstanding book on missional churches entitled, Shaped by God's Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches. I would like to share a couple of quotes from chapter nine of the book which deals with Placing Kingdom Concerns First.

p. 129 - "In their passion for the Kingdom of God, missional churches serve to ensure that every person has the opportunity to respond to the King's invitation, becoming part of the Kingdom. They see themselves as only one battalion of a great kingdom force deployed on earth. Other Christians are brothers and sisters serving the same master. Although their affiliation might be with different denominations, they find their primary identity as part of the Kingdom. They distinguish between essentials and nonessentials in doctrinal interpretation, value and cooperate with Christians from other traditions in Kingdom tasks, and join together in spiritual warfare against the enemy."

p. 138 - "Missional churches cooperate with other believers in pursuit of the interests of the Redeemer's Kingdom. They are not in competition with one another; rather, they stand united in opposition to the one who, through lies and schemes, seeks to divert others from the Kingdom. They value their beliefs, although they do not agree in every area of interpretation. They do not focus their passion on what separates them, but on that which unites them: the Kingdom of God. Missional churches are not building their kingdoms. Their primary allegiance is to His Kingdom."

I believe that Minatrea's description of missional churches as those whose primary commitment is to the Kingdom of God and not their own kingdoms is both refreshing and a necessary corrective to much of what takes place in typical denominational life. Denominational pride is surely one of the greatest obstacles to Kingdom expansion as it undermines Christian unity and baffles non-believers. Modern day zealots and Pharisees' overriding preoccupation with excluding those who don't cross their "t's" and dot their "i's" the same way regarding doctrines that aren't essential to salvation has most assuredly damaged the witness of the Body of Christ.

Minatrea's book is an excellent resource for churches wishing to move from a maintenance or survival mode to a pro-active, missional mindset. He cites numerous examples of churches that have effectively made that transition and gleans from their experiences some valuable principles and insights.