Every Day is Father’s Day Around Here

This is a more personal post than most of what we write here; I hope you don’t mind. You see, I’ve been sorting through our “May” photos of this year, and I came across one I’d really like to share. This is one of my favorite pictures of Ryan:


Every year at Tulip Time here in Pella, Ryan gamely puts on his Dutch costume, and takes our children street scrubbing. I like this picture, even though it’s a bit out of focus, and the lighting is weird, and Ryan’s not even looking up – I like it because it almost looks like he’s about to soak the girls’ feet. I like to think of it as washing their feet. I love this picture because it shows Ryan doing what he does best: serving. This is just a small example, but a good one: it might be really hot at Tulip Time, or really cold, and always kind of tiring, but he’ll take them anyway. Tulip Time and all the time, he’s been putting his kids first for well over 14 years, and he never complains. He actually finds quite a bit of joy in doing so.

I was thinking of sharing this picture yesterday, which was Father’s Day (here in North America at least). But I saved it for today, for a couple of reasons. One is that over the past several years, specified “days” like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day have become very poignant for our family. Oh, we celebrate on them, and we rejoice in every one of the children that have made us a father and a mother, yet we mourn on them, too, for the children that wait for us in heaven are no less loved than the ones here with us now. Sometimes, the sorrow makes days of joy all the sweeter. Sometimes it makes us have to look hard for the light. We feel very keenly, on these days especially, that as believers in Jesus, and in His promise to wipe away every tear, we live in the already-but-not-yet of this earth. Oh, hold our tiny precious babies close, Heavenly Father, and hold us close too. It makes us feel like heaven is not so far away for a minute, when we picture all 11 of us being held in His hands.

Another thing I wanted to share, sort of in honor of Father’s Day, is this beautiful piece, full of truth and pain and love, by Eric Schumacher: Dads Hurt Too. It rings very true for our family, and maybe a father you know would be encouraged or comforted by it too. The grief of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss is not reserved for mothers. As Ryan and I have grieved, together and separately, for our children, we have drawn comfort from the strength of love we see in each other for those children. Burying our tiny son together, and then leaving him in Kenya, is the hardest thing we have ever had to do, and yet we found grace in not having to weep alone. I sure didn’t see that picture in my head when I was 24 and reciting wedding vows that included “mourn when you mourn,” but when it happened to us, how grateful I was, and am more all the time, for a husband that lives those vows out, even in fatherhood.


Back at Bridgeworld


It has been wonderful to be back at Bridgeworld College this week. It has been a very full week, teaching Preaching Apocalyptic Passages: Studies in the Books of Daniel and Revelation every day from 9.00am to 3.30pm. The class has been very well attended.


I was pleased to present 45 students and several members of Bridgeworld’s support staff with Africa Study Bibles this afternoon. The highlight, however, was presenting an Africa Study Bible to Bridgeworld’s own Professor Lois Semenye, a contributor to the Africa Study Bible. (Click on any picture below to open slideshow.)

All that’s left now is grading all of the exams, submitting my grades to the registrar, and packing for my return trip on Saturday night. A very big Asante Sana! (thank you) to all those who partnered with me on this trip, and especially to those who purchased an Africa Study Bible for a brother or sister here in Kenya. Words cannot express how excited and appreciative students have been to receive a copy of the Africa Study Bible.

Marafiki (Friends)

IMG_1244Last Friday morning I traveled across Nairobi to Bridgeworld College in Karen. As most of my time last week was spent indoors or inside compounds at Deliverance Church and the Wang’ombes’ home, I was eager to get out and explore Karen on Friday afternoon. So, after greeting the staff at Bridgeworld, taking tea with Dr. and Mrs. Lee (principal of Bridgeworld), and getting settled in my guest room on campus, I borrowed the office car and visited our old neighborhood and the places we often shopped. There was one friend, John, our gardener, that I was delighted to meet on the street. There were some others, herds of Maasai cattle that can create traffic jams, that I was not as delighted to meet again.

I was grateful to spend time on Saturday morning at the prayer garden where Findley is buried. I was glad to see that the rose bushes we planted, though not in bloom, survived the drought, and I was again deeply grateful for the counseling center’s kindness to our family and for their care of Findley’s grave.

Saturday afternoon I reconnected with Phil & EJ Blohm, dear friends of ours in Nairobi. We enjoyed a late lunch together before attending a Hillsong concert that evening.

Sunday morning I worshiped and preached at St. Matthew’s ACK, our home-away-from-home church in Karen. It was wonderful to see so many friends. (Click on any picture to open slideshow)

Because the service included both a baptism and the Lord’s Supper, it was a bit longer (2 1/2 hours) than usual (2 hours).

I was delighted to see the school that the church is building. (Click here for an earlier post about and pictures from the construction.) The first two classrooms are now complete. Because they will begin using them tomorrow, the congregation had a special time of prayer in them after this morning’s worship service. While we thank God for these classrooms, we know that there is still much work to be done. The church hopes to complete two more ground floor classrooms yet this calendar year and four first-floor (aka second-floor in North America) classrooms next year.  They are also praying that by the end of next year, when all eight classrooms are complete, they will be able to purchase a bus for the school.

Finally, on Sunday evening I enjoyed tea and dinner with Guy & Susan Rainsford, our across-the-street neighbors in Karen. Our girls especially enjoyed their time with the Rainsford’s daughters Josie and Rehemma during our time in Kenya last year.

Tomorrow my one-week intensive course, Preaching Apocalyptic Passages: Studies in Daniel and Revelation, begins at Bridgeworld College. Classes will be held Monday through Friday from 9.00am-3.30pm. Please pray for stamina and endurance.

School of Preaching 2017

IMG_1149.jpgToday is the final day of at the School of Preaching 2017. It has been a full but truly delightful week. Sessions have been held each morning, Monday to Thursday, from 8.30am-12.30pm. Along with daily lectures on the book of Daniel, I taught sessions on expository preaching, preaching Christ from the Old Testament, and sermon design and delivery.

35-40 people attended the sessions each morning, and all who attended morning sessions received an Africa Study Bible from a brother or sister in North America. Asante sana!

The School of Preaching also includes evening sessions from 6.30-8.30pm. During these sessions, I preached a sermon (45-60 minutes!) on a passage in Daniel, demonstrating what was taught in the morning sessions. Over 130 people have attended these sessions each evening, including a former student from Bridgeworld College and his bishop.


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Former Bridgeworld College student Philip Masiolo and Bishop Florence

Peterson and Ann Wang’ombe and their family have been wonderful hosts during my time in Kahawa Sukari. Peterson is the pastor of Deliverance Church, where the School of Preaching is held. I look forward to returning the hospitality, and possibly the birthday party – I was with the Wang’ombes for Ann’s birthday; Peterson will be in Pella over Graeme’s birthday – in a few short weeks when Peterson comes to Pella.


Tomorrow morning I travel across Nairobi to Bridgeworld College in Karen, where I’ll be teaching a one-week intensive course, Preaching Apocalyptic Passages: Studies in Daniel and Revelation, from September 11-15. Being in Karen over the weekend will give me the opportunity to spend time at Findley’s grave, with the Blohms, dear friends of our family who live in Nairobi, and to preach and worship at St. Matthew’s ACK (our home-away-from-home church; see the second half of this post).

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph. 6:19)


Karibu Kenya!

I received a wonderfully warm Karibu (Welcome to) Kenya last Friday evening. After 20+ hours of travel, I was grateful to meet Lee, a staff person from Deliverance Church – Kahawa Sukari, at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. I was also warmly welcomed by Pastor Peterson & Anne Wang’ombe when we arrived at their house, where I will be staying this week. Though it was late – nearly midnight when I arrived at their home – they had a delicious dinner prepared.

The biggest news story in Kenya on Friday was the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding the country’s recent presidential election. I first saw the news while waiting in line to clear immigration and customs at Kenyatta Airport. Citing irregularities in the reporting process, the Supreme Court declared the recent presidential election null and void and ordered that a new election be held in two months. That a court would declare an election null and void is a first, not only for Kenya, but also for Africa. Given the violence that followed the 2007 presidential election, people are anxiously watching and waiting to see what happens. So far things have been calm. Things appeared quite normal when Peterson and I drove through downtown Nairobi on Saturday afternoon to pick up Africa Study Bibles for the participants at this week’s School of Preaching.

This morning I preached at the English and Kiswahili (with a translator!) services at Deliverance Church – Kahawa Sukari. The church is currently decorated with the red, white, green and black colors of the Kenyan flag. Pastor Peterson explained that especially during election seasons people are easily divided along tribal lines. Politicians are known to exploit these divisions. The church includes strong supporters of both presidential candidates and members of many tribes. The national colors are meant to encourage people to identify themselves as Kenyan before they identify themselves with their particular tribe. Especially after the violence of 2007, people are anxious to promote national unity and peace.

IMG_1089The English service also featured two Egyptian missionaries who are visiting Kenya. They both currently live in Muslim-majority country in the Persian Gulf region. I was very convicted by their deep appreciation for the freedom of religion in Kenya. Both noted how openly Kenyan Christians talk about their faith, something I rarely experience in the United States. They also spoke about how privileged they were to be involved in street evangelism and crusades in Kenya, something that could not happen in their country of origin or their current countries of residence. Such things could surely happen in the United States. Why don’t they? There is so much we can learn from our Kenyan brothers and sisters!

I will be at Deliverance Church this week Monday through Thursday for the School of Preaching. Sessions will be held each morning (8.30am-12.30pm) and each evening (6.30pm-8.30pm) from Monday through Thursday. The topic is: “Dictators and Dreams: Studies in the Book of Daniel.”

Asante Sana!

Just a quick note to say a big Asante Sana! (Thank you very much!) to everyone who contributed to my upcoming trip to Kenya or who contributed to provide an Africa Study Bible for a student at Bridgeworld College. I am thrilled to report that I’ve met my fundraising goal with Resonate Global Mission (formerly CRWM), and that I’ve received commitments to purchase approximately 100 Bibles (more than twice my goal!) for students at Bridgeworld College.

It’s hard to believe that in less than a week I’ll be boarding a plane for Nairobi (or, actually, for Chicago, then London, then Nairobi – it’s a long travel day!). I greatly appreciate your prayers as I finish preparing the two courses that I’ll be teaching, as I travel to Kenya, and as our family is apart for slightly more than two weeks. I’ve never been away from Jody and our children for such a long period of time before, and I’m sure I’ll experience some home-sickness and loneliness, even as I enjoy reconnecting with friends in Nairobi.

Speaking of friends in Nairobi, I’m delighted to announce that Rev. Dr. Waihura (Peterson) Wang’ombe, the pastor of Deliverance Church-Kahawa Sukari, where I’ll be preaching on September 3 and teaching from September 4-7, will be in Pella in early October. Peterson is enrolled in the distance M.Div. program at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids. He’ll be coming to the States for a class in October and visiting Pella between October 1 and 8. Come hear him preach at Faith Church on October 8 at 9.30am!

Along with his work at Deliverance Church, Peterson is working with Resonate Global Mission (formerly CRWM) in Eastern and Southern Africa to establish the Nairobi Transformational Network. If you’re in Southcentral Iowa and would like to meet Peterson to learn more about his work and how you can support him, please “drop me a note” through this blog. (Click on the images below to see Waihura’s brochure.)



Not Chained…

“But God’s Word is not chained.” (II Timothy 2:9)

Since learning about it last fall via an article published on Christianity Today, Jody and I have eagerly followed the development of and eventual launches of the Africa Study Bible. We were delighted to attend the North American launch celebration at Moody Bible Institute (Chicago, Illinois) in early April, where we spent two days learning from and worshiping with some of the African scholars who contributed to the study Bible.


Two story lines converged in the development of the Africa Study Bible. First, convinced that the New Living Translation (NLT) is the most accessible English translation of Scripture for those for whom English is a second, if not third or fourth, language, as it is for many Africans, Dr. Danny McCain, a professor at the University of Jos (Nigeria) contacted Tyndale House about producing a revision of the NLT specifically for Africa. Second, Oasis International, an important publisher and distributor of Christian books in Africa, wanted to produce a uniquely African study Bible. Tyndale House kindly permitted Oasis to use the NLT for their project and connected Oasis with those who produced the Life Application Study Bible, currently the best-selling study Bible in the world.

It was a perfect match: Oasis International could provide the network of over 300 African pastors and scholars who contributed to the study Bible, while Tyndale House could provide the technical expertise needed to produce a study Bible. Those who helped produced the Life Application Study Bible were thrilled. While the Life Application Study Bible has been translated into 30+ languages and is distributed around the world, that was never its authors’ and editors’ intention. Rather than translate their western-oriented notes, the authors and editors hoped that Christians in other cultural settings would produce their own culturally-relevant and appropriate articles and notes for the NLT, resulting in much more immediately applicable and pertinent to their settings, yet still faithfully orthodox, study Bibles. This is exactly the case for the Africa Study Bible – the world’s first study Bible with notes and articles written by Africans to apply God’s Word to African issues such as polygamy, witchcraft, and ancestor worship.

I was delighted to learn that the Africa Study Bible is being distributed in Nairobi. It would be an extremely practical, helpful, and meaningful thing if I could make a copy available to each student attending the block course I am teaching at Bridgeworld College in September.

Here’s where you come in:

The cost of the ASB is about $25 USD, and I estimate needing 40 copies.  If you would like to personally help encourage and equip pastors and teachers in Kenya, please consider donating a Bible – or even several!  You can send the funds directly to me, (use the “Drop Us a Note link above to request paypal info, or mail a check to me at home – 215 E. 12th St., Pella IA 50219) along with a short note to the student who will receive the Bible. I will ensure that both end up in the hands of someone who can and will use the Bible to further the gospel in Kenya and beyond. This tangible expression of love and hope from Christians around the world will be incredibly meaningful to believers in Africa. Thank you for helping to place God’s Word in the hands of God’s people. It is a gift with eternal value, beyond our comprehension, and full of the power of the Holy Spirit.

“As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
    without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
    so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)