After a long journey, our team has made it safely to Kenya and are resting up getting ready for their first day of Orientation and meeting with their sponsor children! Here are some pictures of the team tour Dubai on their layover.
Our day started out with a prayer. Fred & I asked God to show us his heart. For the first time, I was able to walk through the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. At first glance, it looks like old run down shops amongst dirt roads and trash. Crowded shacks with children running in and out of them. Kind of like something you’d see in a movie. There are people standing around—some laborers , some mothers, and some men. I wondered if maybe the people of the slums would be skeptical of our visit or if they’d feel offended by our being there. I mean, if you think about it, we were literally foreigners ready to walk into their homes with nothing to offer but a smile. But this was not the case.
The minute we stepped off of the bus, we were greeted and welcomed by the people. They were thankful that we traveled so far to come and be with them.
My heart just about exploded when the kids came out to see us. They were filled with joy and affection, and whether or not I was prepared to share mine, they were ready to receive it from me. There were no boundaries when it came to their feelings toward us and I’m thankful to God for that.
My favorite moment today was meeting Helen, a mother of 5 and grandmother to 2 grandchildren who all live in the same area. She welcomed us into her very small shanty home where she and her family live. The five of us (Fred, Maureen, Tim, Edmond, and myself) with barely enough room to sit in her home, sat there as she shared with us about her family.We were fortunate enough to meet her grandchildren and hear that her grandson is attending the MoHi school, the school we partner with in sponsoring children. Knowing that he is able to attend this school means that there is hope for this family. The faithfulness of our church is helping bring hope to what seems to be a hopeless community. Her granddaughter is on the waiting list to get sponsored .
God showed me the gentleness of his heart today. He showed me that it’s not about what you have, but about who you have, that brings value to your life.
Jesus is the hope. Jesus is the value. He is the way, the truth and the LIFE.
Thank you to everyone who made this possible for me see. It’s only been one day and I’ve already witnessed so much beauty.
“Today marked a day that was 7 years in the making. It was seven years ago that my wife and I decided to sponsor a child together – we had just gotten married and our home church at the time was doing a big child sponsorship push. The Bible says quite clearly to take care of the orphans, the fatherless, the widows, and those less fortunate. Our prayer was not if we would sponsor, but who we would sponsor. We distinctly remember walking over to the table after service and despite seeing many of child sponsorship cards, there she was. She had just had a birthday and my wife’s birthday was just days away. Her picture on the card beamed with joy. Who would have guessed that even though my wife and I walked into church that day with no children, we would return home that afternoon with a little five year-old girl who would enter our lives even though she lived some 12,000 miles away. Our little girl, Agnes, would get two healthy meals per day, a Christian education, healthcare, and a support system that she would not have otherwise had. And for the last 7 years, she has received this. I don’t share this to glorify our work, but rather highlight that even though it’s so simple to sponsor, it changes the trajectory of a child’s life for their time here on earth, but also for eternity.
Then today, May 1, 2017, I finally had the opportunity to meet our now not-so-little girl as she is ready to celebrate her 13th birthday next week. We had prepared a bag filled with her favorite things. Her shy, yet confident smile widened with each passing moment. What was she most excited for? The dress? No. The socks? No. The candy? No. The art supplies? No. It turns out that the two things she wouldn’t stop looking at were the hand written letter and the family photo we took just a couple weeks back at one of the Crossroads’ Easter services. She cherished these two things above all else. We talked about our favorite things, our families, her favorite subject in school, and what she aspired to be. Then came the greatest moment of all. For years we prayed for Agnes from half way around the globe. But today, I sat across from her, held her hands, and prayed for her – face-to-face. As we hugged good-bye, I began to think about what our lives here would be like without her in it. Even though we have two children of our own now (ages 5 and 2), our lives wouldn’t be complete. Today marked a day that was 7 years in the making. And it will be a day that I will never forget.
I woke up really looking forward to today. Yesterday was so heavy– walking the slums, meeting with families, meeting my family’s sponsor child, seeing the three school locations– so much to take in and process in one day. I went to sleep drained emotionally.
Today we shifted gears a little. We started our day like the previous day, 6 AM breakfast followed by prayer for our day and a crazy bus ride to the school. The difference began on arrival as we started to set up our gear for worship. It felt more normal. We were getting ready do what we love, but in Africa! Wow.
After we figured out power and a had a 10 second-or-so sound check, we jumped right into “Let it be Known”. Man did it feel good to play worship and have the people here just jump right in and praise with us. As we played on, more worship leaders, pastors, and church leaders arrived. Tim spoke with purpose and then we broke out into our workshops to teach these very eager people.
I was paired with Charles to teach on the music side of worship. I was amazed at how engaged they were to speak with us. To listen and learn. They have many of the same questions about worship we have back home. What’s appropriate, what’s not, what is secular, what is praise, how much flash is too much? Such great conversations with a people wanting to give God their very best when they have so little.
Today I learned so much about them and I cannot wait to play and teach again tomorrow. While the days are long and the bus rides crazy, I wouldn’t change a thing. As I debriefed with my team at the end of the day, we shared a high and a low with each other. My high was hearing Tim preach on the heart of worship, being moved by it, convicted, and then immediately getting to teach on that very topic myself. It was so real and honest. My low was that it went by so fast and I would’ve liked more time with them. God is moving here in giant ways and there is no doubt about it. I expect tomorrow will be spectacular again.
Today we kicked off our first day of worship arts training, and I can’t even put into words how amazing it was! Imagine 40+ locals from the surrounding churches gathered in an outside tent, hungry to receive training from our team to better understand what worship is. To learn sound/tech, drums, guitar and how to sing properly. Why? To reach more of their community for Jesus! We started with a few praise and worship songs that lead into a devotion time on what “the heart of worship” is, which was awesome because we got to sing the song together! After that, we broke into our different training sessions– instrumentalists, tech, and vocals. Seeing their passion to improve just made my heart so happy! They were so focused in the vocal class I took part in teaching. They made sure they learned every breathing exercise and warm up that Laura, Maureen, and I taught. We also got to teach them a portion of the song “Everlasting God” from Fellowship Church, which turned out spectacular and sounded so beautiful! The Q&A was also exciting, hearing that they aren’t that different from us, and they deal with the same issues we do back home. Here are just a few of the examples of what they asked us:
“How do I communicate with the not-so-skilled singer, or instrumentalists?”
“What is a diaphragm, and how do I breath properly when I’m preaching or singing?”
“How do we have better stage presence?”
We really were able to connect with one another, and by the end of the teaching session, we were all Family; all with one goal in mind and that’s to see the name of Jesus lifted up! We sang “Lord You are Good” and closed in prayer. There was such an excitement in the air! I can’t wait to see everyone again tomorrow for some more intense training!
Today was another amazing day. We had our Day 2 of Worship Arts training, continuing where we left off from the previous day. This time around we got to know everyone better, calling them on first name basis, and they opened up to us better. We had more conversations, sharing our struggles and victories.
I’m just still so overwhelmed with emotions. We’ve been in country for 4 days, and each day has brought new experiences, giving me a sense of purpose of why God has brought us to this place.
Kenya is a wonderful country, with stunning landscape, delicious food, and wonderful people. The urban landscape is not too different from any capital city in the world, but when we surveyed the community in the slums, my heart just stopped… This is all too real, and all too sudden, and it takes me awhile to grasp this new reality.
But somehow, the Spirit of the Lord has brought us here together, and I know that whenever God moves different people from different backgrounds and cultures to commune together in one place, He’s planning for something big to happen.
Please continue praying for tomorrow, our last day of training, and also for Friday and Saturday’s revival meetings.
Pray for unity among us. We have people from Nairobi Chapel, and also Missions of Hope International joining together for this last phase of this trip. We just had a meeting with everyone involved, and looking across the room, I’m reminded of Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is when brothers unite in unity… for that’s where God commands the blessing.
That’s what God wants. He wants a family of people from all nations and tongues to worship him in unity.
Today was an eventful day! It was our second day of the training with worship leaders and pastors from some of the surrounding churches in Pangani.
Before we even started, we made the rounds saying hello to those we met the day before, or making new friends as we greeted them.
Yesterday, Tim taught on the Heart of Worship and I had the privilege of teaching on “The Philosophy of Worship”.
In preparation of this message, I really tried to make sure that it was first an offering to God before it was a presentation to his people. And God, in His usual fashion, showed up. I love when He does that!! 😊
I am so humbled by these pastors and worship leaders who are so hungry for instruction and direction when it comes to setting up a worship service that strives to point people to God!
After the opening session and after the customary “Chai time”, we were able to transition into our break-out session. This part was so much fun!
Laura, Ricky, Fred and I were responsible for teaching vocal technique and stage presence. We were able to share some practical tips on setting up and working with teams, as well as understanding that stage presence does matter.
Wow!!! They were like a sponge soaking up everything we had to share, frantically writing it down, and raising their hands to ask question after question.
I loved every moment of it! And when Laura, Ricky, and I got to debrief about the session we taught…we all agreed that we absolutely loved speaking into their lives about the “tricks of the trade” which others have previously poured into ours when it came to worship leading. What a blessing that was!
At the end of the day, we had a Q&A session. As they were asking us more questions about how pastors and worship leaders serve in the church, or how to handle difficult people on the worship team, or to developing a worship team, and what the role of the Holy Spirit is, God decided to let it rain! As it began to rain, they stuck around and continued to ask questions desiring to know more and not allowing the rain to hinder their opportunity to grow. Their soft spoken voices and gracious hearts have left me speechless.
Here are just a few moments that impacted my life since we’ve been here:
These are just a few of the life-changing moments I encountered. This trip is truly life-changing and I count it a privilege to be here serving with the team I get to serve with at Crossroads.
I am grateful to God because He has expanded my vision and purpose in life by being here in Kenya. Thank you Lord for an extraordinary experience! I know for me, I will never be the same!!
Today marks our fourth day in country, and what a beautiful day it was. We woke up to another hot and delicious Grace House breakfast, circled up to pray, and loaded into the bus to head to our last day of the worship arts training.
The morning was definitely bittersweet. On one hand it felt good to have accomplished our first major project for the trip…but on the other, we knew it meant we would have to say goodbye to our friends whom we’ve spent so much quality time with the last few days. It has been such a blessing and a privilege to serve these wonderful people. They are so kind and gracious and in love with the Lord. Every moment spent with them has made me feel closer and closer to Jesus and His heart. Their generous smiles and encouraging words have reminded me why I LOVE coming to Kenya.
We concluded the training by having our team pray over and anoint each of the participants. It was such a powerful and rich time of ministry. We prayed for protection and provision. We prayed for boldness and effectiveness. We prayed for healing and freedom. We prayed for families. We prayed for churches. We prayed that these incredible brothers and sisters of ours would go forward confidently in the calling God has on their lives, and that they would be filled with and led by the Holy Spirit. And then we gave hugs and handshakes and said goodbye… until we meet again.
I love international missions because I’m forced to step out of my comfort zone and travel thousands of miles to invest in and serve others. But because this is my third trip to Kenya, it’s starting to feel like a second Home, and I’m not sure I could say I’m that “uncomfortable” any longer…not here among my Kenyan family, that is.
Hello Everyone, I don’t usually get to write stories because I am usually the one making videos to show you what a mission trip looks like and not telling it myself.
Today was the first day of our conference and there were hundreds of students worshipping Jesus and about 2/3 of the room responded to Pastor Chucks invitation to accept Jesus! I am so humbled that I get to serve alongside such an incredible team and staff.They have been working really hard and we were definitely able to see the fruit of their labor during our first day of the conference!
There was a moment where our team led us through 10,000 reasons and the place exploded with passion and everyone worshipped with everything they had!! This brought me to tears and the Lord’s presence was so heavy and tangible in the building! I know that the worship was heard and His presence was felt by the people in the nearby community!! Being able to work with 100’s of children with a smile on their face and the love for Jesus in their heart has given me a continued passion to reach the next generation!
Every day has been filled with something new! Craig, Lisa and I were able to see how God is expanding the ministry of Missions of Hope when we visited a place called Turkana. This was a 2 day exploratory trip that we were able to go on while our team was preparing and training the Missions of Hope staff and pastors for worship and for the conference!
Mary and Wallace started Missions of Hope with 50 children. Through the children they have reached the community and now have over 15,000 kids in the school! They have brought change into homes, they are being educated and exposed to the gospel and discipleship. They train the community members and empower them to make a difference in their own areas and now all of this is being repeated in the area of Turkana! The work was identical to what we have seen in Nairobi!
This is my 3rd time to Kenya and I feel like it has become a second home for me, the people are so loving and always receive us with open hearts.
I think my most favorite moments were the children!! Getting to see their smiles and watching our team love on them with fist bumps and hugs for every single one of them!
So many amazing events have happened on this Trip. It was jam-packed from the moment we got off the plane.
Day 1: Orientation and meetings with our sponsored children. We also toured the new construction of the Kiamaiko school building that Crossroads, in partnership with Summit Church in Reno, have provided funds for. It’s a 3 year dream now seeing the first 4 floors constructed. We can’t wait to see the first tower finished which will accommodate 600 children. The second tower will begin after the first is finished. Once both towers are completed they will accommodate all 1,200 children!
Days 2-4: Worship arts training for 40 worship leaders and pastors.
Days 5-6: Ignite Youth Conference, where nearly 1,000 youth experienced a worship concert. Each amazing speaker, in addition to the breakout sessions, explored the current challenges and potential growth of the next generation. There were 36 baptized and many more who accepted Christ.
One of the most exciting things for me was to see how the Kenyan churches united in partnership with Missions of Hope and Crossroads to make this event impactful. It has begun a movement of unity and powerful change in the lives of those who attended. MOHI staff are still counseling and following up with those who made a decision for Christ and are preparing them for the next steps.
Day 7: We split our team, with some attending the Kiamaiko Church where Pastor Chuck preached. Then Tim, Tyler, Charles & Ricky led worship at Nairobi Chapel, one of the biggest churches in Kenya. Later that day we were off to Massai Mara.
Day 8: We spent some time touring the public school we support, and played soccer with the children. We enjoyed sharing some worship songs with them as well.
Day 9: This was Safari day. We all enjoyed seeing God’s beautiful creation as we set out before sunrise, then later finished off the day with a sunset safari. As many times as I have had the privilege of taking teams on safari, it never gets old!
For me, this time in Kenya also included 2 exploratory trips to see new works. This is definitely the hardest part of my job, for there is so much need in the world, and I just feel helpless at times. Craig, Noe and I went to Turkana on day 2 & 3 and travelled to 3 locations. Two of these were very remote. We looked at 2 public schools who have partnered with MOHI. The majority of children at these school are boys. Most girls don’t have a fighting chance at school since they are married off at such a young age. The challenge is for the girls and their parents to realize that an education is truly the way to move past their circumstances. Their needs ranged from building a small classroom and kitchen to basic supplies such as desks, books, and of course the opportunity to sponsor children. Again the needs overwhelmed me, as working with government schools can be very challenging.
In Massai Mara, Pastor Chuck, Pam, Tim & I drove two hours to see a new water opportunity in a remote area. Members of the community were waiting for us when we arrived. They held a meeting and pleaded their case with us for the immediate need for a well in their community. Women have to walk 12.5 miles to get water. They can only carry so much at a time. So obviously this makes for very long days! One of the community members is a school teacher. She expressed her frustration as the children will ask for water and she has none to give them. The water they do collect is not clean, leaving many health issues which could be avoided if they had clean water. Pastor Chuck gave a short devotional and prayed for God to provide the water that is needed.
An interesting story about this community is that about 3 years ago, Tim, Brett Macintosh and myself did a Pastor’s conference on leadership. Pastors came from miles to attend. Pastor James, who pastors over this particular area, was one who had attended. He had joined us for worship with the team 3 years ago and had said, “I know this is goodbye and we may never meet again, but we will see each other at the feet of our Lord some day.” God had other plans, as 3 years later Tim & I were sitting on the grass listening to Pastor James and others share the needs of his community on land that was donated for a well and for a church that Pastor James will build some day.
This Crossroads team has worked hard, and God has moved in big ways! Please keep us in prayer as we head home. Pray for wisdom and discernment for Crossroads’ level of involvement in the new projects we were able to see on this trip.