Yesterday I visited the town hospital in Migori and my pastor host (Pastor Ezra) asked me to pray for each of the patients. The hospital with screen windows is open the outside air – which at this time of the year (African Winter) is actually nice. But in the summer, I can only imagine it is very hot. I met mothers who just gave birth with their 1-hour old babies. I met one mother who lost her baby during birth. She is in one large room with about 40 other mothers who all had their babies: very sad. Yet many of those mothers are HIV+ who gave birth to babies that will likely also be HIV+.
We then prayed for patients in the General Ward – the same kind of building. A vast majority of the patients are dealing with opportunistic illnesses brought on by a lower immune system due to being HIV+. Several patients were mere skeletons who appeared to be near death. Yet when I prayed for them, they closed their eyes and God seemed to answer my prayer for HIS comfort and peace to fill them.
Today, we are off to visit Pastor Ezra’s mother and brother and sister-in-law all of whom are HIV+. Pastor Ezra’s father died of AIDS several years ago. After many years of resisting Christianity, he met Christ right before he died. There is much pain but also much hope in the Lord. On the way, Pastor and I will finalize preparation for the conference that starts tomorrow.
ONE OBSERVATION: Kenyan people are brilliant. They see with very clear vision. Sure, every culture has its blind spots: until the last few years, homosexuality was considered a ‘myth’ in Kenya. It was simply inconceivable that ANY Afrikan would be gay. Yes, every culture has its blind spots – we in America have many. But these people are brilliant. Long before oil hit $140 a barrel, they have been attempting to invest in local, sustainable food and water supplies. They challenges are limitless – there are roadblocks at every turn. Yet they persist in trying – today more than ever given how expensive food has gotten here for them.
This I am deeply impacted by: Kenya has laws that criminalize homosexuality. Yet the police and judges no longer – for the most part – enforce such laws because ‘culture’ has shifted. It simply is no longer acceptable to put someone in prison for being gay. Thus, a society that has laws that some evangelicals would aspire toward proves that laws will NOT change the heart of a nation. Culture will overrule a nation’s laws. And so in this environment, the evangelical Christians here have NO misconception about the difference between political and spiritual solutions. They realize there are no more answers that governmental laws can provide: they realize that the church must not be distracted by reliance upon the government to ‘clean’ up the lives of others; they realize that the Gospel – and only the Gospel – has the power to cause any person to willingly surrender their lives to Jesus. Thus, they are interested only in Gospel-empowered solutions to the deep problems of humanity: problems that go far beyond homosexuality.
This is all surprising because I would have expected that in an ultra-orthodox or traditional theological atmosphere that they would be more sold out to a ‘harsher’ approach. Indeed, many families here do reject and disown their homosexual children. But many church leaders see this old approach as extremely ineffective and in fact un-Biblical. That is the entire reason why they scanned the internet and searched for a Western ministry that could assist them in this area.
Among all the ministries that exist, it is only in God’s mind to know how they connected to LTH. Pastor Ezra tells me that he did not have time to search the hundreds of ministries that exist – but that LTH just popped up on the Google search and he prayed and said he felt distinctly that God was saying, “Contact this ministry.” Yet if you Google ministry to homosexuals (at least the times I have tried, LTH does not even appear within the first 15 pages or so! So it seems this is all of God! And I am both thankful and overjoyed that this ministry trip worked out as it has.
So tomorrow, I share our vision for ministry – a vision with practical ways the church can serve and Christian leaders can lay down their lives for homosexuals and their families. Many are ready for this message. For others, it will be quite challenging to their concept of how they should respond to this issue. I am NOT here to stand above others and say that I have the answer that they ‘should’ implement: but I also will not refuse to gently yet firmly share the vision that GOD gave to me.
I do not feel a need to convince people. I do not feel a need to be hurt or offended by those who may disagree. I do not feel a need to lecture others or tell them what to so. But joyfully, I do feel called to just put the vision for ministry out there through this door that GOD has opened and to trust that HIS purposes will be accomplished. It is a joy to do so. I thank you for helping to make this trip happen financially and for praying for me and my family while I am away.
OK, the conference kicks off tomorrow! Thanks for praying.
Love in Christ,