It’s so frustrating to come home from Kenya, just bubbling over with stories to tell, only to wind up in bed for ten days with the flu! I’m back on my feet, and reaching down into my storehouse of memories to share a few with all of you.
I know that many of you saw a couple of the videos I posted on Facebook, of the new little church we planted for our Kiwanda Cha Tumaini community. Since our school building is not being used on Sundays, it was the perfect place for us to meet. It seemed only fitting to name it Tumaini Chapel (Hope Chapel), and on my last Sunday there, we held a Dedication Service to officially announce its name.
My acute “OCD-ness” equips me to actually LOVE lining up chairs for an event, but of course they didn’t look like this after everyone arrived. In fact, we eventually had to move the children’s chairs out on the veranda to make room for all the big people who came.
This is Carolyn. It is very difficult, as you can see, for her to move around, but she is an anointed Sunday School teacher and Praise & Worship Leader, full of joy and hope. We had rented a van to bring a group of pastors from various churches. They are part of an evangelism team, led by John Okwadho, my self-proclaimed Last-Born Kenyan Son. As the praise and singing continued, we wound up in what I could only describe as a Congo Line, out the front door, around the house, and back in through the back door. While we were out of our seats, I was shocked to see some dear friends drive up from a church in Mumias, about 30 miles away. I knew two of the men, but the other three were strangers to me. One of them was decked out in a navy tunic with elaborate gold braid on the front, and I thought, “Oh my! We have a dignitary or a bishop here!” As the introductions continued, to include these last guests, I could tell by the reaction, the exact moment that everyone realized who he was. It was as if all the air had been sucked out of the room!
Ali Mukhwana is an internationally known worship singer, and when he stood up to lead us in a couple more songs, everyone in the room was singing, pouring their hearts out in praise. I didn’t even know the words, but I couldn’t hold back the tears. I have listened to one of the songs over and over since I got home, and finally recognized the tune, but only after pasting the title of the song into Google Translate. Usinipite (pronounced OO-SEE-KNEE-PEE-TAY) was translated “do not go away,” but as I continued to listen, I realized it was Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior! The tune for the verses was the same, but the chorus had been musically rewritten. I realized then, the reason for the tears. As a young girl of 10 or 12, I would sit at the piano and play a concert transcription of this much-loved song, over and over, singing along as I played.
Pass me not, O gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.
Let me at Thy throne of mercy find a sweet relief; Kneeling there in deep contrition, Help my unbelief.
Trusting only in Thy merit, would I see Thy face; Heal my wounded broken spirit, Save me by Thy grace.
Thou the spring of all my comfort, More than life to me, Whom have I on earth beside Thee? Whom in heav’n but Thee?
Savior, Savior, Hear my humble cry; While on others Thou art calling, Do not pass me by.
If you click the link above, you should be able to hear the track for this song on his CD. Also, below (hopefully), you will be able to see our church members singing with him, unaccompanied. What a blessing to listen to this talented young man testify that the sole purpose for his existence is to worship God!
If this doesn’t blow your socks off, just hang on. I’m not through yet! After an incredible service that went on for, literally, five hours, we all had lunch together, thanks to the proud (biological) mom of John Okwadho (our new pastor). Grace is the talented cook for Kiwanda Cha Tumaini. She has raised five godly children – alone – as a widow.
After lunch, I was about to pass out from heat and exhaustion, when John said that all the pastors who had come wanted to meet with me. We drug our plastic chairs outside, on the shady side of the house, and I listened in disbelief as they each said they (and their congregations) want to become part of Tumaini Chapel. Eventually, they want to plant Tumaini Chapels all over East Africa! What we had thought was the planting of a single, small church for our little community of teachers and staff turned out to be EIGHT new churches – in ONE DAY! I could never have imagined this. God’s ways are so much bigger than our ways, and He does abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine.
Next August, we will launch the Hope of Africa School of Theology, teaching an intensive one-week evangelism training class (50 pastors each week for two weeks), and then a week of basic theological training. I wasn’t able to get a picture of all the guys while we were outside, because my jaw was on the ground, but here are three of them.