Friday, 25 September 2009


CELL GROUPS – Village and Town:Restoration Community Church (RCC) is a cell-based (home-group, life-group. care group) church. All the members meet during the week in small groups (some not so small). In the village they all meet in the daytime. Then there is one cell group in the town/city, and that meets on Thursday evenings.

Last year John spent much of our time here teaching church and cell leadership how true cells should operate. He was under a real handicap in that he taught in English, with no translator most of the time, and we weren’t certain how much they REALLY understood – even though they said they did. By what we can see this year the learning curve is pretty big. Additionally two of the prospective elders are no longer part of the church, leaving a leadership gap. However, new on staff is Kennedy, the assistant pastor, recently graduated from Bible school. He has taken up the reins and a big chunk of responsibility for this rapidly developing church. (Kennedy the Pastor to the right)

The cell groups in the village are all made up of very poor people, a large percentage of whom are widows. The one in Kisumutown is made up of professional people - the only one of its kind (so far). The Kisumu group periodically collects money for outreach and recently came up with a plan whereby they would visit needy people in the village. They were going to distribute some aid and also going to a house where a man was said to have "jiggers" - a flea type of insect that especially attacks the legs. They were taking medicine to treat his skin (one of the cell group members is a retired nurse) also exterminating equipment/spray to get rid of the jiggers in his house (a difficult task in a house with a dirt floor). As it turned out, the man doesn't have jiggers - he has leprosy!!! Back to the drawing board! On Sept. 18 the cell bought him a mattress (he was sleeping on a pile of rags on the floor) a blanket and some sheets – they were delivered that afternoon. There is also a plan for having his leprosy treated. More about him below.

ALL CHRISTIANS ARE MINISTERS: The villagers have never been part of a church that teaches and trains its members to be ministers and servants of one another and to the world. This is one of the core values of RCC and it is being imparted slowly and steadily to the church.

John has recently taught them about being servants and ministers based on Ephesians 4:11 . It has been being taught to them in different ways for at least 18 months. However he took it a step further and gave a brilliant message on practical body ministry that involves NO MONEY (something they don’t have, or is very limited) but requires their time and the use of their gifts. It was really great and struck home – we are certain.

Another core value being taught is that they do not have to depend upon and expect the West and people from outside the village to meet their needs – but to be involved in meeting their own needs, and learning to depend upon the Lord to provide for them in any way and through whom He wishes. Here in RCC these values are being taught by Kenyans to Kenyans and merely being re-enforced by the wazungu (white people). This concept requires a paradigm shift!

We also try to get across to them that all people from the West are not rich. This is a common misconception amongst Africans. It always brings a rather startled reaction from them when we tell them that there are poor people and street children/people in America and England. They have a hard time grasping that there are widows with very little to get by on in the West, but that some of them give us from what little they have to help the widows in Kadawa. We try to go into a little detail of how and where we get the money that is used to help them.

THE LEPER: Subsequent to the visit by the Kisumu cell group, the man with leprosy came to at church in Magwar (the first church plant of RCC- it meets outdoors) and told about the people who came to his house to help him and how thankful he was. It was very touching - even in the translation. We saw leprosy for the first time. The man had on sandals and had only 1/2 his toes. He had all 10 of them as far as we could tell, but only half a toe each! He is a Kenyan, but his toes were very nearly white and very thick and crusty. Staggering! We have no still photos as none of us had our cameras. Probably just as well!

THE WIDOW AT ANTIOCH: We went to a relatively new cell group (named Antioch) in another village, several miles away. Pastor Hesbone had visited the house when they expressed interest in getting involved in RCC; this was only the second time he went. They have not had the advantage of the "Everyone is a Minister" teaching and basic cell-life principles. Pastor Kennedy has been assigned to that cell and another one about 4 miles away; the young pastor has a big job ahead of him. This time here was a widow there, named Margaret, who is ONE YEAR OLDER than Marty, but looks 20 years older. She is seriously in need of a new house, and Hesbone was not aware of the situation. This widow is in desperate straights and needs help big time. The two pastors did some explaining to the group about some simple basics on caring for each other, and now a plan is formulating to give hands-on training to this group in terms of assisting the widow. It is an ideal situation for training in body ministry and also on not expecting the mother church to do the job - although the people in the mother church will also become involved to an extent. We are excited about the expected outcome. A plus in this situation is that she has land with trees on it, so she will be able to supply the uprights and the saplings for the frame work for the mud. The only cash outlay will be for the tin roof, nails and a carpenter. Up until now, all the money for houses has come from us through supporters and Marty's women's fund; however, we have already designated our "housing" money, or we would build her one. See Margaret below - that's her "house". She has put on her best dress for the occasion of our visit - as the ladies do for any special event. Most likely, the next time we see her she will have on the same dress. But if we had paid a surprise visit to her she would not have been dressed that way - but more likely in tatters.

The Cost for tin has sky-rocketed and the cost of a house - one where the uprights, roof frame and tin sheeting has to be bought - has nearly doubled in two years. It does vary according size and if the widow can contribute any materials. The global economy's tentacles reach everywhere!

ANOTHER CELL - ANOTHER CHICKEN STORY: After we visited Antioch we went to Samaria. This cell group greeted us in the traditional style for that area. Most of them were outside awaiting us and began to sing and dance a welcome ceremony, after a bit they turned and led us in singing and dancing all the way into the house and then once inside continued the ceremony. It was awesome! They did the same when we left. This time Marty joined in with them - amidst much pleased laughter.

As we arrived they brought out POPCORN (made from locally-grown maize), freshly roasted ground nuts (small locally grown redskin nuts - similar to peanuts) and biscuits (cookies). We munched on these with a drink (they actually toasted us) as we had the cell meeting. Then afterwards they served a meal of chicken (of course) beef, sukumu wiki (kale) and ugali (very stiff, boiled maize meal that is used to sop up the food and juices - yummmmm) and a very special pureed green vegetable dish that we never had before. Then there was a closing ceremony where we were given gifts. Pastor Hesbone received a bottle of ghee (a very special butter extract used as a sauce - we had poured some over our green veggie dish) and - you guessed it - they gave John & Marty a chicken!!!! Of course!!! John stepped aside for Marty to receive it (of course)! The chicken took part in the farewell dance celebration! She rode home in the boot! She also left a deposit on Hesbone's briefcase!!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


EXTREME EVANGELISM The Restoration Community Church (RCC) in Kadawa has a large youth group and large children’s group. Gia Minardi (the young woman who joined us for two weeks) works with the young people of her church in California, often taking them to the streets to ask God to give them opportunities to meet people that He wants to show His personal love. Gia met with the young leaders amongst the RCC youth and several others of the youth group for a day and taught them. She taught them to understand how God wants to use them individually and personally as His ministers, and that they can and do hear God. She trained them in how to go out and have confidence that they will be guided by the Lord to share God’s love. It was something these youngsters had never done – or thought of. The night of the training day, a Friday, was spent in all night prayer. Then the next day, Saturday, was market day and these kids – 8 groups of 4 per group – walked from the church to the market in the afternoon (about 2 ½ miles). The road to the market is full of people coming and going to market, and the market is packed with people. These kids asked the Lord to show them who He wanted to reveal His love to, and then would stop and tell the people how much God and Jesus loves them. As the Holy Spirit directed they would lay hands on sick people and pray for their healing, or pray prophetically for them or their families. They would tell them how God is intensely in love with them and cares for them. Gia walked with them and moved among them and she was “over the moon” at their enthusiasm, willingness and boldness. During those few hours several people accepted Christ as their Saviour. Many were touch by His personal love for them. It was amazing how open the villagers on the road and in the market were to receiving these words of God’s genuine, personal love for them from these kids.

VISITING WIDOWS We have been visiting many widows – some absolutely destitute! We have visited many in previous years, but these last two weeks have taken us into some situations that were beyond what we could have thought or imagined. We also visited one widower who is old and just doesn’t really know how to care for himself. The culture is such that the women do all of the food preparation and cooking – so this man is relatively helpless. He and at one or two of the older widows we visited don’t even have a mat to sleep on. We will be purchasing three mattresses to help. One widow – Lorna, who is 80+ years – appears to have cataracts. Few people in the village – especially the older ones – know when they were born. There is no record kept, and birthdays are not celebrated. Lorna somehow manages to get to market every week - walking!

She prepares sisal, above, (a plant for making rope) by hand, and sells it there. We are talking about pennies here!

CAT Scan One older widow – Florence – has recently become paralyzed on one side, and there is much swelling of her limbs on that side. It has been suggested that she have a CAT scan or an MRI in an attempt to diagnose her situation. There is no MRI equipment in Kisumu, but there is a CAT scan machine. We will use money that has been given us to get the scan done within a few days.

EYE CLINICS On Sunday we went to minister at the daughter church in Magwar, some 7 kilometers away. They meet outdoors in a family compound under a makeshift awning. The children all go inside of a house for Sunday school. When we go places like that people want us to pray specifically and individually for them at the end of the meeting. One mother brought her son who can only barely see. To let light into his eyes gives him a lot of pain.

Then on Monday we went back to Magwar to walk and pray on the land there where they will construct a church building (eventually). When we were finished, the man who had donated the land for the church building asked us to come pray for his grandson who has eye problems. This little boy is 9 and has not been able to see properly for several years. He has never gone to school because he can't see properly.

Having prayed for these little boys and for Lorna, the widow, we also want to take what natural action we can. So arrangements are being made to take the three of them into Kisumu to an eye specialist to see what he has to say and if there is anything we can do to help them.

There have been many tears shed the last two weeks. It is pretty hard on us all to see this kind of sickness and poverty. RCC does not sit idly by but is continually involved in helping their people and folks in the community that are not part of the church. The need can be overwhelming! It has been really intense. HARD ON US!! How must it be for the people who are suffering?!

You know, for years all of us have seen this kind of stuff in photos, on TV, etc. It is one thing to see it like that and quite another to be part of it.

We will be keeping in touch again pretty soon.


Friday, 4 September 2009


To Rwanda on Friday, the 28th where we spent 5 full, non-stop days ministering in and around Kigali. What a wonderful country with wonderful people. We were greeted at the airport with a full contingency of people from DOVE Rwanda - with flowers for both of us. That was just an inkling of the gracious hospitality we were shown.

Rwanda is called The Land of A Thousand Hills. It is a very clean country. On the last Saturday of every month the country has Community Activity Day. From 7 AM to 11 AM the entire country is engaged in cleaning up the streets and/or doing community work such as helping to build a house for an underprivileged family, or painting rooms in a hospital, etc. People receive their assignments at work among other places. On that day, people must stay at home if they haven't been assigned a project. If one ventures on the streets at all during those hours they are subject to being fined.

On Sunday as we were getting ready for church there was a knock at the door of our room in the hostel. Upon opening we were greeted by Pastor Levis Kagigi and his wife Abia and they had a Rwandanese dress for Marty. The men were quickly ushered out and Abia re-dressed Marty. What a lovely outfit. Of course when she was speaking in church she modeled it for everyone. Here you see Marty and Abia. Aren't the colours and patterns wonderful?

No, that's not a typo. DOVE Rwanda has 4 churches and one of them in literally IN a hill. There were two small houses which were combined and so part of the church building is up the hill and the other part is lower. Inside it is gradually terraced in about 3 levels and the pulpit is at the bottom. It is quite effective.

Next to the church, at the top right side, is an old tree that is gnarled and twisted at the bottom; however, the top of it is growing straight and overshadows the church with lovely shade (see top photo). That tree captured Marty's attention. After a lot of prayer and then some direction in searching the scriptures she was able to trace a wonderful history of the tree where Jacob buried his father-in-law's idols. Those idols caused that ground and tree to be cursed. years later God made a covenant concerning the land with Abraham - at that same tree - the oak or terebinth at Shechem. Abraham built an altar at that tree and worshipped the Lord. The ground and tree went from being cursed to being holy. Then, many years later, just before crossing into the promised land, Joshua made a covenant with the Israelites, wrote it down, then set up a "stone of witness" - a monument that "heard" the covenant and the oaths of the people - under that very same tree at Shechem, which by then was next to the sanctuary of God! She shared all of this with the leaders of the church and gave them a few points to pray about comparing the tree next to the church in Rwanda with the tree next to the sanctuary in Shechem in the Old Testament.

During the worship a group of men and women began a dance of welcome. They made a semi-circle around us and danced right in our faces. It was really neat. Of course Marty joined in with them. Which seemed to surprise them. They were made aware that she is 70 and couldn't quite wrap their heads around a woman of that age being able to dance like that. We think it was some type of tribal dance.Then a bit later we were told that they were going to dance to chase away any demons that might be around. WOW! What a dance! The men were all over the place jumping and doing warlike moves, etc. It was truly tribal and very exciting. The photos here don't really do it justice, for you had to see the moves they were making.

There is sooooo much happening this first week and a half in Nairobi and Kisumu that we will need to be updating the blog every couple of days.

Bye for now!