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Appleseed Travel Journal

A Day in the Village

We don’t get to go into the villages much any more, leaving first level trainings to national leaders, but after last year visiting Karen in her home I was very anxious to have time specifically with her and her house church leaders, all women.

Karen and her husband Samson live in Samson’s family’s compound. His grandfather lived here, his very old dad still lives here and Samson and Karen live here, along with brothers and their families. There are five homes on the compound. They make use of every square inch of ground, for raising 8 kids and raising crops.

Karen and Samson's family in front of their home.
Inside their home, about 350 square feet, dirt floor, often cold and wet because of leaks during rainy season.

Samson learned about DMM about 2 years ago. When he did, he gave up traveling throughout Kenya showing the Jesus Film to be able to stay at home with his family and begin to reach his neighbors through simple house church planting. His vision is big. His family is committed. Everything they do is centered around Jesus Christ. Every thought they have is, “How can we further the Kingdom of God.” Check out the map below and their vision to reach 1,000,000 people in 10 years by the power of multiplication. To date, they are on target!

marked map of towns of western Kenya
a ten-year disciple-making plan written on a piece of paper being held up

Karen spends most mornings getting up early to make mendazi (a donut like cake that Kenyan’s love to eat with their morning African tea—half milk, half black tea). Why? Because she has no transportation. She tells me that in order to share the love of God with others she must have transport fees for motorcycle rides or matatus (small mini vans) to reach those people.

food in bowls
a seated man preparing food at a table
Today we were the recipients of this yummy treat, along with a cup of tea laced with four teaspoons of sugar and half hot milk.

Running to borrow enough chairs for all of us, Samson brought us over to sit with a very eager group of 20 women. He told me that each of those women had started at least three simple churches in their area. As we got to know them, it was obvious that Karen, their discipler, had not only discipled them well, but they understood very well the principles of disciple-making movements. We had so much fun with these gals!!! As always, we learned way more from them than they probably learned from us!

two women hugging
Acting out the parable of the lost sheep. The shepherd (in red) has at long last found the sheep who was missing.
a group of women hugging
…which was cause for great, great celebration!
three women reading a Bible together
These gals are practicing Discovery Bible Study as a way to discover more about each other and more about God.
people standing in a circle outside with a woman in the center
Taking turns practicing the principles of DMM according to Matthew 28:18-20 – Pray, Go, make disciples, teaching them to obey, starting with baptism, gathering them together and then sending them out.
people sitting in a circle in chairs outside with three women standing in the center

Most of the gals had baptized new disciples. A few admitted they were scared so Roger invited them to practice with him…pretty impressive they would give it a go…as far as the taboos of women baptizing, not to mention touching a mzungu man!

Roger sitting between two standing women
two women supporting Roger as he leans back as if being baptized
Just one of the beautiful gals.
a smiling woman holding a new Bible
Thanks to Voice of the Martyrs some of these gals received MUCH NEEDED Bibles.
Youngest family member on the compound.
Samson’s bike that he uses to travel distances as long as 150 km to reach and disciple people.
Samson and Karen’s second born who is 17, a junior in secondary school, also an accomplished short distance runner who has very high aspirations to be an electrical engineer. He is very humble and passionate about God and his faithfulness. He has started 34 house churches among the youth in their area.

We loved getting to spend time not only with the workers in the harvest, but especially to see that the DNA is pure. These workers are truly raising up workers out of the harvest who have zeal, tenacity, commitment and passion…that all should know.

One Man Impacting His Nation

Flag of Burundi

Simon and I spent a long time together. He told me story after story with great excitement about everything God is doing in his area. I wish I could share his testimony of going from a drunkard living a very promiscuous and demoralizing life to where he is today, but that is for another time. For now, here is just one example of what God is doing through him in only the short 1.5 years that he has been saved:

“In that far place (in Burundi), I live in Village 6. There I met one lady named Maria. That lady had been sick for 8 years. She was very, very thin, but her stomach was very large as if she was 8 months pregnant, but she was 45 years old. She was trying to get help from the doctor. They told her she had (blood) pressure and they even did an exam by x-ray. They told her that’s why the stomach was so big. She also had been many times to the witch doctor who gave her some herbs. She even went to different churches asking for prayer. I’m telling you this lady was very skinny but the stomach was huge.

“That lady invited me into her house and I prayed for her. I told her that God wants to do a miracle for her. We looked at Scripture together. I lay my hands on her and she started crying. She was saying that something was happening in her body. One month later I went back to that area, near my home. When I was in the street, someone touched me from the back. It was that lady who was crying so very hard because of her joy. She started to give many testimonies of what God had done to other people in that community. She started gathering people through two Discovery Bible Studies (DBS). There were two baptisms there whereby 9 people were baptized. Now in Village 6, there are 5 house churches in the small community and 12 DBS going on now. One guy has even gone to Village 3 with the gospel. You know in that area of Village 3 there are only a few people and they drink that local beer which is very strong. There are many drunkards. Today there has been 5 baptisms in Village 3. There are 2 house churches and 6 DBS that are meeting now in that community. We can only praise God!”

Simon on left
a map of the central part of Africa

It’s Never Easy

Lest you get the wrong idea, working with leaders from many different nations in one week of training/coaching… well, it’s not always smooth nor easy.

The schedule is LOOOONG. Prayer began each day at 6:45 am and we were in sessions with someone or some group until 8:30 pm or later.

And, things happen. One young man fell down and began convulsing outside the meeting hall. It was unclear what was happening but he was prayed for while being rushed to the hospital. There was nothing medically wrong, but an overnight in the hospital along with prayers allowed him to rest and he is now fully recovered.

Another evening, a leader was taken away by police due to a ‘misunderstanding’ during the night.

Yep, things happen… and the road to progress is not always an easy one.

Yet… as I reflect back on the week, here is what we are celebrating:

  • Our guest ‘coach’ Bill Smith affirming that the work taking place in these teams is very effective. They have initiated disciple making movements in an unprecedented manner in this region.
  • Many people’s lives have been touched through these teams. I am not one for numbers, but as reports came in from each team, it is probably safe to say that at least 25,000 people collectively are being discipled and trained to disciple others.
  • A new team in Tanzania is doing a wonderful work among unreached people groups in the ‘upcountry’ as well as unreached Muslim groups along the coast.
  • Many, many wonderful stories of God working in the lives of people through miracles, through the love of these disciples, and simply through the power of God’s Word. See Brooks’ upcoming story.

So, the ‘never easy’ things are well worth it as we see God doing what God does through these teams and through partners like you who walk alongside.

Here are some pictures Brooks took of this past week together with these teams.

Kampala
Bill Smith in a discussion group
Bill Smith in a discussion group

Joy, Tears, and Celebrating God

sunrise in Kampala, Uganda As the sun comes up over Kampala, Uganda, some of the African participants have gathered for a time of early morning prayer. Mid-way through our week with leaders from six nations, we have already celebrated much as well as shed some tears.

We joyfully listened to updates and reports from different teams as they described people being reached in remote places, baptisms taking place indicating that lives are being transformed, and thousands of lives being touched. We have been so encouraged by the overall enthusiasm to reach more, develop many more leaders with a heart to serve and love, and to see thousands of more communities find hope amid darkness.

And, yes, some tears are inevitable as the struggles of leading movements takes its toll. Specifically, one team leader felt the betrayal of several of his key leaders who became greedy for influence and the hope of financial gain. They saw his ‘position’ of leadership as something to be coveted and, therefore, they waged a campaign of slander against him. He is a humble leader and his heart is broken but God is restoring and the work continues.

So what happens in a day of ‘facilitated learning’ with a group of competent, capable movement practitioners?

After prayer and breakfast is a time of worship. No instruments, no drums, just voices. Africans love to sing, worship, move, and praise God. Harmonies come naturally and the room fills with their voices and exuberance. But today, the Congolese are leading worship and everything steps up another notch. Their gift of music and worship is famous throughout Africa and the joy and clapping and dancing moves to a new level.

Richard from Tanzania Next, we hear reports from two of the seven teams, including Richard from Tanzania, who shared this inspiring story with us:

“My brother and a team of four went to an unreached group in a remote area that was far from our big-city home. We asked God for a person of peace. The bus dropped us under a mango tree where we sat for four hours in prayer. It was not until evening that a villager invited us into his home and said we could stay with him. For several days we went from house to house and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No one responded. One morning, we felt that God was leading us to begin walking around the village in prayer. Soon, people began to come out and we began ministering to the sick. God did some miracles and healed and delivered some people. Everything changed from that point on and the work was established and has now grown throughout that area.”

And then… Bill Smith (our guest ‘coach’) and I begin to facilitate some learning experiences. As I write this, Bill is teaching by having the participants act out a portion of the book of Acts and then discovering key leadership and discipleship movement principles.

Finally, the real learning takes place in discussion groups and interaction.

discussion groups

Your love and prayers keep us going!

Easter Kickoff

map of Uganda Happy Easter! Today, we kick off our week of meetings in which seven teams from six countries have gathered in Uganda. We are joined by Bill Smith whom, at 72 years of age, I like to say “knows more about disciplemaking making movements than anyone else on the planet.” His interacting, coaching, and mentoring will be invaluable to the teams we are working with.

Our focus for this week is five-fold (and your prayers to this end greatly appreciated).

  1. Re-focused and enlarged vision for lostness (faith for seeing thousands of churches rather than hundreds).
  2. Greater commitment to eliminate distractions (very common and difficult, especially as these leaders experience ‘success’ which attracts outside influences).
  3. Tools and encouragement for selecting and training key leaders for future growth.
  4. Discussion about UPG's (unreached people groups) and reaching out cross-culturally. How such work relates to our own mission.
  5. Separate time to minister in a personal way to each leader, specifically around their hearts being refreshed and re-filled.
meeting

As shared in our prayer letters, we have already had some challenges which are going to be typical when so many people are involved in such an important time together. But, we are seeing God ‘resurrect’ each and every situation as He typically does! For example, we continue to pray for Steven’s son (Steven is the team leader from DR Congo) who has had a blood infection. And, we thank God that he is improving!

Please continue to pray for grace around travel and logistics as people arrive today!

As Brooks wrote in a prayer letter:

Easter Sunday! SEVEN leadership teams from SIX different countries. We serve a risen Christ! He lives. Here's proof! These folks are representative of what God is doing in these six countries, changing lives, pouring out His Spirit, giving life where it looks like there could be only death. SUPER EXCITING!!! We truly believe this is going to be a springtime, faith building, life-giving week that will encourage, bless and ignite these folks into a whole new season of growth and blossoming of seeds already planted and more, many more to come that will bear much, much fruit.

Thank you so much for your prayers and journeying with us!

A time to share. A time to care. A time to come together. Happy Easter from Safaricom. May peace and love be with you and your family #HappierTogether As a side note, in case you didn’t see my Facebook post, it is nice to have our cell phone provider in Kenya send a warm Easter greeting. Not expecting something like this from my provider back home!

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