My first Sunday service for this mission trip was to spent way up in the Kenyan highlands with the Kalenjin tribe. There are many tribes here in Kenya, and several of them are related, are a part of the same tribal group. The Kalenjin are a part of the Nilotic, which include the more popular or known Kenyan tribe Maasai. The Kalenjin are also the Kenyan runners we see in most marathon races…and the ones who often take home the prize.
The ride was a long, painful, and tedious one up a rough narrow winding dirt road (more like path). You really need a Jeep Rubicon to make the journey up the hills. I never know how their cars make it. One thing for sure is their tires are made from a far superior rubber than our expensive ones in America. It seemed to take an hour to reach the place. But I imagine it was only about 30 or so minutes ride.
Despite the rough ride, it is one filled with much natural beauty as you climb higher and higher. The red earth against the lush green hills that seem to just roll up and down as you go along. As you travel along the dirt road you see people, old and young, moving up and down going about their normal life. There are dirt bikes with their passengers, sometimes with as many four people on a single bike, moving quickly up and down the hills, dodging the holes, cracks and mud puddles.
Finally we reached our destination way up in the hills. The building itself seemed to lean sideways on the hill, resting in place. Securely resting in place.
The service was already underway when we arrived. We simply took our place in the front and joined in the service. Time is not really a factor in rural services here. I guess simple because many have walked miles to be in service and are in no rush to get back on the road. So though the service had already been going for some time before we arrived, there was more singing and speaking from the other preachers and pastors. It’s not thought of as rude for someone to get up and exhort before the main speaker. I’ve become accustomed that tradition. And actually it serves me well, being that it’s hard to preach an hour message when you have to constantly pause for the interpreter.
This Sunday I preached about Mary in Luke 10 and John 12, how she broke the traditions and customs what was considered right and proper among Jewish women. She broke custom twice in order to 1. learn and hear Jesus teach 2. to submit herself in the most intimate way a woman could in worship to Jesus. In doing so Jesus elevated her to a status that was reserved for men, and for a wife in the later instance of her exposing her hair to Jesus. Customs and traditions are very strong in Kenya, especially customs as pertaining to each tribe and the role of women. After the service was over and I was getting my things to go to the car, a young lady came up to me. I assumed she was just going to give me the usual greeting. But instead she fell into me and begin to weep. You can never go by the expressions or “Amen” here. Often the people just look at you while you minister with an occasional response. No, here they listen with straight faces. And I personal have no problem, because its typical of me when I’m listening to a message. However, this was the first time I can remember having a young adult respond this way after the message. Because we didn’t speak a common language all we could do was look at each other smile and hug.
The congregation enjoyed a special moment later in the service. The Member of Parliament for the county had made the journey to the service. Bishop John wanted to bless her in prayer and also give the people an opportunity to meet her. Her assistant is a member of Bishop John’s original congregation in the village where he is from. In one way the Member of Parliament see’s Bishop as a spiritual leader. Following the service we had a n opportunity to enjoy Sunday dinner back at the house in the village. Bishop John no longer lives in the village, but now lives in the small town where the late Apostle Derek Hubbard lived outside of Nairobi. So this visit and meal was a special treat for Bishop John’s mother and those who had the privilege to assist in preparing the meal, because their were two special guest in the house – the member of Parliament and an American.
After a long Sunday, and a sleepless weekend, it was nice to be back at my host home outside of Nairobi on Sunday evening. We arrived just in time for dinner and bed. It’s normal to eat and then call it a night here. That may be why many of the men have nice plump and round bellies. Of course I made sure to enjoy a nice long sleep, and a lazy day around the house relaxing and catching up on my blog post.
Now as I sit on the balcony in the cool of the evening, enjoying my music playing through my mini-speakers…I bid you all farewell and a blessed Monday on the other side of the world. May the grace of God be with you all!