Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from the flatlands of northeastern Indiana!

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day will bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

That’s a good proverb for me these days. While while working through the process of arranging things for the choir trip and my Commercial Driver’s License I have found a few unexpected turns in the road, but all seems to be working out. It’s just a process that I have to keep after.

On Monday I made it through my medical physical; on Tuesday and Wednesday I finished my written exams and received my CDL permit. Now today at 2:30 (EST) I take my skills test and driving test. Once I get past those I can go back to the license branch and receive my official CDL certification. It doesn’t seem like it should involve this much preparation and red tape, but I guess that is what the process requires.

It has been great to be with my family during this time. I’ve been able to mow Mom’s grass and go to church with her on Sunday. Our son, Rick (and his faithful canine companion, Munchie), will be coming over from Ohio after church on Sunday and spend the Memorial Day holiday with us. I haven’t seem him since last year and it will be wonderful to be together again. I am able to talk daily on the phone with our daughter, Toni, and we are enjoying reunion moments

The weather started off cool at the first of the week, but now has moved into the 80 degree range and we have lots of beautiful sunshine. I’ve been walking my old three-mile running course in the mornings. It’s amazing that what I used to run in sixteen minutes now takes me nearly fifty. Such is the joy of “maturing.” Still, I am enjoying the walks and getting reaquainted with my hometown.

One week from today Mary Jane and the Shangilia Choir will be on Indiana soil. I pick them up at the airport on Thursday night and whisk them off to Shiloh Park, the Church of the Nazarene’s Northeastern Indiana Campgrounds near Marion. I know they will be tired and feeling the effects of jetlag, but I also know they are going to be so excited to begin taking in all the sights, sounds, smells, foods, and experiences of life in the USA. We have six wonderful weeks of new adventures waiting for them.

Here is our USA tour slate. By this time next week we will be into it.

May 27-28 – Leave Nairobi, Kenya and travel through Dubai and NYC to Indianapolis, Indiana
May 28 – School Convocation, tour, and lunch at Pendleton East Elementary School
May 29 – Northeastern Indiana District Missions Convention
May 30 (am) – Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 30 (pm) – Northeastern Indiana District Campmeeting
June 2-3 – Georgia District Missions Convention
June 6 – Nashville, Tennessee, Tour of Trevecca Nazarene University / Education Foundation Meeting / Recording session in Trevecca’s Music Studio
June 7 (am) – Gallatin, Tennessee First Church of the Nazarene
June 7 (pm) – Louisville, Kentucky Farmdale Church of the Nazarene
June 9 – New Albany, Indiana Christ Community Church of the Nazarene
June 10 – Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 – Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 – Lunch and tour of Olivet Nazarene University / Chicago Central District Missions Convention
June 14 (am) – Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) – Olathe, Kansas College Church
June 15 – Lenexa, Kansas, Chapel and tours of the Global Ministry Center and Mid-America Nazarene University
June 16 – St. Louis, Missouri South County Church of the Nazarene
June 17 – Nashville, Tennessee Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (am) – Leesburg, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (pm) – Fort Myers, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 23 – Clearwater, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 24 – July 1 – Orlando, Florida General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene
July 5 (am) – Pompano Beach, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 5 (pm) – Venice, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 8 – Redlands, Florida Church of the Nazarene
July 9 – Leave Miami, Florida and travel back to Nairobi, Kenya via NYC and Dubai

As you can see, it’s going to be a busy time. Though my main job is to be the bus driver and group sponser, it’s going to be an equal labor of love to show off our country to them. Thank you so much to all who are opening their churches, homes, and hearts to this wonderful group of young people. You are making the dream of their lifetime come true.

We will have music CD’s to sell as we travel along the way and the students are bringing a variety of Kenyan crafts, jewelry, and misc stuff to sell to help them have some spending money here. These will be available as supplies last.

By the way, ANU has been in Holiness Week revival services this week. God has been doing a wonderful thing in the lives of our students. Mary Jane told me that in Thursday’s service nearly 150 students went forward in response to our evangelist’s invitation for Christ. We praise God for what He is doing and will do as the week closes out today.

Well, that’s about all I have to pass along at this time. I hope to be in touch again next Friday. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

May 22, 2009 at 10:33 am 4 comments

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Good morning from Kenya!

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you” (Isaiah 60:1-2).

WORKSHOPS
These are days of training for the faculty of the school. We strive to be learning a lot and seem to be sitting a lot as we prepare for the future of the university. We are looking not only at this next trimester, but the big thing for us these days is the possibility of moving into cyberspace and developing our programs on line so that we can expand the influence of our university not only across the continent but literally around the world. The world has changed drastically since the introduction of the Internet and educational communities are scrambling to keep up. It’s a continual challenge, but one that provides some far-reaching and exciting possibilities for the days ahead.

RETURNING STUDENTS
Two days ago we opened the campus doors for returning students and they are now mixing with the 125 + new students that were already here for registration. Because of the many and varied ways of marketing the school these days we are continually increasing our enrollment. I don’t have the exact figures, but when we arrived two years ago we had around 900 students and now we are somewhere in the vicinity of 1300 students. So while we feel that is a healthy increase it continues to challenge us to keep up as faculty and administration. Certainly it challenges the department I head, Spiritual Development, to look for new ways of reaching out to our ever-growing congregation. From sharing in preaching and devotional sessions, to “Golf” games at the house, to pick-up basketball games after hours, we are striving to build bridges for future ministry. Besides staying very busy in the office getting ready for our choir trip abroad, Mary Jane continues to excel in her role as “Mama Cookie” to the delight of all who sample her wares.

COUNTDOWN
I am now in my final days before heading back for the US. I leave Nairobi at 9:40 a.m. (EST) on Wednesday of next week and will travel through Dubai, London, Cincinnati, and finally land in Nashville, Tennessee at 4:40 p.m. (EST) on Thursday. The world has gotten much smaller for me over the last few years, but any way you look at it this it is still a long trip and your prayer support for safe travel is appreciated. Mary Jane and the choir will follow a couple of weeks later and hopefully all will go well in my preparation for their coming so I can pick them up at the airport when they arrive.

My next newsletter will originate from the state of Tennessee and hopefully it will be out on time, but if not, you can expect to get it sometime Saturday night or Sunday afternoon after I reach my home in Indiana.

BLESSED RAIN
We have been having showers of blessing off and on throughout the recent days. The dry and dusty plains have turned green once again and the rains have been varied enough that we haven’t had the mud problems on the roads like we have had in the past. In fact, Maasai Lodge Road is getting more work on it than I have seen since I have been here. Some of it is so smooth that it feels like it is paved even though it is just dirt and rock. There is still a lot of work to do, but perhaps “tarmacking” is not just a far off dream after all.

REQUEST
I have a request for those we will meet over the next few weeks. Every twenty years or so the Church of the Nazarene has come out with a new hymnal and these days many churches have gone to screens and projections for the words, making the hymnals obsolete. If you would happen to have the older hymnal, “Worship in Song,” stashed in a closet somewhere and would be willing to donate them to a good cause, ANU could use them. That’s the hymnal that is most prevalent here on campus. We couldn’t bring back a lot of them because of the weight limits the airlines have placed upon travelers these days, but we could put one or two in each student’s suitcase to bring back with us. So, if you have some of these, are not using them, and would like to donate them, please let me know via e-mail and we will see what we can do to get them back to Africa.

“SHANGILIA” SCHEDULE
We are really marking off the days now until we begin our trip. We picked up one new engagement this week, which really makes us about as full as we need to be. We will be singing in and sharing with an elementary school population where Mary Jane used to be a guidance counselor. It looks like we have twenty-four opportunities to sing throughout the country, plus five times during the General Assembly days. So once again, here we go…

May 27 – Leave Nairobi for the USA (via Dubai and New York)
May 28 – Arrive in Indianapolis, Indiana
May 29 – Pendleton, Indiana East Elementary School Convocation
May 30 – Northeastern Indiana Mission Convention (Marion, Indiana)
May 31 (am) – Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) – Northeastern Indiana Camp Meeting (Marion, Indiana)
June 2-3 – Georgia District Mission Convention (Dublin, Georgia)
June 6 – Education Foundation Meeting (Nashville, Tennessee)
June 7 (am) – Gallatin, Tennessee First Church of the Nazarene
June 7 (pm) – Louisville, Kentucky Farmdale Church of the Nazarene
June 9 – New Albany, Indiana Christ Community Church of the Nazarene
June 10 – Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 – Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 – Chicago Central District Mission Convention (Kankakee, Illinois)
June 14 (am) – Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) – Olathe, Kansas College Church of the Nazarene
June 15 – Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center (Lenexa, Kansas)
June 16 – St. Louis, Missouri South County Church of the Nazarene
June 17 – Nashville, Tennessee Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (am) – Leesburg, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (pm) – Fort Myers, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 23 – Clearwater, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 24-July 1 – Church of the Nazarene General Assembly (Orlando, Florida)
July 5 (am) – Pompano Beach, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 5 (pm) – Venice, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 8 – Redlands, Florida Church of the Nazarene
July 9 – Leave Miami, Florida for Nairobi, Kenya (via New York and Dubai)

Have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Lord’s Day! I hope to begin seeing some of you very soon!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

May 8, 2009 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from ANU, land of zebras, giraffes, warthogs, and their friends…

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you’re the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in him and he will do this” (Psalm 37:3-5).

THANKS FOR PRAYING
I want to begin today by saying a big “THANK YOU” for your prayers concerning my sister, Rona Buttry. Her recent surgery was successful and we are hopeful she will mend quickly. As of the last report to me she was still in St. Mary’s Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee and quite uncomfortable because of a drainage tube that remains down her throat, but thankful to be on this end of the experience. I am hoping that by this time, though I haven’t received word of it yet, that the tube has been removed and she is beginning to feel a bit more like her healthy self once again. Thanks so much for your intercession on her behalf.

“TWEEN” TRIMESTER WEEKS
The campus is as quiet now as it will be all year. In just a couple of days the new students will be coming in for orientation and then by next weekend the returning students will be back on campus for the new trimester, but for now things are quiet – and it is really nice! Like I said, it doesn’t happen very often.

We do have a group from the Friends Church (Quakers) here with us for a conference, but though they are much more lively than their American counterparts, they are still much more sedate than our students when the campus is full. They too will be gone by Sunday afternoon and then for a really short time we will be a very small ANU community.

NEW BABY
Mary Jane and I took some time to visit the home of one of our university guards yesterday. He and his wife are the proud parents of a new baby boy named “Blessing.” They shared tea with us and we had a nice time pretending to be grandparents. We have many “children” throughout the campus community, but this is one of the first times we got to “adopt” a member of a new generation of the ANU family.

CHANGE IN THE AIR
However, we have some news that we need to share with you. Our time here in Kenya and at ANU is coming to an end. There are a couple of reasons for this change in our lives. First, there are some pressing family concerns that dictate to us that we need to be back in the states, so we are feeling that we should not renew our contact for a second term. Secondly, because of the financial crunch from the world economic recession, missionaries everywhere are being asked to evaluate their status as to whether or not they plan to continue in their present work. The following is a quote from a letter that came recently from our headquarters via Dr. Louie Bustle and Dr. Jesse Middendorf:

“We are looking for some missionaries that are nearing a natural point of attrition in their service (such as retirement or the completion of their current assignment) to make the transition even sooner, if possible. We are encouraging them to contact their regional director to dialogue about such a possibility.”

Since Mary Jane and I have prayerfully decided that we will not be returning to the mission field following our current term, which ends at the end of this calendar year, and since our leaders are asking all missionaries who are considering making a change to do so as soon as possible, we are immediately beginning our search for a new place of service.

As far as a timeline, we are presently committed to the school because of the tour we are doing with the ANU Choir through the States and to the General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. We will be finished with this assignment mid-July and could be available to enter into a new ministry back in the states sometime in the month of August at the earliest.

We appreciate your prayers for guidance as we make this transition. We will continue the newsletter and keep everyone posted as to our progress toward our next assignment until we leave Africa and begin the next stage of our journey.

IN THE MEANTIME…
Our ANU choir, “The Shangilia Singers,” has just been asked to sing at the General Sunday School and Discipleship Convention in Orlando. That means, besides our twenty-four concerts commitments, we are singing five times in Orlando at the various conventions and banquets. Our students don’t have the full slate yet and probably don’t grasp all that this means, but we are highly honored by being asked to sing at these events.

We also hit another milestone today. We took a check to the travel agency to pay off the plane tickets for the choir. ANU has advanced us the money until we can get the rest of the student payments and the money we will raise in our travels, so now we have crossed another bridge. Visas are in hand, tickets are purchased, and the schedule is complete. Gallatin, Tennessee First Church of the Nazarene has donated a bus for us to use, Fort Myers, Florida First Church of the Nazarene has provided us with the money to get from New York to Indianapolis, and the Tennessee District has given us sleeping bags to use for the nights we are not booked in a concert somewhere. God, through His people, is opening so many doors for us and we are grateful beyond words!

I am a little less than two weeks away from getting on the big bird and making the long flight westward. Mary Jane and the choir will follow and arrive in Indianapolis, Indiana on the 28th of this month. Once again, here is our concert slate for the tour:

May 30 – Northeastern Indiana Mission Convention (Marion, Indiana)
May 31 (am) – Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) – Northeastern Indiana Camp Meeting (Marion, Indiana)
June 2-3 – Georgia District Mission Convention (Dublin, Georgia)
June 6 – Education Foundation Meeting (Nashville, Tennessee)
June 7 (am) – Gallatin, Tennessee First Church of the Nazarene
June 7 (pm) – Louisville, Kentucky Farmdale Church of the Nazarene
June 9 – New Albany, Indiana Christ Community Church of the Nazarene
June 10 – Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 – Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 – Chicago Central District Mission Convention (Kankakee, Illinois)
June 14 (am) – Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) – Olathe, Kansas College Church of the Nazarene
June 15 – Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center (Lenexa, Kansas)
June 16 – St. Louis, Missouri South County Church of the Nazarene
June 17 – Nashville, Tennessee Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (am) – Leesburg, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (pm) – Fort Myers, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 23 – Clearwater, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 24-July 1 – Church of the Nazarene General Assembly (Orlando, Florida)
July 5 (am) – Pompano Beach, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 5 (pm) – Venice, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 8 – Redlands, Florida Church of the Nazarene
July 9 – Leave Miami, Florida for Nairobi, Kenya (via New York and Dubai)

Blessings on you all! Thanks for praying! Have a wonderful weekend!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

May 1, 2009 at 7:12 am Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Greetings from ANU! Jambo! (Hello!)

“But you beloved, building yourself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21 NKJV).

LIFE AT ANU
It is another beautiful day one degree south of the equator in central Kenya. We have even had a couple of wonderful rain showers since last week and though we still have a long way to go to get past the drought we are so grateful for the moisture we have received. The rain brings lots of things: the greening of grass, a drop in the temperature, and lots of bugs – which greatly pleases the many variety of birds that gather here. We have a small hard shell bug that continually finds its way all throughout the house, however. They crunch when we step on them and if we don’t pick them up afterwards they draw ants – and so it goes.

HOSTING GUESTS
We just finished our Africa Region Leadership Conference. Around 300 district superintendents, field strategy coordinators, and other general and regional leaders have graced our campus for a week of very busy and long days of planning, instruction, and inspiration. Most are gone by now, but though we are both about as tired as we can be, Mary Jane and I have been blessed greatly by rubbing shoulders with some of God’s special and gifted servants. We can hopefully crash for a while later today and tomorrow so we can be ready to get back to work on Monday. Mary Jane has been the campus logistics coordinator for this event and she has pushed herself about as far as she can go. If you know her you know that she always runs in first gear – and usually winds it out to about 9000 rpm. Though I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, I predict she will be looking at the inside of her eyelids for the next couple of days.

SAYING GOODBYE TO GUESTS
Tomorrow we lose our houseguests as well. Corey Buttry (our nephew) and Joe Ladesic have been with us since January and have completed their trimester of studies here at ANU. They have gotten to see a lot more of Africa than we have and now they are off to Europe to hike for a month before they travel back to the USA and their families. We appreciate these special young men and are grateful to have had some time with them. The house will certainly seem empty when they are gone.

SHANGILIA CHOIR TOUR
We are now about a month away from beginning our tour with our students. The schedule for our travels is as follows:

May 27 – Leave Nairobi for the USA (via Dubai and New York)
May 28 – Arrive in Indianapolis, Indiana
May 30 – Northeastern Indiana Mission Convention (Marion, Indiana)
May 31 (am) – Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) – Northeastern Indiana Camp Meeting (Marion, Indiana)
June 2-3 – Georgia District Mission Convention (Dublin, Georgia)
June 6 – Education Foundation Meeting (Nashville, Tennessee)
June 7 (am) – Gallatin, Tennessee First Church of the Nazarene
June 7 (pm) – Louisville, Kentucky Farmdale Church of the Nazarene
June 9 – New Albany, Indiana Christ Community Church of the Nazarene
June 10 – Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 – Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 – Chicago Central District Mission Convention (Kankakee, Illinois)
June 14 (am) – Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) – Olathe, Kansas College Church of the Nazarene
June 15 – Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center (Lenexa, Kansas)
June 16 – St. Louis, Missouri South County Church of the Nazarene
June 17 – Nashville, Tennessee Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (am) – Leesburg, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 21 (pm) – Fort Myers, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 23 – Clearwater, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
June 24-July 1 – Church of the Nazarene General Assembly (Orlando, Florida)
July 5 (am) – Pompano Beach, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 5 (pm) – Venice, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
July 8 – Redlands, Florida Church of the Nazarene
July 9 – Leave Miami, Florida for Nairobi, Kenya (via New York and Dubai)

I am actually getting closer than the choir to my departure date. I leave for the USA on May 13 and begin the process of getting my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) so I will be qualified to drive the bus for the team. My main focus over the next two-week is to prepare myself for this series of tests. Whoops! I just got a text message telling me that I have to attend a faculty workshop on Monday and Tuesday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. I guess I’ll have to squeeze in CDL study when I can.

Well, I’d better use my time wisely and get with the program. I trust that the Internet will stay up and I will be in touch next week. Have a blessed weekend!

Kwa herini (Goodbye)!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

April 24, 2009 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from Kenya!

Here are some words of encouragement…from the Apostle Paul.

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, mail nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Romans 8:1-2).

EASTER AT ANU
Last Sunday the University Church of the Nazarene had its first Easter service. Pastor Gift Mtukwa shared the resurrection message and led us in a communion services and we had a good number of visitors join us for the first time. The church has now passed the six-month mark in age and our hopes are high for its future. Each new “first” is a special event and it is a privilege to be in on the ground floor as these events take place.

CATCHING UP
I am finally home from teaching for the last two weeks in Machakos. All I had to do is today was administer the final exam tomorrow and then collect the papers and head back to Nairobi and ANU via a three hour traffic mess. It is good to be home again and soon hope to see Mary Jane and the guys at my house. Most of the students are gone by this time because finals are now over for the trimester on campus. I’m sure there are a lot of them very happy to get those tests behind them and get a little break.

LIFE IN MACHAKOS
The people there were very friendly and the accommodations comfortable. I got three meals a day, privacy to study, and some creature comforts like a refrigerator and a TV. Well, the TV just got a couple of stations and usually the words were in Kiswahili, but I don’t watch that much anyway. One real blessing was a fan that blew from the doorway to cool my room off. The rooms are made of metal and when the afternoon equatorial sun starts bearing down it gets a little warm. When the sun set it cooled off nicely for the night. I shared my room with a few lizards (which is not at all unusual in this part of the world), but as long as they picked up after themselves we got along just fine. I had a gray cat join me in the dining area for my meals and found that he liked French Fries. Hopefully he won’t be any worse for wear because of the American influence.

The students I have been teaching are all teachers in their own right. They are taking their holiday time to improve their educational standing and hopefully eventually gain a university degree. Elementary teachers make about 15,000 Kenya Shilling per month (about $187) and many times they are taking care of orphans as well as their own family. I talked with one lady yesterday who is caring for five AIDS orphans as well as her own three children – and on top of this she is going to school so she can to try and advance her lot in life. She is not alone in her situation. They are a pretty amazing bunch.

One neat thing about this group was that each morning they spontaneously began singing to start our class. One would lead and then the others would echo the words. Most songs were in the Akamba language, but it was harmonious and beautiful. One thing about Kenya; it is a singing and dancing country. Take away their voices and their legs and I don’t know if they could survive. Since I don’t speak the language I couldn’t join the song and since I haven’t got a dancing bone in my body I just watched and smiled, but the class has been a joy to be around.

The city of Machakos is surrounded by huge hills and in the mornings the clouds settle down on them like the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. In that regard it felt a bit like home, but when I looked around and became aware that I was about the only white face anywhere in the area it sometime feels a bit awkward. Children love to stare and point and say, “How are you” (emphasis always on the YOU!). I just smile back and wave. It’s an interesting place.

The roads on this trip were pretty interesting. Sometimes they were as smooth as anyone could ask for and other times there were long stretches that resembled more of a dry river bed that a road. The dust was often so thick that one couldn’t even see the car ahead – or the one coming at me. Thank the Lord for His protection while traveling.

DROUGHT
Though we have had a little rain things continue to be in serious condition. Agriculture and Tourism are the main industries in this country, but if the rains continue to fail and the government continues to struggle with leadership issues, then both of these lifelines will be greatly affected. We could use a lot a rain for a long time to make up for the lack we have experienced. I pray it will come soon. If it doesn’t, it is going to a long stretch until the next expected rains come in October. Less than 2% of Kenya is forested, so there is not much help from the trees in helping to form clouds in the sky.

LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE
I am returning home just in time for the Africa Leadership Conference, which will be held over the next week at ANU. Church of the Nazarene leadership from all over the continent and some from the US will be here and it will hopefully be a good time to be challenged, trained, inspired, and to catch up on the news from places we have not been to, or at least been to for a while. It will also be a time of getting all the exams graded since they have to all be turned in by next Friday. I guess I’ll be splitting my time between the two events.

Mary Jane has been as busy as a bee getting ready for our international guests. Yesteday she was off to the travel agent to make the first payment for our choir tour and then off to the airport to greet incoming visitors. With me being gone I haven’t been able to keep up on everything that has been happening, but we call once a day and try to keep in touch. I know we both will be happy for a little down time before we start gearing up for our next big trip. It will be here before we know it and Lord willing I will be arriving in my hometown one month from today. A lot still has to be done between now and then.

So, it’s time to get this letter on the “net” and soon after I’ll start getting the sound system in place for our guests and the upcoming meetings. And so it goes…I hope you all have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

April 17, 2009 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from Kenya!

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:8).

GOOD FRIDAY
I hope that God draws you especially close to His heart today as around the world Christians are remembering the Passion of our Lord and the price that He paid to redeem the world from the bondage of sin. I hope also that you find time today to reflect and focus on what that sacrifice means for your life.

We will be having the first Good Friday service of the University Church at noon today. I will be speaking, but the focus is on the cross and Pastor Gift Mtukwa will be sharing communion for the first time in his ministry. It will be a memorable time for all present because of this being another “first” for the church, but more importantly for the reason we gather.

OFF TO MACHAKOS
This week I have been living off campus in a little town called Machakos, and teaching a class on Christian Beliefs. Machakos is about a two-hour drive from ANU (depending on the condition of the roads and the traffic). The group I am teaching is made up of public school teachers who are trying to get their degree in education from ANU. They are a delightful group, mainly from the Akamba tribe and each day they begin our class time by singing me a song in their mother tongue. Naturally, I have to ask for an interpretation to find out what they are saying, but the harmony is beautiful and like most Kenyans I have met, they quickly become a group that is easy to love.

It’s a little lonely in my room between classes, but since I haven’t had a lot of time to prepare, plus the fact that I have never taught this subject before, I need the extra hours to get ready for the next day’s class. So far it seems to be going well, but I guess I won’t know for sure until I get all the tests graded from the final exam. In any case, by next Friday it will all be over.

FINAL EXAMS
The students of our main campus and town campus are gathering daily now to take their final exams. Since I am not around during this time I can’t experience it with them, but my thoughts and prayers surround them. Tension is high and fear of failure is very real. So much depends on the outcome of these tests and everyone is very focused on the possible rewards and consequences. Their life situations can change literally 180 degrees should things go badly. If you could breathe a prayer on the behalf of these students I know they would appreciate it.

CHOIR TOUR
As our choir finishes their exams they are starting to leave the campus one by one. We will not see them back at school again until about a week before they leave for the US. That last week will be filled with lots of practice and last minute planning. Hopefully, by that time I will be in the States and successful in my attempt to get my CDL so I can drive the bus for the group. I plan to pick them up at the airport in Indianapolis on May 28th, so we trust all will go well on all fronts.

Please keep this tour in your prayers. This project is costing over $50,000 (plane tickets, lodging, food, ground transportation) and right now it is a really big faith venture for us. We know that the recession is hurting a lot of people back home and here as well, but we also know that the Lord hasn’t brought us this far to leave us now. We are convinced that when all of this is said and done that it will be a lesson in trusting God that our students will never forget.

THANKS FOR BEING THERE
While I am on the subject of finances, just let me say thanks to all who are a part of the Church of the Nazarene and for the support that they give to missions. Like all parts of international work, the mission program of our church has great challenges facing it financially that are in many ways unprecedented. Your faithful support of the World Evangelism Fund makes it possible for so many missionaries and support staff to continue to spread the message of Scriptural Holiness to 156 world areas. I know that the natural tendency is to think of work closer to home first¾and certainly that is very important¾but your faithfulness to the global picture is also vital. Thank you for being there for us. We don’t say it nearly loud enough or often enough, but we are grateful far beyond what we able to express. We are proud to be “deputized” to be your missionaries! This is your ministry just as much as it is ours.

SAD NEWS
Last week I received an e-mail from a youth pastor named Michael Pence, from Bedford, Indiana asking me about how to involve his teens in missions. He seemed so concerned about them looking beyond their own little world and grasping the big picture of God. I told him about our coming choir tour and encouraged him to bring his group to where we were going to be on his district so we could have some time of interaction with his kids. He worked part time at the church and at night in a factory to pay the bills. On the way home from church last Sunday with his nine-year-old son he fell asleep at the wheel, flipped his truck, and landed in a flood-swollen creek. Both he and his son drowned in the water. His wife stayed at church following the Palm Sunday service to practice for an Easter Cantata never thinking that by Good Friday both her men would be buried and she would be looking at the cross alone. Life is sometimes so very hard and I hurt and grieve also with this lady for a brother and son I never met, but whose ministry struck a chord in my life. Good Friday and Easter is going to have a totally different meaning this year for her. Please keep the Valley Mission Church and Mrs. Pence in your prayers.

Well, once again it is time to go. My hope and prayer is that you will have a wonderful Easter weekend and that the Risen Lord will meet with you in a very special way this Sunday.

Be blessed and be a blessing…

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

April 10, 2009 at 4:25 am 1 comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from the Maasai plains of Kenya!

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners¾of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (I Timothy 1:15-16).

HOLY WEEK
This Sunday, Palm Sunday, begins the most precious week of the year for the Christian faith. I hope that it is a time of serious reflection for each of you and a time when the grace of God and the sacrifice of God will become more real to you than ever before.

CRUNCH TIME
Final exams are underway and now the students get the opportunity to show what they have learned and the teachers get the opportunity to see how good a job they have done in preparing them. These exams will go on until the 17th of the month and each one lasts from two to three hours. Tension is in the air since 60% of the final grade comes from this one test, but relief comes afterwards along with a sense of accomplishment and the joy of knowing that the trimester break is just ahead.

BOOM!!!
We had a little bit of excitement here on Tuesday. At about 6:00 p.m. I was down at our house when all of a sudden there was a loud explosion. Almost immediately my phone rang and it was my neighbor (Nancy Pitts) asking me what had happened and I didn’t have any more idea than she did. Shortly afterward though we found out that the water heater in the Cashman Men’s Dorm exploded, tearing out a rock wall, shattering windows as far away as the girls dorm (about 150 feet) and sending chunks of wood flying in all directions. The amazing thing about it was that not one person was injured even slightly. The guys in Cashman may have to do without hot water in their showers for a while (but if you are not the first ones in line you have that anyway), but other than that things will continue on as normal until all repairs are made. How grateful we are to the Lord for His protecting hand over our student body. ANU certainly is holy ground!

RECORDING
Mary Jane led our Shangilia Singers into our mass communication studio for several hours this week to produce a CD that we can take to the US with us when we go. We will produce about 500 of them to take with us for sale and hopefully they will be a blessing and an extension of our ministry after we have returned to Africa. The students are also bringing some of their handcrafts (necklaces, jewelry, Massai souvenirs, etc.) to sell to anyone who may be interested in African wear. The proceeds will give them a little spending money in the States since most of what they have has been put toward their plane tickets.

KITISURU HIGH SCHOOL
Last Sunday my nephew, Corey, and I went to school – to Kitisuru Boys High School (a boarding school) to share in a church service with about 190 boys. I don’t think Corey will forget it quickly. The Kenyan style of worship is vastly different from what we have in the States, as are the facilities that it is held in. Still, when I got an opportunity preach, the students were attentive and a good number of them sought Christ at the close of the service. God is good and getting to share His Good News in places like this are some of the highlights that I will remember long after our time here is over.

MACHAKOS
Beginning Monday of next week I move off campus to the city of Machakos, which is about two hours away. I will be spending the next two-weeks teaching a Christian Beliefs class to a group of teachers who are trying to get their bachelor’s degrees. Teachers here are not yet required to have education degrees, though the country is moving that direction. ANU is helping to make that dream come true for them. So, I will be out of touch most of the next two weeks since I won’t have Internet access, but will be home on the weekends. Hopefully, all will be quiet on the home front and no news will be good news. Mary Jane will be checking the email, however, and can pass on to me anything that I need to respond to.

THANKS!
Just a word to say how grateful we are to all who have been a part of the ANU Nazarene Student Scholarship Fund. To date, nearly $49,000 has been received and the amount continues to grow monthly. For all of those who were contributors to the first year of giving and those who are taking part this year we say a big, “God bless you!” In September we will be starting to give out the interest off this account and we are going to see some very happy students for years to come. Once again we are seeing what difference a little can make in the life of others when the Lord blesses the gift. I pray He will bless the giver in like manner.

Have a wonderful Palm Sunday! Say “Hallelujah!” and wave a palm branch wherever you are. The King of kings is in our midst! Bwana asifiwe!!! Asante Yesu! (Praise the Lord! Thank you, Jesus!)

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

April 3, 2009 at 7:07 am Leave a comment

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