Update from Africa Nazarene University

November 6, 2008 at 1:14 pm Leave a comment

Greetings from Ongata Rongai, Kenya!

“Righeousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

I hope this has been a good week for you.  Here is what has been happening where we are.  I know this letter is a day early, but read on and I will tell you why.

On Sunday I had the opportunity to worship in a new place.  The Kware Church of the Nazarene is typical of many Kenyan churches, but so different from what I am used to.  The student preacher I was there to evaluate (Okon Sunday David, from Nigeria) and I drove through winding narrow streets of mud about two kilometers off the main road to reach the place.  We passed hundreds of walkers, kiosks, and shops, as we made our way to the church.  The rented structure was about 35′ x 17′, approximately the size of a three-car garage.  The north wall was the stone side of another building and the other three sides and roof were made of corrugated metal with rough 2×4 wooden frames. The floor was made of rock and mud.  There were two light bulbs in the ceiling, but for a good part of our time, no power was available to light them.  The two front walls were covered with thin white sheets and there were four open windows and two doors for ventilation and light.  The smell of something burning filled the air and the sound of goats, sheep, and music from another nearby church added to my worship experience. Just outside my window someone washed his clothes in a bucket.  The room was decorated with 25 plastic chairs and 5 wooden 6′ benches, a pulpit, a table, and chair for the pastor and a keyboard for music.

|The pastor of the church, Pastor Paul has only one leg.  He swings himself along on a pole and seems to navigate pretty well over the rough rocks and mud.  About 25 of us gathered and after some very lively singing and dancing my student shared the morning sermon with us.  He is from Nigeria, preaching in English, and being interpreted into Swahili.  It’s all pretty amazing when one stops to think about it.

“Obama, Obama, Obama!”  That’s all we have heard on the news for the past few weeks.  It’s hard to realize that anyone else was even running.  Because his father, Barak Hussein Obama, Sr., journeyed from here to the US in the early 1960’s to go to school and married an American woman, our new president-elect has been at rock-star status since his name became public.

I was privileged to be invited to the American ambassador’s home (kinda like Jed Clampett’s) to view the election conclusion.  Jonathan and Jessica Duranceau (Mission Corps workers) and I left ANU at 4:40 a.m. and even had to have a guard escort us because of the guard dogs that were still running around the campus.  We arrived at the home shortly after 5:00 a.m., amazed at Nairobi with hardly any traffic on the streets, and joined hundreds of other curious spectators to view the counting of the red states and blue states on the many large televisions screens that were under large tents in the back yard.  We counted down with others to the closing of the polls in California…5-4-3-2-1, and in less than a minute the place exploded when the word “Barak Obama wins Presidency” flashed across the screen.  As Colon Powell would later say in an interview, “It was like a millennial New Year’s Eve celebration.”

As a result of the President-elect Obama’s victory, President Kibaki of Kenya declared today a national holiday.  That means all government businesses, schools, and many other entities are shut down.  The news broadcaster even began the news program by saying, “Happy Obama Day!”  Life goes on today in America as usual, but here things grind to a halt to celebrate what happened thousands of miles away. 

Last night we had a prayer meeting with students and prayed not only a prayer of thanksgiving for a peaceful American election (which is really rare in this part of the world), but also took requests and prayed for the nations represented by our students.  We prayed for very serious situations in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Burundi, South Africa, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and just for the continent in general.  One student from Malawi said something I will never forget.  In essence he said, “For so long we who are black have been looked at and treated like we were some kind of sub-human species by so many people around the world.  I have never had more respect for Americans than I do right now since they have said that they don’t believe that this is true.”  This is not an exact quote, but it’s pretty close.  It was a very moving moment.

We have auditioned and chosen our singers to make the trip to the USA next year for our choir tour and now the really tough part begins.  Each student has to raise their own airfare, which comes to about 90,000 Kenya shillings (about $1200 US).  Please join us in prayer for these young people for this is a huge task before them.  They have to have 30,000 in by January, 30,000 by March, and 30,000 by May if they are to make the trip.  We believe that not only will this push them to use their ingenuity to bring this about, but also that when it happens they will have their faith greatly increased as well.  They need to not only understand the slogan “Yes we can!” but also the fact, “Yes, God can!”

Just a note to let you know that we are staying very busy, but doing fine and enjoying the beautiful weather of Kenya and the blessings of God.  We are enjoying our day off and look forward to getting out this afternoon and just walking through the countryside once again.  Mary Jane has been extremely busy with her three jobs consisting of teaching two classes, directing the music program, and coordinating international visitors to the campus, but she is holding up knowing that relief is in sight and soon the trimester will be ending once again.  Her load will be lighter after the first of the year.

So thanks for your prayers, love, notes, and kind thoughts.  We leave here for the USA in twenty-eight days.  We hope to see many of you along our tour path.  Once again, here it is.

December 7 (am) Clearwater, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
December 7 (pm) Clearwater, Florida Central Church of the Nazarene
December 8 Visit with friends and supporters at Fort Myers, Florida First Church of the Nazarene
December 10 Archer, Florida Church of the Nazarene
December 14 (am) Live Oak, Florida Church of the Nazarene
December 14 (pm) Dublin, Georgia First Church of the Nazarene
December 16 Albany, Georgia Grace Church of the Nazarene
December 17 Gainesville, Georgia First Church of the Nazarene
December 21 (am) Middletown, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
December 21 (pm) Dunkirk, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
December 28 (am) New Albany, Indiana Christ Community Church of the Nazarene
December 28 (pm) Mackey, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
January 4 (am) Muncie, Indiana Southside Church of the Nazarene
January 4 (pm) Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya


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Update from Africa Nazarene University Update from Africa Nazarene University

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