Update from Africa Nazarene University

Jambo!

“As I looked, ‘thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white as wool. His throne was flaming with fare and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened’” (Daniel 7:9-10).

My classes are over for the trimester and the above passage has the same apocalyptic style as the book of Revelation that I have been teaching, so I thought it would be appropriate to begin this newsletter in that vein.

BUSY DAYS
This is the last full week of school before exams begin next Wednesday. Teachers are trying to cram one more bit of knowledge into the students and the students are trying to endure one more assignment as they cram to get ready for the tests. This is the biggest thing of the semester (60% of their grade) and everyone is focused on it.

TRIP TO NAKURU
I was invited last Sunday to preach in Nakuru. Our houseguests had taken off for Uganda and Mary Jane was trying to rest up from some very busy days so at 5:30 a.m. I began the 2½-hour drive alone. Driving in the dark is always a challenge here. First of all, almost every car, bus, and truck you meet has their bright lights on. There is the occasional vehicle that has no lights at all, but usually one is blinded by the oncoming traffic. That wouldn’t be quite so bad, but the roads are narrow and the traffic loves to hug the middle of the road to keep from falling off the edge. Usually there is not much of a shoulder and few roads have any kind of painted lines on them so it’s often hard to tell where the payment ends and the drop off begins.

Added to these difficulties are the road hazards. Dark people in dark clothing walking, bicycles without any lights or reflectors, and animals (wild and domestic) that can come out of nowhere cause a state of constant tension. I never get sleepy driving here. Then there are the police checkpoints. Sometimes they are marked and other times there are just spike strips stretched across the road to make you stop. Combine these things with the fact that almost every truck, bus, and van fills the air with clouds of black exhaust fumes and you have a pretty good idea of driving after dark in Kenya.

At the first crack of sunrise most vehicles turn off their lights. There seems to be the feeling that they will use them up if they use them too much, so I have learned to watch carefully.

When I finally arrived in Nakuru I called the pastor to get directions to his church. He sent me to meet him at the local post office (which took me a half-hour to find) and said he would be there in twenty minutes. An hour later he finally showed up, but in the meantime as I waited at the post office with my windows up and my doors locked, I was constantly dealing with street boys and men begging me for money. I couldn’t give to one without giving to them all and I know they thought I had an endless supply of money, so they just stood by my window, tapping on it and scratching it with their fingers for what seems like an eternity and waited. I waited also. There was nothing else to do until the pastor got there. It’s heartbreaking, but there is no end to the suffering and poverty one finds here.

As I waited in the car with my windows up, the heat began to rise. People walked by, merchants begin to put out their wares, and some folks were headed for church. Soon people begin trying to sell me things, but they found I was an unwilling customer.

Finally, the pastor arrived and off to church we went. I got there at 9:30 just as a Sunday School class was beginning. At 1:00 p.m. we finally finished our services and left the building. During the time in between there was a time of praise and worship, about six local music specials, offering, and other local rituals. Eventually our school choir sang several selections and I had an opportunity to preach through an “interrupter.” All in all it was a good service with a great bunch of people. The power went off for the first half of it, but eventually a generator was brought in and we were modernized once again. Africans never let a little thing like the loss of electricity to stop a church service.

This Sunday I will preach at Kitisuru Boy’s High School, which is an hour or so north. This will be my third trip there so hopefully we will be having some students from there at ANU one of these days.

FINALLY DONE
Mary Jane has been working like a beaver trying to train our choir and get all the logistics taken care of for the upcoming trip. She has been faithful to the task and firmly determined to get it done. She led the group in a concert yesterday for our final chapel of the trimester and it was great. We are going to have a great time traveling in the “singing bus” throughout the US.

Here is the final edition of our slate with the Shangilia Singers. We finally have the passports, the visas, and the flight tickets nailed down. We have nine men and ten women who will be making the journey. The group will arrive in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 28th and will fly out of Miami, Florida on July 9th. A big “thank you” to Mary Jane’s sister, Jackie, who managed to get the domestic flights for us finally.

May 30 Northeastern Indiana District NMI Convention
May 31 (am) Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) Northeastern Indiana District Campmeeting
June 2-3 Georgia District NMI Convention
June 6 Nashville, Tennessee Educational Foundation Meeting
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
June 10 Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 Chicago Central District NMI Convention
June 14 (am) Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) Olathe, Kansas College Church of the Nazarene
June 15 Lenexa, Kansas Global Ministry Center Chapel
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 24-30 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 Redland, Florida Church of the Nazarene

All in all, it will be a little over 5000 miles total driving distance. Now I need to pass the test for the CDL. One step at a time…

Well, enough for another edition. Lord willing, I’ll be in touch next week. Be blessed and be a blessing!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya
Weblog: https://randyandmaryjane.wordpress.com

March 27, 2009 at 7:36 am Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello Spring Lovers! I hope it’s beautiful where you are!

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

DRY AND DUSTY
That verse could very easily have been written about Kenya. It is about as dry as I have ever seen it here and we wait (sometimes impatiently) for the long rainy season, which is overdue, to begin. The grass is basically gone and 10 million Kenyans are on the verge of starvation according to our local news reports. There are a lot of factors that figure into this crisis, but a lack of rain is one of them. It’s not the first drought to hit the country and probably won’t be the last, but it is certainly is sad to see.

SCHOOL DAYS DWINDLING
There are only two weeks left before classes are over and the final exams begin. This becomes not only a time of increased pressure over the material that will be covered on the tests, but also for those who haven’t gotten their fees paid yet. No one will be allowed to sit for their exams that has not paid their school bill in full. Some wait for a miracle to happen and some have plans in place to take care of the shortfall, but every trimester there are those who get really stressed over this issue. We hope all will find a way to get their bills paid, but it is ultimately the responsibility of each student to cover the costs. That’s part of the educational experience no matter what part of the world one lives in.

BUSY DAYS
There have been the regular duties of preaching and coordinating chapels and department events here and at the town campus, but I got an extra job this week. Our speaker for Thursday’s chapel cancelled and I got to fill the slot. It always a joy to speak to our students and staff, but usually I prefer a little longer head’s up to plan for it.

This weekend we will be attending a wedding of a colleague and Sunday I will be driving to Nakuru, in the Rift Valley, to meet up with Shangilia (our music group) and do a service in a church there. It’s always fun to meet new congregations and see new places, but it’s about a 2½-hour drive each way surrounding the two-hour service. That makes a pretty full day, especially when driving on Kenyan roads.

Mary Jane is staying busy trying to wrap up our travel plans for our US tour, teaching her class, and coordinating with incoming guests. We thought we would have everything settled for our trip by now, but things are rarely what they seem. Tickets have to be confirmed by Wednesday of next week so we should finally have those details behind us at that point. Then all we have to do is get the group ready and trust that all the needed money comes in. We are holding off until the last moment possible to allow a couple of students who didn’t make it through the visa process the first time to try one more time. We have to have our final count by Tuesday night, however. I think this is one of those projects that takes on a life and identity all of its own. We will be so glad to have done it, but on this side of the mountain it is quite a climb.

As soon as this trimester in over I begin teaching a class in Machakos, which is about a two-hour drive each way from here. Each class will be four hours a day, but fortunately they only last for two weeks. Following these classes we host a regional conference here on campus for a week and then it is time for the new student orientation and off we go again for another trimester. Come to think of it, getting on a plane and flying off is looking better and better…

SEEING THE WORLD
Our houseguest students, Corey and Joe, are headed for Uganda this weekend. They are really making a lot of friends here as they study for the trimester and now they are going to expand their horizons a little more. I know they enjoy spreading their wings a little and making the most of their trip abroad. When they leave here after the trimester is over they will spend a month hiking through Europe. Oh, to be young and full of energy! There is a big part of me that would love to go with them.

SCHEDULE
We are continuing to add to our upcoming music tour, but I think our slate is now about as full as we can make it. Here is what it is at present…

May 30 Northeastern Indiana District NMI Convention
May 31 (am) Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) Northeastern Indiana District Campmeeting
June 2-3 Georgia District NMI Convention
June 6 Nashville, Tennessee Educational Foundation Meeting
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
June 10 Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 Chicago Central District NMI Convention
June 14 (am) Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) Olathe, Kansas College Church of the Nazarene
June 15 Lenexa, Kansas Global Ministry Center Chapel
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 24-30 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 Redland, Florida Church of the Nazarene

TIME TO GO…
Well, I’ve been informed that the Internet connections are going to be closed down for maintenance in a short time so I had better get this off. Thanks for your continued notes and prayers. We hope to be in touch again next week. Have a blessed weekend and Lord’s Day!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya
Weblog: https://randyandmaryjane.wordpress.com

March 20, 2009 at 9:23 am Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from East Africa!

“See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us – even eternal life” (I John 2:24-25).

Well Friday has rolled around again. Here in the Nairobi area it is warm (mid-90’s), dry, and very windy. Whatever grass is left is in short supply and the Maasai herdsmen continually look each day to find places to graze their flocks of cows, goats, and sheep. Sometimes they have to go many miles for a little nourishment for their animals. It’s no wonder they are all so thin.

WRAPPING THINGS UP
We are now just three weeks away from the first final exams. For those who have been through them before the plans to prepare for the tests are already are already underway, and for those who have not experienced these joys there is a sense of fear and foreboding in the air. This is a time for teachers to be sure that the lessons are sticking and that students are reminded not to procrastinate with their papers and reviews. Some will heed the advice, but sadly, some will not. I guess it’s just human nature to try and put off until tomorrow what should be done today.

CAMPUS LIFE
Classes seem to be going pretty well at this point. I have only six more sessions of each of my classes and it will be time to close the books. During the break after the final exams are over I will be teaching “Christian Beliefs” at one of our satellite locations in Machakos. It will be over an hour’s drive each way for two weeks and then teaching for four hours each day. Well, at least it’s a way to spend a break from the regular routine.

SHANGILIA NEWS
We have been to the American Embassy three times in the last week and day-by-day we are making progress in our trip plans. This has certainly not been a walk in the park. I have been doing my best to take care of things for when we get to America and Mary Jane is trying to cross all the “T’s” and dot all the “I’s” on this side of the big pond. We now have a solid eighteen students that have been approved to go and two more who are trying to get clearance. We have to know the exact number by Monday because at that point we will be confirming the airline tickets. We are so grateful to so many people who have been praying, giving, and encouraging us in this endeavor. We have picked up a few new meetings, so our slate for May-July now looks like this:

May 30 Northeastern Indiana District NMI Convention
May 31 (am) Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) Northeastern Indiana District Campmeeting
June 2-3 Georgia District NMI Convention
June 6 Nashville, Tennessee Educational Foundation Meeting
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
June 10 Hartford City, Indiana Church of the Nazarene
June 11 Rockville, Indiana First Baptist Church
June 12 Chicago Central District NMI Convention
June 14 (am) Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) Olathe, Kansas College Church of the Nazarene
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 24-30 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

We have had some other requests, but until we know exactly the locations (depending on the price) of where we are going to be able to fly in and out, we can’t confirm any more meetings. This is a pretty ambitious schedule as it is and our students are going to see not only a lot of America, but also a lot of the bus. We will be spending several thousand miles together – and making memories that will last a lifetime.

I will be leaving to come back to the states two months from today. I have to arrive in time to make arrangements to get a Commercial Driver’s License so I can drive the bus on the trip. I guess the teacher will have to become a student for a while until I get those tests behind me.

STUDENT UNREST
During the early part of this week the students from Nairobi University had some protests that led to riots and some damage to property. One of our trips to the embassy found us on a road that was blocked by students so we had to find another way around. It’s nice to be on a Christian campus where such things just don’t happen. Not everyone here is an angel to be sure, but there are different standards and expectations where we live. Between the guards, the fences, walls, and dogs, I don’t know how we could feel any more secure.

FAMINE WALK
Last Saturday, Corey, Joe, and me joined students from our campus on a walk to Ongata Rongai to raise awareness and funds for famine relief here in Kenya. There are literally millions who are suffering food shortages because of the drought and other political factors that have brought about such problems. There is so much need and so little we can do, but we do what we can. Earlier on we collected food and took it to some of the areas hardest hit and as time goes on we will be involved in other compassionate ministry projects, but right now our steps, contributions, and prayer tell the message that someone out there cares.

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY
Tonight we are going into town to spend the night with some other missionaries, Russ and Donna Lovett. Tomorrow morning Mary Jane is going to traveling with Sarah Reed, our field children’s ministries director, to train local church workers in area of children’s ministry. Teaching people how to make Bible quiz boxes out of cereal boxes, using construction paper and scissors to make object lesson sermons, and showing how to make do with what one has are specialties that Mary Jane has become very skilled in. I married a pretty creative gal.

Well, I’d better get this off in the mail and get back to work. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Lord’s Day! E you next Friday!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya
Weblog: https://randyandmaryjane.wordpress.com

March 13, 2009 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Happy Friday!

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24).

I hope this has been a good week for you. Once again I bid a warm welcome to our new readers and trust that this little endeavor of missions communication will be a blessing to you where you are.

OOPS, SORRY
I was mistakenly informed that last week Pastor Gift Mtukwa and Dr. Rod Reed would be speaking at the First Church of the Nazarene in Anderson, Indiana on Sunday morning (March 1). It was the right church, but the wrong city. They were in Huntington, Indiana. My apologies go to the folks around Anderson who showed up hoping to meet our friends. Thanks for making the effort anyway.

ST. MICHAELS
Last Sunday we took our choir to St. Michael’s Anglican Church on the southern edge of Ongata Rongai. The choir sounded wonderful and it was a privilege to be associated with them. I got to preach in English (without an interrupter) to a packed house and Mary Jane taught a group of 30 pre-teens under the trees outside. It was a good day and a wonderful way to begin the Lenten season. The pageantry was a little different from what I am used to, but I really enjoyed the change and getting to see another view of our Christian family.

AMERICAN EMBASSY
On Thursday we made a trip to Nairobi to pay the visa fees for our choir. You have to go to a bank to pay for the visas, get receipts, and then take the receipts to the American Embassy. We paid for twenty-two students, trusting that they all will make the cut to go. We did paperwork back in the office until about 9:00 p.m. and now hopefully everything is ready for the big trip.

This morning we load the bus at 6:00 and make our way to the American Embassy for visa interviews with our student singers. Having never been through this process before we have no idea of what to expect. I do imagine that we will be there for the day. I don’t know whether we will have to wait hours, days, or weeks to find out who gets permission to travel to the US, but we will do what we have to do. We request your prayers that the visas will be processed without delay and then that we will be able to find airline tickets that will fit within our budget. The Lord has opened so many doors already and we are confident that He will continue to make a way as we continue to trust Him to do so.

TOUR EXTENSION
It looks as though we are going to be in the states for a week longer than we had originally planned in order for us to get the best flight price. So, if you know of anyone who is interested in having our choir come to their church before, after, or during the 4th of July weekend we may have time available. Just drop me a line and we will see what works into the schedule. Since we will be finishing our tour in Florida we really need to focus on the southeast as much as possible.

Our slate for the tour is as follows:

May 28 – Leave Nairobi, Kenya
May 29 – Arrive in Indianapolis, Indiana
May 30 – Northeastern Indiana District Missionary Convention
May 31 (am) – Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) – Northeastern Indiana District Campmeeting
June 2-3 – Georgia District Missionary Convention
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 Missionary Convention
June 14 (am) – Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) – Olathe, Kansas College 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 1-8 (still open)
July 9 – Leave USA for Kenya

Well, this is going to be a short letter because it’s 4:15 a.m. and it’s going to be a long day. As soon as we find out something about our visas I will send out a brief news bulletin. Hopefully, we can rejoice together.

Have a great weekend and a blessed Lord’s Day! Till later…

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

March 6, 2009 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Hello from equatorial Africa!

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

GOOD DAYS
As we close one month and look to the next we are enjoying good days on the campus of ANU. I have still not received an official word as to our enrollment for this trimester, but maybe that’s because I haven’t officially asked. However, there seems to be a full house in our chapels, lunchrooms, and on the buses. Life is busy and there seems to be a pretty good spirit about the place. It’s hard to believe that just one month from now we will be in the midst of final exams once again. The trimesters do roll right along.

FIELD TRIP
Last weekend Corey, Joe, and I made the 983-kilometer drive to the Western Province to represent the school at the district assembly there. Needless to say, it was a long trip in a short time (35 hours total). However, it was beautiful to see the mountains, valleys, and even stop and take pictures at the “You are now at the equator” sign where we were mobbed with locals who wanted to sell us their handcraft souvenirs of the occasion. Those of you who know what a fabulous love I have of shopping will not be surprised to hear that I wasn’t there long enough to make a purchase. A picture is enough of a memento for me. Driving the roads was also enough of an adventure to fill me with memories for quite some time.

We had an opportunity to meet some wonderful pastors and hear the report of Julius Omondi, the district superintendent that I had taught in Church History and Homiletics classes. It was nice to be in his church and home and observe him in his natural habitat. Though the challenges of the area are great, we left there encouraged that God is going to make His presence known through these modern day soldiers of the cross.

We did pick up one souvenir from the trip. We stayed in a hotel called “Happy Moments.” I think there probably needs to be a name change coming. The rooms were overpriced, had no water except what they brought in to us in a bucket, and served a breakfast the caused my two companions to become violently ill by the next day when we got home. For some reason I guess the Lord spared me from the ailment once again, but then I didn’t drink the fruit juice. I have learned to just use boiled water to make tea. The guys are fine now, but I think a wry smile will always come to their faces when someone mentions, “Happy Moments.”

TRIP PLANS
I met with the music group this week and had an opportunity to begin preparing them for travel to the states and what to expect when they would get there. Monday is going to be a big day for them. At that point two-thirds of their plane ticket money is due and we will nail down exactly who will be going and start a more narrow focus in our preparation. Today Mary Jane and I are going out to visit travel agencies to see what kind of a flight deal we can make for these students and us. We have a very limited budget for flights, so we are trusting the Lord to make a way for us to get where we need to be.

Next Friday we will be taking all those who have qualified for the trip to the American Embassy to have their visa interviews. This will be a very big day for us so we ask you to be in prayer with us. Each interview is $131 and we have no guarantee that all or any will be allowed to travel to the US. Again, we are just trusting God to open the doors for us. Once we get passed that point it is just a matter of collecting the rest of the flight money, getting our presentations ready, and focusing on orientation to American culture. Of course, there are little things like the rest of the trimester classes and final exams to consider as well. This next couple of weeks is going to be very interesting to say the least. I will be going ahead of the group to the US in May to apply for my Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) so I can drive the bus for our trip. I am in the process of studying for the exam already.

JOINING THE ANGLIANS
This Sunday I will be accompanying Shangilia to St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Ongata Rongai where they will sing and I will preach in the morning worship service. Mary Jane will be teaching a teenage Sunday School class in addition to getting the choir ready so I guess we will all be busy. It will be my first experience to preach in the denomination of John Wesley and I look forward to extending my focus of God’s family to a little wider view.

DOWN TIME
I look forward to tomorrow when we can just sleep in and rest up from the week’s activities. I didn’t get to do that very much as a pastor, but here on campus I get to have some Saturdays free and that is a nice perk. I can use the time to do some reading and preparing for next week as I fill in for Dr. Rod Reed, who is presenting a theological paper at a seminar in Anderson, Indiana. I will be teaching his Doctrine of Holiness class until he gets back. By the way, Dr. Reed is traveling with Rev. Gift Mtukwa for this seminar at Anderson University and Gift will be speaking at Anderson First Church of the Nazarene this Sunday morning. If you have opportunity to hear him (he is our university church pastor) and give him a taste of American hospitality I know he would love to meet you. Just tell him I sent you his way. It’s his first trip to America and I hope there is a bunch of snow (sorry about that for you who live there).

Well, I’d better wrap this up and get it in the mail. Well, I will as soon as the Internet comes back on. Such is life in Kenya…

Have a great weekend and a wonderful Lord’s Day!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

February 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm 1 comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Habari ya asubuhi! (Good morning!)

“I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; for it is not for man to direct his steps. Correct me, Lord, but only with justice¾not in your anger, lest you reduce me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23-24).

Nawaletea salamu kutoka kwa Kiongozi wa chuo kikuu cha Africa Nazarene University Prof. Leah Marangu, pamoja na watu wote wema wa hicho chuo kikuu. (I bring you greetings from Prof. Leah Marangu, our Vice-Chancellor, and all the wonderful people at Africa Nazarene University.)

Now don’t get the idea that I am speaking fluently the language written above. This is a greeting I am working on presenting when I speak to churches and assemblies in the area. So many of our students speak so many languages and I do well to communicate in English. I guess I’m one of those old dogs that has a hard time with new tricks when it comes to Kiswahili.

GREETINGS TO NEW READERS
A number of new readers have been added to our newsletter mailing list this week and we welcome you. Our readership covers over 1000 homes, but I have no way of knowing how much farther this goes. Some districts and local churches have put our newsletter on their websites and once it gets into cyberspace it’s anyone’s guess who gets it. Anyway, we are happy for those who are new to us and for those who have been reading along with us from the start. We are always grateful for any comments and suggestions you may have to make these letters more interesting and informative. Many have expressed to me their appreciation for this weekly endeavor and we hope that new readers will also feel the same way.

NEW TRACK
We have a new walking/running track here and I am enjoying it. Since it’s still under construction it is just dirt and not always level in spots, but it’s a real treat to have a place like this to walk/run or whatever. I am making it my practice to do my walking on it in the mornings and do some light jogging on it in the evenings. This morning I was out there before daylight and out of the corner of my eye I saw an animal run going east as I was going west. It was much bigger than a dog and too fast for a cow so I wasn’t sure what it was. It was still pretty dark and I didn’t have my glasses on, but that’s the first sign of wildlife I have seen when being out and about in the dark. Upon telling my assistant, Rev. Constantino Magaya about it later, he told me he was dropping off his son for the school bus about that time at the front gate of the campus and heard a hyena howl. I’m hoping he was more scared of me than I was of him – and I hope it stays that way.

MUSIC TOUR
We are making progress, slowly by slowly. The Shangilia Singers are sounding great as they are learning new music, refining older songs, and getting ready for the big trip. We are now 98 days away from arriving in the US if all goes according to plan. The next big deadline for us is March 2nd because that’s the final cutoff date to see who is going to be making the trip with us. By that time we will know exactly who can apply for visas and who will need to get airline tickets. Those are no small items, but as we get closer to the deadlines the trip becomes more and more real.

We have had some wonderful news in the last week. First of all, we have received word of some financial gifts that are coming our way to help some of our students reach the necessary amount for their flights. To each person who has felt impressed to do this we say a big “THANK YOU!” You are making a wonderful difference that will never be forgotten. Secondly, I just received word that the Gallatin, Tennessee Church of the Nazarene is making available to us their 29-passenger bus for our tour. To be able to use only one vehicle and still be able to get all of our people and their luggage aboard is a true answer to prayer. THANK YOU also to the wonderful people of Gallatin. I will need to go through the channels to get a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in order to chauffeur this gang, but we are confident that the Lord will help me in that area as well. It will bring back memories of driving the motor home when we were doing full-time revival work in years gone by.

Our slate for the tour is as follows:

May 28 – Leave Nairobi, Kenya
May 29 – Arrive in Indianapolis, Indiana
May 30 – Northeastern Indiana District Missionary Convention
May 31 (am) – Anderson, Indiana Southdale Church of the Nazarene
May 31 (pm) – Northeastern Indiana District Campmeeting
June 2-3 – Georgia District Missionary Convention
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 Missionary Convention
June 14 (am) – Kansas City, Missouri First Church of the Nazarene
June 14 (pm) – Olathe, Kansas College 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 1-5 (still uncertain) – Leave USA for Kenya
MID-TERMS
Already we are at that point where our mid-trimester exams are being given and graded. I know that the students aren’t always crazy about them, but then those of us who have to grade them don’t always get a great charge from them either. Still, it’s a necessary part of the process and it signals to us any red flags that we need to investigate with our students.

WESTERN PROVINCE
I am off today to visit the Western Province of Kenya to represent ANU in a district assembly of our denomination. It will be about an eight-hour drive each way, but I’ve got my sidekicks Corey Buttry and Joe Ladesic to keep me company. These young Americans got to visit Mombasa on the Indian Ocean last weekend and this weekend are covering the central and western parts of the country. What a joy to get to show off this beautiful land.

Well, I’d better get this launched into cyberspace. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and a blessed Lord’s Day! Lord willing, we will be in touch next Friday.

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

February 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm Leave a comment

Update from Africa Nazarene University

Happy Friday 13th!

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

I guess those verses are for all the superstitious on this day. This has been a good week here in Kenya. We have continued to have some wonderful weather, although it seems a lot windier throughout the day than normal. Sometimes it seems like it is going to blow right through my fourth-floor window and push me down the hall. I guess I should enjoy it while I can. Our carpenters are working on my new office on the ground floor of the Helstrom Student Center and Chapel building where I won’t have access to any windows at all. It will be a nice office, but I will miss the gorgeous view I now have.

CHAPEL
Like most of our Nazarene universities, chapel services are required fare for our students. Also like other schools there are some who enjoy these times together in worship and there are some who chaff under the requirement. Even among the administrators there is often a sense of obligation to be there, but not always a real enthusiasm for the services.

This has been a really good trimester as far as chapel goes though. Our holiness week services with Dr. Daniel and Carol Ketchum were outstanding and other services have also been very special. On Tuesday of this week we had such a service. Dr. Rod Reed was speaking on divine healing. He showed some video clips of real healing and “fake” healing and tried to explain the difference. As we closed the service we dismissed the majority of the students and staff, but made provision for a time of prayer for those who either needed healing themselves or wanted to represent someone else. I didn’t count the number but a sizable group came around the altar for such a time of prayer. There was no concern for getting to class on time or getting time for lunch. Prayer was the focus and we know that God heard and met needs that day.

Not all prayers for healing are answered in the affirmative, however. Last week I requested prayer for a young mother here named Tabitha Chacha. Sadly, the brain tumor took its toll and she died last Saturday morning, leaving behind her husband, a five-year-old son, and a four-month-old daughter. The funeral will be this weekend. We grieve with the family, but we know heaven is richer with one more wonderful lady there. We don’t always understand the ways of God, but we are convinced that the King of all the universe will do right.

AMAZING PEOPLE
Some stories that our students tell are beyond description. I have one student that I have talked with at length lately. He ministers in a part of the world that needs to remain secret for security sake. A few years ago he went to his place of service with a small bag, the clothes on his back, and no Christian contacts. Today he is the superintendent of three districts that total 1000 churches. He tells me that the smallest of his churches runs 100 in attendance each week. That’s at least 100,000 people for Christ in a little over five years. Teaching such a person is a humbling experience to say the least.

LOST, BUT NOW FOUND
Some may have wondered about Joe’s (one of the American students staying with us) lost bag. Sunday morning we got the call that it had been found in Dubai and on Monday we picked it up. All contents were intact and Joe is now a happy camper. It was one month and two day late, but it did finally arrive, so the story has a happy ending.

CULTURAL WEEK
This is cultural week at ANU. On Monday we dressed as professionals. On Tuesday we dressed with clashing colors and crazy outfits (I don’t think any pictures were taken of me that will make it home so I’m probably safe). On Wednesday we dressed in what we wore to high school and I got to come to the office in a sweatshirt and jeans. On Thursday there were cultural exhibits and today there is a concert and people dressing in their tribal outfits. (I think my tribal outfit is a pair of sweats, but Mary Jane is not crazy about that idea.) It’s a lot of fun for the students and faculty alike. I guess things get back to normal next week.

CHOIR TOUR
We are still making plans for our upcoming choir tour. To put it gently, this is not an easy thing to bring about. We just found out yesterday that each student has to have $131 just for the visa interview – with no guarantee that they will be accepted by the American Embassy to go. This is on top of the $40 they have already had to pay for a passport and $1200 yet to pay on a plane ticket. It most likely will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some. That’s just reality. Our group will no doubt be smaller than we had hoped, but we are forging ahead with our plans and trusting God to “kill a few cows for them,” as Mary Jane is fond of saying.

Well, I guess that’s the news for now. It’s time to wind this up and get it in the mail. Thanks for your cards, emails, and prayers. We feel very loved and supported. I hope you have a good weekend and a wonderful Lord’s Day!

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Randy and Mary Jane James
Africa Nazarene University
Nairobi, Kenya

February 13, 2009 at 3:52 am Leave a comment

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