Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him….Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” – Luke 10:5-6; 9
During our recent NAMS trip to Kenya, East Africa, we experienced in a very palpable way several aspects of the truth of Jesus’ words recorded in Luke 10:1-9, as he sent his disciples out to announce the Kingdom of God. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew what would happen and what they would need when they went and announced the message of salvation. His instructions and promises to them remain true in our day. And we can testify to them from our trip!
Jesus told his disciples that the harvest is great but the workers are few (verse 2). Certainly as we looked upon the mission field of Kenya and saw that so many people were in need of the Gospel and that there were few workers, we were reminded that Jesus told us to respond with desperate prayer to his Father, the Lord of the Harvest, that he would send more laborers out.
And as part of NAMS’ response to that prayer and vision, we arrived in Kenya. We came with the mission of helping our brothers and sisters there, to look for new opportunities for service and to find men and women of peace whom the Lord was already preparing for the work of discipleship.
The first man of peace (see verse 6) we encountered was a dear man and brother called Timothy, who had left his native land of Rwanda as a refugee to move to Kenya. He now works to share the gospel and make disciples of others. He and his family offered us their home and served us and our needs. As Jesus instructed, we prayed for new workers, and God has answered our prayers by giving us not only a son of peace but a new Companion-in-the-making for the harvest. When we obey Jesus’ instructions in our missionary call, he commits to provide the results.
On this trip, there was Mary from the USA, Ivan from Chile and Tamer from Egypt. Timothy and wife Rachel from Rwanda/Kenya and their wonderful family provided our daily support. From there, together we started to do the work as God opened doors. We looked for new opportunities to serve as we connected with various people while traveling within the cities of Nairobi and Mombasa. We encouraged pastors in the Lord who serve among the poorest of the poor, reminding them that their faith, put to the test in the midst of their difficulties, is more precious that gold. We shared meals, prayed for the sick, and announced the Good News, just as the Lord commands.
However, the words of Jesus are also clear when he says that he sends his disciples on mission in the midst of wolves (verse 3). In each work of God, the enemy is prowling about, as the Scriptures say, like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. We also met people who did not seek the glory of the Kingdom and put obstacles in the way of the Gospel. Our brother Timothy was even laid low with malaria, yet in spite of that, God was glorified, and in a few days the effects of this disease in him began to subside. Although at times we thought about quitting, God strengthened our hearts, and we were able to finish our work with wonderful results. The faithful prayers of our NAMS brothers and sisters around the globe were heard. Glory to God!
The result of our brief time in Kenya has been further work towards the establishment of a base for NAMS under the leadership of our brother Timothy and his family. We built on existing contact and founded new ones. They were numerous opportunities to make disciples who make disciples. This specifically included four young people who were encouraged and mentored in sports ministry by NAMS Companion Tamer and will continue to be accompanied by Timothy in Kenya. There are exciting opportunities for new ministries among the poor and the beginning stages of a plan to train disciples to be sent from Kenya to various neighboring countries including Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi – just some of the places God has shown us.
We thank God our trip to Kenya. To God be all the glory.
— (by Ivan Ruiz Escalona, NAMS Companion)
Are you ready for my discipleship confession: I am a slow learner.
I have known about the Great Commission of Matthew 28:16-20 for 20 years now. The first time I heard of it was in a Bible College. Looking back, it only went in skin-deep – my understanding of what it meant was purely on the level of theory in order to pass an exam.
When I took the step from training into vocation, the Lord led me into student ministry in colleges and universities. I loved the nine years of my time there. But as I look back, I can hardly find any link between what I was doing (fulfilling my ministry) and the need to make disciples (obeying His Great Commission).
Is knowing the difference between the two really that important? Undoubtedly yes! Serving God in whatever ministry He places you is certainly a good thing. But doing ministry from the framework of the Great Commission is simply the best. It is like the difference between adding and multiplying disciples.
The appointed day of revelation came in the month of August 2017, when a team from NAMS led a vision summit in Nairobi. That was my eureka moment! Through the summit, the Holy Spirit opened the eyes of my mind and I began to look at events and circumstances differently.
I crossed the bridge from on one side, simply seeking to serve God faithfully but without the mind-set of a disciple-maker at the heart of my ministry, to where making disciples is a lifestyle. I have more than one testimony to share in this regard but allow me to single out the first experience that happened immediately after the summit.
For a long time in the apartment where my family lives with many other families, children from our neighboring families have had a habit of coming to play in our house with our children (including children from other faith backgrounds). Prior to the NAMS summit, the presence of those children in our home was a matter of hospitality. But after the NAMS meetings, we felt that our hospitality was not enough. My eyes were opened to see that these children are good soil ready for Gospel seed. Before long, we began a bible discussion group in our home of which I am now the teacher.
God began to bless this initiative. Firstly, when children started attending the evening Bible study regularly, some of the children’s parents got to know about it and began to accompany them to our home. I saw this development as a blessing. Before long, a bible study fellowship for the grownups was launched in our house. Secondly, the children themselves have become mobilizers of other children. No one needs to remind them now about the Fridays Bible Study or to bring others with them.
We have begun to make disciples of those coming, and it has clearly been the work of the Holy Spirit through us!
What God has begun to do in me, He can do with you too.
— Timothy Mazimpaka is based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is leading a group working with NAMS to establish a base community in Kenya.
Pray for us that God will multiply the disciples Timothy and others are seeking to make in his home group and elsewhere. Pray also for us in NAMS as we work to walk with, and equip people like Timothy and other believers in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa, to become disciple-making disciples and leaders who can equip others for the same and help plant disciple-making churches.
‘Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!’ (Psalm 133:1). That is an apt verse to describe our recently concluded Africa Summit meeting in Kenya over the weekend of 18 August 2017.
It was a much-anticipated event – the first ever NAMS Vision meeting taking place in East Africa. About 20 or so participants from African countries like South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Congo (DRC) gathered with 5 NAMS companions for a weekend of hearing the NAMS story and vision and being encouraged and equipped to make disciples the Jesus way commanded (Matthew 28:19-20) in order to plant new churches.
In the weeks preceding the event, Kenya had a largely peaceful General Election, and we thank God that we did not see the violence that marred previous elections and the aftermath, which would have made travel to Nairobi difficult for many. However, a few days before the event, our NAMS Sub-Saharan Africa leader Gabe Smith was struck down with a lung infection and was not able therefore to fly to the event as planned. As he was the main organizer, we had to do some last-minute reorganizing. We thank God not only that the event could continue without him, but that he is now fully recovered.
The Africa Summit was held in a Roman Catholic retreat center about 30km out of Nairobi. The temperature hovered around a pleasant 20 degrees Celsius for the most part of the days. The lovely setting of the grounds enhanced our time together, which was designed to be a mixture of prayer, worship, teaching, training, and free time for networking, rest, and retreat. We were also blessed by the great service and the food cooked up by the cheerful staff of the center.
Some of the participants made long journeys at their personal cost to come, including one Anglican pastor from Congo who had to make a three-day journey by bus each way. We were encouraged and humbled by their immense desire and willingness to sacrifice to meet with us for the sake of the Gospel.
Looking back on that weekend, we were richly blessed by our interaction with many wonderful leaders, pastors, and servants of God – a mixture of clergy and lay leaders, old and young, some working in church ministries and others in the marketplace.
We were able to share the NAMS story and vision that God has taught us: disciple-making disciples as the seeds of new churches. We heard stories from the lips of NAMS companions from places as diverse as North India, Egypt, Chile, and Thailand.
The rich, heavenly sounds of African voices in worship and dance was heard and seen between sessions, as well as inspiring testimony and teaching not only from NAMS Companions, but also from our friend Richard Mayabi of Church Army who gave a clarion call to the African Christians present to make disciple-making and mission a priority for the African church – or risk losing ground in Africa.
NAMS Companion Bishop Bahemuka William celebrated at Sunday Communion and preached a stirring message. In his sermon, he quoted his friend, retired American bishop Fitz Allison who said, ‘If you don’t give the Gospel away, you don’t get it!’ Indeed!
The outcome of this meetings is that there is a clear desire among participants representing different Anglican dioceses and other non-Anglican churches across East Africa for partnership with NAMS. We are now praying that in time, we can plant a NAMS base community in East Africa to facilitate the work God is clearly giving us to do there.
We thank all of you who prayed for us during this week and for the meetings. God heard your prayers and gave us a wonderful foretaste of heaven, Africa-style! To God be the glory!
Sometimes the work that God needs done in a region of the world requires a servant who does not live there. Iván has such a call.
A citizen of Chile, he has a God-given heart for the nations. A servant’s heart. A heart especially for the Horn of Africa.
As a single man, for years he was someone that the Lord could call to help at any time and in any place. He would stop what he was doing, raise support, and fly to the need the Lord had placed on his heart. It was almost always after a disaster of great proportion, or some major cataclysm. The Tsunami in Japan. The Civil War in Sudan. The Arab Spring in the Middle East. A terrible drought in Burkina Faso.
Again and again, the Lord has placed an immediate need on his heart and Iván has gone. To serve the Lord’s people in need, or just to serve those in need.
Iván is a NAMS Companion. We have no one like him. He is our global emergency specialist. And now he is married.
Iván and Mary Garrison Ruiz have been serving in Africa for the last four months on a short-term assignment. We are praying to support them and their unique calling in Christ Jesus. Although God has given them a heart for the Horn of Africa region, they will soon return to their NAMS Base Community in Temuco, Chile.
Shortly after, they will relocate to South Florida. There they will continue their ministry with NAMS, while they continue to establish the long-term foundation for the global ministry God has called them to. Mary will teach school and Iván will work in the construction industry while learning English to equip himself for the global work God has given him. But their ministry to the world will not stop.
They will reach out to the nations in South Florida, using their mastery of Spanish. They will befriend those whom the Lord calls into their life, and from there Iván will travel to the Horn of Africa on a regular basis. Iván exemplifies the truth of the saying: “God will raise up his servants from anywhere and send them anywhere he needs them.”
Will you help NAMS support pioneering missionaries like Iván & Mary? Not everyone is called to go far from their home, but some are. Those who love the Lord are called to help them.
Can you make a regular monthly gift to NAMS to help spread the kingdom?