A Foretaste of Heaven! NAMS Africa Summit, Kenya 2017.

‘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.

KenyaSunmmit

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!

 

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A Foretaste of Heaven! NAMS Africa Summit, Kenya 2017.

Global Mission Stories (III)  — Horn of Africa.

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?

Global Mission Stories (III)  — Horn of Africa.