“I was instructed on the only two topics I was preach this year: stewardship and giving. But I refused.” – Pastor Paul
When I visited Kenya three years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Paul, who pastors the Gaa-barak Local Church in Bomet, Kenya. Like the majority of pastors in Kenya, Pastor Paul had no formal training and would simply imitate some of the best known pastors in Africa and the US. Unfortunately, many of the best known pastors are people like Joel Osteen and others who never speak of the Christian gospel, but treat God more like a generous vending machine: put in your dollar, and two Cokes come out! Thus you can understand the emphasis on stewardship and giving; it’s to get more blessings from God. Unfortunately, the only people getting rich are the church leaders.
Three years ago Pastor Paul started classes at KReST (Kisumu Reformed School of Theology) and it has opened his eyes to the Bible. I was delighted see Pastor Paul as a student in my class this week. He told me he often held the Bible in his hand, but he didn’t teach it. Now everything has changed. Pastor Paul had just finished his Reformation History Class and the issue of indulgences was on his mind. He told me his denomination had leaders like Johann Tetzel, the Dominican Bishop who would cry out, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” His superiors were pressuring for more giving so that you could earn more blessings from God.
Pastor Paul refused to preach only stewardship and giving; instead he wants to preach Christ. He has been called to appear at several councils with church leadership and expects he will lose his job sometime soon. As I spoke with Pastor Paul I told him he is like a modern Martin Luther!
It’s appropriate Pastor Sam Oluoch refers to his work as the Reformation in Kenya. There are many churches here, but it’s rare to hear Christ preached. In KReST there is a bishop who oversees several churches he planted in Eldoret, Kenya. It wasn’t until he met some of the pastors leading the Reformation in Kenya that he realized he wasn’t a Christian. He is now soaking up the biblical teaching at KReST.
It’s been such a pleasure to teach here on the Gospels and Acts. Most of the students are already pastors, but they have no theological training. They are soaking up everything like dry sponges. They are eager to reform their understanding to what Scripture teaches instead of conforming it to whatever the latest celebrity pastor teaches.
Our missions conference is quickly approaching, and this trip has reminded me how important missions are. Your generosity has allowed us to help Pastor Sam plant a church in Nairobi and continue the reformation in Kenya. You have allowed our church to support new churches in Utah, as well as Brian Tsui who is active on the campus of San Jose State. While each of these ministries operates in very different contexts, they have this in common: they want to share the living waters of Christ with those who are thirsty. That’s what missions is about. We want to be a church that shares our resources so more can drink of the refreshing waters of Christ. I hope you will attend our missions weekend. I’m excited to hear about how God has been at work this past year!