Forewarning… this is gonna be a long one! :)
Have you ever seen what God does, through His Holy Spirit, when His people are of one mind and one focus and are committed to Him and His glory? During our recent trip to Africa we experienced this first-hand. On Wed morning (in Kitale), as we gathered together for our morning devotional, Laci began by explaining she believed God had spoken to hear that morning when she was praying. Laci felt that God clearly said He was going to do amazing things this day so we ought to be prepared. She was right!
As we finished our breakfast and departed we had plans to stop by a local secondary school (High School) and visit with them for a bit before we headed to Chisare for a Pastor’s Conference and then open air crusade in the village of Chisare. God had begun a work already. We did not know it yet, but He did not intend for us spend a bunch of time at this school that day. He planned on us being in Chisare longer and to prepare our hearts and minds for His work. As we pulled into the school and departed the Toyota van we discovered the school administrator who was to escort us through the school had been called away unexpectedly. Because we did not know anyone else from this school we could not stay. So, we loaded back up and headed to Chisare and the church where the pastor’s conference would be held. This is God’s Hand At Work Pt 1.
The ride to Chisare was like any other while we were in Africa, beautiful and educational at the same time. The landscape in Kenya is just beautiful. Trees, bushes, topography, etc. are all amazing. But, you also see the conditions people live in that many Americans would not understand, yet you also see a content and happy people (you mean I don’t have to have the biggest house, car, TV to be happy?). Chisare is a small village on the outskirts of Kitale. As you arrive here you is as if you are stepping back in time. And it’s absolutely beautiful!
God’s Hand At Work, Pt 2… When we arrived at the church preparations were being made for the conference (we were quite early). Mostly it was several men trying to set up a make-shift sound system that would broadcast the conference to the surrounding village. The church had no power so they had to run a very long extension cord from Pastor Moses’ house to the church and they were trying to “hot link” the soundboard directly into the power cord (all the while live power is being pushed through the extension cord). Our traveling light and sound expert, Matt, noted this was highly illegal in the U.S. The Kenyan’s were making it work through. This whole process took nearly two hours because of various issues. But, God had a plan! While these men were diligently attempting a fix to the sound issue several ladies from the church and village began singing Swahili worship songs. It was amazing. As our hearts and minds settled and we listened, and tried to sing as best we could, God moved. His Holy Spirit was already beginning to stir us all (Mzungus and Kenyans)! Oh, through some of this impromptu worship the sound was fixed but we continued as we were still waiting for folks to arrive. And, this is Africa. They start when everyone arrives (not when a clock dictates) and finish when they are finished (not when the clock dictates). This was difficult to get used to at times, but this day… well, God had a plan!
As was expected, the conference was amazing. We worshiped God in song for 30 to 45 minutes, had the standard introduction of the team as we also shared our greetings with the Pastors and other attendees and then God spoke through Scott about our need to start living “like we serve a God who made the sun stand still” (Joshua 10:1-15). Ok, so, before God told Laci that HE had big plans for this day, He spoke to Scott about this message about living like we serve a God that is all powerful. Well, that just has to be a funny coincidence, doesn’t it? Pshaw. NOPE! God’s Hand At Work, Pt 3.
Afterward we broke off into groups. The men sat under the shade of a huge tree and clouds over head (the weather was amazing – and as I sit writing this it’s 11 degrees outside and we had a second snow fall last night of 4inches that has covered over the 9 we received early last week). We had a basic question and answer time where the pastors and leaders could ask questions. Again, amazing! These men brought up great questions surrounding the work they do daily to serve God and lead others to a relationship with Him. While the men sat outside the women stayed in the church and Laci and Norma shared with them. And God’s Hand At Work, Pt 4 and 5 took place at the same time. Yeah, He can do that! As I wasn’t with the ladies I only know from accounts retold by Laci and Norma, but God stirred in those ladies and did a work in them, and through them, that was beyond their capabilities. Including Norma sharing her testimony (a part of her life’s journey God has lead her through) that appeared to make a major impact on the ladies that attended the conference. This testimony that only Norma’s husband, Terry, knew of. Another coincidence, blind luck or whatever, that God would challenge Norma to share this with the ladies on that day? Nope! For us men, God worked through more and more bold questions and, I believe, sat a young man right beside me. A young man that God would challenge me to pray for directly that day (that’s part of Pt 6 or 7 you’ll hear about in a few minutes), to seek to discover if he had a Bible and to buy him one once that answer was no AND to pray for him daily. Before I continue on I must say this latter part of the story was not to highlight my abilities or give honor to myself. I hope that you see from all that I am writing that this was COMPLETELY God’s day! It was made possible partly because there was a group of Kenyans and Mzungus that were willing to obey, but It was clearly God making things happen! So, back to the story… Well, both small group times were yet again amazing! God connected two groups of people who live 9 hours apart and changed hearts in all of the people attending! Ok, God, you can stop now. You’ve done enough. NO HE HASN’T!
After the conference we took the short walk from the church to the village. Several of the young men from the conference hooked up a temporary sound system in the middle of the street. As the villagers began filing out of their homes and businesses and gathering in the middle of the village we worshipped, singing and dancing, for over an hour. All of this time the Holy Spirit moved through this village, preparing the hearts of the attendees for a word from Him. All of this time another of our group, Shane, was preparing his heart and mind for a short, and somewhat impromptu, sermon for the people of Chisare. God’s Hand At Work, Pt 6 had begun. As this was outside of Shane’s usual strengths God did amazing things through Shane and he clearly laid out God’s plan for each of us to experience a love with God like we can have with no one else! Because God’s Holy Spirit moved through that village and because of Shane’s willingness to step outside of his comfort zone and allow God to use him many of the villagers of Chisare reported they wanted to accept Christ that day.
It was beyond AMAZING! Oh, but God wasn’t done yet! Afterward Pastor Adams asked me to pray for the village, as a whole, Pastor Adams then asked the villagers to come forward and our team would pray for them individually. I’ve used the word “amazing” several times to describe what God’s Holy Spirit was doing this day and now I’ve run out of an adequately descriptive word to use. As we stood in the street, hands on shoulders and arms, hearts connected with the villagers of Chisare, God’s Holy Spirit moved through that place. I’ve never “felt” God move so powerfully through a place and time as I did that day! We prayed for men, women, children, families. All of them that would come forward, and there were a lot of the people there. Even now, recalling the events of that day and ending with our praying for the people of Chisare, my heart goes there. I long for that for our churches and homes in America. For a people that are so open to God’s moving… and to stepping out of themselves and listening to and obeying the Spirit of God… that others around them cannot help but see God in them and they give their lives to Him!
Are you ready for God’s Hand At Work, Pt 7 and beyond? Do you want to experience the power and love of God? First, If you’ve not yet done so, you have to give your life to Him. The Bible tells that we can accomplish nothing like was experienced this day apart from God! We are dead in sin (Ephesians 1:4-5), so much so that we love the “darkness” not the light (John 3:19) and we are, basically, God’s enemies (Romans 5:10). The wonderful thing is that, even though we love the darkness and are God’s enemy because of our sin, His gift to us is the ability to change through the power of Jesus blood and sacrifice on the cross. Romans 6:23 says that God has gifted us salvation, not something we earned, but a free gift to us. All we have to do is accept that gift and start living for him.
If you have given your life to God, do you want to see this power of God? I challenge you… I DARE YOU! Ask God to show you that power in your life, family and church! Just see what He will do. Get together with other folks weekly and pray for your church, Pastor and leaders. Pray for the worship team, choir, teachers and other leaders. Pray for God to send His Holy Spirit to move through your church and to do mighty things. Then submit! When God says “speak” then speak! When God says, “pray” then pray! When God says, “Go” then go! When God says, “Love” then love! Several of us from Restoration Church are meeting Sunday mornings (or praying from home if we can’t be there in person) before the first service (9:15 am till about 9:40 am) to pray for our church and for God to move in and through us that day). Join us if you can, or pray from home! As we become united in spirit and heart God will do amazing things, in and through us!!