Mombasa in Kenya is a vibrant city with rich cultural heritage; a colorful mixture of different ethnic customs and beliefs. Sadly since 2011 Kenya has suffered one terrorist attack every 11 days, with 370 killed. Almost all of the violence has been in the coastal region where Mombasa is situated. Because of security concerns, the police asked us to close the meeting each night by sunset – which, of course, put tremendous pressure on our shoulders; how to reach as many people as possible in a city with over a million people, when the sun sets already at 6:40PM?
Nevertheless, we were glad to be back in East Africa! The Vice Chairman of the Mombasa Friendship Festival was Peter’s interpreter in 1986 in Malindi, Kenya. He reminded us of a deaf-mute Muslim boy that was healed, and how that miracle shook the whole city. Peter’s message remains the same – he preaches Jesus Christ, and expects Christ to reveal Himself alive by miracles.
Busy from the start
Already the first day was eventful. We met with about 30 journalists in the press conference – all major TV and newspaper media was present. On the same evening about 100 leaders from politics and religion gathered together at the Friendship Dinner. The Deputy Governor of Mombasa County, Ms. Hazel Katana, warmly welcomed us to Mombasa; she was seemingly happy to see so many leaders from different religions coming together.
Peter presented Jesus as the Lamb of God to the Animist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian participants. In all religions the meaning of a sacrifice is prominent. Peter took time after the dinner to speak especially with the Animists. Many call them “demonic” and “witches”, just like the Samaritans were called “demonic” 2000 years ago – but Jesus loved and ministered to them.
No emotional frenzy
Sometimes in the Friendship Festival Peter shares what he calls the “Gospel mathematics”. The equations are:
1) Jesus + Anything = Nothing
2) Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Whatever God does is 100% because of Jesus. It is not based on our own effort, the preacher’s anointing, our worthiness, but on Jesus from A to Z. When Peter gets to the part of the Festival where he prays with people to receive Christ and later when he prays for the sick, he becomes “non-emotional”. What do I mean by that? – Gospel meetings with healings, salvation and miracles are often associated with emotionalism and the power of suggestion. That’s why Peter purposefully speaks very matter of fact. He wants people to know that what is about to happen has nothing to do with an emotional frenzy, but it is the raw power of the living Jesus.
“I had to burn my old sermons”
When the Holy Spirit reveals something important about Jesus, we can’t just ignore it. At the Pastors’ Seminar Peter told the participants how he had to burn some of his old sermons after he had understood better God’s grace toward us. Throughout life we are in the process of growth – and that growth is about personally knowing Christ’s love; its width, length, depth and height (Eph. 3:18).
Hundreds of pastors and leaders received the New Covenant teaching, and many of them told us that they had struggled to preach the Gospel without understanding what the Gospel, the “Good News”, really means. We now live after the cross and resurrection of Jesus – not before, and as simple as it sounds, that’s a fundamental revelation.
One more testimony!
One man had been standing on the platform for a long time listening to a parade of testimonies of God’s wonders. People representing different age-groups and religions had given thanks to Jesus for what had just happened to them. Peter kept one eye on the sky where the sun had completely disappeared, while he also glanced behind him and noticed this man and saw the urgency on his face. Peter thought, “One more testimony, and then we finish the service.”
The man spoke in Swahili, “Three years ago my back was damaged terribly in a car accident. I was thrown out of the vehicle and have not been able to move. I have been taken to three of the best hospitals in Kenya, and all of them advised me that I must go abroad for surgery. The medical expertise simply isn’t available here. Tonight I was brought here, and suddenly Jesus healed me, I can move, I’m back to normal. No surgery needed.”
By this time the crowd was rejoicing and singing. We had to go. Mombasa is a dangerous place. Terrorism by Islamic militants has wreaked havoc on several occasions. Yet, that night the Gospel has touched across religious boundaries. Christians and Muslims have found new life in Christ.
Governor’s sigh of relief
We cannot take for granted that everything automatically flows well every time. Each Friendship Festival is a result of months’ detailed work, and oftentimes circumstances may drastically change during the course of preparations. On Monday, one day after the Friendship Festival, the Governor of Mombasa County, Mr. Hassan Ali Joho, announced the good news of a positive change on the radio; Peter Youngren had successfully held a large open Festival with no sign of terrorism. Thank God for this, because just a short while ago every church in Mombasa was alarmed by the police about terrorism. Churches have been attacked, and many people have stopped coming to any kind of large gatherings – open air or otherwise.
Trophy of God’s love
Just one more miracle! Well, “yes” and “no” – because it is never just another miracle. Each story is precious and each life changed is a trophy of God’s love. There are still more people waiting to tell their story. Only eternity will reveal all God did in Mombasa, and what He will do in the upcoming Festivals elsewhere. We are just grateful to be eyewitnesses to what Jesus does.
Thank you partner! Once again you stood shoulder to shoulder with us – and with all those thousands of East Africans – who participated in the Friendship Festival and Pastors’ Seminar in Mombasa. The Gospel is free, but your love gifts will take it to the world and reach people beyond our wildest imagination.