20 Hours in Kenya

March 24, 2009

The days go by quickly, and much happens in a short time. Here is a 20 hour segment that I just got to enjoy.

11 AM: After a five hour journey by car we arrive at the outskirts of Kisumu. About 20 bishops and pastors are waiting to greet us; Pentecostals, Anglicans, Baptists and others. There is palpable joy and expectancy. Our Festival Director, Marius Nikolaisen, and several of our missionaries are also present. Mark Enos, one of our recent Bible College graduates, is running by, so busy in keeping everything running smoothly that he doesn’t see my wave. I love our missionaries.

11.15 AM: Now we are entering the city itself in a parade arranged to notify the city that the Gospel Festival is about to begin; singers, cars, and excited believers are in our parade route. People along the roadside are waving and greeting us. We go by the beautiful Hindu temple and large mosque in the center of the city, while announcements of the Gospel Festival are being read from loudspeakers. There is no hostility, just friendly faces everywhere.

12.10 PM: Finally, we get to the guest-house where we are staying for the week and I have a few minutes to unpack and freshen up.

12.35 PM: It’s off to the press-conference. The room is packed with journalists, including a secular film production team doing a documentary. I also see some of our missionaries in the room, including Serge and Beth Leger. I make a 20 minute statement about our purpose in Kenya, emphasizing two areas. One is our friendship approach to Muslims and Hindus; they are warmly invited to receive Jesus without discrimination! Then I spend considerable time talking about the post-election killings that swept Kenya last year, with Christians killing Christians along tribal lines, emphasizing that the cross of Jesus Christ is the answer; His death has torn down the walls that divide people. Of course, if we who are the carriers of this message don’t preach it, how will the broad masses know and believe?  I really enjoy press-conferences and the give and take of the journalists’ questions. Again, they have lots of questions and try to trip me up by getting me to take sides among the political parties, but Jesus always lets His wisdom come through. I stick to my theme. I think they are all a bit shocked at my insistence that the killings prove that Kenya has not heard the Gospel, even with all the churches around. Many use the word Gospel as a “code-word” for whatever they want to say, instead of presenting the taking away of sins by Jesus at the cross.

2 PM: We head back to the guest-house. The afternoon hours before the Gospel Festival starts are precious to me. I spend that time meditating and thanking God for the meeting tonight, and the team knows not to disturb me.

5.30 PM: I leave for the Gospel Festival held on the enormous Hospital Grounds. The meeting has been in full swing for over an hour and a great crowd has gathered.

6 PM: My preaching starts exactly at 6, because we want to use the day-light hours as much as possible. The sun is still shining as I tell the people that we have come to give witness that the unlimited God has come in limited human flesh in the person of Jesus. By His death He “once for all” put away our sins, giving us the opportunity to repent of our self-reliance and self-righteousness and receive the free gift of Jesus’ righteousness. I ask the people, “how much are you worth?” and state: “Your value is whatever someone is willing to pay for you, and God paid the ultimate price for you by the sacrifice of Jesus.” People are openly weeping; God’s love is melting hearts.

6.40 PM: The entire audience responds to the salvation call, followed by a parade of healing testimonies. Already the first night, blind, deaf and many others are healed.

7.40 PM: Our testimony service is over and counselors are distributing follow-up material as I head back to the guest-house for a quick shower; our next meeting is in 20 minutes.

8 PM: Time for our “Friendship Dinner,” where I get to teach the Gospel to politicians and Hindu and Muslim leaders in the city. A number of pastors are present and are surprised; they have never seen anything like this. I use traditions within the various cultures, and when I get to the point that Jesus took away the world’s sins and that all can receive Him, the head of the Hindu temple leads in applause. The message is hitting home loud and clear.

11 PM: Finally, the dinner is over and I get to go to my room. I’m exhausted but rejoicing at all that happened. We’ve got an early morning appointment.

5.30 AM: Time to get up. I have a 7AM breakfast at the private home of the Prime Minister of Kenya, Mr. Raila Odinga, who is the man believed to have been cheated out of the Presidency, and Nathan Thurber is accompanying me. The election fraud triggered the wave of killing and looting last year, leaving 1300 dead. The prime minister’s home is very nice but humble; the calendar on the wall features a photo of Mr. Odinga and British PM, Gordon Brown. We hit it off very well. I’m told he is very selective about who he meets, but the message of the cross of Jesus also touches the heart of the PM. I liked him instantly, and I’m impressed that he forfeited the Presidency of Kenya to stop the violence. We decide to try to meet again so I can interview him for our television program.

Every step of the way the focus is on Jesus, His cross, His resurrection and what it means in the current situation; politically, personally and for society at large. I don’t have several messages, but one: “we preach Christ crucified”. Those who think that we need to look beyond this message have not understood the depth and width of what happened at the “once for all” sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Once understood, the message of the cross affects every area; spiritual, financial, relational, and even the way we conduct business affairs of a nation. Let me hear from you. -Peter  

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