May 31, 2012

Post-Kenya Notebook: “There is Work For You Here”

Anytime he talked I just watched his mouth. The way his lips bent and shifted as he spoke seemed so naturally unnatural to me. Pastor Bob was his name; well, just Bob, and when he spoke to me he leaned in close to my face. I could smell his breath. He would often go with us as we traveled to our destinations throughout central Kenya.

Our time there was split up in two locations. We worked out of two churches so to speak. At each, Dan, our introvert leader who has been to Kenya some 38 times, taught local pastors who had been invited to a pastor's conference with "Professor from America Dan Stewart" by the host church. The conferences lasted a few days. While Dan taught an array of topics, biblical leadership to practical ministry, the rest of us piled into the vans and headed off to either medical clinics in some obscure farming village or local schools to meet and share with students and discover Kenya's educational system, which was probably only interesting to me.

Now, Dan had mentioned at one of our last preparation meetings in the States that the guys (Regan, Jordan, Tav and I) would be teaching pastors, once for sure. We needed to come up with enough material to cover five hours. I remember dialoging, leaving the meeting, about getting together to come up with content. But talk is cheap. We never met.

Obviously though, Dan was still planning on having us teach. We would have to prepare after arriving (I wrote some banal sermonic thoughts on the flight there). And we did. Regan, Jordan and I all taught twice, once at each church/conference (Tav most definitely would have as well had he not been vital elsewhere and further along in his education at Life). Fist we taught at Pastor Jeff's church in Naro Moru. We continued Dan's teaching on spiritual gifts, which was a part of his curriculum for one of his sophomore-level college courses. At the second conference, we taught on different subjects. I taught on the art of preaching, something I am very curious about. Did you notice the "art of" part? Just checkin'.

Teaching is God's gift to me. I figured this out early on as a young lad in college because I resented bad teaching, which could be any of the following: unclear, boring and/or superfluous, overly simple and/or uncritical, unnecessarily biased, etc., etc. You get the idea. This to say, I was excited to practice what I love.

Since, at the first conference, we picked up Dan's teaching so he could attend a medical clinic, my session was simple reflections on gifts, how they function, what they look like and their proper motivation. It was junior/senior (in high school) level content.

I like teaching the Kenyans because they let you know if they're getting it. There's nothing like the robust head-nod (more like body-nod) of Kenyan pastors affirming your teaching or the grunts and moans that spring up after an insightful point is made. They never leave you hangin'. And still if there is any doubt, afterwards, they will draw near to grip your hand for a while and commend you for the knowledge they received and the blessing you have been.

[Bob enters, again, into story] Pastor Bob had overheard about our teaching and a few days later came to me at the Naro Moru medical clinic and asked to speak with me. I was sitting. So he sat. He told me God put me on his heart... Hm, ok, I'm listening. Essentially, he felt connected to me somehow and that I shouldn't cover my tracks up upon returning to the States so to speak. He wanted me to find my way back to Kenya, and without much delay. Pastor Bob's words echoed: "there is work for you here."




That phrase ricocheted in my mind as off the walls of a canyon. This is true. If work is Kingdom work, then yes, there is work for me. Pastors need to be taught. Dan was telling some of us that some don't even know how to read. My heart skipped a beat. Come again! First of all, I couldn't imagine not being able to read. Secondly, how can you be a pastor and not read? Pastors need education! Christ's disciples must be taught!

Matthew's version of Jesus' words now ring in my hears as if heard straight from the Master's lips: "teaching them" (Mat 28:20).

[With a look of determination] "Well, that is precisely what I'm guna do." – Me