Dear co-laborers in Christ, Dedication service for a new Kiluani Station classroom.
In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these … seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him… Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering. (Colossians 3:7-12)
Greetings from Kenya, Africa in the blessed Name of our Lord!
Some of the greatest experiences you can expect on a mission field are the interactions with the local culture. Kenya has 43 tribes; every tribe has different language and culture. We have not yet met all of those different tribes; however, we have some good memories with some. Special occasions such as weddings, funerals, individual or organizational anniversaries, thanksgiving gatherings, etc. were good opportunities to see the distinctive uniqueness according to region and tribe. Today, we want to begin this letter with the experience Eben had last December. By the way, please keep in mind that the following story does not represent the general Kenyan culture, its tribes, or traditions since there are many differences.
Eben has been invited on several occasions by a few of the Kalenjin graduates to something known as an “initiation;” the Kalenjin is one of the largest tribes in Kenya. When young boys, as mid-teens, get circumcised, they lodge together for a month under the instruction of the elders. It is called an initiation since they are initiated to be men in the community. During this time of initiation, they learn about the life and duties of manhood such as being a father, building a house, hunting, cultural codes, etc. Traditionally, the program was influenced by their local religious figures such as the witchdoctor; so young men learned secular culture including immoral customs. However, as the gospel is preached, pastors have arranged the program in Christian communities. During this period, they were trained to be a man and at the same time, memorized and learned about the Word of God.
The initiation, or ceremonial circumcision, is not a new culture. Even in Asia, many nationalities still exercise it. However, you don’t hear about the biblical initiation. A few years ago, in another initiation where Eben was invited, all the participants requested pastors to baptize them before they ended their training. It was a great testimony of BCEA how the graduates taught the Bible and baptized young men who would be the leaders of the next generation!
The highpoint of the initiation was the completion of the month-long program which has been called a graduation service. The service began with a marching of the circumcised young men to the family members; there were more than 400 people waiting to see a dozen young men. As those young men entered, there were praises and prayers and presentations. During the presentation, the young men gave memory verses, their testimony and commitments for their life. Then, the Word was preached to the young men and family members. Eben was invited for the engagement of the Word; in December, he preached from Daniel 1:8, “a purposed heart”. After the ceremony, they were accepted into the community as adults. The picture on the right is at the completion of the graduating service.
Kenya is listed as a Christian country. However, the list does not represent God’s people here. Certain traditions and unbiblical cultural practices in the communities are an on-going battle for Christianity here. The aim of missions is that the gospel must be preached, and Christian conduct must be taught and exemplified. What we have shared above can be a good example of how the Word of God changes the tradition, resulting in a good example in society. It took many years of conflicts; however, it changed the society slowly, one by one. We are thankful for the labor of former missionaries and pastors who have influenced the community. Also, it has always been a joy to see the fruit of their sacrifices and commitment of biblical exercise to the culture and community. Continually pray for the battle for the culture in Kenya.
Here are some prayer requests for our family:
- Thank God for the visa which has been approved for another three years in Kenya.
- Pray for strength and provision.
- Pray for the safety in the community and on the road.
- Pray for Mijung’s health and wisdom, especially pray for protection as she daily drives to the children’s school.
- Thank God for His strength and wisdom on Eben’s teaching ministry. He has taught Music 1, Homiletic Practice, the Book of Joshua, Systematic Theology: Bibliology & Theology Proper, Systematic Theology: Soteriology, and Synoptic Gospels in the first term. Pray for him as he will be teaching in the coming term: Music 2, Homiletic Practice, Calvinism, Systematic Theology: Anthropology, and Systematic Theology: Ecclesiology.
- Pray for the MK’s study and their spiritual growth.
- Haeun, our first child, is in the high school now and should begin to consider a decision for her future. Please pray for wisdom so that she may choose the right path, and serve and glorify the Lord in her life.
- Pray for fellowship and visitation with local churches.
Here are prayer requests for the mission field:
- For Africa
- Pray for God’s mercy on the political and economic situation.
- Pray for safety and security.
- Pray for rain; according to the newspaper, Kenya faces the worst drought in 38 years.
- For BCEA (Bible College of East Africa, Nairobi)
- Thank God for about 20 new first term students. Continually pray for new students in the second term which will begin on May 6th.
- Pray for all students.
- Pray for teachers and students serving our Lord for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
- For the BCEA campus church
- Thank God for the baptism and the Lord’s Supper on Easter Sunday.
- Pray for the church committee and leadership.
- Pray for Eben’s outreaches: choirs, fellowship, and preaching.
- Pray for evangelism in the neighborhood.
- For various mission-related works such as visiting graduates and building-church and kindergarten projects.
- Thank God and thank you for your prayers for the completion and dedications of the class building at the Kiluani station and the dining hall at the Lenkijape station. Eben’s brother-in-law brought the family and the church members for the dedication services.
- Pray for protection over various visitation journeys.
- Pray for some construction projects for the churches.
- Pray for the local pastors; especially for our graduates in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, DRC Congo, South Sudan, Burundi, and Korea.
- Although we are not there,
- Pray also for BCEA Tanzania and Rwanda, along with other associated church ministries to the Masaai and Rongai areas.
One of the weaknesses or disadvantages of living in a foreign land is the cultural differences. There are many areas we don’t understand or sympathize with. And always, we are foreigners – politically and economically. However, it is a blessing, on the other hand, to see how God changes differences into togetherness in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are really thankful for the privilege God has given to our family so that we can witness His work in the lives of men in the various areas of our world. Continually pray for us and the ministry so that the testimony may continue.
Lastly, we want to thank you for your prayers and support. We are very far from where you are; however, we are together to serve one Living God. May the Lord bless you as you labor with us in the homeland.
Eben, Mijung, Haeun, Hajin, & Hahyu