Monday, September 10, 2012

The Victory of Stephen

This message is a part of a series of teachings that I have been giving in conferences in Africa.  This teaching describes one of the most amazing spiritual victories that has ever been won.  During the days of the early church, a spiritual victory was won by one of God’s servants, Stephen.  This great victory changed the entire world.  It is even possible that this great spiritual victory has affected every believer today. 

The War in Heaven

To understand this victory, it is necessary to look beyond this natural world, and into the realm of the spirit, into the heavenly realms.    There is a battle that takes place in the heavenly realms that surround this earth, to determine who will rule over this earth.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mission to Hola and Wenje

Preaching in Mtwapa

A few weeks ago, when I was preaching on the streets in Mtwapa with Rose Jeffa, a young man heard me preaching and insisted on meeting with me.  I was traveling in different parts of Kenya, and I wasn't able to meet with him immediately, although we spoke on the phone a few times.  The young man's name was Francis, and he was an evangelist.  When he heard me preaching, he felt very strongly that we needed to  work together.  

Of course, in Africa, there are many people who want to have contact for many different reasons, and it is not always easy to know how seriously to take someone, and whether or not you can trust them, especially someone whom you just met on the streets.  But finally after a few weeks of telephone conversations, it worked out to meet with Francis in his home near Mtwapa.  I discovered that he was a very sincere Christian, whom God was using powerfully.  Francis told me that he was ministering in the Tana River District, an area where there has bee a lot of tribal clashes between the Pokomo and Orma tribes.  He invited me to accompany him there to see his ministry and to minister together.   I told him I would try to do so, but first I needed to go to Nairobi.  


After completing things in Nairobi, I boarded a bus and set off for the town of Hola where we had agreed to meet, Hola.   As I was preparing to leave, I felt some uncertainty.  A good friend told me he didn't think I should go.  On the way, a policeman also warned me not to go to that area.  Of course, the question goes through your head, why should I travel alone to such an area just to meet with a young man whom I had just met on the streets?

The main reason that I decided to go is that we are called to send missionaries to difficult places.  I believe that God has called me to start a missionary training school that will send missionaries to many difficult areas around the world.  How can I send missionaries to such places, if I myself am not willing to go?  The least I can do is go and see what is happening.  And so I set off.

Bus Ride to Hola
When I arrived in Hola after a long day of travel. on very bad roads.  As we approached the town, my bus sideswiped a truck, breaking a lot of windows on one side.  I took a motorcycle taxi into town.  
Broken windows

For two days I ministered with  Francis in Hola.   During the day we counseled and prayed for people, while in the evenings we held meetings in the courtyard of a house.  I discovered that Francis has a powerful ministry.  Many people were being healed and delivered from demons.  About 50 people wer gathering each day to receive ministry Francis has a strong gifting of word of knowledge, and healing.    There were many testimonies of healing and deliverance.  

Francis ministering in Hola
After ministering in Hola for a few days, we moved on to Wenje, about fifty kilometers further down the road.  Wenje is a small town without electricity.  It sits on the banks of the Tana River.  

At River Tana with Francis and Michael
Canoe Ride.  River Tana is supposed to be full of crocs and hippos, but I only saw  their tracks.
In Wenje, the atmosphere   seemed different.  Many people were fearful, because of the recent clashes between the Pokomo and Orma tribesmen.  The people we ministered to were Pokomo.  They were farmers.  The Orma were Islamic cattle herders.  The Pokomo feared them, because sometimes they were able to acquire guns.  They could bring their cattle onto a Pokomo farm, the cows could destroy everything and if the farmer complained, his life could be threatened.     A few weeks earlier, three Pokomo farmers were killed by the Orma, and the Pokomo reacted in a brutal manner.  The young Pokomo men formed a militia, and trained for war with their primitive weapons.  At night, they surrounded the grass huts of the Orma,  set them on fire, and hacked the inhabitants to death.  They murdered 52 Orma, mainly women and children. 

Now  tensions were very high, as the Orma planned their counterattacks.   Yesterday morning, Orma warriours surrounded a distant Pokomo village  and killed twelve people.  In Wenje, the the grass huts of the Orma were located only about one kilometer from the mud huts of the Pokomo.  It was rumored that militiamen had visited the Orma village to try convince them to attack their neighbors in Wenje.  So the young Pokomo men of the area were joining militias and preparing for conflict.  

African militias can really be terrible.  Young men who join these militias are often initiated into the militia through  the use of demonic rituals and oath taking.  They often form blood covenants with the ancestral spirits of their tribe.  As they do so, they open themselves to demonic control.  This is one reason why tribal wars can be so brutal.  The militiamen have all participated in witchcratft, and they are not in their right minds.   The can commit terrible atrocities without remorse.   I write quite a  bit on the causes of war in Africa in my book "Transforming the Heart of Africa

Michael, Timothy (Francis'brother) and Francis outside a church in Wenje

While we were in Wenje, someone was going around collecting money to "close" the village.  "Closing" the village basically meant buying witchcraft that would protect the village.  A special porridge was prepared that would protect the lives of those who drank it.  The porridge was supposed to turn the bullets of the Orma into water.  

We continued holding meetings in Wenje, praying for the people and taking some through deliverance from the witchcraft that they were involved in.  This morning, when our meetings were finished, I planned to continue my journey  towards the coast where I needed to meet with my friend Mbali and arrange some things in Ukunda.  However, when it came time to leave, I discovered that it was not so easy to do so.  The only bus going in the direction I wanted to go had left very early in the morning.   So I needed to ride a motorcycle taxi for 70 km to the next town Garsen, where I could get another bus.  The problem was, the motorcycle taxi drivers feared to go to Garsen.  The dirt road passed through several Orma settlements, and the drivers were not willing to go there.  One told us that even if I paid him ten times the normal price, he coudn't be convinced to go.  

Grass hut of Orma people.  I took this photo off the internet, I didn't take time to get a photo as we drove past the huts this morning on our motorcycle.  
This boda boda driver wasn't afraid to drive us to Garcen
Finally, we found a driver who was willing to go to Garsen, if we took an extra person with us to accompany him on the way back.  So we set off, three of us on a motorcycle.  We passed through the Orma villages without any incident.  When I arrived in Garsen, I boarded a bus going to the coast.  I got off at Kilifi, and got on a motorcycle taxi, and told him to take me to a guest house.  After checking in tat ht guest house, I discovered that the guest house was next door to Katana's  electronic repair shop.  It was good to see Katana and his brothers and sisters again.
All in all, I am glad I went to Tana River.  I feel like God is leading me to key people with whom we will work as we start the school in Ukunda.  I think that Francis is someone who will  be able to lead mission teams into many difficult areas.  May God be with him as he continues to minister in Wenje and Hola.  

Katana's electronic shop.  Sign reads "Baya's Family Gospel Band"