Dec 6, 2015

Here is to God!

One of my all-time favorite hymns is John Newton's Amazing Grace. For me, it captures the essence of our calling and life as followers of Christ. It is a calling that is gratuitous, rooted in the mystery of God's own unending love and care for us.

Our current standing in relation to God is in stark contrast to the natural corruption of our being. Whereas we are currently found, we once were lost. Whereas we now abide and abound in the light, we once walked in complete darkness. Whereas we now dwell in the Truth, we once lived in untruth. And whereas we now dwell in abundant eternal life, we once dwelt in death.

Jesus has made it possible for me and for countless others throughout the generations to enter once and for all into God's inner circle of privilege and salvation through faith.

The world around us is in staggering mode. It has lost its center. Terrorism, political, social and religious corruption, personal disjointedness.

Yet in the midst of it, there is a remnant. This remnant is not self-made. It is a redeemed few, walking under the conviction that God's amazing grace is available now more than ever before. Yes, the reservoirs of God's mercy are fuller than ever before. We choose to believe that there is hope for this generation. We choose to believe that a spiritual RESET is possible. If God can use anything, may He use me!     

Dec 5, 2014

A Dream Finally Fulfilled As Academic Journey Comes to an End in 2014

Ministering at our SHINE Duluth outreach, Duluth, MN
In a few days, 2014 will close on us. In retrospect, it has been a whirlwind. Besides being a husband and dad, I travelled to five different countries logging over 100,000 miles in the air for ministry. I led our SHINE team to successfully minister to over 50,000 people in Rwanda, Kenya, DR Congo, Tanzania, and around the United States.
 
I successfully completed, defended my doctoral thesis in global leadership, and graduated from Bethel University in the month of May. I successfully defended my statement of faith (theological beliefs) and ministry leadership philosophy in readiness for ordination through Westwood Community Church under Converge Worldwide (Formerly Baptist General Conference). Finally, I successfully petitioned to become a US citizen and voted in local elections for the first time.

Graduation Day


The academic journey that started sixteen years ago when I left my obscure Kenyan village to study as an undergraduate in the United States finally came to an end. It was an extra-ordinary journey by every measure. Except for the clothes on my back and the clear sense of destiny, I arrived in Minnesota on a cold January night in 1998 with no prior relationships, very little money ($50), and REALLY BIG CONFIDENCE in God who had called me.


Graduation day, leave alone multiple graduations over the years, had seemed like a too far distant future that was clouded in uncertainty. It only existed in the imagination. Under God’s mercy, I walked step by step through the process with the undying conviction that He wanted to accomplish something on the world stage in our time in and through my life. I persisted through my first, second, and third academic degrees punctuated by multiple internships with churches, believing that the preparation was essential to my effectiveness in the mission God sent me on. Here is to God's Faithfulness!

Ministering at our SHINE Rwanda mission, Muhanga, Rwanda 



Over the years something amazing has happened. As I graduated from Bethel, I was no longer alone. I had my wife Suzanne and our two kids standing by my side looking on. I had family, peers and friends from all over the world cheering me on. I had professors and ministry mentors that God raised up over the years celebrating with me. In one important way, America is no longer the foreign land of my sojourn. It is home and the place of my primary relationships. It is both my global base as well as my mission field. God is, indeed, an awesome God!


What is next? …you ask. Well, Jesus defined the greatest need in the world and invited us to pray for a solution. “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest,” and again, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (John 4:35 & Luke 10:2).
Ministering during our SHINE India mission



Jesus was not talking about wheat or corn fields. He was talking about people that need to be brought into the Kingdom of God through evangelism. We have over seven billion of them all around us. With the academic preparation finally behind us, Suzanne and I along with our growing SHINE team are eager to elevate our efforts for the Kingdom of our Lord in reaching them for Christ.


Aug 6, 2014

My Body Fails Me - #SHINEGlobalMissionChallenge- #MuhangaRwanda2014

Yes, I want to tell you all about what God is doing here in Muhanga but my body fails me.  I want to tell you how He is moving through our Kinderroots team where already several thousands of children have been ministered to over the last two days on hills, plains and valleys surrounding Muhanga.  Where hundreds have already given their lives to Christ.


I want to tell you how God is moving through our Prisoners of Hope outreach program to where three thousand prisoners were reached with the love of Christ earlier this afternoon with hundreds of them giving their lives to Christ. Where we delivered supplies worth several thousands of dollars to the delight of the prison officials following a devastating fire at the facility that gutted much of what they had beyond salvaging. How God worked to open doors so our team could go in and bring the Good News of Christ. How doors to another prison with even more inmates are wide open for the gospel tomorrow morning.


I want to tell you of specific stories of transformed lives from the many neighborhoods of Muhanga as our teams continue to minister in five different neighborhoods of the city per night.  For instance the story of one man, a leper that some of our team members had encountered at a market and felt prompted to pray for him. 24 hours later, the same man shows up at a neighborhood five miles away from the original location and gives His life to Christ after I gave the invitation to those wanting Jesus in their lives.


I want to tell you about the leadership conference bringing together over one hundred pastors from the churches around Muhanga.  How God has united these churches in passionate pursuit of His Kingdom in their community. How there is so much learning and excitement as our team members Dr. Joel Johnson and Pastor Dave Sorn pour their hearts into equipping them with Transformational Leadership tools that lead to leadership excellence. 


I want to tell you how the Holy Spirit of Christ has broken down the barriers of denominationalism and doctrinal distinctives to provide the Church with one voice with which to speak to the community here in this week of outreach.


Yes, I want to tell you more about all these things and much, much more.  How our team is getting transformed and challenged in deeper ways. How myself I am feeling stretched and drawn into closer communion with my Lord and how His power is present to me as I proclaim the Gospel and provide leadership so that our entire team can fulfill their calling on this trip.


I wish I could tell you more. But my body is exhausted.  My heart is overflowing, yet a lot more awaits to be accomplished in the morning and I cannot tarry too long.  Jesus is Lord. He is doing a new thing in our day. I stand in awe!


 

Aug 4, 2014

#SHINE21GlobalMissionChallenge- The Church in Muhanga United in Fasting and Prayer

As Christ gives all, He claims all, and the pastors here in Muhanga grasp this principle with passion. While today was our team's Sabbath (rest) day, about 50 pastors, evangelists and intercessors gathered together for a time of fasting and prayer for the week-long mission. What a powerful time!


For exhortation, I spoke from Matthew 6:5-13, focusing mainly on verses 5, 9 and 10. First, I highlighted that when we pray, we must do so with no ulterior motives. We must do so with a pure sincerity and unpretentious simplicity. This, our Father loves, delights in, and He will honor with speedy response because we seek after Him and His heart's desire for our lives and our world.


Secondly, that prayer is first and foremost relationship. It is relationship between the Father and His sons and daughters. Prayer is powerful because it comes from the place of mutual affection and unhindered access. God is our Daddy. He is near us and as sons and daughters, we access His presence on the basis of this mutual filial love.


Here, we can dwell in affectionate surrender and simplicity.  "Our Father who art in heaven!" Yes, we may say as much and be content. He is our Daddy!  What comfort!  What confidence this inspires in our hearts! What joy it elicits to have God for our Daddy! What honor, what power, what authority!


Thirdly, that prayer comes from the place of worship. "Hallowed be thy Name!" In prayer we set apart the Name of Christ. We prostrate before Him. We admire Him and delight ourselves in His goodness and power!


Yes, God is near us through relationship. He is our Daddy. But He is unlike us in His essence. He is God and we worship Him as such.  When we come into His presence, our foremost priority is God Himself.  His worthiness. His majesty. His holiness. His awesomeness. "Hallowed be thy Name!" His is the Name above all Names. He is LORD of Lords and the KING of Kings!


Fourthly, that in God's presence our first petition is for God's own Kingdom to come.  Prayer is transforming in that the closer we get to God, the deeper our understanding of His will and passion. That will and passion is for His own Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Our human needs and demands pale as we grasp the urgency with which we must seek the advent of His Kingdom.


Here, we see clearly the needs of our world. The needs of our cities. The needs of our communities. We see this needs not from the human point of view. We see them from God's own point of view. Through nearness to God, our vision is transformed such that we do not see as other humans see and earthlings see.  We see as God sees. We yearn as God yearns. We pursue as God pursues.


Here we petition for God's Kingdom to invade and to transform the human affairs. Evangelism is here shown as priority. Systemic evil and corruption in human governments is here confronted through prayer. "Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven" is a revolutionary prayer. It is praying for the overthrow of all evil and of what is merely human.


In conclusion I shared about an experience I had in Malaysia slightly over a year ago while doing my doctoral research. With my cohort colleagues, and my Thesis advisor Dr. Wilbur Stone of Bethel Seminary, we visited nine different thriving churches in and around Kuala Lumpur to learn about the secret for their amazing growth and transformational impact on their communities.


I was blown away by the leaders' affection for each other in spite of their different denominational affiliations. But most importantly, I was blown away by the simple response that each of the congregations gave. They prayed corporately and persistently for God's Kingdom to come. That was the most revolutionary secret.


So here we were in Muhanga, Rwanda. Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Baptists, Independent Churches, Anglicans,... all stripes and strands of pastors gathered together in deep affection for God, for each other and to petition for the transformation of Muhanga and of Rwanda at large.  Can heaven deny the petition of such a united front?


No! No! Heaven will not deny. God is doing it again in our time and our generation!


##########
P.S. As you read this blog, pray with us for financial provisions to successfully complete this mission. We still have a $10,000 need to meet the mission expenses here in Muhanga by the end of this week.  If you would like to give toward the work, follow the donate link on the side panel of this blog. Your donation is tax deductible. God is able! Just yesterday our need was $13,000. Now it is only $10,000. Pray!         

Aug 3, 2014

#SHINE21GlobalMissionChallenge- And So Ends Day One in #MuhangaRwanda2014 With A Bang!!

Yes, we just prayed with over 100 people to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior at the Muhanga bus park. What great joy for answered prayer on a beautiful day that started with team prayer and a reminder to the team that our sufficiency is from Christ!


A crowd estimated at 1500 gathered at the market center, several hundred standing on the peripheries and by the shops. As the choirs from neighborhood churches sang and danced, the curious crowd kept growing.  The Anglican Church youth choir sang beautifully.


Then it was our SHINE team's turn.  With the team divided into 3 and two groups send to two other zones around the city(one with Pastor Dave Sorn from Renovation Church and the other with Shug Bury, SHINE's Prison Evangelist, about 8 of us had remained at this bus park open air preaching station.


The local pastors were concerned to get the preacher out as quickly as possible before the audience lost interest or got distracted by buses zooming past. Emmanuel from AEE Rwanda, our main partner organization, was invited up.  He in turn invited me up.  What beautiful faces to behold and what a beautiful geographical backdrop of scenic rolling hills. Rwandese are a beautiful people.


I told the crowd as much.  That I come from a place that is very cold but with people with very warm hearts called Minnesota.  On the other hand, Rwanda has lovely climate, beautiful rolling hills, and with people with very warm hearts and beautiful faces.  I told them they got the better end of the deal from God.  They all clapped and laughed in excitement. I introduced one of our team members, Rachel Cheney from Renovation Church, Blaine, MN to share her five minute faith Story. What a firebrand!  Thank you Rachel for hitting it out of the park tonight!


Wanting to keep the audience attentive and interested in the message, I chose on the spot to preach from a dramatic passage of Scripture: John 8:1-10, the story of the woman caught in adultery. And attentive they were!  I set it up against the backdrop of the Jerusalem temple, the Mount of Olives, the dividing Kiddron Valley, and the curious crowds of 1st century Jewry milling around Jesus. Eerily similar to the set up here in Muhanga!


And so I took them on a visual journey as I brought up different characters along the way. The lawyers, the woman, Jesus, the crowds, etc!  It all build up to the climax of the story...Jesus standing there alone with the adulterous woman still prostrate and trembling before Him because He was the only one qualified to stone her to death. 


But what mercy! What grace!  What amazing love!  "I do not condemn you either!  Go and sin no more," says Jesus!  The Muhanga crowd erupted in thunderous applause!  The suspense is diffused by God's enduring grace.


Moments later, I tell them that they are the woman.  But they are also the lawyers and the Pharisees and Sadducees.  They are guilty of sin. Yet Jesus does not condemn them.  Instead, He is extending mercy and grace to as many as believe. When I ask for those who would want such love and forgiveness, hands go up from all over the place.  And so I invite them to pray with me.  I invite them to come to Jesus.  To prostrate before Him as the only one qualified to judge them yet He has chosen to dispense of mercy and not judgment. 


To the glory and praise of His Name, they gladly pray to embrace Jesus.  Children, young men and women, and the elderly!  And that is not all because we had five total sites where our teams were ministering this evening.  Including Pastor David's site where majority of those giving their lives to Christ were men, from Shug's site and from the rest of the team including in Churches earlier today, a total of 434 people have given their lives to Jesus just today.  How magnificent that God is changing lives through SHINE's partnership with the churches in this community!



Lord you are doing it again in our day.  Even here in Muhanga you are doing a new thing and I thank you! Amen!


  

Aug 2, 2014

#SHINE21GlobalMIssionChallenge- Blog 1

So I am calling this the SHINE "21" challenge. A 21-day global impact mission involving 21 people, preceded by 21 days of fasting and prayer, and chronicled in 21 blog posts. Yes, I hope to publish one blog per day over the next 21- days of our global efforts here in Rwanda and then next in Kinshasa. 


The challenge's hoped for outcome is a powerful manifestation of God's glory during two of our SHINE ministry's 2014 summer festivals in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The challenge is already half way through.  The first half was a 21-day fast I engaged in from July 7 to July 27.  During those days, like the prophet Daniel in Daniel 10, I ate no meat, ate no bread, and I abstained from all caffeinated drinks, drinking only water and occasional grape juice and eating vegetable based foods. 


It also involved the recruitment and training of additional people to our SHINE staff to make a total of 21 people that form the team for this high impact two-nation mission. 


For the Rwanda portion, in addition to the four SHINE staff (Stanton, Ceallaigh, Shug, and I), God gave us 14 additional participants from two Twin Cities based churches: Westwood Community Church, Chanhassen, MN and Renovation Church, Blaine, MN. 


For the next portion, I have two pastors joining me in Kinshasa; Pastor Gary Brothers of Cape First Family Church, Cape Girardeau, MO and Pastor McNay Nkashama of Global Impact Center, Minneapolis.  Along with my wife we constitute 21 people.


Today, our Rwanda team arrived here in Kigali, Rwanda and so begins the second phase of the challenge.  By God's grace we travelled safely from Minneapolis to Amsterdam to Nairobi and eventually to Kigali arriving a few hours ago.


We checked in at Kigali Serena Hotel at 1 AM. In a few minutes we will be checking out and heading to the Kigali genocide memorial.  It so happens that mid last month, Rwanda marked 20 years since the end of the genocide that killed one million people in a mere 100 days.  God forbid that that should ever happen again.


After the memorial visit, we will take the one hour drive to Muhanga which will be the epicenter of our week-long evangelistic mission. 


Today also marks the end of three-days of fasting and prayer by three-hundred Rwandan intercessors from all across Rwanda over the city of Muhanga ahead of the mission week.  They had congregated in Muhanga praying day and night and eating nothing. What a powerful thing for the church of Rwanda.  And now, let the harvest begin!


Lord, do it again!  May you be greatly famous through your servants as we reach out with your love to thousands this week here in Rwanda. Follow us on Facebook for pictures!


     

Apr 14, 2014

Full House as Shine Launches the Elevate Vision

It was a full house Thursday evening November 7th at Hazeltine National Golf Club as Shine in the World Ministries launched the Elevate vision.

Over 200 partners, some coming from as far as Westbrook and Marshall, MN, and from all around the Twin Cities were treated to a great evening of delightful vocals by former NFL star Ben Utcht and pianist Mary Beth Carlson followed by a compelling vision moment by Shine Founder and Evangelist, Sammy Wanyonyi.
"What drives us? What infuses us with a passion to go around the world proclaiming the gospel?" asked Sammy to an attentive audience.

"It is the worthiness of Jesus Christ!  It is Jesus' love for humanity! Our love for Christ compels us to love those whom He loves and died for.  He has commanded us to go beam His light in the dark places where His people are. That is our mission. To shine His light that all may know Him."
"What if we reached more people with His love? What if we reached more places with His message?"

Shine In The World Final from Zandolee Media on Vimeo.

Aug 7, 2013

Musanze, Rwanda, Enthusiastically Responds to the Invitation to Follow Christ!

Sammy preaches at Sunday's opening rally.
On Sunday at the opening rally, they streamed steadily into the stadium from all across the city.  Those who are already believers walked from their churches singing in groups.  Non believers filled the bleachers.  The city mayor was on hand to officially welcome our team and declare the evangelistic campaign week open. 

"As Rwandan people, we humbly recognize our need for God in the governing of our affairs and well-being of our individual lives and nation!" she declared in her welcoming remarks.  "Today we say Musanze belongs to Jesus!"



Local pastors and evangelists that participated in
Evangelism conference hosted by GoodWord Partnership,
Open Air Campaigners, SWIM and Rwandan
partners Africa Enterprise 
Later I presented the Good News of Jesus to the thousands of eager listeners.  Drawing from Luke 18: 35-43, I told the audience that Jesus's invitation is for them.  As with Jericho, Christ was passing through Musanze.  He is able to lift the curse for those that reach out and call on His name as did the blind Bartimaeus.  To the glory of God, over three hundred responded the first day. 


Hundreds respond to invitation at Sunday's opening rally.
As we enter the fourth day of the mission, over three thousand people have responded to the invitation to follow Christ so far in the hamlets and villages surrounding Musanze. 


SWIM children evangelist Stanton Petersen
and staff Ceallaigh Anderson creatively presenting
the gospel in a Musanze village on Tuesday
Monday afternoon while preaching in a poor neighborhood dominated by a muslim population and prostitution, one woman responded in great tears.  A prostitute, she saw herself in the message I preached on the woman caught in adultery in John 8.  She embraced Jesus' forgiveness as did over one hundred and fifty others in the neighborhood.

Please continue to pray for a great move of God as our team presents Christ throughout the city and small and large settings.  In His power and for His glory! 

Jul 30, 2013

Joining Jesus at the Harvest Fields of Musanze, Rwanda

A past event at Musanze Soccer Stadium that will
be the sight of the evangelistic Festival this Sunday. 
Pray for Evangelist Sammy's message to connect with
thousands that will throng the field to hear the gospel 
Jesus was pointing to the Samaritan villages and not to the Rwandan ones that dot the hillsides of the Virunga mountains, habitat to the world famous gorillas, when He said to His disciples, "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest," (John 4:35).  There is no question, however, that had he been entering Musanze that day, He would have said exactly the same thing. Today as I hop onto the plane and head to Kigali and later snake my way up and down the land of one thousand hills to Musanze to join Jesus in the week-long intensive mission, I look forward to the people saying, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world," (John 4:42)

Musanze, the tourist capital of Rwanda and administrative headquarters for Rwanda's Northern province will, this week and all through next week, have its moment with Jesus of Nazareth. 

Just like Samaria's inhabitants who thronged the well-side to hear Jesus for themselves, thousands of Musanze's inhabitants will throng into the local soccer stadium this coming Sunday, August 4th,
The pastoral planning committee for the Festival in Musanze.
gather on neighborhood hillsides, prisons, hotel conference rooms, and soccer fields all through next week, and walk the dusty paths from far and wide to the city center over the following weekend to gather around the message of the teacher from Nazareth.

Like the people of Samaria, an anticipated eighty thousand will hear and confirm for themselves that Jesus is indeed the Son of God and the Savior of the World.

Please pray with our team from Shine in the World International Ministry, our Rwanda partners Africa Evangelistic Enterprise, and the local churches of Musanze as we partner together to introduce Musanze's residents to Jesus.  Pray for me to connect with the hearts and minds as I proclaim the message of Christ to the thousands gathering this Sunday and all through next week and as we conclude the festival on Sunday August 11th. 

How to Pray

The Outreach will also have a special focus on Children. 
SWIM's associate evangelist for children Stanton Petersen
will be bringing the message to thousands of children at a
special children rally on August 10th. 
1.  Pray for responsive hearts and minds to the gospel of Jesus Christ for the thousands of Musanze residents.

2.  Pray for our team to minister effectively and be healthy all through the mission week.  For Stanton Petersen as he reaches out to thousands of kids with the message of Christ, for Shug Bury as she reaches out to prisoners bringing supplies and the message of hope through Christ, and for the city and provincial leaders that will have a chance to hear the message of hope from us.
Evangelist Sammy as he ministers this Sunday and the next in the opening and closing stadium events, for several local and international evangelists that will be preaching in neighborhoods all across Musanze and surrounding villages throughout next week, for


Throughout the week, thousands of Musanze residents will
gather in neighborhoods spanning hillsides, such as this one
at a past event, prison courtyards, market centers, and in
executive conference rooms to hear the message of Christ presented
by our team from Shine in the World, local churches, and
other international partners.
3.  Pray for our partners, the churches of Musanze and Africa Evangelistic Enterprise as they receive the thousands of new believers into their communities to effectively handle the follow-up work.
4. Pray for all the financial provisions we need to complete the work successfully.
5.  Finally, as Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."

Your invitation

As we commence this mission to reach the villages of Rwanda with the good news of Jesus Christ this week, we invite you to partner with us financially through your generous donation to help us bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people without charge.  Each outreach we conduct costs thousands of dollars.  Your generous gift helps us rent venues, sound equipment, hire vehicles to ferry workers to various corners of the city, provide discipleship materials and bibles to those coming to faith for the first time, provide lodging to some of the pastors coming from far-away remote villages for the pastoral training, as well as pay for our own meal and hotel expenses in the course of mission as we work to fulfill our Lord's prayer to the most remote villages of our world. 

Please click here or on the donate button to the right of this webpage to go to our secure online donation site to make a one time gift to help us reach Rwanda with the Good News of Christ this week. 

Kenyan Youth Aspire for a Transformed Future

Brilliant, insightful and passionate, the Kenyan youth are eager to shape a different future from the past of broken dreams, corrupt leadership, and incompetent autocracy.  A future informed by the values of Jesus Christ and anchored in the hope that the gospel provides.
Among our speakers was Dr. Wanjiru Kamau Rutenburg,
assistant professor of political science
at the University of Southern California. 
While she was a PhD student at the University
of Minnesota a few years ago,
Sammy had the privilege to introduce
her to the gospel.  Today, she is a passionate
follower of Christ and making a difference in
hundreds of young lives in Africa. Dr. Rutenburg
has received several awards and a White House
recognition for her work in empowering young
women for better societies.
In late May and June as Kenya commemorated fifty years as an independent nation, over five hundred students, drawn from eight different Universities around Nairobi, attended our two-day leadership conference at Kenyatta University on the outskirts of Nairobi.  Combining biblical wisdom and corporate experience, our SWIM team challenged them to anchor their lives in God's Kingdom virtues. 
These High School students who prayed with
evangelist Sammy to receive Christ are just a few
of several hundreds of others that found
hope in Christ during our Nairobi Mission
During the closing session, over fifty students prayed to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  In a message titled, "No More whining," drawn from Joshua chapter 1 verses one through ten, I challenged the students, like Joshua, to be on the watch-out on three critical battlefronts; the emotional front, the moral and ethical front, and finally the intellectual front, with God Himself as their Bedrock.   
Part of our Nairobi mission SWIM team visiting
the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi
We concluded the mission with an evangelistic outreach to students on the University during which 296 students gave their lives to Christ.  Earlier in the week, our team had also visited several High Schools and several Nairobi prisons to share the Good News of Christ with students and inmates.  Dozens more found hope through Christ. To God be the glory!

"The right way in life is often the hard way in life.  But a hard right way is always better than the easy wrong way!"



Tanzania Mission Yields Great Fruit


"The Tanzania mission to Kigoma and Mwanza reflected the true move of God as hundreds received Christ and God confirmed His word by healing many physical ailments," reports Anaclet Phiri, who represented our ministry team in the East African nation in late May into early June while Sammy and others were in neighboring Kenya.
                                                                  
"Hundreds gathered each evening on a dusty ground outside the church building in Kidahwe, a small agricultural village of 12000 residents on the outskirts of the city of Kigoma. Several trees provided shade for many who attended from the surrounding areas. The crowd grew every night during the week-long mission. Choirs, musicians, and praise teams performed incredibly singing and dancing with all might."
                                                                  
As Anaclet presented the gospel each evening, dozens would respond to the message preached, repent and gladly receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. God confirmed His word with signs and wonders as the sick were healed and others delivered from demonic activity.  
 
"One woman came to the meeting with her right leg paralyzed for a long time. She came expecting Jesus to heal her. She was not disappointed. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed. She went back home running the whole way." 

Prior to the outreach, several hundred  pastors and community leaders participated in leadership conferences in Mwanza and Kigoma where they were equipped for ministry and servant leadership.    


                             
 

Jun 15, 2013

In the Land of Pi

A recent movie titled the Land of Pi depicts the life of a young Indian boy born in the South Indian city of Pontecherri who leaves with his family for the promise of a better future in Canada on a Japanese ship only to be met by disaster on the high seas.  His whole family and the entire pax perish at sea except for him and a tiger from their family zoo.  The opening scenes are laced with deep spiritual and philosophical questions as the characters wrestle with life's meaning and purpose and the nature of divine revelation.


Several hundreds of believers stand to rededicate their lives to
bold witness at one of the services yesterday morning.
In a way the boy's story captures the incredibly complex reality of the Indian people that spans the globe.  In his quest for divine revelation, he embodies the searching nature of the Indian soul from time immemorial.

I arrived here in Bangalore on Saturday morning for a time of ministry on two  fronts: one to the Indian local church and the other to the global church leadership. 

On Sunday morning I ministered in three services at Rose of Sharon Assemblies of God Church pastored by Rev. Jeya Kumar.  God worked in wonderful ways allowing me the privilege of praying with nearly sixty people to receive Jesus Christ into their lives for the first time as Lord and Savior.  Myriads of others prayed to rededicate their lives to active witness for Christ as they live their faith out loud.

Maha Kumbh Mela

My Sunday morning hosts, pastor Jeya Kumar, 2nd left,
with his family and associate pastor, left
A great insight came to me in the course of preaching such that I felt it was prophetic utterance that spells great hope for India's future as a reached nation.  In my several missions here I have noticed the incredible commitment to collective prayer that permeates the worship expression of the Indian Church.  Every single church I have had the privilege to minister, holds early morning prayer services, usually between five and six AM daily, irrespective of their denominational leanings.  These prayer services are always packed by praying believers.


Last year during our mission in Tamil Nadu, I had the privilege of speaking to over seventy thousand people, believers and non-believers alike, gathered for a prayer meeting organized by pastor Mohan C. Lazarus.  As the evangelist for the occasion, I was privileged to lead more than half of the audience in the prayer of repentance and salvation.

It occurred to me as I preached yesterday, that in spite of this commitment to prayer for the church, India remains largely a pagan nation.  Only two out of every one hundred people have heard of Jesus Christ.  With India set to overtake China as the world's most populous nation in the next fifteen years, the minimal reach by the church spells a dwindling effect for the church's global influence. 


Close to seventy thousand attend last year's prayer gathering
during our mission in Tamil Nadu, South India
Conversely, the Holy Spirit showed me in the course of preaching that a confluence of what I will call India's three rivers, borrowing from the Hindu religious festival Maha kumbh mela (meaning the greatest of the greatest get-together- the world's largest religious festival that takes place at the confluence of the "three" holy rivers, River Ganges, River Yamuna, and the imaginary River Sarawadi every twelve years), could have a revolutionary impact that could reverse the church's status from minority to majority in India in less than one hundred years.  This has happened with Sub-Saharan Africa and there is no reason to believe it cannot happen with India. 

The three rivers are the river of authentic, credible, prayer-packed Christian faith fuelled by collective devotion, the second is the river of bold, loving and Holy Spirit-fuelled witness informed by cultural sensitivity, and the third river is that of the church's attention to technology and the arts (right attention to globalization and globalizing forces).  These three combined with the massive populations of unreached peoples form the right recipe for a future of Spiritual revival and Christian Maha Kumbh Mela.  A future spiritual confluence that could see millions and possibly a billion Hindus entering the holy waters of baptism.  Wouldn't be awesome if the confluence of the Gangis and the Yamuna became the sight of the baptism?

I had the privilege of praying with these four young
Indian women from Hindu backgrounds as they got
ready for water baptism yesterday. Encouraged by my
message drawn from 2 Kings 5:1-19, they felt like the
Holy Spirit had addressed their concerns on idolatry.
Obviously the prayer piece is already in place.  Throughout Church history, every single revival since Pentecost has had prayer at its core. In India's case, the collective prayer habit is informed by the culture of devotion inherent in Hindu religion.  Looked at from this perspective, the seeds for India's transformation to spiritual greatness are already inherent within the culture.  The hard work lies in ensuring an authentic faith, bold witness and the right attention to technology and the arts.

Pastor Jeya Kumar, a doctoral student, agreed requesting if he may in fact use this analysis as introduction to his dissertation on Church planting in this state of Karnataka. "Definitely!"... I said.


Lausanne
Starting Monday, 350 Christian leaders from 83 different  nations are gathered here to pray for our world and to strategize for global evangelistic impact.  As I wait for the start of the conference I have had the privilege to interact with a number of very choice brothers and sisters that God is using in multiple arenas around the world. 

My two-day roommate is a gentleman by the name Major Dr. Luke.  Luke is a former Major in the Indian army who took an early retirement so that he can serve as Bible School President for a small Seminary with 200 students in Karala.  We have had great prayer times together every evening and morning the last couple days and I am very blessed by His testimony.

Another gentleman I met Saturday evening participating in the Lausanne Leadership consultation is Ram Gidoomal, a businessman from the United Kingdom and author of the book Sari and Chips.  Like me he was born and raised in Kenya.  But later his family relocated to the United Kingdom.  While in Kenya, his family was a leading Hindu family.  His grandfather, a successful businessman, sponsored the building of majority of the Hindu temples around Nairobi.

But Ram met Jesus while in the United Kingdom and today he has a ministry spanning several nations.  God has greatly blessed him and his work around the world and also given him influence in London. He once ran to be mayor of London.

Ram's story inspires me for two simple reasons:  In Kenya where I grew up, it was unimaginable to see an Indian person who is a Christian.  Then one time in 1994 at a church service in my then home church of Nairobi Pentecostal Church, a visiting speaker from the United kingdom spoke of reaching Hindus with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It was the first time I had heard somebody talk about reaching Hindus with the love of Christ.

For me it was the beginning of my journey to India that manifests itself today in the partnerships that our ministry has today here in India helping us reach thousands of Hindu people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Incredibly, that speaker was Ram Gidoomal.      

Apr 16, 2013

Terrorism and Hope

How sad it is that a human being would be so set on destroying others through acts of terrorism as seen at the Boston Marathon! In the midst of grief for the lives lost and those injured, we raise our eyes to Jesus Christ to pray for the United States and for our world. He is the hope of the nations!

May we also reflect on the privilege, longevity/bravity, and meaning of life so as to apply our ...hearts to wisdom (Psalms 90:12). As we can all atest, the statistics on death are impressive. One out of one dies. 
 
The irony is that the statistic, none the less, speaks of hope for the Christian. It is hopeful because it informs us that there is more to life than what we presently see. It assures us that our longing for more than this world can offer is not merely a dream. In Christ we are invited to a new life of forgiveness, newness, and new quality of relational life that will never fade nor be tarnished.  In the terror of the cross of Christ was born the seed and mystery of life that pronounces death to terror itself.

Mar 31, 2013

HE IS NOT HERE!

“Sir, He is not here!  Could you please make your way out, sir!” requested the Catholic monk as I tried to linger on at the tomb inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in East Jerusalem, Israel.  That was in January of 2011 during a visit to the Holy Land. 

At the entrance of the tomb inside the Church of the
Holy Sepulcher, East Jerusalem, Israel.
Like many pilgrims, I was fascinated by the significance of what happened here two thousand years ago.  Corresponding to the early visitors on that Easter morning, I inadvertently drew the same reminder, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He is risen!  Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is indisputably the single most powerful event in all of human history with natural and supernatural implications.  As with the other signs enumerated in the gospels, it was the ultimate proof of His divinity. It confirmed the fact that Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God.  Author and historian H.G. Wells said it well, “I am a historian.  I am not a believer but I must confess that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history.  He is easily the most dominant figure in all of history.”

The Empty Tomb
For a man who had many detractors, the falsification of His resurrection by his disciples would have been quickly and credibly countered by the production of His body.  Surely there was bound for technical errors to occur on the part of his rug tag band of followers in attempting such a monumental feat in a hostile environment from all sides and without state or institutional resources. 

Legal scholar John Montgomery put it succinctly well, “It passes the bounds of credibility that the early Christians could have manufactured such a tale and then preached it among those who might have easily refuted it simply by producing the body of Jesus.” As it were, no one could produce His body because He was risen.  As it would follow, all of Jesus disciple except one would later be slain as martyrs as they each confirmed their testimony as witnesses of the risen Christ.

The Garden of Gethsemane
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, hinges the credibility of the claims of the Christian faith and its’ followers upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain,” he states in verse 14.  “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins,” he affirms again in verse 17. 

Here, Paul ties the authenticity of preaching to the declaration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In other words, the ministry of preaching within the Christian faith is authentic only because it has and it assumes as its’ central theme the fact that Christ is risen from the dead.  It doesn’t qualify as preaching if all it does is to call people to be morally good, offers emotional excitability, presents a spiritual experience, or even presents a way for material prosperity.  Preaching is preaching because it assumes and declares unequivocally that Christ is risen from the dead. 

The Garden Tomb


Paul further ties the authenticity of the experience of Christian faith to the fact of the resurrection.  “If Christ has not been raised…your faith also is in vain…your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.”  Paul here affirms several things.  First is the fact that Christian faith is not about being morally good as it is about acceptance of Christ and the fact of His resurrection.  There is no escaping the fact that to be a Christian is to acknowledge that Christ is who He claimed to be: the Son of God. His resurrection confirms His Sonship.

Secondly Paul affirms that the resurrection places value to our faith.  Our faith is not anchored in non-reason.  It is anchored in a very reasonable and proven reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The resurrection wasn’t some imagined or spiritual experience.  It was a bodily experience with both bodily and spiritual implications for all humankind.  Our faith which is affective, only has value as it is anchored in the reasonable fact that Christ rose from the dead.

Inside the Garden Tomb
Thirdly Paul affirms that the resurrection confirms our forgiveness.  Indeed, how could Christ’s death have benefited humankind if it hadn’t been followed by His resurrection?  In His death He absorbed the venom of our human sin, taking upon Himself the judgment of God.  In His resurrection He triumphed over sin’s power and that of Satan and his demons.  Now, as many as believe in Him they do not perish but have everlasting life.

A few years ago while growing up in a small African village of Eluuya, Western Kenya, I came face to face with the power of the risen Christ.  I was eleven years old.  Together with a dozen other friends of similar age who believed in Christ we had come together for an afternoon of fellowship, bible study, and prayer.  As we were gathered, a respectable gentleman, much older than us, walked into our prayer meeting.  There was only one problem, he despised our Christian faith and disdained our belief.  But as it were, this afternoon he had walked into the meeting perhaps out of curiosity or for whatever reasons. 

Garden Tomb- Christ is Risen Indeed!


As we began to pray and to praise the name of Jesus Christ, this man was literally carried mid-air by an invisible power and thrown against the wall some ten feet away.  Unbeknown to us he was demon possessed.  He began forming at the mouth and mumbling some strange sounds.   Quickened by the Holy Spirit, we recognized that these were demons operating in the man.  In the presence of the risen Jesus, they were powerless.  We stepped forth and while loving on this man, we commanded the demons to leave.  He prayed with us to receive Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior.  Within minutes he was absolutely normal and praising God with us. 
 
JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED! 

Jan 27, 2013

Through Thick and Thin: The Asian Elephant on the Match

 
Sammy speaking at a Church Service in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia January 27th 2013
Yes, we hear a lot about the Asian century in terms of economics.  The high rise cities of Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, India, and myriad others in China and Thailand.  What we don't hear enough about is the spiritual match clearly evident in many of these places.  My time here in Kuala Lumpur visiting with the city's largest and most influential churches and Christian ministries has convinced me that God is doing something unique that is set to benefit the global church.

This conviction is not guided by the sizes of the ministries I visited as much as they are significant.  Rather, it is guided by the quality of the leaders of these ministries and the values upon which they place premium in their service to God and fellow believers. 

Without exception while not mentioning names due to the sensitive environment within which a number of them serve, they are all men and women of prayer intent on raising up praying churches.  This they recount, with great humility, as their number one strategy and resource in growing the Kingdom of God in Asia.  Not only do they excercise regular private prayer and fasting, their churches are build on the foundations of regular corporate fasting and prayer. 
Believers worship at Kuala Lumpur Baptist Church, Malaysia
Secondly they are men and women of great endurance and patience.  The Asian context is generally a difficult context to minister in because of political, cultural, and religious sensitivities.  Commitment to Christ comes with great sacrifices and persecution.  Many have been through tremendous duress in their service to Christ.  Yet they have selflessly persisted in their commitment to Christ.  They have stood up to oppressive systems and defied religious police in their proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Church as the Hope of the World.

Rev. Daniel Ho Pastor of Dream Center Church (DUMC)
is a hihgly influential figure in Malaysia and the world.
A true prince of the Church. 
Thirdly they are men and women deeply reliant on the Holy Spirit.  Without exception and regardless of the denominational label on their church/ministry doors, they are all men and women operating in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit of God.  They are deeply aware of His pre-eminence in the advancement of the Gospel of the Kingdom, seeking His indwelling personally and corporately.  The experiences of the four Gospels and of Acts of the Apostles are not some strange archaic tales.  They reflect the reality of their experience and provide a blue print for their present ministry.  As one leader put it, his church is a Definitely Unussual Medhodist Church!

Falam speaking believers worship at one of
the services that I ministered in at KLBC
Fourthly they hold and speak of each others' ministries with great respect and affinity.  There is a pervasive sense of unity in diversity both within the individual congregations all of which hold multiple services in multiple languages as well as between the various ministries and pastors that see each other as playing on the same team.  Yes, they are all so diverse in worship styles, leadership styles, personalities, ministry emphasis, etc.  But that said, they are all so united in purpose, mission, and the end goal.

The Dream Center, Kuala Lumpur.  I am blessed by the size
of vision that many of the leaders have for the church
Fifthly, they are all leaders with great vision.  I must admit I was totally floored by the sizes of their vision for the church in Malaysia and beyond.  Again without exception these men and women dream big for Jesus and for His Kingdom.  None of them is out to build a personal empire but they are intimately aware that Jesus is out to establish a global enterprise and they are kin to project this grant vision in their undertakings.  Looking at the sizes of their ministries juxtaposed to their personal integrity and humility one quickly notices that they are servants and not little kings.  That is a huge blessing to observe.

All the churches visited here have multiple services in multiple
languages to cater for the divisity of the congregations
Finally and having already alluded to this, the church here is heavily reflective of the diversity of the Kingdom of God.  Believers coming from all walks of life, speaking different languages within the same congregation, espouse such united love and affection for Christ and for each other.  For once I felt like I had revisited my age of innocence before the corrupting theological education that promotes seperatist church planting strategies which, looked at through the Holy Spirit's enabling presence in the Church, are carnal and dare I say devilish. 

Isn't it plain from Pentecost in Acts 2 that the Church was meant to be one and without regard or prejudice to race, tribe, class, or rank?  Isn't it obvious that whenever the Holy Spirit has been allowed free reign in the Church, from Pentecost to Asuza street, He always facilitates the planting of congregations that are not homogenous but rather heterogenous and diverse?  Isn't it also true today that wherever the church is growing it is not so much because of its' homogeneity but rather because of its' open-door policy to the person of the Holy Spirit? 

Inside the Kuala Lumpur Tower, 1000 feet above
ground.  Behind me are the Twin Towers.
Thank you Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for all you are doing in Malaysia and all throughout South East Asia.  I bow my knee in gratitude and thanksgiving for the privilege and opportunity you have given me this week to minister to your church here but also to learn and to celebrate the manifest outworking of your power amidst your people.  Now dear Lord as I head back to the United States and go forth to the world help me to be deeply focused on you.  Fill me afresh with the power of your Holy Spirit.  Help me speak eloquently and testify boldly to your amazing works throughout the whole world. 

May you also sustain your church, the Hope of South East Asia and of the world.  Guard and protect it from the aggresor and embolden it with your love and truth.  Fill your servants with anointing and power.  Let the Church rise and flourish as the Light of Malaysia and beyond.  That all may hear and know that Jesus Christ is Lord!                

Oct 29, 2012

Adiedo Embraces Hope

World Evangelist Sammy Wanyonyi
preaching in Adiedo, Kenya
Orphaned by HIV/AIDS, she rarely speaks, not even to her visiting school sponsor Pam Craig who traveled as part of our team to Adiedo from Spokane Washington.  But last Saturday afternoon in the closing moments of the evangelistic festival, Everline walked over to Pam and asked if she could be introduced to the preacher (me).   For once, she had a smile on her face.  The eleven year-old had just asked Jesus Christ into her heart as Lord and Savior.



Several hundreds of people respond to the invitation to
follow Christ on day two of Adiedo Festival
All across the soccer-field were stories like Everline's.  I cannot forget a ten year-old young man named Ochieng.  On Friday night, he waited backstage patiently for me to leave the stage and then boldly walked up to me extending his hand to greet me.  Although his clothes were torn here and there, I could tell that he had worn his Sunday best to the meeting.  He had impeccable personality as he marshalled his best lingual skills to speak to me in English. 

"My name is Andrew Ochieng," he started.  "Today I asked Jesus into my heart.  I feel so much happiness.  I feel hope in my heart.  Thank you!" he posed. 


Local Artist Anastacia Mkabwa and her team
minister through Music
Then with an obvious burdened look on his face he proceeded to share a prayer request, "Pastor, could you please pray for my brother Owino so he can join class eight (eighth grade)?  Could you also pray for my aunt to get well as she is the only one there to care for us?  She is sick all the time.  Mom and dad died." 

My emotions vascilated from delight to sadness.  Why should a ten-year old boy be bearing such a heavy burden on his small shoulders?  While I contemplated a response, he looked at me and smiled once more then added, "I love Jesus!" 


Hopeful young faces of Adiedo listen to the gospel as Sammy preaches
I was blown away. I was suddenly reminded that he wasn't alone anymore.  That the whole point of the moment was the reality of the person of Jesus Christ being present to the people of Adiedo as their anchor of hope.

We held hands and prayed together and then I gave him a big hug.  He walked away with a look of great satisfaction on his face as he disappeared into the crowd.  Several minutes later as our van drove from the soccer field, he was standing by the gate.  He waved us down, walked to my window and said, "I will come again tomorrow!" 


Ministry team member Kathy Miller ministers
to a little one at the Festival in Adiedo, Kenya
Everline's and Andrew's stories capture the essence of what Christ did during our just concluded mission to Adiedo, Kenya.  Like the shrinking shoreline and vanished beaches that once characterized Lake Victoria allowing access to its' waters for fishing and for recreation, Adiedo's hopes had slowly been vanishing. 

The manacing Hyercinth weed that has taken over the beaches and shoreline rendering access to the lake that is the source to the famous River Nile impossible is only one of many problems that the nearly 2000 residents of this tiny Kenyan village have to deal with.  There is the devastation from HIV/AIDS that rendered many households orphaned or widowed.  Then there is the perenial drought, lack of clean drinking water, on and on.


Pastor Joe Wittwer Pastor of of Life Center Church,
Spokane, WA ministers to a lady at the Adiedo Festival
Rather than provide hand-outs, our partner organization in the area, Spring of Hope International has worked with residents over the last five years to restore the economic base by educating the community on alternative sources of income generation and innovative farming techniques that bolster harvest and ensure food security. They have also provided educational sponsorships for kids from widowed or orphaned homes.

Team member Sandy McConkey dealing
hope to an attendee at the Festival Event
 But noticing that the greatest need of the community is spiritual, Spring of Hope teamed up together with the local churches operating in the community to invite SWIM ministries as a partner to bring the message of Jesus Christ to the community.  Between inspecting development projects and visiting with sponsored children in Schools, we conducted two days of leadership training and two days of Evangelistic Festival for the community.


A line of people form a seloate on the edges of
the soccer field as they listen to the gospel
Through the leadership seminars that sought to equip more than 300 community leaders with transformational leadership tools and challenge some of the undermining cultural practices as well as through the Festival of Hope that attracted nearly 5000 in attendance in a village of just under 2000 residents, over 1500 people gave their lives to Christ as Lord and Savior.  

Spring of Hope founder and director Dave Opap
engages with a youthful festival attendee in Adiedo
We believe this is the beginning of a movement of hope and change rooted in the transforming power and promise of the Word of God.  Glory to God!

We at SWIM ministries greatly appreciate our partners that continue to give sacrificially to enable us to bring the message of hope to thousands of people in places such as Adiedo in multiple countries around the world.  Thank you for your heart of generosity and deep love for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  You can support our ongoing efforts financially by clicking on the donate button on the right-hand side panel.














A crowd of boys crane their necks to catch the action
from behind the stage during the festival in Adiedo,
among them Andrew Ochieng


Here, team member Pam Craig visits with Everline at her home in Adiedo
a day after she received Christ at the Festival. 
Her aging grandfather who takes care of her looks on.

Team member Brad from City Church, Spokane prays with an elderly festival attendee Oct. 20
Kenyan Diva Anastacia Mkabwa ministers to the crowd through Music Oct 20
Local Police Inspector Nelson shares his testimony with Leadership Conference participants in Adiedo, Kenya, Oct 17
Team member Pam Craig ministers to an elderly festival attendee in Adiedo, Kenya October 20
An excited youthful crowd enjoys the music at the Festival in Adiedo, Kenya October 20
Kids listen to the Gospel Message in Adiedo, Kenya Oct. 20


Hundreds of people responding to the invitation to Follow Christ meet in groups with Follow-up Conselors during the festival in Adiedo, Kenya