Sep 30, 2009

Grow, Become, Increase!

This last Sunday September 27th I spoke to the International congregation of Destiny Faith Ministries in Brooklyn Park, MN.  In a message titled, "Grow, Become, Increase," drawn from the "silent" years of Jesus' life (Luke 2:40-52), I highlight the fact that the so called silent years were in fact not that very silent for Jesus.  Luke informs us that Jesus was occupied with three things during that period of his life: growing, becoming and increasing.

Being fully and perfect man, a pre-occupation of Luke, Jesus grew physically.  Most significantly, He grew spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and socially.

It would be a sad fact of life if a 30-year old man stayed on the lap of his mom suckling away at her breast.  Sadly, many of us do exactly that in the church.  Year in and year-out we stay put, afraid to venture out into God's zone of faith and favor.

The apostle Paul says in 1 Cor 13:11, "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things."  Growth, becoming, and increase necessitate change and engagement with life.

Rather than be stagnant, impassive or bored in our lives, Christ examplifies for us and calls us to a life of active social engagement, spiritual growth, intellectual exploration, and emotional integrity.  By stating to his parents at the age of 12, "Why is it that you were looking for Me?  Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house?" (Luke 2:49), Christ demonstrates to us the imperativeness of clarifying our mission and purpose early in life.

In His case, He aligned His actions and priorities with that purpose and that mission to death.  In John 4:34 He says; "My food is to do the Will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."  As He is about to be crucified, that vision burns before him. "Now My Soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, "Father, save Me from this hour?  But for this purpose I came to this hour.  Father glorify Your Name." 

Finally, I thank God for what He is doing through Destiny Church.  Two years ago, pastor James Maina approached me and shared a vision of planting an international church in the Brooklyn Center neighborhood of Minneapolis.  He did not know how to get started.  We sat, talked and prayed about it for a couple hours. 

I then gave him a few pointers and leadership tools and helped him work through the IRS registration process.  A couple months later, he had started services in the basement of his house with three other families.  He called me to do a month-long teaching on the Christian faith which then turned to monthly speaking.


Today, the church which meets at Willow Elementary School, Brooklyn Park, has grown to over one hundred people every Sunday.  My wife Suzanne and I are always glad to invest our time and energy to helping pastor James develop leadership and strategy as he pastors this vibrant International church in a growing and diverse neighborhood in addition to our work at Westwood Community and around the world.

Sep 28, 2009

Operating in God's Favor

This week in a New York Times article published on September 27th, I am quoted commenting on the recent Airlines’ habit of charging extra fees for baggage. I reflect on how this impacts those of us who are involved in International missionary travel and often need to carry lots of stuff around.

The concern is not only the fact that this heightens the cost of doing missions. The lack of uniform standards on the part of the airline carriers in terms of baggage limits and fees becomes a very taxing ordeal for the passenger.

For instance, when we left the United States for Nairobi on KLM/Delta we were allowed two pieces of luggage with cumulative weight of 70 pounds per person. But on reaching Nairobi and needing to transfer to Kenya Airways a partner carrier for KLM/Delta, to Bujumbura and for return to United States, we were told we would be allowed two pieces not exceeding 23 pounds each.

Moreover, if you have one of the two bags weighing 10 pounds and the other one 30 pounds, you have to pay for extra weight on the 30 pound bag even though your cumulative weight does not exceed the allowed 46 pounds. I had two bags one of which could only carry strictly 12 pounds. With the other bag being 38 pounds in weight, it meant that I needed to pay for 15 pounds in extra weight.

Thankfully, we were operating in God’s favor zone. Besides having to open our bags and do some redistribution of weight among ourselves, the Kenya Airways staff eventually decided to waive the fees for us. This was continued testimony to God’s hand upon us that had manifested in terms of financial provisions, travel documents, healthy travel, and ministry breakthrough both in Kenya and Burundi.

After reading the AP article, Steve Wareham quips, “At least there are no pictures of us in the ticketing hall of the Nairobi Airport doing our frantic last minute repack / redistribute shuffle.”

Thank you to our ministry partners who are always praying for us as we advance the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ around the world despite the hustles and inconveniences of both domestic and foreign travel. Without your stand behind us in prayer and financial support, our work would easily be stunted.


I am especially indebted to my beautiful wife Suzanne and to our unborn son (yes we have a son on the way) who were waiting for me so patiently at the Minneapolis International Airport when I arrived from Africa. For you, “No eye has seen and no ear has heard, nor has it entered the heart of any man, all that God has prepared for you in recompense for your love for Him.”

Speaking of parenthood, what a miracle it is to watch God create life!  Today Suzanne and I got a glimpse of our handsome baby-boy who will be due on February 12th 2010.  May He be grow to honor and glorify God in his generation.  Amen!