Aug 19, 2010

A Medical Doctor With a Passion for God, a Love for People, and an Enduring Faith

Our Mission in
Kenya Continued well.
He is humble, he is joyful, and he works hard to make a difference among a Kenyan rural town's community.  That is Dr. Nathan Matasi, a gynecologist serving in Kitale town, Western Kenya. 

There are hardly any hospitals in this part of the world.  The one government operated hospital in Kitale town serves a population of over one million people from the town and the surrounding rural farm communities. 

Sammy and Gary share a moment with Dr. Matasi next
to a corn field in Kitale on Tuesday morning before
heading out for the prayer service in Nairobi, some 400 miles away. 
Here you will find patients sleeping on the floor in overcrowded hallways, pregnant mothers sharing beds, and daily lines forming at the out-patient unit.  There are hardly modern equipment available for the few qualified doctors and nurses to use for diagnostics or treatment.  Majority of the patients can hardly afford to pay for quality medical attention.

Yet it is here where Matasi felt called by God to pitch his career tent.  Thirteen years ago he and I were neighbors in a suburb of Nairobi.  He worked at one of the leading hospitals in the country.  We were prayer partners and met each week to pray together.  For over four years we did this until in 1997 when God began to stir our hearts in different but convergent directions. 

On my part, I felt a call toward pastoral leadership, world evangelization and global missions.  God was calling me to relocate to Minnesota, train and serve as a world evangelist taking His gospel to many nations of the world.  As for Dr. Matasi, God was calling him to leave the more comfortable Nairobi.  He was calling him to relocate to the humble rural town of Kitale to establish a faith-based medical outreach center. 

We each obeyed God's promptings as best as we knew how.  What we didn't know was that our visions were related and were meant to converge along the way.  As part of our global missionary effort, SWIM ministries is partnering with Dr. Matasi to help establish Ebenezer Medical Services a mission focused hospital in Kitale town. 
Sammy addresses several hundred believers gathered for
 prayer at Nairobi pentecostal  church, Valley Road on
Tuesday August 17th evening.
Currently, and for the last twelve years, Dr. Matasi operates a medical clinic, Rapha Medical Center, in the town.  We have been praying and hosptial plans are approved by the Kenya government, a site has been identified and purchased, and preparations are underway to begin the development of Ebenezer Hospital over the next two years.  To his credit, although he has had many challenges to overcome, Dr. Matasi has not wavered in this vision that God delivered to him.

Besides helping to provide health services to this city of 200,000 people and to the neighboring rural communities numbering nearly a million people on an on-going basis, we anticipate the facility will serve as an outreach center for SWIM's as well as other Christian organizations traveling medical and evangelistic teams in the near future. 

Believers pray in Nairobi
On Monday night and Tuesday morning as we have been travelling and ministering here in Kenya, Gary, Candie and I got to visit with Dr. Matasi and his lovely wife Zipporah.  My wife Suzanne and I will be back in Kitale in mid-September following the completion of our missions in Rwanda and Malawi to do some more work with Dr. Matasi related to this project.

Jesus while commissioning His disciples does not seperate healing and evangelism and neither should we.  He says in Luke 10:2-9: "The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go, behold I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves...whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; and heal those in it who are sick, and say to them, 'the Kingdom of God has come near to you."

Please pray for Dr. Matasi and his team of medical providers as they serve in a challenging enviroment.  Pray for us as we partner to seek resources to get the hospital off ground.  Pray that God will continue to place the right people on our path with whom to share this vision for medical missions as part of our holisitc approach to evangelism and leadership development.         

Aug 18, 2010

Residents of Eluuya Village Receive the Testimony of Christ with Great Joy

We arrived in Kenya safely on Sunday
night for the first leg of our mission. 
“We live and we minister in the villages,” stated Pastor Christopher Mwale, who pastors one of the village churches in Eluuya. “But the villages do not live in us. Our mandate, extend of our ministry, and who we are as a people, is not determined or defined by the village. It is defined by the God of the universe,” he continued, emphasizing the heavenly call to all believers from all the world to go to all the world taking the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Gary and Candie are welcomed at my parents'
 Eluuya home  by my brothers Titus (Ctr) and Caleb (left).
The opportunity to minister to the residents of the village of Eluuya, just as I did growing up among them until I was thirteen, marked a tremendous and fitting commencement to our ministry here in Africa that continues over the next ten weeks and will span five countries. As one who now lives out the Great Commission mandate among the nations of the world, I could not agree more with Pastor Christopher’s statement.

Several dozen people came out to receive us. My parents still live in the community and serve the surrounding villages as evangelists. As we observed these believers glorify and enjoy God in this remote village community, I could not help but reflect on Revelation 7:9.
Kids join in worship during
a service in the village.

“After these things I looked, and behold a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb.”

A local worship team leads the village
believers in worship and dance.
I asked Gary and Candy Kellen, a married couple who are travelling with me from Grace Community Church, Worthington, MN to speak to the people. They did an outstanding job sharing their testimonies and presenting the gospel message, challenging those who do not know Christ to come to repentance. We enjoyed the fellowship of the local believers, being deeply moved by their hospitality and joy in Christ just as much as the local believers enjoyed ours. They felt encouraged, strengthened in their faith, and inspired to fulfill their calling as ministers of Christ.

Gary and Candie share the message of Christ
 with the people as my brother Titus translates.
A wonderful thing we observed was the coming together at the service, of pastors representing different churches and denominations in Eluuya and the neighboring villages. They hailed from Quaker/Friends church, Salvation Army, Anglican, Assemblies of God, several streams of Pentecostal churches, Baptist, and a number of independent churches.

Inspired by our sharing, they expressed their unity of purpose under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were overjoyed that our presence had drawn them to come together. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Pastor Peter Makila read a joint statement, pledging their commitment to continue to work together. They resolved to plan and to hold joint outreach efforts to their community. That fulfills our joy as evangelists.
The audience listens keenly as
Gary and Candie share their testimony.

Following the service, we presented a small monetary gift to the local Salvation Army congregation to go towards the completion of their church roof. In a community where the average income is one dollar per day, completing a $ 15,000 building project has taken them nearly 10 years. We thank God for resourcing us so that we could make a small contribution and encourage them to complete their vision for the village’s place of worship.

Our team donated a small gift to the
 congregation to help them complete
 the roofing of their church building.
Thank you for continuing to pray with us as we work in the harvest field. My wife Suzanne and my son Samuel Jr. remind me in a secret note I found hidden with my clothes in the travelling bag, “we are on our knees on your behalf. Our hearts are with you as is all our love.” Thank you sweetheart and thank you to all of our praying partners for lifting us up in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ!