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

Oct 19, 2012

Adiedo Opens its Doors to the Gospel

Preaching to residents of Adiedo village
From the village headmen, the area chief, the inspector of police, the district commandant of police,  to the District Commissioner, the highest official representing the provincial administration, the message is the same:  "Thank you for bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to our community!"

The young rejoice
The last four days we have held leadership conferences that targetted church and community leaders as well as toured various development projects that our ministry partners sponsor.  The work that SWIM's partner, Spring of Hope International, has done in the community has openned the hearts and minds of the residents of this quiet village. 

Hundreds respond to follow Christ
Today we kick off the two-day evangelistic festival.  I am eager to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For it is the power of God to salvation.  The festival will feature local choirs, testimonies, a guest artist from Tanzania, Anastacia Mukabwa, and me preaching Christ. 

Hundreds listen to the gospel
Pray for a mighty outpouring of the Spirit of God for the salvation of thousands.  Already, 61 people have come to Christ through the leadership conference.  We can't wait to see the fullness of what Christ will do as we preach the Gospel.

Oct 12, 2012

I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel

Don't give me a church at the gates of vale, give me a mission at the gates of hell. Let me be a fork in the road that humanity must turn one way or the other on encounter with me. Some languish in the luxury of sin. Others starve under it. They both share the tragic end. Who will help the cause of Christ to stop the multitudes from discending in the pit?

My Lord and my God, here I am in your presence. Guide me in the way evarlasting. Cause your star to be ever in sight and to lead the way. Your sword I bear in my hand. Though alone sometimes it might seem.  As a soldier for the Cross I face the dragon. 

I am not ashamed of your Gospel, the power of God unto salvation.  Satan must surrender the nations. The cause of Christ has triumped forever.  Today as I head to Homa Bay, Kenya, it is in your power and for your glory, Lord!

Oct 10, 2012

October Living Water for the People of Adiedo,

Excited Residents of Adiedo stand with a banner
announcing next week's Evangelistic Crusade
The small village near the shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya has seen its share of  dark days.  But not anymore as the Light of Jesus Christ comes beaming through starting this weekend and all through next week. 

David Opap who grew up here and now serves as executive director of Spring of Hope International, a partner organization with SWIM in bringing the gospel to the residents of Adiedo next week reminisces:

"We faced water borne diseases and death daily from contaminated water and a good dose of ignorance due to iliteracy.  We had no source of clean water.   The only water to drink was the infested pond water that the animals would drink from and urinate in.  Many died from drinking the water, including my siblings and eventually my mother. My young brother and I both got sick at the same time.  He died.  When I recovered, it was as if I’d been snatched from a lion’s mouth."

Opap fell ill and became anemic. While he waited for a blood transfusion, his mother prayed, and he was miraculously healed without the transfusion. After surviving these near-death experiences, Opap believed God wanted to use him to bring hope to the people of Adiedo.

Dave Opap
“When I reached the age when I knew between good and evil, my mama took me to an evangelistic  crusade in a near-by town where the salvation message was being preached.  My life has never been the same. I have continued to walk with trust and to serve the Lord."

Through a series of divinely ochestrated events, Opap soon found himself at Northwestern College in Minneapolis, MN for studies.  He endured the cold weather, often riding his bike through the snow to get to school in the winter months. At Northwestern, God prepared him to do the work he had been called to do.

He returned home to Kenya for the first time in 2000, where HIV/AIDS had been added to the problem of water-borne illness.
“I was then left with a choice: either to go back to America and keep silent or come back and try to look for ways to repair my Adiedo, which was on the path of hopelessness,” says Opap.

He founded Spring of Hope International, a nonprofit ministry to bring clean water to Adiedo and other parts of Africa.

In 2009, Opap’s first dream was realized when they drilled the first well in his village. Since then, Opap and a team from New Life Center church in Spokane, WA, have brought solar ovens to the women in the village that would allow them to create baked goods to sell. Spring of Hope continues to expand with child sponsorship, endowment funds to promote education for the people and micro-financing for Kenyan business endeavors.

Part of our Adiedo ministry team
Late last year, having met the felt needs of the people of Adiedo, Opap felt the greatest need of his people was yet to be met.  That is when he invited our SWIM team to come alongside and help deliver this most important commodity to his village.

He said: "If our people are to rise above the daily struggles and triffles, they need something more than clean water, education, and development opportunities.  They need what I received that day at the evangelistic crusade which completely changed the trajectory of my life and gave me hope and purpose to live for.  They need Jesus Christ in their lives and the forgiveness and the meaning and purpose for life that He brings."

This coming week in Adiedo, David's dream will be realized as we partner together with the Adiedo community churches, Spring of Hope International and team members from Life Center Church, Spokane, WA, to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the residents of Adiedo.   A two day pastor's and leaders conference will precede the two-day Festival of Hope and the area wide Sunday Service for believers and new converts on Sunday October 21st conducted by pastor Joe Witwer of New Life Center Church.

Ministry team members travelling to Adiedo
Pray that many residents of Adiedo will realize their need for salvation through Christ.  Pray for me as I preach at the Crusade to articulate the truth of Christ with great clarity.  Pray for the team members from New Life Center who will teach at the Leadership Conference and minister in various settings that each one will be greatly anointed to teach the truth of Christ that sets humanity free.  Pray for Pastor Joe as he conducts the area-wide service on the 21st and leads the new belivers into the waters of baptism along with local pastors. 

To support SWIM's global efforts financially, follow the donate link to the right hand side pannel to our secure site.    

Sep 13, 2012

Hundreds Choose Jesus in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Hundreds match for Jesus
through the streets
of Pietermaritzburg

Flying into Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, last month, the view over the snow-covered Drukensburg mountains surrounded by lush evergreen forests was breath-taking.  It was winter and just a week earlier, they had received a fresh coating of snow. 

Several youth pray to receive
Christ in a township

It had cleared off the streets of Pietermaritzburg by the time we arrived to commense the mission organized by our partners Africa Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE).   Not withstanding, the evenings and nights were brutally cold even for a cold-hardened Minnesotan like me. 

This woman who I was told was a
sangoma (witchdoctor) received Christ
However, it wasn't the cold that caught my attention.  No, it was the hoards of people that braved the cold in the evenings to come and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the unheated tents that we had strategically set up in several townships of Pietermaritzburg.  They would walk, often through the dark streets and unsure terrain to find their way into our cold and dimly lit tents.

Several older women receive Christ
Driving up to one of those tents one night, it was so foggy that our driver could barely see five feet infront of us.  The 45 minute drive up a steep and windy narrow road felt like an eternity.  Thankfully, my wife Suzanne prayed us safe all the way as we texted back and forth minute by minute updates of our progress up the mountain.

Each night I preached at a different township tent
and dozens from different ages would receive Christ
That same night in the course of preaching, a witchdoctor burst through the tent walls from behind the stage and came to sit right in front of me.  I could see the rest of the audience felt uneasy the moment she came in.  But I kept preaching the Word of the Lord without paying much specific attention to her.  Afterall she is one of those people that Christ died for.

I preached the word of God during
the youth rally inviting
the youth to follow Jesus
Sure enough when I made an altarcall, she was one of those who stood up to make a commitment to Jesus Christ.   For there is power in the Name of Jesus Christ that trumps all powers of darkness.  Whether they be those of witchcraft, secularism, or postmordernity.  Christ commands that as we go, we should preach the gospel saying, "The Kingdom of heaven is at hand."  We should heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leppers, cast out demons.  Freely we have  received, freely we should give. (Matt. 10:7-8).

We held a youth rally with hundreds of
youth at the local Rugby Stadium
Seeing her stand in front of me among eighty-five others with both hands raised and tears streaming down her eyes was a magnificent experience and testament to the amazing grace of God.  It made the whole dangerous drive worth it.

Several people respond to receive
Christ following ministry at God's
Family Church on Sunday morning
Another enjoyable aspect was listening to South African worship.  Zulu language worship is quite an extra-ordinary experience.  As the services commensed each night, they sang, danced, and celebrated the grace of God with amazing harmony and rythmic beauty.  I remember one night sitting there and thinking to myself, wow, in heaven we will definitely be singing in Zulu. 

Several Thousands gather for the
closing rally at Woodburn Stadium
Throughout the week of August 12-19th of August, I preached in a different township each night before concluding with the youth rally in the local Woodburn Rugby stadium on Saturday August 18 and Sunday morning ministry at God's Family Life Center, 271 Boshoff St, downtown Pietermaritzburg.

All through the week, I prayed with about 400 people who entered into a brand-new saving relationship with Jesus Christ.   Glory to God!!

With our next Festival to Adiedo, Kenya (Homa Bay City on the shores of Lake Victoria) just three weeks away, I request you to continue to pray for a great harvest.  God is doing amazing things all around the world and you and I get to be witnesses of these things.  Pray with us for continued financial provision to complete the task ahead of us.  We are in need of $12,000 to successfully complete our Fall commitments.  To donate, follow the link to the right of this page.

Aug 13, 2012

God Does Great Things in Ruzizi as 81,000 Hear the Gospel

Pastor Nsengumuremyi Theonest during the closing rally :
Several thousand residents of Ruzizi, Rwanda
listen to the gospel as Sammy Wanyonyi presents
a clear  and concise message of Hope through
Christ during the closing rally August 12th 2012
"It has been a year since i have been pastoring a church in Mururu Sector. My church has never exceeded 50 members. During Rusizi Mission, I was one of the active pastors in Rusizi 11 preaching site. This last Sunday on 12th/8/2012 I received 70 new members which means my church has now over 120 members. I praise God for the impactful results of Rusizi Mission. I can assure you that other fellow churches have experienced the same positive results too."
Later, hundreds respond to
the call of Salvation.
Mayor of the City during Top Leaders Dinner:
"Since 1946 when the first protestant churches (ADEPR) were planted in Rusizi, its our first time to have such kind of mission where all different denominations have come together for a common goal. I believe that this is the beginning of a great revival and transformation of our district. As political leaders we need to work hand in hand with the church for the bright future of our nation"
Hundreds pray to receive Christ as Lord
and Savior at Closing Rally
These are just a couple of thousands of stories that have emerged from the mission we have concluded in Ruzizi.  To the glory of God, 7,650 adults and numerous kids have come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the first time.

At the closing rally on Sunday, several thousands of joyful Rwandese came to the stadium event.  They sung, they rejoiced, they danced to popular Christian songs led by a number of national leading artists, and celebrated as I preached God's word to them. 

Earlier, 261 pastors participated
in the 3-day School of Evangelism
Taking from the story of the woman who was brought to Jesus after she was caught in adultery in John 8:1-10, I spoke to them of how this is a season of God's mercy and not of judgment. 

A large village crowd listens to SWIM team member Kimberly as she
shares her testimony earlier in the week.
According to the account, Jesus went up on the mount of Olives.  Later he came into the temple court where a crowd gathered around him to hear him teach.  It is during the time of teaching that the Pharasees and Saducees bring the woman demanding that Jesus give his verdict as to what should be done to her.  According to the Law of Moses, she should be stoned. 

Nikki Celebrates after leading 60 women
into a relationship with Christ at the women
leadership Conference as Kimberly teaches
in the background
Jesus challenges them saying he who is without sin be the first to cast the stone.  Of course there is no one.  In His mercy, He tells the woman that He does not condemn her either and that she should go and sin no more. 

Shug Bury preaching to a large
village audience early in the week.
As I made the altar call, hundreds from all ages flocked to front.   To the glory of they prayed to receive Christ into their lives as Lord and Savior. 

Today, Tuesday, we commense the next phase of the mission in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.  Pray that many will come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ over the next several days as we reach out with the message of love and forgiveness.

We still do need your financial support.  With six days left before the end of our mission, we still need $12,000 to fully cover our expenses.  Pray with us and please consider a generous gift to help us end this mission without any debt.
On Saturday night, we held a special prayer dinner for
near 100 key political and business leaders of Ruzizi

Statistical Summary on Ruzizi Mission Outcomes

81'000 People were reached through the gospel
7'650 people accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior
105 evangelistic programs were conducted in the whole of Rusizi district
264 pastors attended the school of Evangelism
268 women were reached through a women conference
95'000 evangelistic tracts were distributed
3'300 prisoners were reached through the gospel
Stanton and Nikki Demonstrate
the gospel to kids at a village stop
150 prisoners gave their life to Jesus
1'700 rain coats were given to prisoners as an act social of love
12 countries has been represented in that mission
( USA, UK, New Zealand, France, Benin, BurkinaFasso, Guinnee Konakry, Magascar, Angola, Burundi, Republic Democratic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopian and Rwanda)

By His power and for His glory!   

Aug 2, 2012

Canker Soars, Upgrades, and the Pope- On the Way to Ruzizi

Rwandan believers declare Rwanda
as God's territory during a past prayer
walk.  Thousands will be doing
the same this week.
All the stories are by Sammy Wanyonyi.  Team member pictures do not correspond in any way to the stories.

This past Sunday I noticed that I was developing several canker soars in my mouth.  I didn't think much of them until when I started to preach and I noticed that I could not speak clearly.  They were painful and uncomfortable. 

By Monday they had gotten much more worse and new ones were coming up.  My wife prayed for me and then consulted "Dr. Google" for some advice which we began to follow. 

Stanton Petersen- Children Evangelist,
Come Wednesday morning when I was packing and ready to head out to Rwanda, they were still soar and not much improved.  I sent out an SOS to a few friends as well as our traveling team asking for prayer.  My mouth is the key instrument that God will be using in Rwanda this Sunday and the next three weeks as I speak nearly 30 times to different audiences.  We recognized that this is Satan's attack. 

Within an hour of people praying, the sting in the canker soars stopped.  My mouth is healing amazingly fast and I can eat hot food without any issues whatsoever.  He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.  Just like God! 

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 54:16-17)


Fundraising for this mission was proving to be a little bit tight.  So when we bought our airline tickets, we went for the cheapest we could find.  Being a frequent flier with Delta skymiles, I thought I could buy the cheapest possible within skymiles partners and if I needed to upgrade, especially for part of my long, return leg from Durban South Africa through Armsterdam to Minneapolis, I could use some of my skymiles to do so.

We found the cheapest tickets on Delta's partner airline Air France.  Their economy class has several classes and I went for the lowest. 

However, when I called Delta to find out if I could actually do that, they told me it would be impossible to upgrade from my current ticket unless I discard it and purchase a different one that is upgradable.  Of course discarding wasn't part of the equation.

Shug Burry-Prison Evangelist, speaker
Come yesterday during departure, I heard my name being called on the PA.  When I went over to the counter, I was handed a new boarding pass and on close examination, I had been upgraded to first class.  I turned to one of our team members who was there with me and said rather loudly, "Look, I got an upgrade! Praise the Lord!"

The Delta staff lady at the boarding counter who had handed me the new boarding pass looked at me with a smile and gave me a thumbs up and said, "Enjoy!"  I figured she must be a believer. 

My team mate then turned to her as I went through the doors onto the plane and said, "I am with him!"  I sat down on my Premier seat and a few minutes later, my team mate comes into first class with a grin on her face and sits a few seats behind me. 

She too had received an upgrade!  Ah!  How nice to be able to stretch and sleep in a bed on the plane!  From the lowest place, we had been taken to the highest...without having spent any more than what we paid for the lowest ticket.

Nikki O'Brien- Women Leaders' speaker
Did they say it was impossible?  Well, all things...and much more... are possible with God.  I have come to see that every now and then, God likes to give us as his children some cool treats along the way.  This was definitely one of them. 

And by the way, we still need your help to close our budget gap.  We still need $14,000 to come in over the next two weeks.  Keep praying and please give whatever you can to help us bring thousands to Christ. Follow the donate link to your right.


On my flight from Minneapolis to Armsterdam, after the bump to first class, I sat next to a gentleman in his fifties, an executive with Airbus company.  He started asking me questions about what I do.   When I told him I was a pastor/evangelist he was facinated.

"Do they pay you a lot of money?" He asked.  "No, not really! I actually pay a lot of money in order to do what I do."  I said. 

"What kind of education do you have?"  He went on.

"Well, I have a Bachelors degree, a Master of Divinity and I begin writing my final doctoral dissertation later this fall."  I answered.

Kimberly Wolf- Women Leaders' Speaker
"So, you must be working toward becoming the Pope in your church?" 

"No, not at all!"  I answered. 

"So what incentives are there in your line of work?  Why are you doing what you are doing?  You have all this education, you are not making money, and you are not climbing up the ladder of power and success?"  He responded, looking puzzled.

To be continued....

"Go, labor on while it is day, The worlds dark night is hastening on. Speed, speed thy work, cast sloth away- it is not thus that souls are won. " Horatius Bonar