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!


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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.