Tomorrow is Easter. The day behind us, Good Friday. But what about today?

crossWhen Jesus’ followers were living the Saturday between, they had no idea what would happen the next morning. Their beloved leader had been mocked, beaten, humiliated and crucified. He was dead and gone. As much as we call it “Good” Friday, theirs was anything but a good day!

As my friend Esther writes, “Their worst fears had been realized and their prayers hadn’t been answered. Imagine the vicious, ripping pain that comes with the death of a friend, the fear that comes with the crushing of a cause, the hopelessness that comes with the loss of a leader.” That was the reality that set in on Saturday.

I wonder what it meant to the disciples when Jesus told them they needed to “take up” His cross daily, long before that history-changing day. What does it mean to us?

The fact of salvation is that Jesus had to die. And for His followers, their hopes had to die. Their plans to sit at the right and left of a king had to die. Yes, the resurrection was coming – but they did not know that! If we are to follow Jesus, something in us also has to die: maybe our plans to succeed… our desire to make money… our preferred ministry ‘job description.’

When we walk with God, it is highly likely that the plans, the provision, will be granted. But it strikes me that on Saturday, before the miracle comes, we don’t know what is ahead. We can’t know, or it would not be the cross. We have to let it die, without the secret expectation that God will bring it back. Perhaps carrying the cross has something to do with that.

(Actually, the theme “something has to die” is the first in a series of writings I plan to share about Abraham’s call and how it relates to us…stay tuned.)

Can we – should we – for just one day, meditate on the cross without jumping to the claims of the resurrection? The first disciples of Jesus certainly had to.

~ Diane

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Dance with Me

It was one of those desperate moments. I was crying out to God for a refilling. And for a word – be it rebuke, encouragement, exhortation or instruction – whatever! After several days of being bombarded with a lot of the muck of life, I just wanted to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice.

During worship, I sensed God calling out, “Dance with me.” What a glorious invitation! I’ll give some background.

I love to dance. But growing up in a Mennonite home, and then marrying a culturally conservative Kenyan, there have not been many chances.

Last week, we were staying in a luxurious hotel at the coast, compliments of the Disaster Response Seminar there. After dinner, the dance floor was open and a live band in place. I really wanted to dance with my beloved. I admired those who were swinging to the various beats. But that special someone was not up for the idea. Unfortunately, that left me with a bit of self-pity and a tinge of resentment. “Why do we have to be so holy all the time?”

I am generally not very big on the “Jesus as lover” trend that can be a bit mushy and even egocentric at times. (Forgive me if that statement was offensive <J). But the words spoken to my heart, ‘dance with me’ were deeply meaningful. God really does know us intimately.

“The watchman opens the gate for (the Shepherd) and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and ‘leads them out.’ When he has brought out all of his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

~ Diane

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Being Prepared

One word could describe what many Kenyans seem to be thinking about lately: security. This past Saturday I was at a neighborhood meeting. The subject was security. The meeting came in response to increased attacks, robberies and even murders in our neighborhood. Many are in a state of panic.

This week we are holding a Disaster Response and Security training in Mombasa. Just a few weeks ago, Mombasa was the venue for another gathering that was discussing Jihad and how to unleash terror. So I was not really surprised with the large turnout of nearly 200 trainees: IDRN trainingbishops, pastors and church members alike who are mindful about their personal security and that of their communities.

I must admit I am very encouraged.

Encouraged, because quite often people just feel hopeless in the face of a disaster. They believe that there is nothing they can do except pray and wait for help to come. But that is changing as we gain more awareness and build more capacity.

IDRN Ibrahim splinting

First Aid Exercise

I believe that if enough of us become aware of our surroundings and learn what we can do to prevent or respond to a disaster, God will use us. We might actually be in a position to save lives. In fact, one of the participants in last year’s training was involved in triage, counseling and transportation of victims after the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall last September. If we can be willing to consider possibilities that we usually do not want to think about, be vigilant and develop safety habits, it will go a long way to secure our neighborhoods and by extension our nations.

Definitely our ultimate security is in Christ! We are sheltered in the shadow of His wings. As the world becomes more insecure and terrorism is on the rise, God expects us to pray, even pray “without ceasing.” But he also wants us to be relevant in this world. We must be alert, vigilant, and ready to take action when the need arises.

~ Ibrahim

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A Vision in Waiting

Since DOVE acquired 1.3 acres of prime land in Nairobi seven years ago, the vision for a Prayer Center has been burning in our hearts. God has patiently taken us through a time of waiting, preparation and adjustment of the vision. Sometimes it feels like things are taking too long!

In terms of preparation, we have been on a journey as a church family of learning to pray. The tent that is now on the property, with cracks that allow rain from the top and ‘cold’ wind from the sides, is not a place that would attract many people from outside the DOVE family or internationally for that matter. site viewBut within our Nairobi congregation, intercessors are taking the mantle of prayer very seriously. The tent is used regularly for early morning intercession, lunch-time prayer gatherings, evening prayer meetings and all night prayer vigils. Apart from these group prayer times, many individuals come in and out of the tent throughout the day for intercessory interludes.

As far as the vision for 24/7 prayer, the primary modification is that the House of Prayer will be part of a larger center, ‘The DOVE Center’, that includes a conference center, rental offices and a guest house. This model integrates our life-long passion for Africa to break free from the spirit of dependency and rise to a platform of both financial and spiritual Kingdom prosperity, with the vision for a place of prayer and praise. church imageWith a conference center, guest rooms and offices as part of the overall plan, income can be generated to support the operations of the House of Prayer as well as other Kingdom ventures toward holistic and sustainable development.

Despite all the prayers, however, I would be honest in saying that sometimes I feel like this might never actually come to pass. In February, a combined team from Morningstar Ministries and Kingdom Business Association lifted our faith to believe that funds for The DOVE Center will come in, and will come in soon. Team members presented these requests before the throne, and also gave sacrificially to propel the fund raising phase to a higher level.

Please join us to pray toward a DOVE Africa House of Prayer for the nations!

~ Diane

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Full Circle

God is good! We are so blessed to be alive and well in 2014!

2014 croppedWe start the year with the blessing of having all our children back home. Michael David had been the first to leave for college way back in 2002. Exactly eleven years later, in December 2013, he was the last to come back and complete the homecoming procession, bringing our family ‘full circle.’ Taking Michael David to college in the States was not only a painful experience, but one that has often plagued us (did we really do the right thing?) Two years later, Samuel left for college also. Daniel and Debbi went off to college in their own time, leaving us with an empty nest for nearly two years. Without doubt, sending our children to college in the States has been the most difficult sacrifice resulting from our choice to make the Kenyan “mission” field our permanent home.

Now they are all home. The boys are back to stay (at least until God gives specific instructions otherwise), and Debbi is home for a “gap year” from Wheaton College. Michael David (now using the name David) desires to set up a permaculture project on family property outside of Nairobi. Samuel is starting a business making custom furniture out of airplane parts. Daniel is working with a forestation project and also hopes to find a part-time job.

Our children left as ‘children’ and have come back as adults, beaten up in many ways by a world of prejudice; matured by the challenges of being pushed out of the nest; shaped by influences that were not under parental control; more in tune with their personal identity as multi-cultural, bi-racial individuals who need to find their way through a life that has very few beaten paths. But they are home!

We don’t know how long all of our children will live in Kenya, but right now my mother’s heart is leaping with joy!

~ Diane

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Convention Lessons

Last week DOVE Kenya held our annual convention, an event that involves a lot of planning and prayer. It is a time we always look forward to. But guess what – on the first day we were unceremoniously absent! Convention 13-6

Why? It is a long story that boils down to multiple car problems and false promises, but the lessons to be learned might have been missed if we had been at the convention as planned.  Lesson number one: I am / we are not indispensable. (Daaaaaa!!) A DOVE conference can go on very well without me (us). Secondly, we work with amazing people who are highly capable, anointed, full of grace, flexible and resourceful.

Convention 13-5Despite the initial frustrations, the conference in both locations (Kisumu and Nairobi), was really great. The theme was “How long will you waver between two opinions?” Good question! In our family, I am the one who likes to consider all options, “try on” different ideas, and go back and forth when making a decision. My husband often says that I have a clean mind because of chanconvention 13-4ging it so often!

But being double-minded is decried in scripture. Yet in so many areas of life we seem to have a foot in two worlds. The Kingdom of God, where we as the church are supposed to be ruling and reigning over the world systems, does not allow for dual citizenship! We really need to decide where we belong.

~ Diane


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My Life Belongs to You

One of my favorite choruses repeats the refrain, “My Life Belongs to You.” It is sung with a West African beat and plenty of vibrant dancing. Yesterday as we were singing, the power of those words hit me hard. Does my life really belong to God? Completely? My time? My family? My everything?

What about when “my” schedule gets all messed up because someone who I was not even expecting to meet needed my time. What about when “my” finances are channeled to a friend’s medical need? What about when  “my” personal space is infringed on? When “my” plans have to change? Does everything belong to God then?

In the middle of the night on Friday, I let out a shriek, followed by, “No way; I can’t,” stated out loud. I had gone through a very busy week just trying to stay afloat, and then remembered  while turning over in bed  that I was supposed to preach on Sunday morning. It had been agreed on earlier, but somehow had escaped by mind for the whole week. Despite my objections, my dear husband just confirmed that I was the one who had to do it and went back to snoring — no choice in the matter. (Aha; he is very good at pushing me out of ‘comfort zones’ over  and over. When all is said and done, I usually thank him ).

So, by God’s grace, I did it.

So many times, I could allow myself to ‘go under’, refuse to serve, find excuses, give an explanation for why I cannot do this or that, cringe, complain… the whole spectrum of strategies to protect my time and resources. But closer analysis usually reveals that whatever I am trying to protect apparently does not really belong to God.

Please do not misunderstand.  I am not ignoring the reality that we need to set boundaries and need to know when to say “no”! I just find that often those boundaries are more self-preserving than self-sacrificing. Jesus should be our example.

My encouragement today: Stretch yourself. Make a sacrifice. Do something that you KNOW you cannot do (as long as it is directed by God).  Or maybe it is time to ask God for “an assignment that feels insecure, uncomfortable, stretching and foreign. It will grow your faith and trust in Him,” as our friend Steve recommends.

“He who saves his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake and the gospel will find it.”

~ Diane

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