Nothing but Mercy

It can be really easy to think that some of the good things I enjoy are because of me. Or maybe to think that I have done something good to deserve or earn these blessings.

The Word of God says otherwise.

For the third time in just one speech, Moses tells the children of Israel, “Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess.” Then, just in case there was any remaining doubt, “…for you are a stiff-necked people” (Dt. 9:6).

Yes, God gives good things for us to enjoy. Many good things. But I have done nothing to merit all the goodness. Mine is to remember that it is all because of His mercy–and give thanks!

~ Diane

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Salt and Light

We would “normally” be in the States this time of year, enjoying time with dear friends at the annual DOVE International Leadership Conference. The conference IS going ahead this year – albeit with only a few out-of-country attendees. The theme: “For such a time as this.”

Yes, you and I are divinely placed, exactly where we are placed, for such a time as this. We are alive in this day and season, alive when over 3 million people have died from coronavirus in just over a year, because God has work for us to do.

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth.”

Salt makes the food go down. As I am writing, there is a large bowl of boiled cassava in our refrigerator. It has been there for three days. Plain. Boiled. Starch. Believe it or not, when cooked with enough salt, it is really delicious and gets eaten up quickly. But someone forgot the salt this time, and I doubt if anyone is going to eat that cassava.

As salt, we should be the ones that make “life go down” for everyone around us. Bearable to consume—even tasty!

Light is required when darkness is thick. Light says, “This is the path. Step here next. We will get through the darkness by going this way.” Light shows us where to go.

The world needs salt. The world needs light. Will it come from me?

~ Diane

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Heroes

Today is Mushujaa Day (Heroes Day) in Kenya. While Kenya has many notable heroes, I want to honor the missionaries of DOVE Africa as heroes of courage and faith in our generation.

As we continue to pray for a people movement, we known that every individual relationship, conversation and decision is of great value. How can we see it happen? We discussed this with our missionaries during a recent visit to “the field.”

M: “It is so exciting to be discipling several young men. But village elders are not happy; they have threatened us. We take Jesus’ words at face value: For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’ You can’t love your life and be a frontier missionary.”

Mangoes provide income for the work of missions.

O: “Our cybercafé attracts a steady flow of customers. In this culture, a ‘customer’ comes to sit for a while, have a chat, and just share life. We talk and talk. We share the gospel. Someone might actually agree that faith in Jesus makes more sense than faith in their gods. But—when pushed to make a decision, it is just very hard. That decision does not come easy.”

M&G: “When depending on the family and community for everything, it is very difficult for someone to make a decision for Christ. But if a person is independent, educated, or having a source of income, it could be easier. We have seen this in the case of several who made that decision and are now mature in faith. For those who are genuinely seeking, we need to be sure to befriend, engage, and empower.”

Continue to pray with us for God’s love to be seen and His offer of salvation to be accepted among these communities.

~ Diane

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What is in a seed?

At close to 90 years of age, my mother, Rispah Grace, has had her share of health challenges. When my dad passed away in 2002 due to prostate cancer, my mother already had been suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure. For all these years we have been praying for her, and have liberally used herbs to clean her kidneys, liver and keep her blood pressure down. We are so grateful that we don’t have to be running to the doctor’s office every now and then, as had been the case before.

I attribute this to God’s grace, His healing power, and His way of working through the provisions He created that are all around us in the natural environment.

Besides Prunus Africana and the simple concoction of corn silk tea, another useful remedy is papaya seed.

Most of us scoop out the papaya seeds and throw them away, then enjoy the fruit. Instead, we now collect the seeds, clean them off and dry them in the sun or in a dehydrator. Once they are dry, we put the seeds in a blender and reduce them to powder. The powder can be sprinkled on your food (it has a peppery taste) or put into capsules. There are recipe ideas online for a variety of sauces that include dried papaya seed.

What are the benefits of papaya seed? Among many, these are a few.

  • Treats liver disease (cirrhosis)
  • Kills bacteria and heals viral infections
  • Helps prevent kidney disease
  • Alleviates skin problems.

So, as we pray for good health, we do not have to spend a lot of money and time in the doctor’s office. Some of our issues can be addressed by these readily available natural ingredients.

~ Ibrahim

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God’s Healing Garden

Some of the herbs I have found to be helpful in staying healthy are readily available. In fact, quite often we throw away some of these very vital ingredients. Corn silk is one of these; papaya seed is another. These will be the topics of this and next week’s posts.

Before explaining their benefits, let me refer you to the previous post Lump of Figs. Whereas we celebrate the effectiveness of Prunus Africana in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia in men, it is also quite helpful for women. My dear wife and also my mother (who is currently staying with us) often drink Prunus tea. It helps relieve stress, relax blood vessels, boost immunity and reduce chest pain and inflammation. For men, it treats erectile dysfunction.

Now, back to corn silk. Most of us just enjoy the corn (maize) and throw away the silk together with the husks. That has changed in our house. The tea is easy to make. Just put the silk in boiling water, let it simmer for 20 minutes or so, then keep the ‘tea’ in a cool place.  A cup in the morning and afternoon is a good amount to take. The taste ranges from pleasant to “okay,” depending on how it strikes your taste buds.

So, what are the benefits of corn silk tea? It:

  • Helps treat urinary tract infection.
  • Causes diuretic activity, that is, flushes out excess waste and water from the body, thereby offsetting health problems associated with water retention.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Prevents the excess formation of uric acid in the body and joints that could result in gout pain.

We are so grateful to God for the healing He brings, supernaturally and through what He provides in nature. Yes, the lump of figs is still at work.

~ Ibrahim

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Staying Healthy

If there were ever a time when just about everyone is striving for good health, it is now. Being physically, spiritually and emotionally strong is not out of reach. But it takes some work and quite often certain sacrifices.

It was intriguing to listen to the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, acknowledging that he was overweight. I am sure many people may have taken his example of going for a jog every morning and riding bike. It is not easy, as in his own words, “The good thing about starting a day with a jog is that nothing can be worse for the rest of the day.”

The wake-up call for Boris Johnson came in April when he was hospitalized with coronavirus and ended up in the ICU. He later commented, “It was not good. It could have gone either way.”

We do need to take our health seriously. Paul explained, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27 ESV).

For me, it has been an up and down journey, and I have not reached all of my goals yet. Of course, there is the discipline of prayer and reading the Word. These have to be our determined lifestyle.

In recent months, “thanks” to coronavirus, I have established a habit—one hour of brisk walking four or five times a week. One particular hill in our neighborhood still makes me sweat every time. Then there is that gratifying feeling when I get back to our gate with four or five minutes to spare in the hour.

We definitely want to keep off any flu-like symptoms in this season. You do not want to go around coughing, sneezing or running a fever. These might be ‘normal,’ but are enough to keep one confined at home as the world is on high alert. (It is interesting that the price of lemons has skyrocketed as Kenyans try to stay free from these symptoms, and also coronavirus itself.)

In our next blog, I will talk about some of the herbs that come in handy in times like this.

~ Ibrahim

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A Lump of Figs

I walked into the doctor’s office armed with my latest PSA results. After giving the result slip to the receptionist, I knew they were now in my personal file that the doctor was holding. “How are you today, Reverend?” Professor Peter Mungai Ngugi asked.

“I’m feeling great,” I responded as I took my place in the chair across his expansive desk. As he opened the file, I was keenly observing his facial expression.

“One point eight!” he exclaimed. “Reverend, what did you do?”

I explained that in the last three months, I had started off with a 7-day vegetable juice detox, then started drinking Prunus Africana tea.

“Yes, Prunus works,” he admitted. “I will take you off the other medication.” I wondered why he hadn’t said that years before, but it was not the right time to ask. “Please keep taking Prunus and let’s see you in a month,” he concluded.

A month later, just last week, I was in his office again. The PSA was still low. “This is great,” he said after seeing the latest report. “What took us so long?’’ he said, as if talking to himself. “Let me see you in a couple of months. Be sure to keep taking Prunus.”

“Do you know the correct dosage?” I decided to ask. I explained that I had been drinking tea after boiling bark from the Prunus trees in our compound, and was not sure how much to use.

“There is no proper dosage for some of these herbal medicines, but just keep taking what you have been. It doesn’t really have side effects.”

So, yes, I will keep praying, thanking God, and taking Prunus Africana and several other herbs that are readily available in our home.

Before discovering this new concoction, I had made a serious mistake. I knew that Prunus was known to help some people, I just did not know what part of the tree was supposed to be used. So, for the last three years, I have been drying the leaves, making powder and swallowing capsules. The results were not very impressive. But during the lock down, I took time to pray intensely for a lot of things: ministry, family, finances and also my health. I felt the Lord nudging me to do more research on Prunus and other herbs. I found out two things.

First, it is the bark of Prunus Africana tree, not the leaves, that serves this medicinal purpose. It relaxes blood vessels, fights cancer, relieves stress, enables proper pumping of the heart, reduces cholesterol and, yes, reduces the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertension (enlargement of the prostate) in males over 40. The list continues—but for our purposes we will  stop there. The other herb I was drawn to is corn silk. That’s a story for another day.

It is reported in 2 Kings that Hezekiah had a boil. He was going to die because of it. When he prayed, God answered his prayer and decided to extend his life by fifteen years. After Isaiah gave him the good news, he gave other instructions to Hezekiah’s caregivers. Isaiah 31:21 says, “Let them take a lump of figs and apply it as a poultice on the boil, and he shall recover.” 2 Kings 20:7 adds, “So they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered.”

Our God is and always will be our Healer. There are times we will just pray and He will heal. Other times, we might need to see a doctor. Then, there are times when we might need a “lump of figs.” In all these, He receives the glory!

~ Ibrahim

 

 

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Have Your way

In February, before Kenya had any closures or restrictions, our oldest, highly-insightful son said, “The world is going to be a totally different place by the end of this year.” My response was loaded with agitation: “What do you mean, the end of this year? What do you mean, ‘totally different?’” I was thinking in terms of weeks (or maybe a couple months) of closed schools and churches and other minor adjustments—not life-altering challenges. So much for my thinking!Then when COVID hit in Kenya, realizing that many routines would be put on pause, I nurtured grandiose imaginations about how to make use of this magical uninterrupted time. Get all the backlog of work done. Have lots of time to read. Hand-write personal greeting cards to our entire mailing list, write books, learn to play guitar . . . climb Mt. Everest(!?). Well, those haven’t happened, either. Wrong again.

Even now, 5 months in, I wonder if we are thinking about all this correctly. Are we finally settling down to realize that COVID-19 is pushing us into a new era of history? “B.C.” might unofficially start to mean “Before Covid” (and A.C. “After Covid?”). What the world of “A.C.” will look like remains, for the most part, unseen.

It reminds me of the words from baseball player Yogi Berra: “It’s tough to make predictions—especially about the future.”

Predictions aside. They will probably be wrong anyway. At this point, I just want God to have His way. In me. In His body. In the world.

The English Standard Version of this common text is great: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:20-21).

~ Diane

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Quite a day!

“This was a highlight for me this year,” wrote one participant. A missionary working among unreached peoples shared, “It was powerful having people from all over the world interceding for a nation I love so much! And seeing others believing for the things that we are believing for. I really felt a new level of unity.”

Other comments included, “Quite an experience,” “Really refreshing,” and “Truly a blessing.” “It is tremendous when we meet and pray together from diverse nations and peoples.” “It helps us put our own issues in perspective as well as be more aware of those of others.”

Several people mentioned the breakout-rooms as the best part of it all. “We really prayed in there,” a pray-er from Kenya declared. “This has inspired all of us to keep on praying.”

What is all the fuss about? This was a gathering for twelve continual hours of prayer: DOVE’s Global Prayer Day on May 30. The experience was highly inspirational as members from all over the world ‘zoomed’ in with vigor and freshness that revived our togetherness in Christ and in DOVE. Coming in and out throughout the day were over 100 participants from at least 20 nations covering 5 continents of the earth.

There were great expectations that as we humbled ourselves and repented on behalf of our nations (II Chronicles 7:14), God would not only hear us. He would also forgive us, heal us and remove the corona pandemic from us. We cried to God, sometimes breaking down in tears. We gained confidence from God’s Word in Hosea 6:1-3 that He will indeed come to us with the rains of revival.

We believe these twelve hours of intercession were recorded in the heavens and are making an impact for the kingdom of our Lord.

Wherever you are in the world, be assured that we prayed for YOU!

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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A dark night

I recently went through a very dark night. Not a season of life, but a ten-hour debacle in the night hours. For some unknown reason, my back had snapped, and pain was piercing through my body with every tiny move. A rat had decided to take residence in our bedroom, and I could tell it was enjoying my “well-hidden” snack all night. It was cold. The blankets felt like they were paper-weight. No sleep. No comfort.

I knew morning would come, but I didn’t know what morning would hold. Visions of being carried on a stretcher to a COVID-ridden hospital kept crowding my mind and my heart. At last, just before daybreak, I fell asleep.

The next day as I was able to walk gingerly inside the house (and did not have to be carried anywhere on a stretcher!), I pondered the dark night this world is passing through. Yes, morning will come. Covid-19 is not the end of the story. But we really don’t know what morning will bring. So many questions – so many fears.

Do you remember this golden oldie (maybe only if you are in the 50+ age group)?

  • I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day.
    • I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for the skies may turn to grey.
    • I don’t worry oér the future, for I know what Jesus said.
    • And today, I’ll walk beside him, for He knows what is ahead.
  • Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand.
    • But I know who holds the future, and I know who holds my hand.”

Yes, He holds the future. Yes, he holds our hand. Emmanuel. God with us.

Regardless of what the days ahead of us look like, He will be with us in them all.

~Diane

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