TOO Many “Christmas-es”

Based on 33 years of living in Nairobi, I have come to associate Christmas with a deserted city — no traffic on the roads, no people in the shops, offices closed and staff not showing up to work. Things basically shut down. That goes on for one to two weeks.

This year we have already had two “Christmas-es”, and it is only October! But unfortunately, the reason is fear and insecurity instead of joy and celebration. READ: Elections.

The presidential results of the August polls were challenged in court and found to be errant. A landmark ruling, for sure. A re-run was scheduled for October 26. Several weeks prior to that second poll, the opposition candidate withdrew, saying basically that the upcoming process would be just as fraudulent as the first since nothing had changed in the electoral systems. Election day #2 came and went, with very low voter turnout as expected. Now, the powers that be are faced with the task of defending their unrealistic figures. The current President who is now also President-elect recognized in his acceptance speech that a court battle is still ahead. That process could take months!

Areas where DOVE has churches have been disproportionally affected by demonstrations, fires and police bullets (Kisumu, Kibera, Kawangware). The devastating part is that criminal gangs take advantage of the insecurity, and multiply it many times over. Several of our members have had to move out of their homes, and many have been under “house arrest” during these ordeals. At our service yesterday we heard disturbing reports of near-death experiences, but also of God’s protection and deliverance.

We are seeing that this is a battle at the gate: a spiritual battle for Africa at the eastern entry point. Yes, we are glad to be here for “such a time as this.” But please pray with us for calm, for justice and for God’s will to be done.

~ Diane

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What DOES it mean?

Kenya is in a sea of uncharted waters, and there could be a storm ahead. The current is not calm. Demonstrations are becoming more frequent and more violent. Just today while we were downtown in Nairobi, we could hear the explosion of tear gas and then the iconic scene of people screaming and scampering away from whatever the danger could be. In a western Kenya town, three persons were killed by police during protests today.

Raila Odinga (the candidate who won the court case to nullify the August presidential elections) has withdrawn from the re-run scheduled for October 26. Lawyers and Parliament and the Electoral Commission are all arguing about what that means, and the Supreme Court is yet to tell us. The most likely answer is that Kenya will have to have yet another fresh election within 90 days. It seems that no one is sure what is happening (though many are trying to sound definitive in their prognosis) and no one is happy about the way things are or are not going. Sigh.

We are rejoicing, however, to be in this nation at such a time as this. A lot is at stake (lives, the rise or fall of democracy in Africa, the economy, Kenya’s future). We are honored to be here to pray–to ask for God’s sovereign hand to be in charge of what feels like a soap opera that has a new twist in every episode.

Thank you for standing with us in faith that peace and God’s purposes will prevail in Kenya.

~ Diane

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Water!

It finally happened. After going 300 meters into the ground, the rig that was drilling on the DOVE land in Nairobi hit a gushing water aquifer. The Prayer Center property will certainly have plenty of this precious commodity. We are praising the Lord!

Our dream to see a prayer tower and and conference center built on this property has been long in coming. But it is a vision whose moment has arrived. Now that water is flowing, we sense that things will start to move quickly.

Watch this space, for sure!

~ Ibrahim and Diane

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Unprecedented

You might have heard in the news that Kenya’s recent elections in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner have been cancelled. The Supreme Court gave a ruling that the elections were not carried out according to the Constitution, so the whole process is null and void. This is a very historic ruling in this part of the world—the first time ever an incumbent President’s victory has been overturned.

Kenya is set to have fresh presidential elections within 60 days.

The international observers had given a thumbs-up for Kenya’s election. They said it was free, fair and credible. It is true that Kenyans voted peacefully. The voting was not the problem. But in tallying and transmission of the results, there were serious glaring irregularities that the observers either did not notice, or decided to ignore.

From the beginning of the count the computer-generated reports put the incumbent at 54% and the main opponent at 43%, an 11% difference that remained constant until the winner was declared. There are obviously regions and tribes that would predominantly vote for Uhuru and others that would vote for the opposition candidate, Raila. Steady statistics all through the count were the first indicator that something was not adding up. The court looked into all that and a lot more, including outright forgery, that led the electoral commission to arrive at the “winner.”

This was not the first time an election was tampered with. Africa is quite familiar with such scenarios. These include our neighboring Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and many other countries.

Personally, this election process has led me through spiritual battles. Praying for truth, peace and integrity in Kenya, along with revival, has captured much of my focus over the past months.

After the results were declared, I felt cheated. I asked God serious questions. Questions regarding prayers that I and many others have made for this nation. Being involved in writing the Kenya Constitution, fighting corruption, the struggle for freedom of expression . . . .   All the years which included praying with certain presidents—did all those come to nothing? For days I wrestled in prayer. Then God began to give assurance that Kenya would actually fulfil her prophetic destiny.

The overturning of a presidential election is one of many steps that God will take to bring Kenya into His divine agenda. I see dignity, economic upsurge, tribal and cultural integration, an end to corruption and vivacious revival, propelling Kenya as a lighthouse of the Eastern Gate that will turn Africa around.

We are cautiously excited. Please pray that the next polls will be truly free, fair, transparent and credible. We continue to pray also that God’s end-time intentions for Kenya will be fulfilled.

~ Ibrahim

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Finale

Our nearly 100 hours of Bible reading was capped on Sunday morning when we read through the book of Revelation. It took about one-and-a-half hours, not too much longer than a typical Sunday morning sermon (smile!)

Do you see anything unique in this picture?

Revelation is a book of allegory and symbol. It was written when Christians were suffering intense persecution; John himself was exiled on an island designated for prisoners. I cannot begin to give specific apocalyptic interpretation (because I don’t understand most of it and because it would take volumes of writing), but in honor of the prominence of number seven in the book of Revelation, let’s highlight seven key aspects.

  1. God has a plan for the redemption of all those who will accept it, and the establishment of His Kingdom. History is going somewhere, and we are privileged to preview the end.
  2. God loves the church. He sees the strengths, struggles and sins of each particular congregation.
  3. Be encouraged; stand firm.
  4. God cannot tolerate sin; judgment is sure.
  5. The suffering of the martyrs has been recorded in heaven, and God has a reward in hand—not only for them but for all who serve Him faithfully.
  6. Light and darkness are in conflict, and we are in the thick of the battle.
  7. Jesus IS coming back for His bride!

Yes, it was a cake!

Oh — “a Bible cake?” Apart from celebrating our reading this year, this object lesson reminded us that God’s Word is sweet, and something we should eat and digest. (Yes, it was very sweet!)

Thank you for your support and for following our Bible Read-a-Thon. Thankfully we don’t have to wait one more year to start, or keep on, communing with God through His written Word. It is always available—if we are!

~ Diane

 

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Paul’s Assignment

The Bible Read-a-Thon has been a truly exciting journey. There are so, so many things to share, but I’ve selected just a few impressions from the dramatic final chapters of the Book of Acts.

Students from Joysprings Education Center came to help with reading, and brought a generous donation for the missionaries.  Thank you, Joysprings!

  • Paul repeatedly states, as other apostles and Jesus Himself did, that he “declared the kingdom of God and…Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets” (28:23). After reading through the Law and Prophets in the last two weeks, this is quite an affirmation. Jesus and the salvation plan of God ARE found in the entire Bible!
  • Paul was given a specific assignment when God knocked him off his horse on the Damascus Road. He kept repeating that assignment (Acts 22; 26) and it became like an anchor for his life. He declares in 26:19 that he was not disobedient to that vision. Do I know the reason for which God created me? The specific assignment He has for my life?
  • Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem had been predicted, but he went to Jerusalem anyway, not fearing death. More important to him than life itself was to finish the work God had assigned to him (20:24). Wow. Do I want to live just for the sake of it, in order to avoid death? Or, do I only want to live if I am really and truly fulfilling my God-given purpose?
  • Although Paul himself prophesied “disaster, damage, and loss of life” if they set out for Rome, he must have been praying a lot in that ship! Because later, an angel appeared to him and promised that there would be no loss of life (Acts 27). We learn that even when destruction is prophesied, there is still a place for intercession. God sometimes shows us things in a negative state so that we will appeal, in prayer, for a positive outcome instead.
  • Faith, or works? “Paul’s gospel” or “James’ gospel?” One simple statement can settle the whole debate: “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” (26:20).

The Word of God is so rich. It is alive! Reading the Bible out loud causes me to notice things that I have missed before. It has more and more and more to teach us every time we give ourselves to read, study and OBEY.

~ Diane

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Not Guilty?

DAY 7: A simple truth touched me in our reading today. “Yet in spite of all this you say, ‘I am innocent; he (God) is not angry with me.’ But I will pass judgement on you because you say, ‘I have not sinned'” (Jer 2:35).

Why is it so difficult for us to admit wrong? Why are we quick to be defensive, especially when challenged or accused?

In relationships, we know very well that saying “I am sorry” can quiet almost any storm. But saying it—sincerely—can be so difficult. Even before God, we tend to ask for forgiveness with empty words but not genuine repentance.

Elsewhere the prophet Jeremiah states the same accusation in an interesting way: “They do not even know how to blush” (Jer 6:15).

Would God accuse me of being self-righteous? Am I able to blush? <:)

~ Diane

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