The last few months I’ve been telling you about the missions outreach we are having in Kenya, this September.
Today I want to introduce Pastor Wycliffe Okari and his wife Felister, who pastor Jesus Last Time Ministries, our partner church in Kenya.
He will share how last year’s marriage conference changed his marriage as well as share his dream for the community he pastors.
After that we’ll hear from another couple, John and Irene, who attended the same conference. And then we’ll look at how to become more missions minded as a couple.
Here’s Pastor Wycliffe
I have been married for sixteen years and we have six children.
Due to the heavy work of ministry, I had almost forgotten my family. There were times I stayed in the church praying for one week without talking to my family, sometimes they would not even know my whereabouts. I got so engrossed in the ministry that I almost forgot that my wife and children needed me.
During last year’s marriage conference, things changed. Throughout my ministry (eight years in total) I never regarded my partner in the ministry. I thought I could do it alone. My wife worried and stressed, and there was no one to help her.
During the marriage conference, I learned that the church belongs to Christ, and my wife belongs to me. I came to know that my first calling was to my wife and children.
After applying all that I learned, I have seen a great change in my family, especially with my wife. She has taken our ministry seriously, and there is more joy and happiness. The secret was to create more time for her and walk together in every decision.”
John and Irene’s story*
John and Irene have been married for five years. John is a business person, and Irene is a homemaker.
Due to John’s busy schedule, we began to struggle with communication three years ago; we hardly agreed on anything.
When we attended the marriage conference, we learned how to listen to one another other and create time for one another. We learned that the most important thing in our lives was the family; that God is more interested in the success of our spouse than a business.
After the conference, we set aside time to talk regularly about family issues. We also started to listen to each other and to value each anothers opinion.
And the results have been great. We have increased happiness and joy in the family. We are more intimate with each other and our children and closer to their father.”
Isn’t God wondrous!? I am so excited by the testimonies! And I wanted to share them with you so you can see the deep impact the conferences have on couples and families.
Last year (2015), thirty-five pastoral and leadership couples (including John and Irene, Pastor and his wife) attended the marriage conference and their marriages will never be the same. Glory to God!
And now a little church history..
Jesus Last Time Ministries was founded six years ago with three other families.
Since then the church has grown to over 600 members in attendance. The mission of the Church is four-fold
- to preach the gospel of restoration and salvation to the people of Keroka and Gusii towns
- to train and counsel broken families and advocate Christian family values
- to break the spirit of cultism through prayer, counseling and evangelism
- to mobilize resources to tackle the challenges of street children, HIV, Alcoholism and drug abuse through the creation of rehabilitation centers
Some of the significant needs in Keroka and Gusii are broken families and street children, a high HIV prevalent rate, high crime rate, cultism, poverty, alcoholism and drug abuse.
We are God’s choice
Matthew 25:35-36 says
For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me [with help and ministering care]; I was in prison, and you came to Me [ignoring personal danger].
I am blown away by the fact that God uses humans to do anything at all. Because humans, we blow it. All. the. time. And He is complete by Himself, He doesn’t need us. Yet He chooses to need us.
In the verses above, God is addressing multitudes; masses of people who fed the hungry, visited with the stranger, clothed the naked, ministered to the prisoner and the sick.
He is not talking to one person who wrote a big check to build a rehab center. While that would be lovely (and it does happen), God still prefers to use the entire body of Christ to carry out the work of ministry.
And funny thing we don’t always understand the “whens” “whats” and “hows” of ministry. Like the crowd above, we still ask “Really God? When were you hungry and we fed you? When were you in prison and we visited you?”
I don’t know about you but I have ways to go when it comes to serving God, especially when I don’t understand the details. Many times I want God to explain Himself in advance, I want things to make sense. But God doesn’t operate that way. Because faith isn’t faith if you have everything figured out.
However, God doesn’t give up on me; He still wants to work through me..and you.
In fact, I believe the reason we are married, the reason we have husbands is so we can do more in the Kingdom of God.
Marriage is not the place where passion, purpose, and Kingdom-mindedness go to die. No, it is where the intensity is (or ought to be) nurtured and unleashed into the world.
God did not call you and I to settle into comfortable married routines. Ecclesiastes 4:9 alludes to something greater when it says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”
The enemy seems to understand the power of marriage because the institution is under attack. Sadly, many couples are oblivious to his scheme as they busy themselves with putting out fires, chasing marriage dreams, too consumed with their welfare to think about the Kingdom.
But early-weds, we are supposed to be a terror to the enemy and a bright spark on earth!
No, you don’t have to jump on a plane or live in a different city to be engaged in missionary work. You don’t need the title of “missionary”.
We are all called to be missionaries; carriers of the Good News (Acts 1:8) You are to be missions-minded, right where you are.
Cultivating a missions-minded marriage is simply starting to care about what Jesus cares about.
It will look different for everyone, but it always comes down to loving people. God loves people. And He wants people to know that He loves them.
And He needs people like you and I (people who have been transformed by His love) to carry the good news to others.
Yes, we might wrestle with how to translate the “going” part into lives. But one thing we ought to have settled in our hearts is that missions work is not complicated.
Cultivating a missions-minded marriage is not complicated.
Yes, it will change everything; turn your heart and marriage right side up, totally change how you do life, what you consider important.
But it is not impossible. Because Deuteronomy 30:11 says “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach”
To be honest, one of the biggest thing we wrestle with when it comes to missions is not a lack of understanding. Like, what does missions even mean? No, what we struggle with is the cost. We wonder “What will it cost me to live like an Acts 1:8 Christian?”
For my husband and I, it has mostly meant releasing our treasures to God. And I don’t mean financial treasures alone; I mean passion, reputation, pride, comfort, freedom, the way I want others to see me, everything.
Anytime we follow God; we have to lessen so He can be more. And the first area to be “less” is the area we esteem.
So I just want to pose these questions to you, as you consider how this message ties into your life, right now.
- What has you busy from morning till night? I know there are bills to pay, mouths to feed, but we must understand the difference between making a life and making a living.
- Why did God create you?
- What steps can you take so your marriage looks less like the world and more like heaven?
- What conversation can you have with your husband today, to begin to align your marriage to God’s # 1 passion (people)?
You are probably just like my husband and me, working plans and budgets every month.
But we made a decision to give. Not because we are amazing or thought we could afford it but the need took us by the collar, shook us up and demanded we do something.
A few dollars every month translate to much more shillings (Kenyan currency) which make a huge difference in a child’s life.
If you are currently living on a tight budget, here are a few ideas on how to free up funds so you can live a more missions-conscious life.
1 Skip indulgences.
Skip coffee or other treats a few days a week. Sometimes the money we are looking for is closer than we think. Start small. Step out in faith. Gear up for the long haul and do so with God; He’s never sent anyone to a place where He wasn’t able to provide.
2 Celebrate your birthday differently.
Instead of cards, or a dinner or whatever you/hubby was planning, use that money differently.
3 Empty the coin jar.
We have done this severally. Intentionally collect all your loose change in a jar. Empty it every few months, give the money towards something.
4 Redeem the “secret account”.
You’ve probably heard how wives hoard money in some secret account for a “rainy day.” Maybe you were advised to open one when you got married! Well, please don’t do that!
But redeem the concept! Consider operating a not-so-secret envelop (or bank) account! Each time I have some extra cash in my wallet, I push some to an envelope. My husband knows it’s there.
It started out as a savings slash house emergency kitty, but it has become “whatever God wants to do” fund.
It’s a small fund, rarely (if ever) goes over one hundred dollars, but it is something. Think about starting a not-so-secret stash for your missions giving, so that when needs come your way, you don’t have to wrestle.
5 Prepare care packs.
As you do your weekly groceries, think about others. Minding God’s business might mean skipping an item in your shopping list. Do it.
Assemble a small care-packs – I use brown lunch bags or a zip lock bag and put together water, toothbrush and toothpaste, an energy bar, nuts, an encouraging note, hand sanitizer, a little cash (optional) or a gift card to buy food.
Keep these bags in your car/bag and bless a homeless person. For those of you who struggle to give money, this is a great alternative.
I hope these ideas get you going.
Whatever you do, begin asking yourself how you can be more missions-minded as a wife and a couple.
If you want to start somewhere, or grow in your focus, I want to invite you to consider sowing into a Kenyan community this September.
Without counting the outstanding pledges, the marriage conference and community outreach is less than 10 percent funded.
We need you; we need partners to help feed and cloth the elderly and strengthen marriages in this rural community.
This past Sunday, the church in Kenya brought a special offering towards this mission.
Consider coming alongside them to help spread the good news of salvation and transformation to couples and seniors in their community. Donate to Kenya Missions 2016. Click here to give through the secure fund-raiser page. You can also donate through Paypal.
*Ps, here are some of the African-themed gifts we are giving as a small thank-you for partnership! Click here for more details.
*Not their real names, to protect privacy.