Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Blessings of Learning

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
1 Corinthians 4:1,2

Jack and I do faithfully strive to do God’s work, but we often question if the blessings and learning we receive far outweigh what is gained by those who are the focus of our work! Jack has definitely felt this as he continues teaching a survey of Old Testament to KBTC’s newest class, which is a very special class as they will receive the first college degrees given by the school.

Jack has also been tempted to allow his class to follow the example
of Professor Chacha's class and meet outside now that the
sun appears for more than a few minutes each day!
Jack returns home exhausted each day as his regular work as the college principal happens around a two hour teaching session before lunch and another two hours after lunch. But once he takes a short break, he begins sharing what he is learning anew about what God reveals about Himself, His actions and His plans in the Old Testament. Will you join Jack in praying that the students will truly gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Old Testament as they hear what God is revealing about Himself – revelations which the students and those they minister among need to hear, learn and do?

Life in East Africa comes with differences,
but lots of joys and special memories.
Pray for me as I continue sharing daily Devotional/On-mission posts on Facebook. Preparing these posts always becomes a mixed time of blessings and learning as God's Word leaves me challenged, chided, encouraged and strengthened.  Pray also for me to always have God’s wisdom as I respond to prayer letters and notes from our coworkers and seek opportunities to share their stories and prayer needs.

Pray that Jack and I will always have the physical, mental and spiritual strength to truly be faithful as we seek to obey and share our Father’s love and salvation with those around us. Pray that we will always be learners seeking to know more about our Father and become better equipped to be ambassadors of the one who is the true source of the joy, peace and salvation needed by the people of our world.

The kids at Tigoni Baptist have really tried to teach Jack and me how
praise God with our whole bodies, but...
It appears that I have finally written a short prayer letter this week, but as always I cannot conclude without thanking you. Thank you for enabling us to be a part of His work in East Africa you support us through your prayers, giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and as you come and send volunteers to join in His work. BERT YATES
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Remember to click the Bits of Our Hearts tab (above) to view more from Bert and the KBTC tab for more from Jack's work.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Open Minds and Burning Hearts

Another special joy this week for Bert was collecting
Macadamia nuts from trees in our yard and
cooking 'the best brownies ever' with earlier
freshly picked and roasted macadamias.
Then He (Jesus) opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” I’ve read and typed Luke 24:45 (ESV) many times this week as I’ve had the joy of preparing Nudges to Prayer for an ongoing StoryTogether workshop in South Sudan. This is the 4th and final workshop for a few Toposa and Turkana Believers who have been taught to craft God’s Word into stories and songs in their heart languages which can be shared with and understood by their peoples who have not yet heard our Good News.

Will you pray for these men as they discuss and choose the best stories to build a foundation which allows their people to hear, understand and accept our Father’s love and salvation? One of the trainers also asks that we pray that the hearts of those trained will burn to share the Good News.

Joy came last week from attending a special conference uniting Believers from Africa and from East Asia. It was a time of realizing anew that having a heart for missions begins with obeying the teachings of our Savior and His definition of the “greatest commandment in the Law.” To have a fire in one’s heart for missions one must “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). We felt like we were viewing a preview of heaven as we worshiped with Believers, many who have faced persecution, and heard their testimonies of how God is at work among their peoples.

Joy was also our reaction last Sunday as we attended a special worship service at Riruta Baptist Church which included the church family officially accepting John Ndebe as their new pastor. This church was begun in the late 1950’s soon after the first IMB (then FMB) missionaries arrived in East Africa. Joy came from listening to the church history and recognizing the names of many of those, missionary and Kenyan, who years ago invested their time and lives in sharing our Father’s love and salvation in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. It was also a joy to remember that gifts to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering helped begin this church and provided the first small building to house the Riruta church family.

"How Great Thou Art”, sung by the Riruta Choir last Sunday in Swahili, “Jinsi Wewe ulivyo Mkuu, Roho yangu na ikuimbie, Jinsi Wewe ulivyo Mkuu.”

There was joy in passing that old building, now used for Sunday School and other activities, as we entered the newer and much larger building for worship – a building erected by the current church members to house their growing church family – a church family which has continued to grow as they obey our Savior’s Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

And as I write today sitting in an empty classroom at the Kenya Baptist Theological College, Jack is filled with joy!  First he is teaching (Old Testament Survey this term), which always leaves him exhausted, but super happy.  Second, he is teaching the first class to enter KBTC who will finish with a college degree!  There is still much work to be done at KBTC from increasing enrollment in the new degree programs and the ongoing diploma and advanced diplomas in theology to finding additional teachers. Many new buildings are needed as well as more scholarship assistance and so much more, but as Kenyan Believers often say, we are praising God for how “Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12 NIV). 

Special view of God's creations viewed this week.
I could go on and on sharing joys and blessings, but I will close by asking that you join us in thanking God for the opportunity to serve Him in Kenya.  Join us in praying for open minds to do His work and burning hearts for sharing His Good News.  We must also thank you for enabling us to be a part of His work in East Africa which you do as you support us through your prayers, giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and as you come and send volunteers to join in His work.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Making Music to His Name

One of God's 'works' caught making music in our yard!
“It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love… and your faithfulness… How great are your works, LORD, how profound your thoughts!” Psalm 92:1-5 NIV

Yes, we sang along to the tunes provided by
a piano last week at the Prayer Forum, but
one of our MK's provided the African touch!
In the prayer forum I attended last week with coworkers from across Africa, a speaker shared that we should have a theme when we write our prayer/ newsletters. Well… God has made choosing a theme very easy this week as we have been constantly 'bombarded' by the theme of Psalm 92!

And for those of you who have attended meetings in
my part of the world, we did have cinnamon rolls one
morning and hot doughnuts another day at teatime!
I found great joy in singing new praise choruses (a young friend’s explanation for why I did not know many songs) as well as old hymns with my coworkers. Many of these friends usually worship in the mother tongues of the people they serve among, so praising and making music to our Father in their first language, English, brought them added delight. Another joy was hearing our missionaries share their testimonies and how God is at work in the lives of their peoples who are in need of hearing someone proclaim our Father’s “love… great works… and profound thoughts”!

My meeting ended last Wednesday night and on Thursday afternoon when Jack returned after lunch to the KBTC campus, I went with him to attend a concert. For the last three weeks a visiting seminary professor had been guiding music students to write their own songs praising God and sharing His story, as well as teaching breathing exercises which strengthened their ability to sing. This is the report I shared last Friday in my daily devotions on Facebook (which even FB members can read at

Dean Kamau (right) also joined in recording!
... multiple sources of joy viewed in a concert held yesterday afternoon at KBTC. Students in two music classes took turns standing alone before the audience. Each one began by reading a verse or two from God’s Word, followed by singing a song. Some were nervous as they began, but joy showed on their faces as they focused on their songs sharing God’s message. And yes, there was a bit of added joy visible on the faces of some as they sat down after completing their first public solo. Joy also showed on the faces of their visiting professor (using his IPad to record their solos) and the head of the music department (recording their performances on his phone).”

Photo of a shelf in one
of the music classrooms.
Later Jack shared that one student was in an accident years ago which led to severe burns and breathing problems due to damaged lungs. During the singing/ breathing lessons, he realized he was learning to breathe deeper all the time. On the day of concert he sang strongly and clearly. Though nervous at first, by the end of his solo, he was singing praises of His Father with confidence!

Jack began his turn at a week-long meeting yesterday, where he has experienced the joy of worshipping with Believers from across Africa and Chinese Believers! The meeting began with a Maasai choir singing their own songs in their own language. English is the language of the meeting, but translators are offering French and Chinese interpretations. This afternoon we (Jack made sure I got invited) will take part in a Chinese culture fair, followed by a Chinese worship service tonight. Tomorrow will be an African culture fair and an African-led time of worship!

Spotted this morning as I drove Jack to his meeting.
Yes, we are excited, but we still need your prayer support! Pray for wisdom and strength for Jack and others at KBTC as they prepare for arrival of the first degree class (a definite answer to prayer) at the college! My prayer request is for strength as I prepare the daily devotionals/ missional posts. I’m also exploring new avenues for raising prayer support for our coworkers. Simply said, the devil does not like it when we work at raising prayer support and spending more time in prayer! So pray that I will be alert to the devil’s distractions as I focus on knowing God’s will and serving Him. BERT AND JACK YATES