September 17, 2014

“I am yours… Ensure your servant's well-being;
let not the arrogant oppress me… I am your servant;
give me discernment… My eyes stay open…
that I may meditate on your promises.”

These Common Waxbills were also enjoying the sunny day
as I walked yesterday to the upper KBTC building where
the students sleep, study, and eat.
As I read Psalm 119 in my devotions this morning, the phrases “I am yours” (v.94) and “I am your servant” (v.125) caught my attention. I found myself asking: Do I truly claim my position as my Father’s child, as His servant? How often do I fully recognize and claim that my relationship with my Father makes me a very, very special person and gives me access to authority, strength, and so much more.

The men's dorm is a bit cramped, but one day
they will have better sleeping quarters upstairs.
Verse 122 left me asking why I allow oppressive situations and people to leave me stressed, worried, etc. The psalmist’s desire to meditate (v.148) on our Father’s Word answered my query – I am too often overwhelmed because I fail to keep my focus on my relationship with my Father, who can do the impossible and enable me to join in doing His impossible to man work (Matthew 19:26)!

Classrooms, music practice rooms and the dining
room/ chapel and kitchen are all now on the lower
floor, which at the moment is the only completed
floor - with the exception of the shower block in
one corner of the second of the three planned floors!
I'm not sure why all of this passed through my thoughts this morning, but these are lessons and assurances that God has continually taught Jack and me in the two years since we began accepting that He was calling Jack to serve as the principal of the Kenya Baptist Theological College. There have been frustrating times when our focus was on oppressing issues, yet as we've focused on God, we've learned to totally trust and rely upon Him and experience anew the joy of being His child and serving Him!

The students aren't allowed in this room - but they do
enjoy what is prepared in the kitchen, including
this lunch of hot chapatis and vegetable stew. 
I asked Jack yesterday to write his current prayer requests for KBTC. As I read through his prayer items, I was awed by how much has been accomplished since he began serving as KBTC principal in January 2013. We have seen impossible things happen, including the many times that times of oppression and need turned into times of praise. Always at these times it was obvious that this was not about what Jack, I or others had done, but how God used our actions or those of others to accomplish His plans and purpose for KBTC. He continually showed us what a powerful, mighty, and awesome God we serve!

The students and staff enjoyed a full day yesterday of
Dr Greg Brooks, Executive Pastor at First Baptist Church at
The Villages (Orlando, Florida), teaching the book of Ephesians.
Thus I can share Jack’s prayer requests today with full knowledge that God has answered our past prayers and He can and will answer these, no matter how impossible it seems!

> PRAISE for renewed desire by students to prepare for service. (Bert: Praise also for the growing confidence in the ability of KBTC to prepare students for service and students arriving with fees.)

No, KBTC does not enrol students
this young!  Yesterday's second special
guest is the son of a staff member!
> PRAY for KBTC’s Board of Governors as they lead the college in the accreditation process. (Bert: This is an important step in KBTC becoming better equipped to train God’s children to accomplish His work.)

> PRAY for various staff as they travel around Kenya promoting the college and calling out potential students called to serve. (Bert: Today’s Nudge to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples gives clues to why prayer for travel is so important.)

> PRAY for finances to complete our main building for full use in 2015. (Bert: This sounds impossible, but as we've seen happen again and again in the last 2 years, our God will make sure the impossible happens when His servants truly seek to obey Him, seek His guidance and focus on Him.)

The building with a future! One floor completed, second floor
partially begun and the third floor still only visible on paper!
And as always, thank you for the strengthening and encouragement we receive by knowing you are joining us in prayer, BERT YATES
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Remember that daily Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples are found at   https://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples.

For info on how God is allowing His children to join in His work at KBTC, visit  https://www.facebook.com/KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege. Both of these sites can be viewed by non-Facebook members.
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Now for some added photos that will hopefully help you appreciate why we love living in Africa!

And while Dr. Brooks taught yesterday, the security staff
were busy outside watching the expert on the right do his
job - Rounding-up moles!  Both times I left the building,
they tried to get me to view the most recent find
up close and personal - but I declined the offer!
In last week's update I shared a photo of a goat atop a truck
which we viewed as we returned for our weekend visit to
our home in Nairobi. Last Friday, we followed this truck
of chickens! We feared that most were dead, but when the
truck stopped for a bit due to traffic, hundreds of heads
began bobbing around, taking in the scenery!

Remember last week's photo of the cows that were walking
down the road to our church?  The herd had grown this week!

September 10, 2014

Pray for wisdom and ‘rest for their souls’ for workers among SSAPeoples whose ‘eyes are filled with tears’ (Psalm 116:7,8). Pray for those who cannot reach out and hug hurting children and friends due to required Ebola restrictions; for those who recently met a 14 year old who balances school with being the only caregiver for her two young cousins; for workers with sick friends lacking access to medical care.” Nudge to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples – September 10, 2014

Like most missionaries, I often repeat or sing Psalm 118:24 in my ‘heart’ language and in my adopted language. We truly believe that “This is the day the LORD has made” and desire to “rejoice and be glad in it,” yet sometimes this is difficult, times such as those shared in today’s Nudge to Action.

Another day that left my heart broken, but thankfully
also rejoicing.  This is just one of the views captured
during a past visit to a church in a huge Nairobi slum.
International news continues to tell stories of death and fear as Ebola invades West Africa. The stories shared by co-workers also speak of the sorrow of being in church services where worshippers are asked to not make physical contact with one another. In Africa it is considered rude if you do not physically greet one another with not just a hug or hand-shake, but often by holding hands throughout the conversation, thus I cannot imagine an African church meeting without any hugging or touching!

We spotted several girls in the school sponsored by
the church who attended class with an infant sibling.
There are also times such as the heartache felt last week by colleagues in southern Africa when they met a 14 year old girl who lives alone with her 3 and 7 year old cousins. Before heading off to school each day, the young teen gathers dung to build a fire, cooks and hauls all the water needed for cooking, drinking and bathing by her family of three.

This little group followed us around that day - the oldest
(with cup) was not just the 'ring leader' of the group...
The lack of medical care story was my own experience which occurred yesterday, one that still leaves me rethinking what I could/ should have done and if I was truly responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jack had a meeting in town, so I had tagged along for needed shopping. As I searched for the skim milk that I prefer (and had not found for several weeks), I thought I spotted a friend who ‘entices’ customers to buy a brand of yoghurt. As I got closer, the woman turned to speak to a customer and her large face quickly led to my thinking I was mistaken, so I moved on.

... he watched out for the others.
As I left the shop, I heard someone call my name and as I turned I saw my friend, the yoghurt salesperson. Had I not been so close to her, I would not have recognized her without her usual smile and sparkling eyes. She was a woman in pain with a grossly swollen cheek and eyes reddened by fever. I could hardly understand her words and I think, but I’m not sure, that she shared that she had been to the doctor, but the medicine would cost more money that she had.

I had only a few shillings in my purse as I had spent all that I had on enough milk to freeze and use for a month, milk that I could have survived without. So, I offered all that I could at the moment, my prayers.

One of the many kids spotted that day who
left us with a smile and a tear in our eyes!
Now it may sound like a ‘righteous’ answer, but as I’ve rethought this experience, I remember that almost every time we leave home, we encounter someone with a heartbreaking need. Thus we must constantly seek and trust God to guide us in how we respond and how to use our time, monies and resources, even though sometimes this hurts as His way is not the way I want to choose.

Yes, viewing this walking sock/
hosiery 'store' did result in a bit of joy!
I could go on and on about all the thoughts and chidings which have passed through my mind in the last day, but I think you can understand why it is so important that you support us in prayer as we act and react to all we encounter as we serve our Father. Do pray that we will always be alert to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pray also that we will have rest for our tears and our souls so that we will not become discouraged and unable to continue being a witness of our Saviour, the one in whom we rejoice and are glad. Bert Yates
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For daily Nudges to Action (Prayer/ Giving/ Serving) for Sub-Saharan Peoples, visit  https://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples. Non Facebook users can easily view the daily photos and prayer nudges by scrolling down the link.
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Cannot resist sharing my favourite photo captured this last
week - another one which isn't award winning, but it is
one of those that explains why we are never, ever bored
in Africa.  As we approached the truck, something black
kept bobbing-up beside the hooded guy sitting atop a
home- made tarp (from feed bags) attached to the top of
the truck. As we drew closer, we realized it was a... GOAT!


September 3, 2014

“That's the beauty in what God has created… the Southern Baptist Convention… 40,000-plus churches working together, and the IMB… focused on reaching unreached peoples with the Gospel… helping fuel that groundswell of disciples being made, churches being planted and missionaries being sent, all to the end that the mission is being accomplished…

"I believe in… sustaining a movement of local churches planting churches around the world. The potential is just massive; it's overwhelming. If we're really engaged in partnering with churches around the world, we can be a part of seeing every unreached people group reached with the Gospel."

These are not Jack’s or my words, but we totally agree with these statements shared by David Platt, the new president of the International Mission Board, which is our employer and our sender. We also fully agree with his closing words in 2nd VIEW: Platt looks ahead to mission challenges.

"It's not cooperation for the sake of cooperation; the goal is seeing more people reached with the Gospel. The goal is seeing disciples made and churches multiplied. When you give to Lottie Moon, you're giving to an offering that is fueling and sustaining a movement for all eternity. That's worth giving to."

You may not remember, but our last update was about change being a constant in the lives of missionaries. Thus, I found it a bit humorous that as I shut down my computer, after asking you to pray for us and co-workers as we embrace change, I spotted the news of the IMB having a new leader!

One thing that has not changed with our week-day move to the
KBTC campus is that I can still view birds from my 'home office'.
Many have asked how we feel about this change and if we fear having a young ‘boss’! Quoting last week’s update, we are truly eager to “embrace (this new) change and (WE) revel in the excitement of it.” Our 36 years with the IMB has included many times of change, thus we know there will be moments of ‘exhaustion’ and being ‘overwhelmed’ as we embrace another major change in expectations/ strategies/ etc., of the IMB. So pray for peace, joy and clarity as upcoming changes become a reality.

Not an awarding winning photo captured from our
bedroom window, but definitely a colourful photo!
Pray that we will remember always there is “One who never changes” and that we allow nothing to deter us from resting in His embrace and putting our hope and trust in Him, last week’s prayer requests.

I wondered why these wild flowers began to look a bit tattered!
Pray that we will always keep our focus on the One who wants His children 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). Pray that Jack and I will always treasure the opportunity we are offered by you and others who give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and the Cooperative Program which allows us to be a part of proclaiming the eternal gospel to all “who live on earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people” (Revelation 14:6).

And yes, some birds still watch me as I watch them!
We are thankful for our assignments with the IMB which allow us to be a part of fulfilling our Father’s plan for eternal life for all who believe in Him! As the Principal of KBTC, Jack is excited about the opportunities of the Kenya Baptist Theological College to strengthen and encourage African Believers with a heart for serving and obeying our Father and sharing His salvation. I continue to thank God for the opportunity I have as the Prayer Networker for the Sub-Saharan African Affinity (3) to share what God is doing and how others can join in His work! AND I cannot close this update without thanking you for being our co-workers as you join in His work by praying, giving and serving! BERT YATES
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(1) 2nd VIEW: Platt looks ahead to mission challenges - http://www.bpnews.net/43271/2nd-view-platt-looks-ahead-to-mission-challenges
(2) August 26th post at https://www.facebook.com/WomensMissions
(3) Daily Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples, including stories from the hearts of our workers, are found at https://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples.

Another current change in our lives is living in the country-side
during the week (on the KBTC campus in a cottage).  Driving is much
easier than in Nairobi, though twice last week I was stuck
in traffic jams caused  by misbehaving donkeys!
Though, we do often see animals in Nairobi, where we now
reside each weekend, such as these goats who live near our church.
We arrived at church a bit later than expected last week as we
joined in this procession... 
... which we passed very cautiously.
Then as we left church, we spotted this critter obeying traffic rules
better than most of the vehicles!
And this view, which we spot often, truly leaves me astounded.
If this critter chose to not cross the Mombasa-Nairobi highway, but
walk with traffic to the east, it would arrive at the Indian Ocean.
It if walked to the left (west), which would take a while,
it would arrive at the Atlantic Ocean! 

August 27, 2014

“We think we know what change is but our missionaries have a corner on the market when it comes to change. They experience changes in location, co-workers and friends, family, work, housing, and their administration. Often it is a constant with them. Sometimes they embrace that change and revel in the excitement of it. At other times, change makes them exhausted. Pray that today they would run to the One who never changes and rest in His embrace. May their hope and trust in His certainty be renewed.” (August 26th post at https://www.facebook.com/WomensMissions.)
One way that God renews the hope and trust of workers in Africa -
the beauty of His creations found throughout the continent!
It was truly God leading when I spotted this on Facebook yesterday!  Change is good and often welcomed, but…

I just scratched several paragraphs that I had spent hours writing. Why?  First, I am exhausted from still trying to get us settled in our ‘week-day’ home in the cottage on the campus of the Kenya Baptist Theological College.  Sometimes I, like many missionaries, get a little weary of figuring out how to make things work when you live in a different culture and when we face limitations!

Director of Missions from Kentucky
teaching the Gospels.
Jack is also exhausted from teaching 4 hours most days recently (though he truly loves teaching), plus doing his regular ‘principal’ work! God is bringing change to the Kenya Baptist Theological College and it is being revived and restored.  We thank Him for the volunteers, missionaries (current and retired), KBTC graduates and others who are teaching the new classes which were begun this year. 

KBTC graduate teaching an advanced diploma class.
We are also thankful for the new students and those returning to complete missed classes (a total of 27 in the 3 week term which ends on Friday and 25 expected for more classes arriving next week) who are committed to learning, as well as to paying their fees which allows KBTC to pay their staff, electricity bills, etc. – a little late some months by days, but never delayed by months as in the past!  Pray for Jack as he balances the existing time and funds with all the ‘due’ bills and the long list of things ‘to-do’!

A view that will always revive the exhausted -
a view of the tea fields beside KBTC!

I think you can glean lots of prayer items from the above comments, but also pray with us that a house will soon become available for use as the principal’s house, which means we can ‘fully’ move to the campus, which will be less stressful (definitely an exhaustion factor) than living in two places!

One reason for my exhaustion - the fumes experienced on Kenyan
roads which do not aid breathing properly!

One way I overcome exhaustion - looking out a window
and viewing the beautiful birds and flowers!

Another reason that I’m exhausted is that sometimes we and our co-workers do become somewhat overwhelmed by all we see and experience.  Many of these changes, blessings and excitements are shared in this week’s Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples.  This week’s stories include praises, bits of cultural differences, as well as heartbreaking stories which all need prayer, so please take time to view these stories which affect our ability to share the Gospel among peoples, including as one friends shared this week, among “millions… who've never heard.”
Not yet used as an illustration for a Nudge to Action
for Sub-Saharan African Peoples, but...
I will close this week’s update by asking that you use the opening quote about ‘change’ to guide you in praying for us and our co-workers (international and African).  As we serve our Father, pray that we will depend upon and “run to the One who never changes and rest in His embrace. May OUR hope and trust in His certainty be renewed.” Would you also claim Psalm 16:7-11 for us as suggested in Monday’s Nudge to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples (with additional personalization capitalized): “Ask God to counsel and instruct US; to keep OUR hearts glad and their bodies secure; to make His presence at OUR right hand very real; and to fill US with joy as WE obey and serve Him. BERT YATES
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