November 26, 2014

“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”
1 Thessalonians 3:9 (NIV)

The food colouring is included as local corn (maize)
meal is white, thus yellow colouring is needed
for yellow corn bread!
Ingredients are waiting on the kitchen cabinet in our KBTC cottage, ready to bake pumpkin muffins (not from a can, but prepared the old fashioned, begin-with-a-pumpkin way as I refused to pay $10 for a small tin of pumpkin!) and a special cornbread for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal with our mission family. But before I begin cooking, I must first share our thanks with you for allowing us to be in Kenya.

Sorry, no photos of Bert this week as she was the one taking 1500 shots
last Saturday, but this one is shared especially for Jack's Mom!
Bert's thought as she took this photo:  This might be the hottest-ever
graduation where a black and gold, Wake Forest University hood has
been worn as Malindi is just south of the equator on the Indian Ocean!
And the best way that I know to share our thanks for your prayers, sending workers our way and financial support, is to share things on our thanksgiving list. At the top of our list this past week was last Saturday’s graduation of 20 students on the Malindi campus (5 Diploma students, 6 Advanced Certificates and 9 Bible School Certificates).

We also had the joy of worshipping with Christ the King Baptist Church in Malindi on Sunday morning. One highlight of the morning was watching the youth praise God not with their voices during the offering time, but with their whole bodies in a way that was truly an act of worship and praise.

A special highlight for me was viewing a little girl helping one of the boys find the page for each hymn sung in the church’s copies of Nyimbo za Imani Zetu, the hymnal published by Kenya Baptist Media. I joined Media after the ‘soft’ cover edition of this book was completed, but I had the joy of helping to edit the hard back edition with musical notation.

Jack's special highlight of the week, in addition to taking part in his first graduation as principal of KBTC, was teaching Philosophy of Education to the 609/ Advanced Diploma in Education class and being able to watch their joy as they received tablets donated by a college friend from Houston. Their first assignment was to listen, study and learn from Creative Teaching (part of over 3000 hours of Biblical Training lectures). To say the least they were very excited and learned quickly how to use the machines!

Photo shared at https://www.facebook.com. Last Saturday's
graduation at the KBTC Malindi campus was a day of celebration.
It was also a day when our younger generation was challeneged
to dream becoming a KBTC graduate!
Paul also challenged us in 1 Thessalonians to “give thanks in all circumstances" (5:18), but we are not thankful for everything that we experienced and encountered this past week! Being thankful was difficult during multi electricity outages (up to 20 hours) and joy was limited as KBTC faced un-kept commitments, a major project being stalled by an obstacle, trying to balance what to pay and when, and having to take legal action against a five year old problem. We haven’t asked prayers for these things even though we have needed prayer support, but all are issues that we cannot be freely shared.

Our blog was updated a bit this week -
Look for the new KENYAN KIDS
slideshow on the top-right! 
So this week, as we thank you for all you do as God’s fellow workers, we do ask that you join us in the shared praises and joys and also join us in praying for current needs. And we do feel your prayer support. I know that it was no coincidence, but a God-incident/ answer to prayer when on the very morning that some things had me discouraged, I read during my devotions what Joseph told his fearful brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20, NIV). I know that this verse also applies to KBTC as Believers are trained and equipped to serve our Father and share His salvation. BERT YATES
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Yes, Kenya does have many super malls,
but these dukas are found everywhere
selling one-use sizes of tea, laundry
detergent, etc., and other needed items.
This photo, captured near KBTC on
Monday, was used in today's
Nudgeto Action for SSAPeoples. 
Added NOTE: Do you internet shop via Amazon? Then you can strengthen work among SSAPeoples as you shop! Amazon will now donate 0.5% of the price of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to ‘International Mission Board Of The Southern Baptist Convention’ when you shop at AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com). Be sure to choose the complete name of the IMB as there is a California based mission board listed as well.

The boys played with a home-made soccer ball during Saturday's
graduation and with the home-made wheeled toy in an
earlier photo.  The boy in the middle was practising
 karate (I think). The girls played with the flowers! All the
kids enjoyed eating mangos from a nearby tree.
While some kids slept! The Mom kept trying to wiggle her little
one (below) snuggly into the kanga, but the child preferred to be free!

Bert's thoughts while viewing this little one:
I'm melting and he looks very comfy in his hat and jacket!
This is a photo of two blessings for KBTC - which may seem minor, but
are important.  Keeping the grass cut on campus is a major job. One
blessing is having men who slash several acres for free in exchange
for free food for their cows. The rocks and dirt (and lots more) were
offered to KBTC this week  at a very reasonable cost by a nearby
work site.  Now the road to the new building can be weather-proofed!

November 19, 2014

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful
and thankful.” Col. 4:2 (NIV)

"You heavens above, rain down righteousness;
let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide,
let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it
 I, the LORD, have created it.” Isaiah 45:8 (NIV)

Two verses today, the first chosen earlier in preparation for today’s Day of Prayer and Fasting for West Africans affected by Ebola, the second chosen after rains pounding on the roof of our cottage at KBTC awoke me early this morning, rains which are continuing! Thus, I need to get to work and write fast as electricity went off an hour later and is still off! And as always when it rains, the internet also begins to slow down, just as I would like to do, but…


I was surprised yesterday when the graphic used on the internet site promoting today’s Day of Prayer and Fasting for West Africans affected by Ebola had been changed. It saddened me when I realized this had been done to expand the prayers for Mali, a fourth country affected by Ebola.

One of the many special graphics shared this week
on the sites promoting the Day of Prayer for Ebola.
The newsletter of West African co-workers, a family who are among the millions being prayed for today, also left me saddened. Their prayer requests, which I ask that you join me in praying not just today, but until this attack ends, share the far-reaching effects of this disease:

“Please pray that we would know God’s leading as we make decisions about the future, if and when to re-enter into our (affected) country, or go somewhere else. Please pray for the Ebola victims and their families in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Mali. Please pray for God to stop the spreading of this ugly disease. Please pray for those starving to death because of what Ebola is doing to their villages and countries. Please pray for the orphans of Ebola killed parents. Please pray for the survivors of Ebola as they are now shunned by their communities and families.”

Viewed last Sunday at our church and a great
reminder to do as Paul asks in Colossians 4:2.
More specific prayer requests and ways to TAKE ACTION have been shared in the last week and many more will be shared today at http://bit.ly/EbolaDayofPrayer, with most being re-shared on my work page, Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples. I encourage you to visit these sites, as well as http://subsaharanafricanpeoples.imb.org/pray/view/ebola-day-of-prayer , which shares how you can “write a letter to an Ebola survivor in Liberia on the Facebook event page, Donate to Ebola response projects in Liberia and Togo and Do some research" on unreached people groups! (ADDED NOTE:  The devil mustn't be too happy about today's Day of Prayer as the Sub-Saharan African Peoples webpage is refusing to open as I write!)

Jack praying before teaching a KBTC class this week.
For views of what is happening at KBTC, visit
https://www.facebook.com/
KenyaBaptistTheologicalCollege
A few minutes ago, the rains ceased and a moment later, the electricity returned, thus I can relax a bit as I write. I’ve asked a lot of you today, but I must share our praise for how God continues to send the personnel, ideas, and other help needed at the Kenya Baptist Theological College. One promising idea shared with Jack this week:  To offer training to Believers from a country on another continent that is closed the the Gospel!

God is at work, so please don’t stop praying as “KBTC is REVIVED/ RESTORED/ RESURRECTED/ REVISED/ RESCUED, RESULTing once again in a place where Believers can be prepared to REFLECT the PRESENCE OF GOD and become qualified and capable workers in our Father’s Harvest Field.” Pray also for me as I share the stories of our co-workers stories which offer you ways to join in our Father’s work among Sub-Saharan African Peoples. BERT YATES
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Photos captured last Sunday at our church's "Bible Study
Fellowship and Breakfast" - where there was definitely
NO fasting (Kenyan sausage, samosas, mandazis, bananas,
as well as boiled Kenyan sweet potatoes, corn and eggs
 were served).  Jack spoke on discipleship in the unfinished
teen's room, which shares a great view of why our church
is well located.  It is in an area where thousands
of new homes are being built!

And Bert's favourite photo captured last Sunday
during the Fellowship/Breakfast -
Missionary Kids are rarely bored!

November 12, 2014

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1(NIV)

Last night, I also thought of the photos I wanted to
use today and thought about this unexpected scene
of carrots being prepared for market spotted
below campus.  No, I didn't think about counting
CARROTS rather than sheep as a sleeping aid!
Last night was one of those “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Psalm 63:6) times for me and I must admit that I was not trying to imitate David. It was just one of those nights – not because of concerns, but as often happens, worries surfaced as I remained awake.

The first arising concern centered on a note I received earlier in the day of a Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ebola scheduled for November 19th. As the Prayer Networker for Sub-Saharan African Peoples, I have the joy of reading the newsletters, blog and Facebook posts of our workers, which is the source of the stories shared in the daily Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peoples. It has not been a joy in recent months to read of the effects of Ebola on the people of West Africa.


My next concern was remembering the Nigeria school blast in Potiskum kills dozens report spotted in the morning news. I tried to prepare a Nudge to Action based on this story, but the information was too disturbing. As often happens, I realized that to lead others to prayer, I had to find a balance of sharing the painful facts without overwhelming the readers and weakening their ability to focus on prayer.

One of those times of joy that keeps us going -
KBTC's Maasai guards singing and dancing, which
always includes jumping, during a "Welcome
 Back" for the Hoke family, long-term volunteers.
Then during my sleepless ‘watches of the night’, I remembered the message shared at our church last Sunday by a guest from Zimbabwe. Pastor John Bell used Hebrews 11 to share his understanding of how our faith affects our actions and our ability to be used by our Father. Just as the actions of Abraham, Moses, Rahab, David were guided by their faith, his message reminded me that I must “hold firmly to the faith (I) profess” (Hebrews 4:14) and allow my faith to guide my prayers and how I lead others to prayer. I realized that I needed to claim Hebrews 11:1, acknowledging that I cannot “see” or understand how to pray for problems to be overcome, but I can rely upon my faith and my hope in God as I trust Him to answer my problems and the problems of our world.

Another joy - getting to know short-term
volunteer teachers  at KBTC, which
this session includes Pastor Ken Hein!
So next Wednesday will you also join our workers in West Africa in praying and fasting “specifically for those affected by Ebola, for the epidemic to be stopped in its tracks, and for those putting their lives at risk to share the hope of Jesus Christ (Col. 4:2, 1 Thess 5:17)”? Would you also pray for wisdom and direction for those sharing how you can get involved and be a part of ending this epidemic and ministering to those affected? I also ask that you take time to visit Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ebola and begin sharing this event with your friends and church family? This is on Facebook, but can be viewed by anyone.

The rainy season began late, but rain has arrived, which the flowers
are loving, as well as the potatoes being grown on campus!
Why do I ask you to do this? Because I know that God answers our prayers in ways we cannot see or imagine. A great example is a story of a prayer told to Jack after he began serving last year as the principal of the Kenya Baptist Theological College: “John and Nelson have worked at KBTC for a long time as non-teaching staff. They saw the school decline financially, relationally and most importantly, spiritually. Their response? They prayed! For six years they met daily and quietly asked God for forgiveness, newness and restoration. Today we can thank God for men of faith such as these. Prayer IS the response and God is answering our prayer, including prayers for the restoration of KBTC!”

Two staff members enjoying morning chai (prepared by Nelson)
and the beautiful flowers (nurtured by John) outside
of KTBC's administrative buildings last week.
And yes, this story is very special to us as we know that their prayers impacted our lives! BERT YATES
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Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ebolahttps://www.facebook.com/events/620951474694649/

Nigeria school blast in Potiskum kills dozenshttp://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29985252

Nudges to Action for Sub-Saharan African Peopleshttps://www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples

Favorite captures of the week:

Sunbird spotted last week on campus.
Spotted this creative 'hat shop' in Banana Hill,
a town passed as we return to Nairobi.  
A young friend brought this group to pose
for my camera at church last Sunday.
This critter was sitting outside our living room in Nairobi last
Saturday! Loved the close-up view of his balancing act.

November 5, 2014

“God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord... it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may… shine like stars… as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:9-16 NIV)

God definitely had a sense of humour when He created
these Hornbills which we spotted last month in the
Kakamega Forest and yes, they are REAL!
I have often quoted, taught and wrote about Philippians 2, but recently as I read this chapter I found myself laughing. I don’t remember what I had been “complaining or arguing” about earlier that day, but I do remember why I laughed.  God had done it again! He had used familiar verses – verses I thought I knew well – to correct me. 

I haven't counted, but I likely captured 200
photos of this African crowned eagle. Having
something this big eyeing you was a bit scary!
The laughter came not just from God’s crafty way of offering a rebuke, but also from the thought that some of you may be a bit surprised by the types of work missionaries do as we work towards the day when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (v.10-11).  In all honesty, often what we must do to accomplish this is not in the expected Great Commission ‘discipling/ baptizing/ teaching and obeying’ categories!  

Another photo which held
a surprise.  I thought I spotted
two tails as I took the
photo, but didn't spot the baby
until I edited the photos.
Example:  I love taking, editing and using the photos to share what God is doing among the Sub-Saharan African Peoples, but I hate organizing my photos for later use.  I dislike taking the time to sort thousands of photos (which I must do as my computer is having problems due to being ‘overloaded’) and deleting the majority (but I keep remembering the hidden ‘gems’ found in photos I’ve viewed umpteen times and how many times I’ve deleted a photo and later wanted it to illustrate a prayer nudge, etc.), as well as labeling/ tagging the photos so that I can easily find an illustration when needed (I find tagging to be a very, very boring and time consuming job). Yes, that was a super-duper, run-on, too-long sentence, but I think you understand why I’m so far behind in organizing my photos.

Jack ahead, followed by Jane and her husband, Weru,
two who have been with KBTC since the beginning,
walking to chapel this week.  Pray for the students
who began three weeks of classes this week.
Jack’s current example which might appear as time-consuming busy work is sorting through volumes of past KBTC reports/ records and figuring out where missing files can be found.  It is exciting when he finds a needed file or an unexpected bit of information which completes the current puzzle he is encountering, such as finding past work which can be used in the current work towards accreditation, but he also comes home discouraged as he is reminded of past problems and difficulties. 

Contrasts are constantly experienced in Africa.  On Tuesday while eating
lunch in our cottage at KBTC, I heard a monkey screeching nearby,
but I didn't get outside quickly enough to get a photo.
Later in the afternoon, I did capture this view of the city of Nairobi
glistening in the sun. An amazing view considering it takes at least
an hour to drive from KBTC into the city centre!
Another example occurred this morning when I had to delay writing this update to repair curtain rods in one of KBTC’s guest houses.  I did complain a bit (to myself) before remembering Philippians 2 and that proper window covers would help a family feel  more comfortable as they study at the language school housed at KBTC – a Chinese couple whose hearts’ desire is ‘hold out the word of life” among peoples who speak Kiswahili. 

Not sure I'll ever need  to use this photo to illustrate a
Nudge to Action for our Sub-Saharan African Peoples,
but you never know! Make sure you spot these daily
Nudges to Prayer, Serving and Giving at
www.facebook.com/SubSaharanAfricanPeoples.
So this week, pray for us to remember that what we are doing is God’s work and we must allow Him to work in us “to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Pray that we will wisely discern and DO God’s work.  Pray that as edit and label photos that I will remember that this will help you and others pray in the future, which I know is a part of His will.  As Jack continues reading through more and more files, pray that he will remember that this is not simply busy work, but work that will allow KBTC to be restored and better able to train and equip African Believers to “to will and to act according to GOD’s will” as we join together in holding out the word of life to those without our Saviour. BERT YATES
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Two more photos captured during our trip to western Kenya -
these of the resident rooster at the KBTC branch
in Kisumu - one from outside where it was supposed to be
and one taken inside the men's dorm where it was not to be!

Now for a serious bit.  I've not mentioned EBOLA having any effect upon us, other than praying for those affected by this deadly outbreak and this borrowed illustration explains why!