Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Foolishness and Investments

If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.
1 Corinthians 3:18,19
When I look back on my short two weeks in Kenya this past summer, perhaps the most defining part of the trip for me came at Alliance High School as I stood before a chapel filled with young men at this boarding school, exhorting them to use the first-class education and opportunity they are receiving in such a way that when the world sees what they do with it, the world will call it a foolish waste. But not because it really is a waste but rather because the world doesn’t understand. It cannot understand.

The reason that experience was so significant for me is because I could see myself in those young men. It wasn’t that long ago when I was in boarding school as a high school student, just like them, receiving a first-class education, just like them. So as I stood there preaching to those young men, what I was really doing was preaching to myself, calling myself to use the first-class education and opportunity I have received in such a way that when the world sees what I do with it, they will call it a foolish waste.

As I reflect on that experience, it’s almost as though God’s calling on my life is embodied in that night. He’s calling me to defy the world and its wisdom by leaving America to go and stand before a group of Kenyans. But I’m not just to stand before them. I am to call them to the very thing that He is calling me to: forsaking the pursuits of the world in favor of the passionate pursuit of Jesus and His kingdom. As I do so, I am not just preaching with my voice. I am preaching with the testimony of my life, in all of my preaching saying, like Paul, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

And so it was through this trip that God has laid on my heart a burden to serve His church specifically in urban Nairobi (the capitol of Kenya), where I will come into contact with many men and women who I can in some sense see myself in, who I will be able to in some way relate to and who can relate to me; and to call them to join me so that we can together forsake the pursuits of the world in favor of the passionate pursuit of Jesus and His kingdom.

Specifically, I sense God leading me to begin a new church plant in an urban area of Nairobi. I don’t know a whole lot about church planting, I don’t have a seminary degree, and I don’t in any way feel qualified, but I have the treasure of the gospel of Christ (as a dear brother reminded me this past weekend) and I know that God loves to use weak jars of clay to carry that treasure in order “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Part of the reason I feel so excited and eager in this calling is because God is not calling me to this by myself. Unbeknownst to me, it appears that when He called one of my dearest brothers in the Lord, Chris Kiagiri, to move to Kenya two years ago, He was only sending him on ahead of me. On my last night in Kenya in July, I told Chris about my desire to plant a church in Nairobi and asked him to consider/pray about partnering with me. And as we’ve sought the Lord together over these past couple of months, God has been confirming for us both that this is the direction He would have us go in. I love the fact that Jesus still sends out two by two (Luke 10:1)!

But I guess it’s actually more than two. Chris was recently engaged and I was able to meet his wonderful fiancĂ©e, Wavinya, during my trip to Kenya this summer. The two of them were such a joy to fellowship with and, Lord willing, I will be the best man in their wedding this December! I couldn’t be more excited as I look forward to witnessing their union in the Lord and partnering with them in the work of the gospel.

So up next in this journey: Lord willing, a trip to Kenya in December that will be a little longer than the one I took this summer. After watching Chris and Wavinya tie the knot, my hope is to continue to pray, listen, learn, and do more ground work by connecting with some local pastors/churches. I also hope to explore possible job opportunities during that time because I would like to begin my ministry in Kenya as a tentmaker. I know it sounds ambitious, but my goal is to be in Kenya by next summer (2010). When God, in His perfect timing and wisdom, grants me the right job opportunity, after wrapping up the responsibilities for my current position at Adobe, I’m ready to move.

So please pray:
  • That I would remain focused and unhindered as I continue on this path. Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
  • I’ve been enjoying learning Swahili through Rosetta Stone. Please pray that God would keep me disciplined in a regular rhythm of doing my lessons every 1-2 days.
  • That I would use the time in Kenya this December wisely and fruitfully and, specifically, that God would grant during that time greater clarity concerning the who, where, and how of church planting in Nairobi.
  • That God would provide me with a job opportunity in Nairobi that wouldn’t consume me because I want to be consumed with gathering for Jesus’ church and planting.
  • That God would bring together a core of people for the plant and raise up more partners who would want to be a part of the plant, there AND here.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’
Matthew 25:20
This servant had to risk losing five talents in order to gain five talents. And some might have called him a fool for risking. But this parable is proof that the men and women who make the most “profit” for Jesus are the men and women who risk the most for Him and, in so doing, look like the biggest fools to many.

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