Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BACK FROM ZIMBABWE

Our team had a great trip to Zimbabwe. God worked in ways we never dreamed imaginable. It was a life transforming experience for all of us. I'm still trying to process all that happened. Words never do justice to explain an experience. And pictures fall short as well. But here are a few shots of our trip with some brief commentary. I'll try to do three or four blogs to give you a glimpse of what God did on this journey.

Our team from left to right: Cyndi, Jamie, Dana, Gary, Barbara, John, Ken, Cheryl, LeDoncie, Marvin, and Denise.
On the way we had a few hours to tour some London sites. Gary and I are standing a few blocks from the famous Big Ben.

The currency in Zimbabwe is wild! Below is a wad of cash that we used to buy some souvenirs from a market in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Believe it or not, this stack of bills amounted to $5 billion. To keep things in perspective, after preaching on Sunday morning, the church presented me an honorarium of $126,000,000. As one of our team members said, "Finally, you're getting paid what you're worth." American value of the honorarium--about $15.

Getting gas in Zimbabwe was always an adventure. It is so scarce that it often has to be purchased on the black market. Below is a picture of two of our hosts, Farai and Ephesians (yes, that is his name. Seriously, he has a brother named Galatians), meeting on the street to transfer gas into the van.

The main means of transportation is walking. The streets are filled with walkers, some bikes, and some vehicles--but mainly it's all by foot. The shot below is a picture of a woman carrying a load of fire wood down a dirt road.

We all prayed hard that Denise's missing luggage would arrive. A lesson in prayer. Be sure to pray in specifics. Her luggage arrived. The only problem--it was just the luggage and not the contents. So she had to buy her an outfit for church on Sunday morning. Marvin bought a matching shirt. Don't they look lovely in their native attire?

On the next post I will get more into our actual ministry assignment.
"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."














Wednesday, February 13, 2008

READY FOR ZIMBABWE

Tomorrow our team heads out to Zimbabwe. In addition to eight of our church members, our team of eleven includes Gary Walton, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist, and Marvin and Cyndi Bozard, who will be our hosts. Marvin and Cyndi switch time between her home in Michigan and his home in SC. When in SC, they faithfully attend Chapin Baptist.

We will land in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Saturday morning, recoup for the rest of the day, and worship in some of the local churches on Sunday. Gary and I most likely will be preaching. On Sunday afternoon we will travel for several hours to our main ministry post in the city of Mudzu.

Gary and I will be teaching for several days in a pastor's conference that will include around 40 local pastors. The rest of the team will be doing lots of hands-on ministry in the community--minor construction, painting, children's minsitry, etc. Most likely, we will also be part of an evangelistic effort that involves showing the Jesus film. Time will also be invested in the local schools and orphanages.

Our team is excited. We had a packing party last night. We are packing our clothes in one suitcase and packing our second piece with items many have donated for the trip--clothes, toys, books, etc.

I know Thursday will be a memorable day as we present the pastors with the new bicycles we have purchased for them. It is my understanding that the gift will be a surprise for them. We cannot comprehend the magnitude of this gesture compared to the lifestyles that we live in America. Without bikes, walking is the primary means of transportation. It is not unusual at all for many of the pastors to have to walk 10-15 miles into the nearest town for food and supplies. Can you imagine the difference that bicycles will make? Thank you, Chapin Baptist, for your generosity.

In the last year or so, people by the thousands have fled the country because of dire economic conditions. Inflation rates are reported to be around 150,000 percent. My mind can't fathom what that means. Jobs are scarce and food supplies are not affordable. So, when many are fleeing, we will be coming in to offer love and hope. Above all, we want the people of Zimbabwe to know that there is hope in Jesus Christ.

Pray for us. Pray for God's protection, pray that God will use us, and pray that our lives will be transformed. Pray that each of us will remain healthy and that our team will bond into a strong force for the kingdom.

I do not anticipate being able to communicate via blog/email while there. But I look forward to sharing what God has done when I return.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

JOURNEY THROUGH EPHESIANS

Here are some takeaways from my recent quiet times through Ephesians:

  • Even before earth was created, I was on God's mind. He took a lot of pleasure in bringing me into existence.
  • It is only in Jesus that I can discover what my purpose in life is.
  • Jesus rules the world, in charge of everything.
  • If you inhale the world's pollution, you will exhale disobedience.
  • Our salvation is God's idea and His work. All we do is trust Him to do it. It is God's gift all the way.
  • Paul wrote that he was preaching and writing about things way over his head. Encouraging to know that I'm in good company.
  • Paul was on his knees praying for the church. Ouch! Am I on my knees enough?
  • 4:20-31--two of my life verses--"God can do anything."
  • A great standard for living--watch what God does, then do it.
  • In my marriage do I go all out in my love for Anita? Do I focus on giving to her instead of getting from her.
  • Two instructions for dads--don't come down hard on your children; and lead them in the way of the master.
  • Whether you're working for a paycheck or serving in the church, don't do just enough to get by. Go the extra mile.
  • Our fight with the devil will be non-stop as long as we live.
  • The spiritual battles we face are too fierce to handle on our own. We must use the weapons God has issued.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

WHAT DO THE UNCHURCHED THINK?

Lifeway Research recently completed a survey to determine how/what the unchurched think, especially in terms of spiritual matters. This information is not pretty, but it is helpful if we are to ever have a positive influence on the unchurched world.

  • 72% think the church is full of hypocrites.
  • 71% say that Jesus makes a positive influence on a person's life.
  • 78% would be willing to listen to someone who wanted to share what he/she believes about Christianity.
  • 64% think the Christian religion is relevant and viable for today.
  • 72% believe that God (or a supreme being) actually exists.
  • Only 48% agree there is only one God as described in the Bible.
  • 61% believe the God of the Bible is no different from gods depicted in non-Christian religions.
  • Up from 17 percent in 2004, 22 percent of Americans say they never go to church – the highest ever recorded by the General Social Survey.
  • 79% of unchurched Americans think Christianity today is more about organized religion than about loving God and loving people.
  • 86% believe they can have a good relationship with God without being involved in church.
  • 44% say Christians get "on my nerves."
  • 89% have at least one close Christian friend.
  • While turned off by church, 78% are willing to listen to someone who wants to talk about their Christian beliefs. The number rose to 89% among adults ages 18-29.
  • 78% say they would enjoy an honest conversation with a friend about religious and spiritual beliefs, even if they disagreed.
  • Only 28% think Christians they know talk to them too much about their beliefs.

For me, the greatest takeaway from this survey is that the unchurched world is open to spiritual conversations. But we better make sure our lives are authentically Christian.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."