A NEW STORY THAT SHOULD ENCOURAGE US TO PERSEVERE IN OUR ALTERNATIVE CHRISTIAN LIFESTYLE
About a year ago, I related a series of incidents that had happened on a remote island in the Pacific. It was a story of how rich blessing, physically – mentally, socially and spiritually – had developed, quite outside the usual church structures, as one family had responded to the leading of the Spirit.
Now I have another such development to report to you – this time from a remote corner of Kenya. This particular “report” has been written by a friend of mine in Ireland: David Rice. (David did all the practical and technical side of publishing my booklet “Custom and Command”, and was the distributor for Ireland, when it was still sent out by private individuals.) I am confident that many readers will find that what he has to say is a further encouragement to press on in the simple “unstructured” lifestyle, trusting the Lord to bring about His chosen outcomes.
This is the story of a small group of believers who live in a rural area in Kenya. One member of the group is a man called Isaac. He and his wife, Emily, have four young children. About five years ago Isaac was a budding worship leader in a large church. He was being trained for a life of ministry which could have been financially rewarding for him and his family, but as he opened his heart to the Lord he became increasingly uncomfortable with the whole business of “organised church”.
He attended a leaders’ conference and met a woman who gave him a copy of Custom and Command which really answered a number of questions for him. In the back of his copy he found Stan Firth’s email address and also that of David Rice from Ireland.
What followed was a series of email exchanges which ultimately led to David Rice and David Ryman going to visit them in Kenya. What they found there was a small vibrant group of believers who had very little of this world’s goods, but whose faith and awareness of the Lord’s provision is spectacular. Over the years, the Lord has brought them together and they live in an interdependent way where the expression of ‘church’ is around meal tables and in working together on the harvest or in whatever is the next task to hand.
In 2007 there was a civil war in Kenya following the elections, and a number of people were massacred for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many children were orphaned. Some of Isaac’s friends were murdered and their children were left with nothing, so Isaac organised to bring eighteen of them to an orphanage. He also took a few of them to live in his house. Then in December 2011 the local chief called him in and told him that the orphanage had been closed and the man who ran it had disappeared. The children were without food or adult supervision for over a week. As he was the last point of contact for these children they were now his responsibility!
After the initial shock, Isaac managed to find family connections for four of the children and he took fourteen of them into his own house. Some of them were very traumatised and others were very unwell. As the group waited before the Lord they became increasingly sure that the Lord had brought about this situation for His glory and that they should trust Him for the way forward. They also found a special love for each of the children. The local education inspector arranged for the older ones to go to school in the area, but there was nothing for the little ones so and Emily and a widow lady started a school in an out-building. When other grandparents around the area who had been caring for their orphaned grandchildren heard of the school they asked if they could also send the children and now there is a school for over twenty pupils.
You may ask how such poor people can survive and take on an orphanage without visible support. It is true that a group of folk from various countries have organised a regular small financial contribution. In Kenya, a little goes a long way and it has been possible for them to readjust the buildings to provide dormitories and a new catering area and also to build a septic tank sewage-disposal plant capable of handling the extra load. When we visited in July 2012 it was wonderful to observe the Lord’s faithfulness to them. They live every day knowing that the Lord is truly their provider. So often it seems that food seems to extend miraculously so each mouth is satisfied from what would otherwise not be enough.
In total, Isaac’s home now houses twenty-one children, including his own and those of another relative. The atmosphere is wonderful. A cry or complaint is very rare and each one cares for the others in a lovely way. In recent months some of the older children have started to ask about this Jesus and how they can get to know Him. Is not this a wonderful way to grow up and experience Him?
Pray for this special group and trust that they may grow more and more in the beauty and simplicity of living together in Father’s care, and that their responses to the Spirit may reveal more and more the order of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Stan here again…May I add two short comments…
The first is that, since this report was originally written, I have heard something from Kenya that demonstrates how much this “small vibrant group of believers” is respected in their locality, and how attractive the message of their lives seems to be. They gave an invitation to others to join them for their Christmas Day celebration, and two hundred people turned up – not counting the many local children who had been specifically invited by the orphans!
Secondly, can I tell you that the effect that this story from Kenya has had on me is exactly the same as the effect I experienced when I read the story from the Pacific. I am reminded yet again that wonderful blessing at every level – body, mind and spirit – flows from a steadfast walking in the Spirit. Whether, in the long run, the “results” God gives to us personally are dramatic, or quietly satisfying, let us press on, with ever-growing confidence and joy, following Jesus in this lifestyle to which He has called us.
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