Hey family and friends!
In Makeuni on Sunday, Daniel and I attended AIC (African Inland Church) with Florence (not Dr.) and Judy. We arrived late, and as we walked in every eye was on the mzungus. I felt like I was in a traveling circus exhibit. After a brief introduction of ourselves, the Kenyan Pastor Daniel, got up to preach. All I know is that the sermon was over Deuteronomy 28:1-8 and had something to do with blessings. I know nothing beyond that because the pastor spoke mainly in their mother tongue, Kambo. He would switch over to English for like 30 seconds, but it was more of a continuation of the sermon than an actual translation.
After the service, we were planning on talking to the CHEs (community health evangelists) which are the people who have been trained by the TOT to go out into the community and serve. But the church had different plans. From what I could muster up from the weaving in and out of English, they were collecting additional offering so they could construct a fence that would surround the church property. And then out of nowhere, they started auctioning off items. I was so confused, but Florence explained that the items they were selling were goods that people tithed with because they didn't have the money to give. I was so touched by the commitment they had to God. They didn't want to show up empty handed so they gave what they could. At one point, they brought a yellow bag over to sell and there was a HEAD sticking out. With an eye…blinking!!! It was a CHICKEN! Someone tithed a CHICKEN! I was so taken off guard that I started cracking up. It was so unexpected and the chicken kept bawking and hopping (its feet were bound together). I could barely control myself.
Even though the chicken situation was funny, I realized that I have a lot to learn about trusting and depending on God from the people of Kenya. As I said before, I was so touched by the commitment to serving God by giving what they could and fully believing that God could use that chicken or papaya. If I don’t have the money for tithes one week, I just tell myself that I’ll make it up next week rather than giving what I can no matter how small the amount. I’m sure that giving that chicken, papaya, or whatever was way more of a stretch than 15 dollars or so would be for me. I keep that money so that my “needs” are met that week rather than depending and trusting in God to provide. These people literally are trusting in God’s provision daily so that they can eat, and I keep my money so that my “needs” are met while I have a pantry full of food. I have so much to learn.
The chicken situation also got me wondering what the reaction would be at my church or any church in America if someone tithed a chicken. People would think they were crazy and they would definitely see that as “unacceptable”. I feel like the person who tithed the chicken would be seen as “poor”, “inferior”, and a charity case. Is that person poor? They may not have a lot of money, but at least they are giving what they can which is a lot more than what most of us give. They see it as shameful and disrespectful to God to show up empty-handed. God just asks us to give what we can and to trust him with it. He wants to provide for us. I’m reminded of Luke 21:1-4.
“As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
God teaches us lessons in the most unexpected situations. I have been very humbled by the chicken.
Mungu akubariki! (God Bless)
Hey! Daniel here. Just to make sure you are reading every word of this post so we decided to change writers half-way through it. As Amy mentioned early we had the opportunity of attending a church in Makueni on Sunday. It was a vast difference from the mega-churches I attend at home and away at college. The building was nothing fancy, a simple structure without even doors or windows. But that did not catch me off guard. What surprised me was the makeup of the congregation. There were a decent number of women in the congregation, but most were elderly and none were youths. The majority of the congregation was comprised up of the elementary school children who lived at the boarding school next door. That was amazing to see, an entire school in the church. But then I looked and wondered? Where are the men? Where are the youths? Apart from the elders there might have been five men in the congregation, and there was no youth group. Not a single youth sat in the seats of the church. This is not okay.
When we sat down to talk to the leaders of the church Judy, one of the Kenyans with us, told them straight up that this must change. If there are no youths, there is no future of the church. When the parents and grandparents are dead there will be no one to sit in the seats. They had a hundred school children but a single high school student couldn’t be found. The church had failed to reach out to the youth of the community. They had failed to build bridges and invest in their lives. They had failed to raise up the next generation of church leaders. But there is hope. God can turn the state of this church around; he can use the congregation to disciple and pour into the youth of the community. This does not have to be the end of their story.
Hopefully for you and your church it never becomes a part of your story. The youth are the future of the Church. The Church is one generation away from nonexistence. Invest in the lives of the youth of your church. Support them as they seek out their own relationships with the Lord Jesus Christ. Challenge them. Listen to them. Encourage them. Pray for them. And never ever give up on them. The youth are the future of your church. They are the future of THE CHURCH.