Labor Day has come and gone…which means summer has too! For many, it’s “back to reality” after taking one or more weeks to vacation and rest, refresh, and renew.
My wife and I just returned from a three week international trip. It was, in one word, “awesome!” In addition to celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary in Amsterdam, Holland and Bruges, Belgium (both of which were magical), we spent the majority of our time in Kenya for both a mission and vacation experience. It’s amazing to witness the beauty of God’s creation, meet people from various parts of the world, and serve side by side with Christian leaders who approach life and ministry so distinctly and beautifully.
In Kenya, we were an active part of a pastors and leaders event at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya. I spoke on the subjects of spiritual leadership, soul care, and humility. I was struck by the servants who were present for this gathering, all of whom work in adverse conditions and yet with a joyful heart. Their teachability and openness to the content we shared was remarkable. Ruth spent time with a group of young moms, pouring courage into their weary hearts. We concluded the conference blessed and challenged by their collective and individual faithfulness, perseverance, mercy, and love.
At St. Paul’s University, I also had the privilege of speaking at the dedication of the newly constructed Soteria Women’s Center, a facility designed to train, equip, and empower women in their roles as mothers and wives, leaders in the church, and entrepreneurs in business. Soteria is Greek for “salvation” which I expounded upon as a wide open space of God’s grace and goodness, using The Message translation of Romans 5:2, “We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” It was a grand day of celebration, inviting all who were present to see this building as a place to invite others to receive God’s gift of soteria/salvation and spiritual renewal.
We had the joy of visiting two schools and a church that were built by our hosts, Matthew 28 Ministries, founded 7 years ago by our dear friend, Dr. Jewel Hyun. We were truly amazed to see how this ministry has been blessed and enriched by their generosity and used for the expansion of God’s Kingdom in Kenya. We also were encouraged by seeing ten micro-finance projects, all led by women who had been trained by M28M and St. Paul’s University, received a small loan, and then put their newly discovered insights and resources to good use in their small businesses. We were astounded to see how well their investment was reaping a great harvest.
We ended our trip on safari in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya. Here we were wowed by the splendor of God’s handiwork in the wide open spaces of incredible beauty and among the habitation of birds and mammels that share planet earth with all of us. We saw nearly 30 different mammels, including giraffes, zebras, elephants, wildabeests, lions, cheetahs, monkeys, gazelles, topi, impala, and many beautiful birds. We serve an awesome and creative God!
As you reflect on your summer, let me encourage you to journal your memories so that you don’t lose the power and importance of each experience. The Lord is gracious and merciful, compassionate and loving, and He wants you to notice His work in your midst…all for His honor and glory! God bless you with the abundance of His joy as you remember and give thanks for the gifts of summer 2013.