When news of COVID-19 began to take up the whole airwaves a couple of months ago, it was not thought of as a real threat in Kenya; it just appeared far removed. Others reasoned that the African skin complexion has advantage over this infection! Of course, they were wrong. As I write this, Kenya has confirmed 59 Coronavirus cases with one death. In Government's desperate attempt to try and tame this pandemic, all religious gatherings, institutions of learning and social joints have been closed indefinitely. Such closures haven't yielded any positive signs and so the country is on a 'stage two' strategy with a 7 pm to 5 am countrywide curfew. The Government threatens a lock-down unless the people change their behavior. This will bite deeply as larger percentage of the population live from hand to mouth.
With a congregation that is mainly students, casual workers and none employed. How should I or any Christians live during such times? A dear sister in Christ shared with me some words of encouragement. "Lord Craven, a Christian, was a nobleman who was living in London when the plague ravaged the city in the 17th century. In order to escape the spreading pestilence, Craven determined to leave the city for his country home, as many of his social standing did. He ordered his coach and baggage made ready. But, as he was walking down one of the halls of his home about to enter his carriage, he overheard one of his servants say to another, “I suppose, by my Lord’s quitting London to avoid the plague, that his God lives in the country and not in town.” It was a straightforward and, apparently, innocent remark. But it struck Lord Craven so deeply that he canceled his journey, saying, “My God lives everywhere and can preserve me in town as well as in the country. I will stay where I am.” So, he stayed in London. He helped the plague victims, and he did not catch the disease himself." (James M. Boice, Trusting God).
We still don't have our sermons online but I am seeking to encourage my flock the best I can including using WhatsApp, phone calls and SMS. While members are away, a little more work has been done within the church building but much more still remain. We have partitioned two rooms at the back of the auditorium: a mother & baby room and a media center. The doors and one-way glasses are yet to be fixed.
Just before the ban on church meetings came into effect, our youth held their Table Talks #17 on March 14th. Pastor Tony Karwa of Grace Baptist Church - Kisumu came and spoke very helpfully on 'Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.'
I have used much of my time these passed two weeks to finish KReST assignments marking and begin marking the TBC’s PTC assignments.
While we are prevented from holding public worship and so must retreat into our closets, those words of Prophet Isaiah should give us hope: Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a while until the fury has passed by. (Isaiah 26:20)
In Christ by grace,
Naphtally & Helida Ogallo.
I am grateful that once again, I can share with you a few matters for prayer. It is always my longing to be further equipped to use the 'power of the gospel' to the 'shepherding the flock of God' who go through many difficulties in their spiritual warfare. I also long to see my fellow soldiers in the trenches take up the 'weapons of our warfare' and help fellow warriors as God provides the opportunity for them to 'encourage one another.'
KReST week and Counselling Seminar
While Pastor Sam Oluoch and I regularly conduct the lectures, this past February KReST week, we were privileged to have Dr. Rick Horne of The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI) and an elder at Faith Reformed Baptist Church, Media PA USA. He handled Old Testament theology with specific attention on Samuel to Chronicles. Sam lectured on Early American Christianity and Modernism. It was my lot to handle administrative matters. It was one of the most challenging times as I handled some difficult decisions. As a school, we are not just interested in helping students attain theological knowledge but to see their lives transformed through the power of the gospel because only then will they biblically help others come to faith and live godly.
After the week of KReST, there were four days of Biblical Counselling facilitated by Dr. Horne. The eight lessons of 'How change looks like' were more than informative. Over twenty-one delegates were left deeply humbled as we were pointed to trust God the Father and the Lord Jesus our Redeemer and display His powerful presence amid all life's trouble.
Grace Baptist Church held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 1st, 2020. It was the best the church has held. Brethren reported on their various ministries not only highlighting areas of success but humbly acknowledging parts of failure with a determination to commit our future works to the LORD that He may establish our plans. We are still a small church but marvel to see how the gospel is slowly but powerfully changing the lives of men and women. Rick Horne’s visit was short, coming at the tail end of his time in Kenya but his ministry left all of us both challenged and encouraging, especially as he directed our thoughts on the Lord's command to pray earnestly for harvest.
Good but expensive Car
My twelve-year-old car has given us good and faithful service. Apart from the convenience of reaching the ministry venues in time, it handles well two medical issues that I have: a lower back problem and a travel sickness! However, it offers these at a high price. I have been in and out of garages rather too frequently. The last trip from Kisumu city, with my guest, we arrived back in Eldoret only to realize that all the gearbox oil had leaked! Oh, the mercies and providence of God! The car is the only means for immediate ministry needs here and so it calls for God's wisdom and intervention. Please, remember us in prayer.
In Christ by grace,
Naphtally & Helida Ogallo.
The Lord has remained faithful to me though I am so unworthy. Anything that I have accomplished is due to His enabling grace. I share with you a few of those for your thanks giving and continued prayers.
Ministry at TBC – Nairobi
January 14th to 22nd I was teaching at Trinity Baptist Church (TBC) Pastors’ Training College, Nairobi. I was assigned to handle the Doctrine of Last Things (Eschatology) and Cults. The ten students were lively and cooperative throughout. While some of them are already involved in pastoral ministry, the rest aspire to join full time Christian ministry in the future. On Sunday the 19th I preached at their morning service from Matthew 7:21-23 urging all to ‘Beware of False Peace.’
Leadership Conference in Nakuru City
My wife, Helida and I attended a Reformed leaders’ conference organized by Africa Inland Church (AIC) from February 4th to 6th in the city of Nakuru. Doctors, Joel Bekee and Conrad Mbewe were the main speakers under the theme of ‘Preaching God’s Word Faithfully.’ Over 200 Pastors and Church leaders mainly from AIC attended. Many admitted that they were strangers to the Reformed Faith. I was given a brief opportunity to publicize our own December Annual Family Reformed Conferences which are held in the city of Kisumu. My point of emphasis was that those who come will receive the same spiritual menu; Reformed preaching!
Sharpening Teaching and Preaching Gifts
Back at GBC - Eldoret, a number of young men are continuing to take up teaching and preaching slots. This is in the spirit of apostle Paul’s command to Timothy: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Among these are two of our deacons, Remmy Wasike and Clinton Gwako. The other one is Brian Kiama. Remmy is also one of the students at Kisumu Reformed School of Theology (KReST). These brothers are also involved in other ministries in the church including: Midweek Prayer meeting, Thursday Bible Study and Saturday Men’s Breakfast where we are going through Kuiper’s book, ‘The Church in History.’ Please, pray for these brothers that they will grow confident in handling God’s word and their labors to bear fruit.
Giving thanks in all situations
A dear sister in the Lord who is a widow and has been battling ill health now for many years recently wrote to encourage me. She wrote: “I always remember a Bible study you taught us at TBC adult class... when I joined the church on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. The emphasis was on verse 18. I vividly remember the debate…Many questions arose on how we can give thanks in “bad situations.” You labored to explain. From then on, I see that verse in a totally different perspective and I’m able to give thanks in ALL SITUATIONS, REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES…It is very fulfilling.” This Bible study took place over twenty years ago! I was greatly encouraged by this reminder. Below, I share with you the good and the bad circumstances in which we are thanking God.
Reformed Family Conference
It was really worth being at the 9th annual conference held from December 9th to 14th under the theme of “The Holy Spirit – Our Help To Glory.” Over two hundred delegates gathered day by day to receive God’s word. They also joined daily in cooperate prayers, fellowshipped with each other and enjoyed very good food! The two able speakers were, Francis Chishimba from Lusaka Zambia and Matt Foreman from Medea, Philadelphia, USA. The conference took place at the Tom Mboya Labor College in Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya. Reformation Carried Forward by Kenyans (ReCFoK) group of churches who organizes these conferences were stretched beyond limit in seeking to provide a seamless conference. In all, this was a very encouraging time in deed and we thank the Lord for His goodness.
Leave that never was
It was my plan to take an annual leave from work immediately after the family conference and be away from Eldoret at least to the village. Challenges to our leave plan began with the unfortunate kidnaping experience that our son Tim went through. Refunding the monies that the kidnappers had illicitly solicited through his smart phone has been a difficult experience. Three days after that scary ordeal, Tim was playing football with a number of other young people outside the church compound when he ruptured his right Achilles tendon! The Doctor at our first visit to the hospital ordered for an Xray and sent us home with pain killers saying there is no bone fracture! Four days later (December 6th) we were back to the hospital asking to see a specialist; Tim had been combing the internet and was convinced that he had broken this important tendon. The Surgeon, after his examination, concurred with Tim and marveled at his research! Surgery was immediately ordered and so the following day Tim was admitted and surgery was done on Sunday the 8th early morning. This meant that Helida had to cancel her plan of traveling to the family conference so as to provide the post-surgery support and to facilitate Tim’s discharge. Tim is now on his second cast after the first one was replaced on December 25th after many hours at the hospital due to scarcity of Doctors on duty. Our family plans have had to change drastically and the leave plans had to be shelved. Tim confesses that this has been a unique time of reflection and meditation upon God’s mercies. Full recovery will take many months.
Teaching at TBC
I have been invited to travel to Nairobi on January 14th to teach at the Trinity Baptist Church (TBC) Pastors’ Training College from 15th to 22nd. I will be teaching on Cults and Eschatology. I have also been asked to preach there on Sunday the 19th. Personally, I have been unwell and so request for your prayers.
In Christ alone,
Naphtally & Helida Ogallo.