– Dan DeVitis
Dear friends and family in Christ,
From February 12 to February 24, 2020, Gary Simmons and myself had a rather intense time of ministry to the Homa Bay region of western Kenya. It was physically intense because many hours was spent in travel (our transit from the conference site to home took 32 hours alone) and we were usually gone 10 to 12 hour every day in travel and ministry. I think we both held up rather well. The ministry was spiritually intense as well as we both focused our messages on our particular calling, which is:
“And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I (we) are also in chains.” Col. 4.3.“And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I (we) are also in chains.” Col. 4.3.
O’ to focus our teachings on the unveiling mystery of Christ was wonderful. It was eye-opening, liberating and transforming to many who received it. As “religion” tends to occupy lives and many are caught up with Christianity as an organized system of faith, there is little understanding of the spiritual reality of “The Christ”— His life, presence, and work in us according to the eternal purpose that God.
The first days were spent in travel and ministry to 5 churches. This was good in that it allowed us to interact with the believers, and witness their lives as centered in and around “the church.” This dear woman (pictured) walked nearly 2 hours on canes to be there with us. Walking and traveling great distances was not uncommon. Meeting times were somewhat flexible until most could make it. Thus, often the time of worship preceding the meeting was quite long…something Kenyans thoroughly enjoy.
The people are precious. They sincerely love the Lord… and want to worship Him. The pastors and overseers (bishops) are very conscientious and gracious. However, the word we brought to them opened their understanding to a dimension of faith they had not considered before. They would comment that this word was well received, and they are anxious to press on to a higher understanding of Christ…and they wish we could stay longer. Please don’t take this as a way of boasting or any such thing. But it is the sincere positive feedback that encourages the messages and gives the confidence to press forward. Significantly touching the pastors was a real blessing to us. Gary and myself were blessed with this time of ministry.
The remainder of our time was spent at a 4-day leadership conference at which we each spoke twice a day. The people seemed not to tire in the many hours spent in worship and the ministry of the Word. Gary and my word was usually followed by one of the pastors summarizing the message and giving the opportunity to respond for prayer…in which many did, most kneeling, some face to the ground, others head and hands raised, some in tears of petition.
The conference meetings were held in a field under 3 adjoining tents. The people had no problems kneeling in the soil during a time of personal ministry. We had four meetings a day returning home for dinner about 8:30 pm… or so. Pictured to the right was Julius Midido, pastor and overseer of some 14 churches, opening the conference. Interpretation were made in English and Swahili.
Based upon some recent feedback, the word shared was very much received. One individual wrote that he was blessed and that his life was transformed. To receive this kind of response humbles the heart and with a cry that all, ALL was worth it. These were leaders who will return to their churches with something in their hearts and minds that all that “religion” has to offers falls infinitesimally short for the excellency of the knowledge of the Christ, Himself. Our calling to this people was to “proclaim the mystery of Christ,” (Col. 4.3) and that we (Garry and myself) did with all there was within us. We could do no more. We emptied ourselves.
The people were most warm and receptive. Our hosts, Julius Midodo, and his wife Justine, were very gracious making our stay as comfortable as it could possibly be. Julius tirelessly worked daily with us, often driving us great distances, though fighting through an on-going case of malaria. Justine was just coming off a case of malaria as well, yet making sure our needs were cared for. The only harm that came to us was that Gary was well bitten with mosquito bites, the itching making it difficult sleep. Evidently the mosquitoes found him a tastier treat than myself as we shared the same room. Maybe it was because he was a shade whiter than me ? We stood out as two white spectacles in a sea of black. In my life, I have never felt so “white.” I believe through our time there, a oneness was found by all, no white or black, no American or Kenyan, no rich or poor, no male or female, no one above the other…all one in Christ.
Returning home my daughter Maria and wife Petra picked me up at the Philadelphia airport. Gary’s flight took him to Atlanta where he stayed overnight with friends before continuing home the next morning. It is difficult to describe the emotion of hearing and feeling the jar of the jet’s wheels touching the ground after so long a trip, and of seeing my loved ones, and of holding Petra in my arms once again. Bless His Holy Name.
Gary and I are eternally grateful for your prayers and words of encouragement.