138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
Imagine a Sunday at The Bible Chapel during which services blend together with no clear beginning or end, individuals are called at random to lead prayers in front of the entire church, and congregants form conga lines during rambunctiously fun worship songs. Add some moments of Swahili-only teaching and prayer and you are left with a Sunday morning at AIC Zion in a nutshell; today, our team preached sermons and led devotions with the unifying theme of supporting, mentoring, and raising children in Christ.
During the first and third services, Wayne delivered a sermon about the status of children as a gift from God. Drawing upon his own experience as a parent, Wayne emphasized that part of being a steward of God's blessings is raising children to be God-fearing, and that this calling is the most important purpose of any parent's life. After Wayne's message, the church spent roughly twenty minutes praying for and collecting money on behalf of a pastor at Zion who is sick and struggling to pay his hospital bills. We were inspired by the manner in which the church community rallied around one of its leaders and lovingly eased his burdens during a difficult time.
In the second service, Ron spoke about the tremendous position that the members of Zion have to impact the lives of children. Hundreds of students pass through the facilities of AIC Zion daily to receive education, presenting abundant opportunities for church members to develop young followers of Jesus. Ron taught that through motivation fueled by love for the children and a desire to raise them to be Christ-like, time can be used efficiently to serve the Lord, benefit others, and create a generation of children who will grow up to benefit Mathare.
Meanwhile, Laura Wylie and Laura Cabe (we desperately need catchier names to differentiate them) managed to spend time with all four of Zion's Sunday school classes. They discussed the story of Joseph, added hand motions to a memory verse (Psalm 33:11: "But the plans of the Lord stand firm"), and helped the children to recreate Joseph's coat of many colors during craft time. The children greatly enjoyed coloring with markers, which they do not typically use at school.
Dee and Cami spent time with the women's study; they discussed issues that mothers face in the church, such as the heartbreak of watching children gradually leave the faith as they enter their adult years. To catalyze discussion, Cami introduced a tool called "good thing/bad thing/God thing," through which each woman listed a thanksgiving, a struggle, and something that God is doing in her life. Dee and Cami realized that many of the obstacles that the Kenyan women encounter in their relationships with Christ mirror those that American women face as well.
Ben encouraged the teenagers with a message about young believers in the Bible that utilized their gifts to serve God. After the lesson, Matthew and Ben helped the students identify their individual talents and how they could potentially be used to expand the kingdom. Then, they opened the floor for a discussion about spiritual issues such as the permanence of salvation and the division that sin creates between God and man.
Finally, Matthew shared his testimony with the young adult class, using it as a demonstration of the importance of community to support one's walk with Christ. A discussion about the common issues faced by Kenyan and American young adults revealed that several negative societal pressures are common in both Kenyan and American culture. Cami, Laura Wylie, Ben, and Matthew then joined the young adults as they met within their various ministry committees; they enjoyed socializing with both new and old friends.
At the conclusion of the day of church services, Reverend Wambua sent us home early--a turn of events unheard of for our team. Before returning to our hotel, Wayne and Dee gave us a drive-by tour of familiar sites from their decades spent teaching seminary classes and living in Kenya. We then enjoyed some downtime before dinner and a relaxed evening.
Over the course of our day, the oneness of the global church was made clear to each member of our team. Although we live on different continents and hail from separate cultures, we are challenged by many of the same difficulties in our walks with Christ. Styles of worship, languages spoken, and the logistics of church services may vary at The Bible Chapel and AIC Zion, yet we follow the same Jesus. We serve a mighty God and we can be encouraged in the truth that Yesu ako enzini--Jesus is on the throne--in America, Kenya, and across the world.
(Written by Ben Zeisloft, on behalf of the team)