Rice and Jesus at Mama Njuguna’s

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The Tate Family has served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya since January 2008. Their main ministry is indigenous church planting.

January 29, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Rice and Jesus at Mama Njuguna’s.

That previous statement might need a little explanation. Mama Njuguna’s is the restaurant at which I like to eat lunch in town. With that short sentence you now know what the “Mama Njuguna’s” in the above statement means. Mama’s isn’t really much of a place. You’d probably call it a dive. It’s rustic, dirty, made out of iron sheets and I sometimes share my space with mice. But the food is good and really cheap. I can usually eat my entire lunch for 50 shillings (about 50 cents). At Mama Njuguna’s I can get chai (tea), chapati (flat-bread), and cabbage and potatoes. But mostly I can get rice. Beans and rice; Ndengu (green grams) and rice; Githeri (beans and corn) and rice. Now you know where the “Rice” in the above statement comes from.  The only thing left to explain is the “Jesus” in the above statement.

I try to eat at Mama’s 3-5 times a week (again, because it is so cheap and convenient). That makes me a regular at Mama’s. [But I am also very much a novelty. Mama’s being located on a back alley in town it doesn’t get frequented by many Wazungu (Swahili term for “White People”). In fact, I am the only one that has EVER frequented Mama’s in the entire history of its existence. The son of Mama Njuguna once told me how special a customer I was because I made the establishment international. Now, Mama’s may be a dive but it is a really happening place. It is always very busy with people always coming and going. So there are lots of customers and lots of workers constantly running around. The seats are wooden, no backed benches, and the tables are cut low so you have to bend way over to eat. I am usually packed into a bench with customers pushing in at both my left and right elbows. This is where the “Jesus” in the above statement comes in. With me being a novelty and the only white guy that has ever been in this place I inevitably get asked the question by someone at my right or left these questions in succession: “Who are you and what’s your name?“; “How long have you been here?“; “What do you do here?“. It’s almost always those questions in that order. So, guess how I get to respond. “I’m from the United States and my name is Rogers” (Yes, I have to say Rogers instead of Roger. For some reason they can understand and say Rogers but Roger is unintelligible and unrepeatable to most Kenyans). “I’ve been here for nine years now.” “And I’m here as a missionary doing work for the Kingdom of Jesus.” The following conversation always revolves around Jesus.

Sometimes I get to tell them why I would give up my life in the States to preach the Kingdom of Jesus in a foreign land. Sometimes they ask me for money. Sometimes I get to share a part of the gospel with them. Sometimes they have some project they want me to support. Sometimes they are Muslim. Sometimes they are “pastors” looking for support. Sometimes I encourage them in their faith. Sometimes they encourage me. But almost always we talk about Jesus. And being a regular at Mama’s, I know all the workers and get to hear about their day. Mash and Dan, the managers, never fail to tell me that they went to church last Sunday. I also get to show the love of Jesus to all the servers: Betty, Sonny, Margaret, Maurall, Mercy, Shiro, Ingrid and others. I’ve even met Mama a time or two.

Maybe your headline would read “Burgers and Jesus at McDonald’s” or “Coffee and Jesus at Starbucks” or “Donuts and Jesus at Krispy Kreme”. Beloved, never be ashamed to talk about Jesus, no matter where you might be.

Now you understand the meaning of “Rice and Jesus at Mama Njuguna’s”. I think that has a nice ring to it. And it’s not as unsanitary as “Mice and Jesus at Mama Njuguna’s”.

Please pray for me as I prepare for another trip up into the bush, to the village of Kasei in west Pokot, a long, long way from home both physically and emotionally. I am developing a series of messages entitled “Learning to Follow Jesus from the Life of Daniel”. I will be spending five days in Kasei for a seminar there. I hope to encourage the existing believers as well as lead unbelievers into a new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Until next month, beloved.
May God’s peace and joy be with you.
For the glory of God in East Africa,
Roger & Julie Tate (and Amy, Josiah & Chloe)

rojuta[at]gmail.com
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