October 27, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Upper Room Baptist Chapel has begun (see last month’s newsletter for an explanation of the name). What is the end goal? The end goal is an organized and fully functional church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are we there yet? No, not by a long shot. But we have begun the journey and we will see where God will lead and take us in the future.
I have begun the Upper Room Baptist Chapel with Sunday services and worship. These services include, of course: Singing and worshipping, prayer, teaching and preaching the Word of God and fellowship. Our first service was Sunday, October 21st. We still have a few things to iron out but in all I think things went well, despite my anxiety. I am trying to specifically NOT “look and feel” like a typical Kitale church. The worship, the teaching that actually comes from the Bible, and the focus on following Jesus are all very different than what most Kitaleans generally experience. Julie said afterward, “I doubt any of them have ever heard anything like you before”. I think she meant it as a compliment, but we shall see how the people who hear me take to it. For now, I just want them to hear the Word of God so the Spirit of God can work in their hearts and in their lives. The Word of God is so lacking in the churches of Kitale and thus in the lives of most of those who call themselves Christians.
Including Julie, Chloe and myself, we had a total of twenty people (adults and children) in attendance at our inaugural service. Although I am trying not to focus at all on numbers, I am pretty pleased with that number of twenty. I wasn’t sure if anyone at all would actually come to our inaugural service. I invited a lot of people and I never asked for promises from those I invited, but probably 90-100 people freely offered their promise to come anyway (that actually would have been problematic for me as I only have seats for about 45 people). I didn’t know whether to expect zero people or a hundred. I praise God for the twenty that came.
We began by singing and praising God for about 30 minutes using some traditional hymns and other choruses I hoped some people would know. I led the worship on my guitar. This leading of music on the guitar caused me as much anxiety as anything. I am NOT musically inclined, I am NOT good at playing the guitar, I am NOT talented at leading music, and I CAN’T sing worth a hoot. But since there was no one else to do it, the lot fell to me and we all got through it with a little stumbling and a lot of glorifying God. Next came my message. I am trying to keep my messages simple, straightforward, and Biblical, Biblical, Biblical. Do you see the focus on Biblical there? That is what we need here. My inaugural message came from Mark 4:35-41 and was entitled “Jesus is in the Boat”. This is the passage where the Disciples are afraid of drowning in their storm-tossed boat and Jesus is asleep in the stern. The main point of my message was that Jesus is the Son of God, that he cares about what we face in this life and that He is in the boat with us. Since God is in the boat with us, he is able and willing to dispel our fears and lack of faith in the midst of the storms that rage around us. I preached this message because I, more than anyone else, needed it. My message for this coming Sunday will be “How to Identify a Follower of Jesus” from John 13:31-38.
How many people should I expect for our next service? I really have no idea. Some of those who came last Sunday are Kenyan friends of ours and I know they attend other churches. They came to our inaugural service to support and show love to me, their friend, as I start a new ministry. They probably will be returning to their churches this week. What about the others that came and the ones I invited this week who have promised to come? I really have no idea. We might be starting back with zero again. But God knows and it is up to God to do what only He can do and to bless this work as it honors and glorifies Him. I met personally this morning with one of last Sunday’s attendees and he said, “Roger, I’m with you forever”. I’ll continue to point him away from me and towards Jesus, but, I still hope he returns.
May I be faithful and may God be glorified.
Until next month, beloved.
May God’s peace and joy be with you.
For the glory of God in Kenya,
Roger & Julie Tate (and Amy, Josiah & Chloe)
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