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Friday, February 20, 2009

Connected with Kenya

Well, it’s hard to believe, but after months and months of planning, and anticipating a visit to the US by the YMI East Africa Director, Sylvester Onyango, that trip is winding down, and what an experience it was.

Sylvester was in the States for three weeks, and in those three weeks he maintained a whirlwind schedule, of connecting, encouraging, sharing and basically shining a spotlight on what God is doing in the lives of young people through, the ministries of the Youth Pastors who are being trained in Kenya.

Sylvester arrived in Louisville, KY and embarked on a series of speaking engagements that took him into Indiana and Kentucky for the first two weeks.

He spoke to youth groups, church leaders, college students, parents and people who are asking “what can I do to assist the vital ministry of training trainers in youth ministry?” To say the least…he was strategically busy!

With every story he told, picture he showed and testimony of God’s grace he delivered, people young and old were moved…moved to prayerfully connect with Kenya in a way that will enable his ministry of youth leader multiplication to continue to go to new heights!

I had the privilege to be in Louisville on the campus of Boyce College and Southern Seminary during Youth Emphasis week where he taught several youth ministry classes, and it was so much fun to see him in action, sharing passionately with these future life changers that their ministry to young people is so vital.
I think my favorite part of his presentation was when he launched into his testimony of how he received Christ. It really is a miracle, and an incredible example of how youth mission trips really makes a huge difference!
In 1993 God used YMI Founder and President, Randy Smith to organize and lead a group of young people on a mission’s trip to Kenya. On this trip the team, utilized gymnastics, music, drama, testimonies and the clearly understandable gospel message to reach hundreds and hundreds of Kenyans all over the country.
On one particular day, during one particular presentation in a huge outdoor area, a 17 year old Sylvester was walking home from school…early!

You see, he actually was skipping his math class that was meeting that afternoon, because in his words…”I didn’t like math, I wasn’t any good at it, and the teacher was really mean!”

Well, God used a dislike for numbers and a “mean teacher” to propel young Sylvester toward that open air meeting. He was drawn towards the music and the sounds of fellow young people yelling “Mzungu, Mzungu”, which means white in Kiswahili. (By the way everywhere I went during my visit to Kenya I heard the same thing, except when I told several of the young people that when I’m in Mexico I usually hear “Gigante” which means giant…I then began hearing a combination of Spanish and Swahili…”Gigante Mzungu, Gigante Mzungu”…Big white dude!)

Anyway, he was drawn to the crowd, and was in awe of the gymnastic routine, music and drama and when the speaker (Randy Smith), stepped forward to clearly explain what this group of young mzungu’s from the States was doing in Kenya. Sylvester was ready to listen and ready to accept the free gift of salvation that comes through a personal relationship with Jesus!

Sylvester became a believer that day, and a journey of discipleship began. Through the next several years God brought mentors, Pastors, missionaries and many more key individuals into his life to challenge and encourage him to live his life for God, and live out his passion and calling, which turned out to be YOUTH MINISTRY!

As I was with Sylvester, in Kentucky, New York and New Jersey, I was amazed again with the awesome work of our God.

As Sylvester and I were presenting his ministry at a Chinese Church in NY, he and I were so moved as we saw huge Chinese characters spelling out the love of God on the front wall of the church, and right next to the Chinese letters was the same message in English…God doesn’t need a translator, He connects with everyone in their own language, culture, and environment…Truly Amazing!

So, as my friend and partner in ministry returns to his homeland, I know he will have plenty of amazing “firsts” to share with his people.” Firsts” like…

· Being in America
· Seeing Snow
· Eating at Taco Bell
· Riding a subway in NYC
· Seeing the Statue of Liberty
· Eating a traditional Kenyan Tilapia dish prepared by a Culinary trained Chef at a private dinner in NY

Just To name a few, but one story that is not new that I know he will return with, is that God is an incredible God, and He chooses to use us to further His Kingdom. Whether it is in Kenya or America, He is still in the life change business!

Several weeks before Sylvester came to America, I re-ran a few articles on my blog called “Connecting with Kenya”. I wanted to recap and encourage people from my 3 week visit to Kenya in 2007. It was my prayer that many would read those and be challenged to pray for Sylvester and his ministry while he was here, and as he goes home.

I think that happened, as everywhere I went with him I saw people genuinely drawn to hear and learn more about his ministry of training trainers in Youth Ministry.

So, my continued prayer is that God would keep working in hearts so that we ask Him “God, How do you want me to be CONNECTED with KENYA?” Thank you to everyone who had a part in making this trip a reality.
It was an incredible three week adventure that I believe God will use to further His work of CONNECTING PEOPLE TO HIMSELF…GLOBALLY!


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