God at Work During COVID-19

Julie Tate has served the Lord in Kitale, Kenya, alongside her husband Roger and family since January 2008. Their main ministry is church planting.

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

I write this letter sitting in my living room – where I have been doing a LOT of sitting (not unlike many of you!). It’s been many weeks now since the whole world basically shut down because of COVID-19, and while I can say I think we’ve settled in a little bit, nothing quite feels normal. I feel a bit like Inigo Montoya in the Princess Bride when he says to the Man in Black, “Let me esplain. No, there is too much…let me sum up.”

Like most people, I’ve struggled with fear and uncertainty. There are so many unknowns. Just like in the US, schools are shut down here as well as all social/religious gatherings. It’s been bad timing in some ways (though I have to remind myself often that God’s timing is never bad). Milimani Christian Homeschool Community was – truthfully – a struggle, but we had a young lady who is a special education teacher from the US who was getting a work permit to come take over that aspect of our school (a huge load off my shoulders).  We were starting to get the hang of the high school, our dyslexic girl was reading and spelling, and our autistic boy was finding his stride and showing mathematical gifting. It’s very possible that COVID-19 is going to totally wipe out MCHC because of financial constraints. This in turn affects the chapel because we rent the MCHC building on Sundays. No MCHC, no building.

There have been a lot of changes at home as well. In all honesty, you all in the US have a lot more change to adjust to than we do here. There is never much to do around here anyway, and we often suffer from boredom. April is a month off of school in Kenya anyway; but there are many unanswered questions. Will MCHC survive? Will Chloe’s school survive? Will school even open back up in May? Likely not. Josiah’s school, Rift Valley Academy, is NOT opening up at all for the remainder of the school year (which ends in July). Instead, they will have an on-line platform. We didn’t know this, however, when Josiah and the other students were released from school two weeks early. He may never see his friends again; he may never see the campus again (which he loved). He doesn’t get to say good-bye.

Chloe, as usual, has had a difficult time adjusting to the change. Her behavior became aggressive enough that we had to consult her doctor. Being all “trapped” at home together without any reprieve has been a challenge to put it mildly.

Doing COVID-19 in Kenya has some additional psychological challenges, however. Currently, we have more deaths from police violence than we do from the corona virus. Forced isolation into some of the isolation facilities has been a nightmare. People are crowded together sharing the same facilities and even going hungry in some cases. Those who get a positive result have not always been removed from the group as a whole in a timely manner, and those who test negative after 2 weeks have not always been allowed to leave without paying a bribe. Who wants to get tested under those circumstances? Travel in and out of Nairobi is prohibited, so even if we wanted to fly out, we would not be able to (also because Chloe wouldn’t be allowed to leave, and we won’t leave without her).

HOWEVER…God is the Master at taking difficult things and working them together for the good of His people. Here are just a few ways I see God working.
1.  We were growing increasingly unhappy with the culture at RVA. I am really excited to have this time with Josiah – time we weren’t expecting and that we are very thankful for.
2. I know of two precious local families right now who have been struggling with family issues. This has forced them to spend time together at home because they don’t have the escapes they usually have in town or at work. It’s been good for them (not always easy, but good).
3. I’ve been able to work on some of the academic things Chloe was struggling with at school.  I’ve been able to help her with letter reversals, and she’s even starting to do some very preliminary reading and spelling.
4. Not being at work all day has helped me get back into a daily morning time of Bible reading and prayer – something I had been deeply missing.
5. Not knowing what is going to happen with MCHC has helped me see where some boundaries need to be set and where some of my priorities need to shift if MCHC does survive.

So, that’s where we are currently at. Here are some specific things you can pray for on our behalf. These are not in order of importance. First for the health of my family. I suspect we may have already had the virus, but there is no way of knowing for sure. Anyone with flu-like symptoms has the potential of being removed from their home and put in an isolation center. Second, that our financial situation stays somewhat stable so we can pay our rent. We have a good landlord, but there are no protections here like there are in some places in the US. Third, that our faith in our Good, Good Father would grow, that our love for Jesus would build up and effervesce onto others around us, and that we would draw nigh to Him in new and fresh ways. Fourth, that we – as a family – would find new and creative ways to invest in each other during this time of increased “forced togetherness.” 

In Christ,
Julie Tate

Contact Info:
Roger & Julie Tate
P.O. Box 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200

For ministry donations:
Pastor George Sledd, Treasurer of BFM
P.O. Box 471280 | Lake Monroe, FL 32747-1280
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