Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [April 2012]

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

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

What a great month we have had this past month. My parents, Norm and Mary Tate
from National City, Michigan visited us here in Kitale for the last four weeks. What a joy to have family here for a while. They were also able to visit the various groups we have started and experience what we are trying to do here in Kitale. My father was even invited to speak at one of the groups and he accepted, talking about the love of Christ in action. I think my mom and dad appreciated being a part of our ministry here for a short time. We miss them already as they left to return to the States two days ago.

Well, the time has come in our groups that I have been expecting ever since we started them. What time is that, do you ask? It’s the time when the group members begin
to ask us for things in the hopes of getting money, aid and “sponsors”. I knew all along
that it would happen. Of that I had no doubt. What I didn’t know was how long it would
take to happen and what would be the subsequent results. I now know how long it would
take but I still don’t know the results.

Group #2’s requests started a couple of weeks ago. It became clear that they were
hoping that we would be providing a church building, chairs, electricity, etc. Upon
learning this we immediately strayed from our intended lessons and began to teach them
and show them our model of ministry, a model we believe is the Biblical model of the
New Testament. We taught them that we want to start churches that are independent and
self-reliant (meaning not financially dependent on the missionary, not that they are
independent of the Holy Spirit). While they should already know these concepts, the
teaching almost seemed new and completely foreign to them. One lady gave me this
example: “When our children are born we care for and nurture them exclusively. We
feed them and make sure they are clothed. We take care of them. We give them
mattresses to sleep on and shoes on their feet. Later we pay for them to go to school and
we buy schoolbooks. We continue to care for them in this manner until they are adults.
Then, once they are grown and can take care of themselves we don’t need to help them as
much any more. At this point all they need is our advice.” The lady was obviously using
the illustration as a pattern to how I should be starting churches, i.e. helping them with
everything they need until they are well established. Then they can take care of
themselves. The problem with the example is two-fold. First, it’s paternalism and I don’t
really want to be their “daddy” and them my “children” that I have to take care of. They
are mature, smart people. They don’t need that kind of relationship. Second, her
example may work with children but it doesn’t work with churches. Her example would
build dependency into the churches from the beginning and I can tell you I have never
seen a Kenyan church weaned from such dependency. Never. Not even churches that
have been established for many years. They even told Nathan and I that our refusal to
help them showed a lack of faith on our part; that if we just had enough faith, the money
would come in. Somehow, he didn’t associate that with his own faith, just ours.

Group #3’s requests were stepped up this week. I was told that all the women sitting
on one side of the house were widows and all the children sitting on the other side of the
house were orphans. I was asked what I was going to do to help them. I was told they
had to work seven days a week to earn a living and since they were working on Sundays
they couldn’t come to church. I was told I should help them so that they wouldn’t have to
work and then they could come worship on Sundays. I was also asked how we would be
able to bring others into the group when they obviously had to work too. Do you hear the
implications here? The implications are that I should pay them to come to worship and
study the Bible, otherwise they will not be able to come. I obviously had much to say about this, much more than I can say in this short update. Bottom line is that I explained why this particular method was dead wrong and why I would never do it.

What will the results be of denying these requests? I don’t know. Many, I am sure, will not come to the groups anymore. Maybe these groups will die now that they know I have refused them. Maybe they will continue to ask me for things hoping I will give in (this is likely). Or, maybe the Holy Spirit will reach into these people’s hearts, change their lives, give them a heart to love and care for one another rather than waiting for the missionary to care for them, and put within their hearts a fire for serving and following Jesus that they never had before. I’m praying for this last option. I hope you are too.

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 Emily, Amy, & Josiah)

P.O. Box 761
Kitale, Kenya 30200

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