Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [August 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,

I suppose that if I am going to be an honest missionary then I need to report the good with the bad.  Last month when I sat down to write my report I was excited and everything I wrote was good, uplifting, and encouraging.  Unfortunately, what I have to write about this month I am not so excited about.  It is not as uplifting or encouraging.  I still hope you spend the time to read it, though, as true life and ministry is filled with ups and downs, with evil and good, with blessings and hardship, with encouraging times and not so encouraging times.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not discouraged, depressed, nor down.  It’s just that in the course of any ministry and work for God there are mountains and valleys.

Let me start with the church that we organized just last month (Kanisa la Baptisti la Shangalamwe – Baptist Church of Shangalamwe).  It is still going strong and I still have high hopes for it.  The people there love the Lord and love to worship and fulfill the commission of Christ.  But what I have been waiting to happen has now happened.  You might have guessed it.  It has to do with money.  The patriarch of the church finally approached us for help.  He told us he didn’t have any food and that he needed our assistance.  We have been dreading this from the beginning and the start of the group because we know well the two most likely outcomes from this scenario.  Outcome #1 looks like this:  We organize a group of Kenyan believers into a church;  After some amount of time they begin to ask us for money, aid, and help;  Having compassion on their needs we help them with monetary gifts, food gifts, etc;  This begins a vicious, downward, irrevocable cycle that ultimately leads to DEPENDENCY and PATERNALISM;  The church is ruined.  Outcome #2 looks like this:  We organize a group of Kenyan believers into a church;  After some amount of time they begin to ask us for money, aid, and help;  Knowing the problem of dependency and paternalism that is the sure outcome of us giving them money and gifts, we spend great amounts of time teaching them why they should help each other, depend on the Lord, and not beg the missionary for money;  All the members of the church begin to realize that they will not be receiving money and gifts from this missionary (what they were probably expecting from the beginning) and slowly begin to drift away and make themselves scarce until they are no longer around;  Those who have been “spurned” begin to tell everyone in the village that these are stingy missionaries that are selfish and unloving;  We are left with no members in the church;  The church is ruined.  Those are the two scenarios that I keep seeing played out over and over again.  After much prayer and wisdom seeking, Nathan and I decided to help the family by providing them with food.  It was a very difficult decision because we never really know if we are getting the whole truth and because we are quite familiar with Outcome #1 above.  We fear Outcome #1 even more because when we tried to ascertain the families’ financial situation we found out it is bleak.  The patriarch of the family is 70 years old and has no job and supposedly no retirement.  They have no farm or land to farm.  Their children and neighbors are not willing to help them.  They are taking care of four orphaned grandchildren.  And, they have no hope for any future income.  I kept asking them, “What are your plans for the future”?  Ultimately, they have no plans for the future.  Actually, Julie may have hit the nail on the head when she told me later, “Roger, YOU are their plan for the future”?  I’m afraid she might just be right.  I hope that we have made the right decision and yet can still stay off the path of dependency and paternalism.  We will only know as things unfold in the future.  On the bright side we do have two additional people who would like to join this small church.  Nathan and I are scheduled to head out to Shangalamwe later this week to talk to them about salvation and baptism.  Please pray for Baptist Church of Shangalamwe.

Briefly, now, because I am out of space.  Please pray for our car situation.  I have found out that the car I paid a lot of money for a couple of years ago was not properly registered by the authorities in the Kenyan government when it was imported (This happened years before I bought it either by human error or corruption).  Bottom line:  The Criminal Investigation Department wants to impound my car (which, if they do, I will never see it again).  When I refused to hand it over to them they threatened to arrest me.  I would like to avoid being arrested as well as having my car impounded and stolen from me.  Please pray about this situation as well. (You can read more about this situation on Julie’s blog.)

See, I told you this month’s report wasn’t as uplifting as last month’s.  Hope you read it anyway.

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 96
Kitale, Kenya 30200
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