Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [October 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,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. While on your side of the world you are gradually moving toward Autumn, on this side of the world we are gradually moving out of the rainy season and into the hotter, dryer season. I was feeling sorry for myself earlier this week because I love the Autumn. I haven’t experienced fall in five years because things are pretty much the same year round here in Kenya. Isn’t that a silly thing to be feeling sorry for yourself about? I agree. Sometimes we just have to kick ourselves out of silly moods like that and appreciate again all that God has provided for us.

Here’s a question for you. Do you find living the Christian life to be a challenge sometimes? Of course you do. Do you ever find Christian ministry in the States to be a challenge? Of course you do. I find Christian ministry here in Kenya to be a challenge sometimes too. I know you already know that but I wanted you to know that I also recognize that it’s no different in the States. Christian ministry can be a challenge no matter where you are. Here is a challenge I have been facing here in Kenya lately: Trying to get Kenyans to break from their traditions and accept and follow more Biblical models (I know! I know! If you do any Christian ministry in the States you will face similar problems). So, I spent a few weeks teaching and preparing the new church for taking the Lord’s Supper together. We looked at all the passages dealing with this topic in the New Testament so that they could have a full understanding of what it means for a church to share the Lord’s Table together. We are now scheduling a time for the church to celebrate this together. But now I am facing traditions. I have been told we MUST have a new white cloth to cover the communion bread with. If we don’t have this cloth we are not showing proper respect. I had to deal with this tradition. Next, I was told we MUST have the little cups used for the “fruit of the vine”. When I asked why, I was told “because it’s tradition and without it we can’t show proper respect”. I had to deal with this tradition. I told them we could use their everyday tea cups instead of buying the traditional cups from the store. They didn’t like that idea. Finally, I was told we couldn’t use chapatti for our communion bread (chapatti is a flat, non-leavened bread that the Kenyans eat every day. It would work perfect for communion). Again, when I asked why, they told me it was because chapatti is too common and every day and that special communion bread had to be bought from the store. I had to deal with this tradition. My challenges don’t stop with the Lord’s Table. The church also wanted to start taking up offerings so I thought it would be best to teach them on this subject. I wanted to show them how New Testament churches used offerings (knowing that they wanted to take up offerings for other, non-biblical reasons). I scoured the New Testament and found that when the early churches took up offerings or used money it was either to help the poor, assist widows and orphans, or to help a missionary go to the next city so he could continue to preach the gospel in other cities and spread the kingdom of Christ on the earth. They were OK with this teaching as long as there was money left over after they bought a shamba (a small farm), built a new church building, bought various kinds of musical instruments, bought new chairs (for who knows what reason), and paid all the elders their stipend. Now, while there is nothing sinful about any of these uses for an
offering, trust me, there is not enough money in their collection to pay for any of these uses, let alone the more Biblical uses. All I could say over and over again was, “It’s
better to follow the Biblical examples than our worldly traditions”. In the end, do you
know what I want for these dear people? It’s not for them to follow their worldly traditions. It’s not even for them to follow me. No, I want them to learn how to follow the Bible. All I can do is continue to point them to the Bible and say, “Follow that”.

That’s the challenge I face. Do you face it as well? Fortunately, the church here is
learning to do just that. And we also thank God for the four new people who want to
become members of this new church.

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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