Missionary Update: The Tates in Kenya [October 2014]

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, beloved, from the land of perpetual rain and blackouts. Well, OK, it’s not that the rain never stops. It just seems that way sometimes. This week the rain was mixed with a good amount of hail. This occurs here about once a year. The hail covered the ground and it looked like the ground was covered with snow (which never occurs here). Josiah played in the storm until it became too painful to be pelted by small hailstones. And, of course, we don’t have perpetual blackouts. In fact, the electricity is really on most of the time. However, it is off often enough to frustrate us. But right now the sun is shining brightly and the electricity is on, so I have nothing to complain about, right?

We were able to start up a new class at our church planting training center this month. It has pretty much gone the typical “Kenyan” way. Let me explain. The first day of class started with a nearly empty room. The room only contained two people – Nathan and me. We waited a long time by ourselves, waiting to see if any students would show up. An hour after the official starting time the students started trickling in. This is typical and to be expected in Kenya. A half hour later the room was filled with the students that had been recruited. We spent the first half of the class with introductions and getting to know these students better (It’s best to know up front: Whether they have more than one wife, which is a show stopper for some; What their purpose for coming to the class is, which for some is a free lunch; Whether or not they can give a good salvation testimony, which most Kenyan Christians do not know how to do; and etc.). They all seemed to be excited to study the Bible together, to learn to work for the expansion of the Kingdom of God, and to eventually learn how to start new churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second half of the class we began to lay out for the students what they should expect from us, the missionaries and teachers. We told them we would put great effort into teaching them from the Bible, into modeling for them how to do the work of the ministry, and into assisting them as much as possible in learning how to follow Christ, how to minister to God’s people, and how to start new churches of the Lord Jesus Christ. The excitement level was still high. Next, we explained to them what they should NOT expect from us, the missionaries and teachers. We told them they should not expect a salary, gifts, school fees, a church building, musical instruments, lunch or other handouts. We also told them that while we would teach them extensively, our training center was to train men to go out and do the work of the Kingdom, not to simply get a diploma. Many think they cannot minister or work in the Kingdom without a diploma. Diplomas are also seen as a way to advance oneself in the business world here and so we would not be administering diplomas or certificates. At this point the excitement level dropped a bit. We were not mean or nasty. We were not harsh or condescending. We were, in fact, gentle and meek with them. We wanted them to know up front what they should expect to get and what they should not expect to get. We wanted to be open and honest with them so that they would know what they were getting themselves into. The result? Well, over 80% of the class dropped out and never returned for the second session. This also is typical of Kenya and we have also come to expect this. We aren’t cynical. We’ve just come to know that only about 5% of those we train will actually progress to do the work of the ministry out of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we are taking the remaining 20% of the students and have continued the class with them. We will train them, teach them, and model for them the work of the ministry. And we will be thankful for the ones that remain.

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)

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