Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mission Accomplished

Here is a look at the "To Do" list (in no particular order) for our mission trip to Kenya:
  • train 20 Kenyan pastors in the Water4 well drilling technique Status: COMPLETED
  • drill two new water wells and install the Access 1.2 hand pump at each well Status: COMPLETED
  • improve the physical health of the people who live in the communities around the new water wells by providing them clean drinking water Status: COMPLETED
  • positively impact the Kingdom by equipping and training pastors to be better leaders, more knowledgeable theologically and capable of using water well drilling as an effective church planting tool Status: COMPLETED
  • for the lives of the Crossings team to be changed as a result of this trip Status: COMPLETED AND EXCEEDED
Today we concluded our conference with the twenty Kenyan pastors. We also completed the installation of the last two pumps, both at the Eldoret Children's Rescue Centre. At the conclusion of the commissioning service that we held as the last event of the conference the Crossings team had the opportunity to go around the room and pray for each and every pastor in the room. It was an honor to be able to lift up these men in prayer as they take what they have learned and return to their homes to make both an eternal and physical difference in the lives of the people who live in those regions.

Crossings/Water4 Drill Team Front Row: Kemp Ward, David Bilodeau; Back Row: Rich DiAngelo, John Burbank, Mark Kern, Michael Milligan, Scott Schmidt, David Purcer, Phil Altes (not pictured: Kim Ward)
As with any project of this kind, introducing "new" technologies and techniques, the response level of the pastors varied. Some genuinely see this as an opportunity to bring life - physical and spiritual - to their people. The jumped into the drill training with both feet and cannot wait to get home and drill wells. Others recognize the potential impact that water wells could have on their ministry but they are somewhat reluctant - for many different reasons - to completely buy in to the process. Still others see the value of what we are doing, but they are not really drillers. They are more of the administrative types.

All in all, we know that God will be glorified and lives will be changed with each well that is drilled by these men of God.

And that's really the bottom line: for God to receive the glory. If God would have received more glory (in some manner) by us working hard but failing to complete a well, we could have lived with that outcome. Mind you, it would not be our preference, but this trip ultimately is not about's all about God and his glory. In fact, when you get right down to it, this trip is not even about water. It's about how God reveals himself to his creation and extends his glory here on earth. We were just blessed enough to be a part of his plan at this moment in time in Kenya. Everyone on the team recognizes that the success of this trip really had nothing to do with us, but it was all about God showing up.

Now that all of the pastors have left to return home, tomorrow we will return to Nairobi. On Thursday we will spend the day reveling in God's creation as we take in some of the natural wonders and wildlife that Kenya has to offer. And finally, on Friday we will return to Nairobi and start our return journey back to the United States. Please pray for us as we travel home.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Soli Deo gloria,

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

Proverbs 16:3 reads:
     Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. (NIV)

When the first information meeting was held for this Water4/Kenya mission trip back in January, everyone involved that it would require an immense amount of prayer. Anything worth doing for the Kingdom of God typically does. So from our very first preparation meeting the entire team has devoted considerable time to praying for every aspect of this trip: the funding, the travel, the wells, the supplies, the pastors, the weather, and so on.

As is God's want, he has been incredibly faithful. He has answered our prayers in greater abundance that we could have hoped for. To date, we have completed the two new wells at Exodus Baptist Church and the Bread of Life Ministry here in Eldoret. Our team also installed an Access 1.2 hand pump on an existing well at Bread of Life. Tomorrow we will complete the installation of a pump on a new well our team dug at the Eldoret Children's Rescue Centre and put in another pump on an existing well at that location. For those of you keeping score at home: 3 completed new wells and 2 new pumps on existing open wells. That's not a bad week's work, but we know that it is all because of God's grace that we had the success that we did. A picture of the new well at the Rescue Centre is below.

While most of the team began the drilling at the Rescue Centre on Saturday, I had the opportunity to begin three days of theological training for the twenty pastors who had just completed the well training. I wish that I could adequately convey to you the passion of these men. They serve in difficult areas of their land, places that you and I would not choose to go. Refugee camps, deserts and regions dominated by militant Muslims are just the start of the list. And yet, despite the hardships, there is nowhere else that they would rather be other than serving God right where he has placed them. Some of these men gave up far better paying careers to be obedient to God's call on their lives. One pastor serves 10 separate congregations, some of which require a day's travel to get there...because he does not own a vehicle.

Also on Saturday, I had the blessing and privilege to perform a marriage for a couple at our host pastor's church, Glory Baptist Church. Music, dancing, a bridal procession that lasted 30 minutes, praise songs and even the offering was taken. It was humbling that this couple was gracious enough to allow me a role in the start of their new life together. The entire ceremony lasted well over two hours. I'm not sure that I have fully recovered even two days later.

On Sunday, our team split up and helped to lead worship, teach and preach in five different congregations on Sunday morning. Some of our team were not expecting to share in front of an entire church, but when they were called upon to give a brief testimony, they knocked it out of the park. Experiencing the "full body" worship of the Kenyan people - clapping, jumping, dancing...everything just short of a conga line - is quite a change for most of our team. There is such exuberance and unbridled joy throughout the entire worship service. And lots, and I mean LOTS, of loud music. Our day concluded with an combined worship service of the entire team and all of the pastors.

Tomorrow we will conclude the pastor training portion of our trip. Each pastor will receive a certificate and we will have a commissioning service to wrap up our time together. Our time here has far exceeded any expectations. I guess that says as much about our small expectations as it does about the greatness of our heavenly Father.

Soli Deo gloria,

Friday, October 5, 2012

In Memory of Mark Anderson...

Most of you may not have known Mark Anderson. Mark attended Crossings Community Church with his wife Holly and their young son Luke. Unfortunately, this year Mark passed away suddenly. It was a difficult loss for his family and friends.

Mark and Holly were passionate about the work and ministry of Water4. Even Mark's untimely passing did not diminish their family's commitment to Water4 Foundation and it's mission to eradicate the world's water crisis one well at a time. At the suggestion of Crossings member (and drill team participant) Phil Altes, we decided to honor Mark, his life and support of Water4 by dedicating a new well in his memory today. With his name inscribed on the Access 1.2 hand pump, we set the pump in the well freshly dug at the Exodus Baptist Church in Eldoret, Kenya. This well will provide clean and safe water to drink to the members of the church, the children who come to school there each day, as well as the surrounding community. It will provide the church to be God's agent of healing, grace and generosity in an area of the city that desperately needs all three.

The Access 1.2 hand pump inscribed with Mark's name
Phil Altes holding the "Mark Anderson" pump along with the Kenyan members of the drill team that worked to drill the well and install the pump and the Exodus Baptist Church. The church's pastor is on the far right in red.
Needless to say, this has been a very emotional day. In addition to the well above that was completed, the other half of the Crossings/Kenya team completed their well, installed an Access 1.2 hand pump on it and still had time to cap and place another hand pump on an existing well. If the trip ended tomorrow it would be an unqualified success. The good news, is, we are only half-way done.
Water4 drilling specialist Kemp Ward demonstrates the use of the Access 1.2 hand pump

Pastor Duncan of Exodus Baptist Church tries out the new pump at his church
 Tomorrow, we will split into two separate directions. Most of the Crossings drill team, with the exception of myself and Phil Altes (at times) will begin drilling a new well at the Eldoret Children's Rescue Home. It is a ministry for children who are orphans or who have escaped from some type of abusive situation. The need there is dire. We will spend, tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday trying to dig a well and install a pump. Please pray for favorable drilling conditions (i.e., no rocks).

While they are drilling, Phil and I will be helping to lead some theology training for the pastors who have spent the past four days learning how to drill. We will be trying to cram as much knowledge as possible into a three and a half day period. Please pray that we will be strategic in our teaching.

Thank you for your continued prayers. Please do not stop. We are halfway done and some of our team are starting to wear down a little bit physically. Pray that God will renew their strength and give them the energy they need to work and minister.

Soli Deo gloria,

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Kenya Update #4

More progress today, albeit a little slower. Both wells proceeded deeper in their drilling today, but now that both have encountered a rock layer the pace of drilling has slowed considerably. The godd news is that there is water in both boreholes, so if we needed to, we could set a well at each drill site. However, we would prefer to go as deep as possible to help guard against the wells drying up in the dry season or in case of a drought.

The pastors have taken to the training in various levels of engagement. Some of the pastors - especially those who live in parts of Kenya where the water crisis is severe and fully engaged in every step of the training trying to learn as much as possible. Others are less engaged, give the techniques a try every now and then but content to let others shoulder most of the load. Still others were enthusiastic when the pace of drilling was very rapid but now that things have slowed they are far less enamored with the process. Finally, there is the group who spend most of their time on their cell phone wondering what all of the fuss is about. We have chosen to pour ourselves into those who are fully engaged while still encouraging those who have a lower level of commitment.

Last night our team discussed how God is working on us personally during this mission trip. One member said: "This is my first mission trip but you can bet that it won't be my last." To a person we are impressed with the deep sense of contentment the Kenyans share, despite the fact that as Westerners we would be appalled at the poverty and squalor where most of them live. One of the pastors from Rwanda was talking to us yesterday about how difficult it must be to raise children in the United States. There are drugs, gangs and all other types of violence, dangers and temptations. The whole time he was speaking I couldn't help but think: "At least my kids don't face the threat of genocide." It really and truly is all about perspective.

The Crossings Kenya/Water4 team (from left to right): Phil Altes, Mark Kern, John Burbank, Michael Milligan, David Purcer, Richard DiAngelo,  David Bilodeau, Scott Schmidt
Above is a picture of our team. Please continue to pray for us as we train and work alongside these incredible men. Their passion for sharing Christ with their countrymen challenges me to ask - as both a follower of Christ and a pastor - I am sowing enough seed and what do I need to do to sow more.

Soli Deo gloria,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kenya Update #3

What a blessing today has been! We took the twenty-one pastors attending the training, split them into two teams and proceeded to start the actual drilling process at two different sites today. Of course, this being Africa, things did not go exactly as we had planned them. The local materials needed for the drilling: square tubing, steel pipes and PVC, that were to be delivered at 9am did not arrive until noon. No problem! That just provided our team with more opportunities to get to know these incredible Kenyan men, all who love the Lord whole-heartedly.

So we started drilling after lunch. Usually, that means a less than productive day. But today that was not the case. At both well sites, the drilling went very quickly. At our "Yellow" site we hit water about one meter from the surface. At the "Green" site it was about the same. Now even though we have hit water very early on in the process, we want to keep drilling. We need to make the wells deep enough so that when the dry season comes they will still have water in them. This has been an unseasonably wet year in this part of Kenya and the ground is literally saturated with water.

Below I have posted some pictures of the pastors drilling at the well site. It is such a moving experience to see these men of God grasp the significance of what it means to be able to bring water to the communities where they live and serve. It is a true game changer, in terms of physical health and eternal life.

Soli Deo gloria,

Kenya Update #2

Above you see the banner for the training seminar that Crossings is helping to sponsor and that our team is helping to lead. Our first day with the pastors included some classroom training time with the training DVD supplied by the Water4 Foundation, some sharing from the pastors and ended with a brief time of worship with the men.

I am always impressed by the level of passion that is brought to worship around the world. It is very easy to understand. When you hear these men tell their stories - whether it is a pastor who survived the genocide in Rwanda as a child by hiding under the dead bodies of his family, a pastor who has overcome the destruction and devastation of his business by mobs and gangs, or traveling for two and a half days in order to attend - you soon realize how totally dependent they are on the Lord for everything. Such total dependence warrants total devotion, even in worship.

Being with these men challenges me spiritually. While I may be far more educated than many of them, I cannot say that I always share the same reckless faith in God. Phrases from the Bible such as: "Cast your cares on Jesus" and "Rejoice in the Lord always" or "My grace is sufficient to meet all your needs" take on an added dimension of depth.

Speaking of depth, we start our actual drilling on Tuesday. Pray that God will be honored and glorified by all that we say and do.

Soli Deo gloria,

Roatan Update #2

Day started early with a wake up call from a dog fight and roosters crowing and the sun in our faces.  We left early for school and when we arrived (15 min early) kids were already there anxiously waiting to come in.  We started the day with prayer, pledge of allegiance, pledge to the Bible and pledge to the Christian flag and the kids recited (by memory) Luke 2:1-6.  We were  paired with a child to help with math, english and tomorrow (pray for us--science).  The kids were precious and captured our hearts.  The afternoon was spent at the girls home where we were able to share scripture on how beautiful they are in the eyes of God and precious treasures to Him.  Great games and activities to go along.  We came back to Deborah's for dinner and some friends of hers on the island for a time of worship, prayer and fellowship.  During our devotion times, the ladies are sharing their stories.  It's amazing to see how God is touching everyone through their different encounters with the people and just the extra effort it takes to live in a third world country.
Please pray for the group tomorrow--this will be our first day of a FULL day and evening of ministry which is Deborah's typical day.

Pam Millington