Nairobi Medium Security Prison – 3/8/16

We were scheduled to visit the Maximum Security Prison today so we arrived very close to 9:00am as scheduled. However, the church in the prison was having a graduation ceremony so we were promised we could come back tomorrow. We walked 100 yards within the same complex to the Medium Medium Security Prison where we met the Chaplain and waited about 20 minutes. After being cleared for entry we walked into the prison grounds. It had a covered area (about 30’ x 50’) in the center of the courtyard, surrounded by cell blocks on either side. There was a “kitchen” at the end of the canopy behind a fence where it appeared they were cooking Ugali. About 200 men gathered before us, many of them saved, and sang praise songs in Swahili. We then began our service with Pastor Joseph introducing our team and Paul serving as emcee. Paul does a great job in this role.
I gave the long sermon today, once again talking about the rich young ruler. Greg took some photos of each of us preaching today and posted them on his blog and on Facebook. This is the first time we have done this – traditionally we post no photos that are taken inside the prison, especially while we are still in the country (for safety reasons). In this case, since Greg feels very comfortable with Kenya, he is posting them sooner so people can better understand what we are doing while we are away.
40 men came forward at the altar call with many men with tears in their eyes. As always, we offered a healing prayer and prayed for the inmate church leaders. We presented our gifts and bid everyone farewell. This is a prison in the heart of the city so there is no doubt Pastor Joseph and his team will be regularly visiting them. Joseph already has a very good relationship with the Chaplain.
We headed out after the service to return to the hotel room for a couple hours before we start teaching our conference at 3:00pm at the Passionist Guest House where we are staying. I was looking forward to a little break and some time to prepare for our Prison Ministry Training Conference but we are out of cash so I had to go with Pastor Joseph to the money exchange. Fortunately Joseph knows the man at the Forex so he negotiated a better exchange rate than what was posted. We are getting 100 Schillings per dollar. One Schilling is equivalent to one penny U.S. We returned just in time for our conference. Unfortunately, though, Joseph had arranged for the owner of our vehicle to be at the hotel and I had to settle up with him and negotiate another day of rental. This caused us to be late to the conference.
Conference
The rest of the American team was already at the conference and Greg had already begun the teaching when Joseph and I arrived. I was serving as emcee of the conference but Greg had given the President’s message, informing everyone about us and what to expect from the conference. We only have three hours scheduled so we are going to have to condense each of our topics to cover only the highlights. Fortunately, however, everyone in attendance is already doing prison ministry at some level so we don’t need to go as deep as we perhaps normally would. This was good, though, because everyone there was already involved in one way or another with prison ministry so we were able to encourage them and give them some things to think about that they perhaps had not previously considered. Our conference was rather small in Nairobi, about 25 participants. They were all very passionate about prison ministry and a great encouragement to us. After the conference we all gathered outside for a group photo and then the American team ate dinner and turned in for the night. Tomorrow will be another big day.

Nairobi Maximum Security Prison – 3/9/16

Paul and I split apart from Greg and Mike today. They went to the juvenile institution and, in fact, they split apart, as well. Mike was with kids ages 10-16 (roughly) and Greg was with children ages 6-10. These were primarily children that had been taken away from domestic issues or had been found roaming the streets without a home or, in some cases, criminal activity. It seems it is more of a government foster home situation. I can’t speak much for their services so I will continue with the service at the maximum security institution where I was.
We arrived around 9:00am and met with the deputy in charge. He is a Christian and was very thankful to have us. I have been very encouraged to find so many born again Officers, staff and inmates in this country. It’s such a shame that we can’t speak openly of our faith in the Untied States. We are in the same complex that we visited yesterday but we weren’t able to get into this facility because they had another program that day, so we went to the medium security prison. He was a very kind man and was very happy to receive us and our gifts. He gave us permission to take photographs of our service, a real blessing that has been granted many times on this trip.
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Before walking into the prison we took a photograph with our entire team and the humanitarian aid we had brought (1,440 bars of soap and 520 rolls of toilet tissue, along with about 40 Bibles and the usual gifts of a soccer ball, Yard Out newspaper, a Bible Study binder for the church leaders, etc.).
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When we entered they took our passports and inspected our bags and then let us into the prison. We walked past the prison visit station where the inmates can stand while talking to their visitors (on the other side of the wall). This is a very large institution with more than 3,000 inmates. Most are remands and have been there anywhere from one day to six years, awaiting the processing of their case and their trials. The prison consists of many different cell blocks, apparently each being housed by remands charged with different offenses. The convicted inmates do the cooking and cleaning for the whole prison and they are housed in the area where we were gathered. There were men walking freely all around the prison grounds.
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They weren’t ready for us because everyone was waiting to be fed, so we waited about an hour to an hour and a half for our service to start. The prison church was playing English worship music over the P.A. system. We were seated under a canopy but the rest of the prison was in the open air. There were many different facilities located and clearly marked around the perimeter of this courtyard (Sick Bay, Telephone Room, Dispensary, Classrooms, etc.). The area where we were seated was in the center and was technically what seemed like a pass-through to a large group of cell blocks. Men were carrying food in very large pots to the different cell blocks. We waited about 90 minutes before we started our service so we used that time wisely to talk with inmates (primarily inmate church leaders) and we went to the sick bay to pray for the men housed there.
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There is a very large Christian population in this institution. The church leaders told me that when someone new comes to the prison (daily) they welcome them, show them around, help them to know what to do, and they share the gospel with them. There were about two dozen inmate church leaders seated in this area and encouraging us.
When we finally started the service it was almost 11:00am. Pastor Joseph gave the IGL message and then Paul took over to emcee the crusade. After a very long service where I gave my testimony, Joseph Runo and Paul both gave sermons and I made the altar call two men came forward having received Christ and then I called the other church members to come up and embrace them, and to encourage them and take them in as their new brothers.
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We began preparing to pray for the sick but we were stopped because we had gone long over our allotted time and the officers had to do head count. After they finished we left and returned to the hotel around 1:30pm, much later than we should have. Greg has another surprise in store for us so we have to eat lunch quickly and then head out.
After lunch we all piled into the van again and Greg took us a few miles away to a giraffe rescue compound. This is a project that was founded in 1979 by a British couple that found that the giraffes were very endangered so they took a couple and began breeding them. Apparently they can be raised in captivity until they are three years old and then turned into the wild and they will be fine. I suppose that’s likely because they have not natural predators so there is very little danger for a giraffe that has been raised in captivity.
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We walked up a tall flight of stairs to a wrap-around porch that surrounds a learning center where the staff and visitors were feeding the giraffes pellets made of corn, molasses and some other sort of grain. The giraffes are free to roam the land but they come when called by name and feed from our hands. Some people were getting “kisses” by feeding them a pellet from their mouths. I wasn’t about to do that until I had seen it done by many people and I realized that my daughter, who adores giraffes, would love to have a photo of me doing that, so I did.
We hung around for about 45 minutes and then toured the learning center and then down to the tortoise rescue before we all gathered for a beverage and some social time. Our ministry days are officially over, now is a very good time to reflect on what we have done in the past week.

Final Day in Kenya – 3/10/16

I talked to Susan this morning and she asked if I had a quiet day today. “No”, I said. “We are going to the Kazuri bead and pottery factory, then out to lunch with the national team for our “goodbye lunch” then back to the hotel for our audit before leaving for the airport. We fly out at 10:30pm, leaving for the airport at 6:00pm”. That’s when I will be able to “relax”.
Kauri Beads – This is a fine clay bead and pottery factory that was established many years ago to provide a place of employment opportunities for disadvantaged members of Kenyan society, mostly single mothers. It is equipped with a Clinic, providing free medical care for the employees and their immediate family. Kazuri also absorbs 80% of the medical bills outside the Factory Clinic.
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We toured the factory, watching the process for extracting the clay, purifying it, and then the process each lady takes in rolling beads, drying, painting, glazing, firing and assembling them into jewelry. They also make very fine pottery. One lady, Teresa, asked Paul if he had a Bible. He did not, but I did. This is the Bible I take with me overseas. I determined a few years ago to always carry a Bible I am willing to give away. The last time this happened was in a  prison in Togo when an English speaking inmate told me he was going to to be in the prison for two more years and he didn’t speak French. He had no Bible and there was no English Bible in the prison. I was only able to imagine how it would be for me to be locked up in a prison in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, not having a Bible. In fact, when I think about it, this is how important it is for us to always have Bibles with us to give away – many people in Africa and other countries don’t have a Bible and can’t afford one. This was the case with Teresa. She believes in Christ but has no Bible. It was not even a question of whether or not to give it to her. I filled out the from page, signing it and then presenting it to her. Praise God I had one to give away.
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It was fascinating to watch all the work that goes into these beads and jewelry and to learn of the extreme Quality Control they do on every piece. We did some shopping after the tour and then headed to lunch with the Kenyan Team.
We met the rest of the team at an out-of-the-way crocodile park and amusement park. It had a very nice restaurant on beautiful grounds with a small lake and a couple rides for kids. There were a couple school buses in the parking lot and a couple groups of young kids on a field trip. There was a very small ferris wheel and another thrill ride that spins the kids around and around.
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We ate outside on the nice lawn and each took turns telling everyone what we learned on this trip and how much we appreciated each other and the opportunity to serve together. We had some good photo opportunities and a nice meal. I remembered that I had a couple pairs of readers in my bag and I gave a pair to John Maina and another to Veronica. They were so blessed to be able to read better and, in Veronica’s case, to even be able to see better at a distance. I will be sure to remember to take more of these with me next time I go overseas. I realized earlier this week as I looked around that very few people have glasses. I’m sure there are many, many more that could really benefit from a pair of donated glasses, readers or otherwise.
We didn’t leave the restaurant until a little past 2:00pm and we still had to complete our audit with Joseph. We finished the audit back at the guest house at roughly 5:00pm. We have an hour to shower, finish packing and get our bags out to the van for our departure to Seattle, via Amsterdam.
Our driver, Joseph (there are three Josephs on this trip), saw that there was a lot of traffic through the city so he took us on a “shortcut” along the Nairobi game reserve, This was a terrible road that is under construction but has apparently been so for a few years. Therefore, we are driving along on a very rough dirt road, not anything we’re not used to but not what we were looking forward to on our final ride of the trip. We arrived in plenty of time, said our goodbyes and cruised through the airport with no problems.
It’s been a very busy and time-crammed trip, but a very productive one where everyone worked very well together, everyone did all that they needed to do, we all had a lot of fun, we saw many inmates come to faith in Christ, many prison volunteers greatly encouraged, and many great sights taken in. I am so blessed to be able to serve in this ministry.
Official statistics:

Ministry:

Crusades/Services: 16

Inmate attendance: 3,825

Salvations: 780

Inmates requesting healing prayer: 376

Inmates Church leaders prayed over: 167

Prison training conferences: 2

Conference attendees: 51

New testament distribution: 380

Full Bible distribution: 39

 

Aid:

Soap: 9,660 bars

Toilet paper rolls: 3,400 rolls

Sugar: 660 lbs.

Soccer balls: 10

Other miscellaneous humanitarian aid was also distributed

Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Narok Prison – 3/7/16

I woke up at 5:00am. The lodge turns the generator off from 10:00pm until 5:30am so it was pitch black and very quiet. I got up with my flashlight and walked outside before any lights came on or generators started running. What an awesome night sky. I have never seen more stars in my life. I stood in awe at the grandeur of God’s creation. I reflected on Genesis 1 where he spoke and created the heavens. He placed all the stars in the sky as he said “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And so it was.  He orchestrated all of this perfectly. We float around in our orbit exactly where we need to be all of the time. All of the stars and planets and all that is in space moves perfectly, exactly as he designed it and exactly as He sustains it today. And this is the same sky we see at home.
We had an early breakfast and headed out on the safari a little after 7:00am. We spent three hours on the Maasai Mara. We saw all types of animals and birds. We had a family of elephants cross right in front of our vehicle. There were giraffes and buffalo and warthogs and many other animals all around but we didn’t see any predators….yet.
Suddenly we saw a lioness walking along in the tall grass. We watched him for a couple minutes, taking lots of photos and video. Suddenly he looked downhill where there was a gazelle beginning to walk up the hill on a small path about 300 yards away. The lioness spotted it and began to crouch down and start moving toward the path where the gazelle was likely going to pass. Joseph is a very good driver who does safaris regularly so he knew what to do. He drove us down the road and to a better viewpoint where he knew we would be able to see what happened. We were watching the gazelle get closer to where we thought the lioness was and we expected it to cross the lioness’ path in another 50 yards when suddenly the lioness jumped up out of the grass at the prey, barely missing it. We didn’t realize she was there, she had done exactly what she planned, she moved along in the grass unseen. I’m sure it needs to be perfectly timed to attack a gazelle because once she missed it was outta there. She put up chase for about 20 yards before giving up and walking down the path toward us.
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Joseph drove even closer to the path, knowing that she would pass there. She walked up toward our vehicle and then right in front of us, paying us no attention. It was amazing. We all took lots of photos and video. This is like National Geographic. I kept thinking how much I would love to come back here with my family, it is such an experience.
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We drove through the park for another couple hours, getting up close to all kinds of animals before heading out to get to our Narok Prison in time for our scheduled service at 2:00pm. It was a long drive on REALLY rough roads. This is brutal driving (once outside of the park). It was brutal yesterday approaching the game reserve and it’s even worse today. These are the worst (or at least close) of any roads I have ever driven on, and we have a long way to go. It was hot in the car today and very dusty.
Narok Prison had a very large Christian population (as is the case in many of the prisons we have entered in Kenya). The administration and the officers are not shy about their faith, most of the OCs are Christian and they share it openly with their inmates. This seems to be truly a Christian nation in the sense that most people openly profess faith in Jesus.
Narok Prison was situated in a somewhat residential area, remotely located. Upon entering the main gate there were officers quarters to the right and a gated fence directly in front. This was used as an area for screening anyone that would enter the prison, similar to larger prisons in which this area would be within the walls. In this case it is a single wall around the prison. All of the outdoor walls in the corridor in which we stood were painted with murals and the Medical Room, Dispensary, OC’s office and Staff Toilets (along with a couple other administrative rooms) were all located here. Directly in front of us about 100 yards was the entrance to the Women’s Prison.
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We met with the OC, gave him gifts, prayed for him, and then were escorted into the prison yard. As we walked through the solid steel gate we saw about 500 men and 30 women, a total population of 530. I believe close to, if not everyone, was present for our service. We were directed to a covered area about 100’ x 50’ in which we sat on a stage at one end. At the other end was a fenced area with some men behind the fence. I got the impression these were men who were forced to stay there, not allowed to mingle with the rest of the population – that may have just been my feeling, I don’t know for certain why they were behind the fence.
The population was singing when we arrived and a couple different choirs sang before we started our service. The women sang for us and then a group of about 20 men (Furaba Choir) sang and danced for us. They have produced a CD and are working on their second. The first one was for sale to help support them so we bought a CD for each person on our team. They sang three songs before we started our service.
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We had been there for about 30 minutes before we started our program. Greg opened with the IGL message, I served as emcee. I introduced Joseph Runo who gave his testimony followed by Mike giving a short sermon before Ephraim gave a very powerful and passionate long sermon.
At the altar call 39 men and 3 women came forward having been born again. I stood in the corner with Ephraim while he led them in a prayer which brought tears to my eyes. I reflected on this rebirth and the change in their lives now that their sins had been forgiven and they were now going to follow Jesus for the rest of their lives.
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36 men and 8 women (one with a baby about 18 months old) came forward so we could pray for healing for them. The baby didn’t like me touching him. He started crying and clinging to mom when I touched him. We then had 30 church leaders come to the front so we could pray for them. Greg presented them with the binder with the Bible study lessons and we told them about the 25 New Testaments and 2 complete Bibles we brought for them.
I then presented the gifts – Yard Out Newspapers, Soap, Toilet Tissue, Sanitary Napkins and a soccer ball. As always, as soon as the soccer ball came out there were lots of cheers from the inmates.
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This was a powerful service with a very engaged audience. The 30 or so women were seated separately on our right but were able to participate, a great benefit to not have to do two services at this institution particularly since time would not have allowed for that. We intended to head out quickly after the service because we had to get back to Nairobi tonight but the OC was very thankful and gracious and invited us to his office for cold sodas.
We climbed several mountain passes and saw a beautiful sunset from up in the mountains. The highway was crowded and there were a lot of trucks. We saw a couple trucks flipped over, one of them an oil tanker that has been sitting in the middle of town for a long time. Another had just tipped, it was filled with hundreds of bags of corn which the driver was working to pick up.  I slept the last half of the way, listening to praise music on my earphones. When we arrived at the Passionist House here was discussion among the rest of the American team about the treacherous conditions on the pass, I’m glad I slept through it (or at least had my eyes closed). Off to bed now, much to do tomorrow.

Nairobi Maximum Security Prison – 3/9/16

Paul and I split apart from Greg and Mike today. They went to the juvenile institution and, in fact, they split apart, as well. Mike was with kids ages 10-16 (roughly) and Greg was with children ages 6-10. These were primarily children that had been taken away from domestic issues or had been found roaming the streets without a home or, in some cases, criminal activity. It seems it is more of a government foster home situation. I can’t speak much for their services so I will continue with the service at the maximum security institution where I was.
We arrived around 9:00am and met with the deputy in charge. He is a Christian and was very thankful to have us. I have been very encouraged to find so many born again Officers, staff and inmates in this country. It’s such a shame that we can’t speak openly of our faith in the Untied States. We are in the same complex that we visited yesterday but we weren’t able to get into this facility because they had another program that day, so we went to the medium security prison. He was a very kind man and was very happy to receive us and our gifts. He gave us permission to take photographs of our service, a real blessing that has been granted many times on this trip.
Before walking into the prison we took a photograph with our entire team and the humanitarian aid we had brought (1,440 bars of soap and 520 rolls of toilet tissue, along with about 40 Bibles and the usual gifts of a soccer ball, Yard Out newspaper, a Bible Study binder for the church leaders, etc.).
When we entered they took our passports and inspected our bags and then let us into the prison. We walked past the prison visit station where the inmates can stand while talking to their visitors (on the other side of the wall). This is a very large institution with more than 3,000 inmates. Most are remands and have been there anywhere from one day to six years, awaiting the processing of their case and their trials. The prison consists of many different cell blocks, apparently each being housed by remands charged with different offenses. The convicted inmates do the cooking and cleaning for the whole prison and they are housed in the area where we were gathered. There were men walking freely all around the prison grounds.
They weren’t ready for us because everyone was waiting to be fed, so we waited about an hour to an hour and a half for our service to start. The prison church was playing English worship music over the P.A. system. We were seated under a canopy but the rest of the prison was in the open air. There were many different facilities located and clearly marked around the perimeter of this courtyard (Sick Bay, Telephone Room, Dispensary, Classrooms, etc.). The area where we were seated was in the center and was technically what seemed like a pass-through to a large group of cell blocks. Men were carrying food in very large pots to the different cell blocks. We waited about 90 minutes before we started our service so we used that time wisely to talk with inmates (primarily inmate church leaders) and we went to the sick bay to pray for the men housed there.
There is a very large Christian population in this institution. The church leaders told me that when someone new comes to the prison (daily) they welcome them, show them around, help them to know what to do, and they share the gospel with them. There were about two dozen inmate church leaders seated in this area and encouraging us.
When we finally started the service it was almost 11:00am. Pastor Joseph gave the IGL message and then Paul took over to emcee the crusade. After a very long service where I gave my testimony, Joseph Runo and Paul both gave sermons and I made the altar call two men came forward having received Christ and then I called the other church members to come up and embrace them, and to encourage them and take them in as their new brothers.
We began preparing to pray for the sick but we were stopped because we had gone long over our allotted time and the officers had to do head count. After they finished we were able to continue but we only had ten minutes so we asked Pastor Ngara to pray for the inmate church leaders and then we presented our gifts to the men. We then had to leave, it was now 12:30pm – our time in the prison had been about 3 1/2 hours.
Traffic was horrible getting back to the Passionist House Retreat Center where we are staying this last few days. We arrived around 1:40pm and went to lunch, which was waiting for us. The pastors all went somewhere else to get lunch and said they would be back in a half hour to take us to a surprise that Greg had arranged.
We all piled into the van around 2:30 and Greg surprised us by taking us to a giraffe refuge that had been opened about 35 years ago. They rescue giraffes and provide them with habitat so they can reproduce and then be released into the wild when they are mature, at 3 years old. We got to feed them and pose for photos with them. Some people were even getting “kisses” by holding a piece of food in their mouths so the giraffe would take it from them. I wasn’t going to do that until I saw everyone else doing it and I thought of Shalyn who would love to see a photo of it. I was thinking of her the whole time was I there because she loves giraffes so much. It was a lot of fun and a real experience for all of us. What amazing creatures.
We came back to our rooms and began getting ready for our return home tomorrow. We have had a very busy week with no rest. We are all ready to go home, but I don’t think any of us think the trip was too long. The amount of time was perfect.

Kisumu Prison – 3/6/16

3/6/16, Sunday – Kisumu
Today is the first day I have found the time to journal, I will have to expound upon all my notes from earlier in the week. We do so much in so little time and we see so many things and participate in so many events with so many people that when I try to catch up on journaling I find it very difficult to remember details of places, people and events. I try to recall going to a prison and I have to think hard to remember what it looked like and how we got from the gates to the cells where we held our services. It also seems like so long ago, I find it hard to believe I have only been ministering for two days – the first prison seems like a week ago. I have a hard time remembering cities and places – so unlike my usual self.
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Paul at Kisumu
We had to wait a while (30-45 minutes) before entering Kisumu prison. Greg went to the women with Joseph Ngara and Ephraim while I took Paul, Mike, Joseph Runo and John Maina to the men. This is a maximum security institution so security was high, more than any other prison so far on this trip, but still only minimal by our standards. We left our bags in the car but they did allow me to bring my camera. They looked through the gift bag and scanned us with a wand and, upon leaving they asked us if we left anything inside that we had taken in with us. They checked our names (no I’d required) against their list of who had clearance, bit that was it for security.
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We walked past a mosque on one side of the courtyard, past some men that were making furniture, some other men that were crushing corn to make Ugali, and several doorways clearly labeled with painted signs (dispensary, spiritual office, etc.) and through a second gate and heavily barbed wire fence. The next gate we passed through was into another courtyard where the chapel was.
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Many men were outside cooking and giving each other haircuts and bathing while a large group of about 150 men were inside the chapel worshiping. We were told we would have thirty minutes and then we would go to another area with another group of men, so we decided to change the order of our service – Mike giving the only sermon in this service and I would give the only sermon in the next service. The men kept singing and then there were formal introductions and congenialities to which we thought were going to run short even on the time that we had bees given. Finally I was able to give the IGL message and pass the baton to Paul to emcee the service. He referenced the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. Joseph Runo shared his testimony and when Paul got up again to introduce Mike to give a sermon on the sower, he was told that they had brought all the men from the other building and we would be able to do the entire service. All sense of time went away and we preached freely as if we had all day to be there. After Mike preached a powerful sermon that was very well received, Paul was interrupted again and was told that we had to take a break. It was time for a head count. Paul told all the men “We have to take a break. We are going to stay right here, come right back, we have more to share with you.”
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A Full House
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Standing Room Only
The men all line up outside, seated in rows, to be counted. It took less than ten minutes and they all files back into the chapel. By this time there we close to (or perhaps more than) 200 men in the small chapel. Paul welcomed everyone back and introduced me to give the long sermon, which I shared from Mark 10, speaking of the rich young ruler’s desire to know what he must do to earn a place in heaven. The men all listened intently and then John Maina did a great job explaining to the men that the man’s problem, as Jesus pointed out, was that he had no place in his heart for the poor. He then gave an altar call and 45 saved men came forward to confess Christ or recommit their lives to Him.
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Inmates at Kisumu
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Coming Forward for Prayer for Healing
Mike prayed for the inmate church leaders and I offered a prayer for healing. About 20 men came up for the prayer and then Paul presented our gifts.
We delivered soap, tissues, feminine napkins, milk and sugar, along with 35 dual language New Testaments and four complete Bibles in Swahili. Of course, we also took a soccer ball and, something new that we have done at each prison on this campaign, we took a binder with Bible studies for the inmate church leaders to use while discipline the inmates and a stack of Yard Out newspapers.
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Soap, Toilet Paper and Bibles
On the way out we met up with Greg and the other nationals and we visited the Office in Charge who was very welcoming and thankful for our visit.
We left the prison shortly after noon to begin our four hour drive to Maasai Mara game reserve. We arrived at the first gate around 5:30pm. They told us we had to be to the other gate by 6:30pm before it closes. If we don’t make it we’ll have to drive all the way back to this gate.
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What an absolutely amazing view, and what beauty. Maasai Mara is beyond description. The amount of wildlife, the size of the park and the beauty of the landscape is all a testament to God’s incredible power and splendor. We immediately began encountering animals of many kinds. Giraffe’s are such gorgeous and graceful creatures, but boy to they stink. We encountered a group of them that walked right in front of and around us. Our cameras were clicking away. The top of our van pops up so we can all stand inside the van with our heads outside, a great way to tour the park.
We drove about five minutes and came across a family of elephants. One was a female with a juvenile. We left the main road and drove down through a small ditch and then took a small path toward the elephant. Our driver, Joseph, who has been doing this for years, stopped about 30 yards from the elephants and then backed up sideways along the path so we could take photos from the side of the van. After about 30-60 seconds the mother had had enough and she began shaking her head, a sign that she’s irritated. She immediately started charging us and, if our driver had not anticipated this and backed in as he did, we would not have been able to drive away. Joseph began driving and the elephant chased us for about 200 yards. We were all yelling to Joseph to “drive faster, go, go, go”. She was moving fast and catching up to us. It was quite amazing and thrilling. I couldn’t help thinking about the ditch we were about to come to in only a few more yards and she would have had no problem catching up to us at that point. She could have tossed us around and flipped us over and over again like a Tonka truck.
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A Very Unhappy Elephant Charging Us
We drove through the park to the other gate, seeing lots of other wildlife but not able to stop and photograph them because we had to get to the other gate in short time. We made it to the gate at 6:25pm and it was still manned so we were able to get through. While we paid our park fee and waited for the administrative process and the checking of our passport, we walked up the road a hundred yards to a bridge where there was a herd of Hippos in the river. We watched them for about 10-15 minutes and then headed toward the lodge. It turns out it’s another 90 minutes to the lodge.
We were stuck in the middle of the Maasai Mara after dark – nobody does this. We didn’t see another set of vehicle lights the entire way to the lodge. Had we become lost or had a flat tire or broken down we would have been on the menu, we were in the middle of the deli case with only a hope and a prayer that we could get out. Joseph got us to the lodge after getting lost a couple times on bumpy “roads”, but we got there. This lodge consists of large tents with complete bathrooms on the back side – this was a really cool atmosphere and a lot of fun. We all crashed into our tents and fell asleep, we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.

Kakamega Prison – 3/5/16

Jet lag took over tonight and I awoke at 3:45. I was glad I brought some exercise equipment with me so I worked out in the courtyard until 5:15am.
I unintentionally woke Paul and Mike when I knocked on their door at 6:00am. When they found out I had exercise bands they took them to the courtyard, too.
Breakfast was served at at 8:00am, omelets and an assortment of fruit, beans, Plantains in a bean type sauce, carrots and cabbage. We were ready to leave on time but, after waiting for the usual organization of everything, we arrived late again at the prison.
We were welcomed very warmly by the OC, a Christian man with a joyful spirit and a wonderful sense of humor – we spent 1/2 hour in his office before he invited us to enter the prison. Mike presented him with his gifts to which he was very grateful, even commenting what a huge gesture it was for him to give his children a box of crayons to go with the coloring book. He loved his tie and posed for a few photographs as we were presenting everything to him.
We were scheduled to hold three services but the Juvenile Prison is off-site so Joseph went there after buying humanitarian aid while we stayed at the main prison to minister to the men and women.
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This is a rather large prison with over 1,300 men. As we entered the courtyard – there were approximately 300 men but many more were pouring in from a hallway to the side. The approximately 7,000 sq. ft courtyard was surrounded by cells on either side and the toilet stalls at the far end. After about 700 men had come in the OC told us many men couldn’t come because there was not room but soon thereafter decided to let all of the men come.
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About two thirds of the men sat and listened while the others hovered in the back and ignored us. There was a prison choir, mostly the prison church leaders, singing and dancing until we were ready to begin. Greg opened the President’s message, I served as emcee, Paul gave his testimony and a short sermon, Mike gave a shortened version of his long sermon, GVT gave the altar call and I gave the gifts to the inmates. As always, they absolutely loved the Soccer ball.
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This was a very long service and it was really hot. Most of the men were directly in the sun the entire time, while we had the shade of the wall behind us until the very end when the sun reached the peak of day. It was probably 90 degrees during the service but the men all stuck it out and about 200 men came forward having received Christ as their Savior.
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When we finished it was time to go to the women’s prison, in the same complex but in the next building. Before we headed over there the OC invited us to come back to his office for something to drink. He had cold sodas and water there for us, a real treat, and an incredible gesture of thanks and hospitality from him. This has only happened one other time on the trips I have been on. It is a real sacrifice for him to provide all of us with sodas.
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We then went to the women’s prison where about 150 women, mostly believers, were singing and dancing and started yelling with excitement when we came in. They sang a few songs for us and then the Chaplin introduced us and turned the service over to one of the ladies that leads the church in the prison. Her name is Jacqueline and she is about to be released after being in remand for 6 years, finally charged and now being released. She’s been there since I started doing prison ministry. I have heard countless stories of people being charged and held for up to ten years while awaiting the process of their case being heard and final sentencing. The nationals have said that there is not a good process for prosecuting and it often takes very long.
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The women’s choir sang a couple more songs for us and then we held a long service under the shaded canopy where some women were cooking in the kitchen to the left of us. There was constant smoke hovering under the canopy where we all were gathered. The women were all seated except those in the back who were standing so they could see us.
When the service was over we left for our VERY hot drive to Kisumu. It was probably close to 100 degrees and very humid on the shore of Lake Victoria when we arrived. I was going to jump in the swimming pool until Greg warned me that many people have become ill on previous trips after swimming in the pools. He went down the hall to tell Mike and Paul the same thing and they had already looked out there window and, having seen the green water in the pool, decided it wasn’t a good idea.
I hopped in the shower and couldn’t get it to spill cold water. It had a very strange hot water system that was controlled by the shower head. We have not had a cold shower yet on this trip (we have had hot water in every hotel), which is a blessing except this time I really wanted nothing but cold water to cool me down.
We were able to relax for a few minutes in our air conditioned room which overlooked the lake. There is an airport just up the road and I saw a large plane, 737 size, taxiing on the runway. This must be the closest airport to the Maasai Mara.
Dinner was terrible for $12 each, we elected to do the buffet because we all were very tired and didn’t want to wait while we ordered from the menu. That was a mistake.
This week has been a whirlwind so far. We are in a different city and hotel every night. As usual, we are up early and working until we can’t keep our eyes open any longer. Tonight was the first night that we were able to relax a little after arriving at our destination. However, that allowed time to get more work done – preparations, purchasing of humanitarian aid, balancing the finances – and it was 95 degrees and horribly humid and we had just driven on terrible roads in intense heat. This is brutal work but it’s all for the Kingdom and I love it.