Emirates Airlines Flight 236 departed Chicago at 8:45 P.M. on July 9th for a fourteen-hour flight to Dubai. So began the 2018 Mission Helper Trip to East Africa. Preparations for the trip, however, began months before. Purchasing airline tickets, visiting medical facilities for necessary shots, and preparing lessons to present the Seven C’s—creation, corruption, catastrophe, confusion, Christ, cross, and consummation—were all completed well in advance. God’s work is important and requires careful and detailed planning!
The twenty-three mission helpers were divided into three teams, headed for three different African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia. Team Kenya was the smallest of the three. Its members were Teacher Ted Quade, chairman of the Kinship Committee; Philip Strike, a layman from St. John’s, Okabena; his son, Carl; Nyibol Kuan, a South Sudanese immigrant to the United States and member of Immanuel, Mankato; Blair Sydow, a vivacious member of Holy Trinity, West Columbia; and me.
During our fourteen days in Kenya, we visited two schools: St. David’s in Etago (southwest Kenya) and Holy Cross-Emmaus in Moi’s Bridge (west-central Kenya). We were privileged to share the Gospel in word and song with approximately 350 students and 25 teachers. In addition, we participated in four worship services with our African brethren, sharing our mutual joy in our common Savior Jesus.
One of those services was held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Kitale—a regional capital with a population of over 100,000 people. St. Peter’s is the only Lutheran church in that area. It has been shepherded for over twenty years by a layman named Calvin. He is a high school superintendent who, after moving to Kitale, was moved by the Spirit to gather scattered Lutherans in the area and begin holding services. He was introduced to our CLC through internet correspondence with Pastor James Albrecht of St. John’s, Okabena.
St. Peter’s meets in a public-school classroom. I was invited to speak for the service. Prior to that service, I was standing outside the classroom with my interpreter, a young man named Shadrack, when a motorcycle arrived; its cargo: two live chickens. Shadrack’s comment was, “They will taste good.” I did not realize it, but those chickens were to become the main course of a meal following the service. The service itself lasted nearly three hours. There was a full liturgy, many hymns, three choirs, and my sermon on Matthew 11:25-30 with the theme, “The Christian’s Greatest Treasure Is the Gospel!” What delightful fellowship!
During the meal following the service, I was introduced to and had a lengthy conversation with a visitor attending the service: Rev. Nathaniel Bol, a supervisory bishop in the South Sudanese Lutheran Church. They have no ties to any Lutheran church body in the United States. Since returning, we have been exchanging e-mails and confessional information. Perhaps the Lord will open the door to yet further opportunities for Gospel work in Africa. We await His direction and implore His blessing!
After a day-long safari at Luke Nakuru National Wildlife Refuge and a visit to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphan’s Project (elephants and rhinoceroses) in Nairobi, Team Kenya boarded a return flight to Dubai. Reunited, the three teams experienced an evening desert Safari—complete with camel-rides—before our fourteen-hour flight back to Chicago. It was the end of another Mission Helper Trip.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son.” What a privilege to share that wondrous message to the glory of our Savior’s name and the blessing, we pray, of many souls!
Paul D. Nolting is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Valentine, Nebraska, as well as St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in White River, South Dakota and Peace Lutheran Church in Mission, South Dakota.