Have you ever heard the statement, “No pain—no gain”? Usually this refers to sports and their training regiments. However, this is true in our ministry and at times in our life as well. As I write this final version of this newsletter, I am in pain. I am just into a recovery stage of a very bad lower back strain that has left me in the bed and immobile for a few days and now only able to stand for short periods of time. The painful part also is not just the physical pain, but I had to make the hard decision to cancel my upcoming ministry trip to Africa (Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia). At first this bothered me deeply, but when I called to talk with our Africa team they encouraged me to stay home and rest and said that the ministry programs we planned will go forward! My pain is causing additional progress of the next stage of local ownership of the ministry in Africa! I am reminded that all things will work together for good as Paul stated in Romans 8:28. The notes below are the notes I wrote regarding the training trip over a week ago before my injury.
We have a place in our front yard for a small tree. This location was set by the original landscape designs to have a small tree in an area with other smaller bushes. The only problem is that whenever we plant a tree here it never lives more than a few years. At first I thought it was just the tree, but after pulling out several of the trees we realized the issue was the soil and the fact that a large area around the house was filled with gravel beyond the original design. This reminds me of growth in areas of our life and the ministry we all are a part of, Global Youth Ministry Network.
For something to grow it needs the right soil and setting. In addition the growth first has to be deeper in order for the visible growth to be wider (and higher). Just like a tree, our ministry is constantly assessing our growth in depth so that we can continue to grow wider. One of our GYMN board members referenced this principle from the prophet Isaiah in regards to a tent (wider) and it’s stakes (deeper). Isaiah 54:2 reads, “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” Thankfully the ministry is growing in both directions as you see here.
Many of you know that in the past few months I was able to literally travel around the globe as I served our teams in India, Nepal and the Philippines. In a short time our Africa team will be leading another three-country ministry focus in the continent of Africa.
I am so proud of our staff and volunteers in Africa who have kept the ministry moving forward despite some difficult circumstances. The work there in Africa continues to go deeper and wider. The teams have been a solid stake in the ground as they reach youth and leaders in this continent. Led by Pastor Nick Korir and our GYMN Africa Board, staff and volunteers we are embarking on expansion in depth and width.
The Africa teams will be working in Kenya, East Africa. First, they will be meeting with and developing vision and plans with our trainers, Africa Board and staff. This group is our group of roots that support the growth of the ministry in Africa. Their work will be to water, strengthen and fertilize GYMN’s Kenyan roots so they can con- tinue to spread throughout Africa.
Next will be a trip to Ethiopia to the north. This incredible group of over 7000 churches in Ethiopia is entering it’s next phase of trainings. Jackson Maina (from Kenya) will travel to Addis Ababa to lead a Level 2 event. After this the leaders will be prepared to lead their own trainings locally in the future as we select qualified trainers. As you can see the branches are growing wider in this region!
For the final leg of their trip, our Africa team will meet up with our Uganda team inKampala. Here they will be putting together plans and trainings for them to grow the ministry to spread outside of Kampala to unreached areas of the countryside! Our administrator for GYMN Africa (Martha Sijenyi) from Kenya will be there to also deepen the ministry by teaching the administrative aspects needed to run the trainings in Uganda!
It is so exciting that you as GYMN supporters get to be the water and fertilizer that partners in the growth and fruit of the ministry around the globe. Together we all have a role to play that can seem painful but brings eternal progress. We are seeing first hand the fruit of multiplication as local leaders take over key areas!