Saturday, April 1, 2017

Passing on the Watering Can

There was an article I wrote in October 2015, about watering where others have planted.  This is often the position we find ourselves in life.  The work we do for the Kingdom of God is rarely the case of us starting and completing the work ourselves.  We are very much dependant on what others have done before us, and much remains to be done after we have done all that we can do.  St. Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”  We also remember that Jesus said, "When you have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”  As Christians seeking to live out the Gospel mandate, we are like a gardener who has been handed a watering can and told to water the seeds that have been planted.  And so, we go forth.

Usually we need not go far.  The basic principle is to look around wherever we are; there are many people that need watered with mercy and compassion.  Opportunities usually present themselves daily and we need to be alert:   ready to serve, teach, preach, share, encourage, lift up, build up, and strengthen faith in Christ.  There are many ways this can be done, for God is not limited in the ways that He works through us to minister to the needs of others.

We did not set out intentionally to go to East Africa.  An opportunity came up for me to travel with Fr. Francis Wardega on his last teaching trip to Tanzania.  I was quite unsure that it was the right time for me to go, or even if it was possible.  I was busy working full-time, with five children at home, serving at our local church, farming, working on various building projects – and had no money for travel expenses.  How could I possibly go on a mission trip?  I kept waiting for someone else to volunteer instead. When no one did, I finally said, “Someone needs to go with Fr. Francis.  After all, he is retiring and looking for someone to continue his teaching ministry.  If no one else is going, then I might as well try and see what the Lord will do.”

Since then, I have been to Tanzania four times, twice with my family, and also living there with them for 1 ½ years.  As incredible as it was to be able to even go in the first place, it is still even more incredible to me that God enabled our family to go together.  But then again, should we ever doubt what God can do?

Normally we do not need to go looking for some mission work to do.  The opportunities are all around us.  Where you find yourself now is the place that God wants you to minister to others.  He sets before you daily what He wants you to do.  We went to a foreign country only because God placed the opportunity in front of us.  We could have stayed home instead. He could have given us work to do here instead (which He did in between the trips).  He is not a demanding taskmaster.  He presents us with opportunities to serve and we either say Yes or No.  But, the right attitude is to ask the question, “What can I do to help?” – then to simply do what needs done without any fuss.

So there we were in Tanzania, with watering can in hand, diligently watering the seeds that others have planted.  Sometimes we were given to see the results of our watering (which is a blessing and a consolation that all is not in vain), but often we kept watering by faith, believing that the increase would come in God’s timing.  Then, there came the time for us to pass on that watering can to another brother who will continue what we have been doing.  This is that time for us.  Our original goal was to provide ministry education for church leaders in East Africa who are unable to obtain this education on their own.  We have done what we were able and it is time for us to pass on this job to another brother.

Rev. Jan Beaderstadt is a fellow Missionary of St. John the Evangelist member who has many years of experience teaching church leaders in Asia and Africa.  He established Renaissance Outreach Ministries to facilitate his ability to travel and to live in several countries each year as he faithfully teaches and encourages church leaders to more effectively preach the Gospel.  We met him when he came to share at our local church, and we have visited with him in our home.  He has graciously offered to continue watering the seeds in Mwanza, Tanzania where we lived in 2013 and 2015.  Recently he met with Bp. Boniface Kwangu of the Diocese of Lake Victoria (Anglican Church of Tanzania) and plans to teach several seminars for church leaders there in 2018.

Our recommendation is that any support that would have been given to Forward in Africa, be given to Rev. Jan of Renaissance Ministries.  The following website will provide much more information about what he is doing and how you may contact him.

We are very pleased that God has provided another brother to pick up the watering can that we have set down.  I should add that Rev. Jan is also training church leaders in Asia as well, and has done so for many years.  He is doing a good work.

We also want to encourage you to consider what another brother is doing in southern Kenya.  I have written before about Bonface and Grace Abongo and the what they are doing for their local neighbor children.  (Please refer to my blog article, "Children of Hope, Children of the King" - August 2015)  They have been able to do much work on several new classrooms and now have two teachers who are working together to provide free education to 27 students, ages five to eight years old.  They come daily to the classrooms that have been built next to the Abongo’s home, not only learning to read and write, but also to receive instruction in the Christian faith.  It is a good work and we highly recommend them to you as well.  They are living by faith in God’s ability to provide.  Bonface is a hard-working man with a big vision of transforming his neighborhood and village by showing Christ’s love in a practical way.  He is planting many seeds, and we need to help him water those seeds as well.

This is a new ministry in the foundational stage.  It is called Children of Hope and there is a website that you can check out to learn more of what their vision is for their area. 

They are a legally registered charity in Kenya with a board of directors and a separate bank account.  Unfortunately there is no convenient way to send donations at this point in time.  There needs to be a charity organization in the USA that can legally handle funds for them.  (Does anyone out there know of an organization that can do this for them?)  Hopefully this can happen sometime in the future.  God will provide a way.  At this point, we have been sending donations for Children of Hope to Bonface Abongo by Western Union.  There may be other ways to do this as well.  Bonface has been very diligent to send reports and photos of how the donations are spent, so that we can know that he is trustworthy and responsible.  We have visited their site twice to see for ourselves what is being done at Children of Hope, and so we recommend them to you as well.

So, this is Goodbye for us.  Forward in Africa is closing down – passing on the watering cans to two other brothers.  One is teaching current church and community leaders and the other is teaching future church and community leaders.  It has been an adventure for us and we are grateful for all that we have experienced and learned along the way, and for all the gracious support that we have received.  God has been so good to us.  Our place is here in Kentucky now, watering the seeds and plants that we find here.  Not that we have much to offer of ourselves, but to ask the question, “What can I do to help?” and then to get busy doing what needs done.  To be quietly and faithfully living out the Gospel message through actions of Kindness and Mercy.  We encourage you to do the same.  What opportunities has God given to you?  Look for a watering can – and trust that God will bring the increase.

May the peace of Christ always be with you, 
Brother Nathan and Mama Anna

Rev. Jan Beaderstat of Renaissance Outreach Ministries


Bonface checking up on Devi in Mwanza

Children arriving at Children of Hope school in Kenya

The two teachers with students in a newly completed classroom.
Praise the Lord!

The Kingdom of God is moving Forward in Africa!

Goodbye from Brother Nathan & Mama Anna

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