Walking as Jesus Walked

Having the Mind of Christ

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Covenant Renewal

Over the years I have found John Wesley's Covenant Renewal Service meaningful and rewarding. Though I have not always been faithful to its practice, I have discovered the material challenging in terms of vocation and identity as a pastor and disciple. We certainly cannot separate vocation and identity, of course, but we can prepare to take seriously the need to commit ourselves to God, reflecting on our calling as Jesus' followers. The Renewal Service offers the opportunity for us to renew our commitment to Christ and to pray together the Covenant Prayer:

Let me be your servant, O Christ, under your command.
I will no longer be my own.
I will give up myself to your will in all things.

Lord, make me what you will.
I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your please and disposal.

O mighty God, the Lord Omnipotent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you have now become my Covenant Friend.
And I, through your infinte grace, have become your covenant servant.
So be it.
And let the covenant I have made on earth be ratified in heaven.

There is, of course, more to the whole Covenant Service. Over the years the service has gone through multiple changes. However, the above Prayer is indicative of what is at stake. And I can only pray that more clergy and laity would truly pray this prayer with all their hearts, souls, and minds, allowing the Spirit to cleanse and convict within, that our common practice as Christians would visibly reflect the glory and love God in the world.

So be it.

Andy Kinsey

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Mystery of Holy Night

It is no secret that I admire the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. From college to seminary into the parish, I have kept Bonhoeffer's books nearby. I have been fortunate to study Bonhoeffer's theology in Germany and to take a Bonhoeffer Tour, traveling to all the major sights associated with his life and death. To say the least, I am humbled by what have read and seen.

Bonhoeffer's life was certainly complex, and the volumes about his life too numerous to mention. But on this Christmas Eve I thought I would share a small piece that has meant a great deal to me over the years: "The Moment of Fulfillment."*

Given the importance of children, I cannot help but reflect on Bonhoeffer's words about what God has done in the Christ Child on this Holy Night:

How do we wish to meet this child?

Have our hands become to hard and proud from daily work to fold themselves in adoration at the sight of this child?

Do we carry our head, which has had to think so many heavy thoughts and to solve so many problems, too high for us to bow to it humbly before the wonder of this child?

Can we one more time forget entirely all our strivings, accomplishments, and importance, to join the shepherds and the sages from the East and offer childlike adoration to the divine child in the manger?

To take, like old Simeon, this child in our arms and instantly acknowledge with gratitude the fulfillment of our entire life?

It is truly a strange sight when a strong, proud man bends his knee before this child, when with a simple heart he finds and reveres in him his Savior.

And our old, clever, experienced, self-assured world must no doubt shake its head, or perhaps even laugh with contempt, when it hears the cry of salvation from believing Christians: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."

As I reflect on the children I have seen in Africa and Haiti, in Mexico and Europe, in Indiana and elsewhere, I am reminded of the Christ Child, and I am reminded of what Bonhoeffer wrote about the importance of children for theology. At the end of Act and Being, Bonhoeffer links Incarnation and hope, writing how "we all are children of the future"; "here in faith becoming a reality, there in vision perfected, this is the new creation of the new man of the future, who no longer looks back on himself but only away from himself to the revelation of God, to Christ; the man who is born out of the narrowness of the world into the breadth of Heaven, who becomes what he was or, it may be, never was: a creature of God - a child" (p. 184).**

On this Holy Night may we all be born out of our own narrowness and see how we are children of God and how we all may worship the Child of God among us.

Andy Kinsey

*The Mystery of Holy Night, Edited by Manfred Weber; Translated by Peter Heinegg (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1996), p. 30.

**Act and Being, Introduction by Ernst Wolf; Translated by Bernard Noble (New York: Octagon Books, 1961), p. 184.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Missional and Missionary

I have just picked up a new book entitled "Introducing the "Missional Church: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Become One." Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren are the authors. Thus far, I have liked what I have read. In fact, after returning from Africa I have been thinking more about missions, missionaries, and missional matters. As I have shared with others, I have gotten the missions "bug" bad!

Without going into a great deal of hairsplitting over missionary and missional aspects of ministry, I would like to think that there is a deep connection between those churches that are seeking to become more missional and those that have a strong link to supporting or sending out missionaries, whether locally or internationally. The missional church cannot help but to have significant ties to missionaries overseas, for example. Likewise, missionaries overseas are likely to have support from vital missional communities. The two go hand-in-hand.

I make this point to share that in the past, at least in my experience, the missionary supporting congregation could easily fall into the rut (and it still can) of thinking that missions is something others do "over there." While such support is critical, as I have learned, it can too readily lead, ironically, to a kind of disconnect from mission, that is, to a kind outsourcing. I don't think this insight is new, but I would like to think there is truth to it. It is another aspect of a Christendom consciousness. (I am also wondering how this dynamic is related to the drop in the number of missionaries the church sends out. That's a topic for another day.)

On the other hand, the whole thrust of the missional congregation is to foster the kind of imagination and commitment to discerning the movement of God's Spirit in the world and to join that Spirit wherever it may lead, whether "here" or "there." The missional church will find ways of assisting missionaries, to be sure, but it will also seek to discover ways of being in mission with missionaries, regardless the circumstances. It will do so because it realizes that the purpose is to carry out God's mission. Moreover, it will realize that God's mission is so much larger than the church can fathom. The key, then, is to invite others to imagine what God's mission is. In short, as Roxburgh and Boren state, the key is to cultivate an "alternative imagination" to the "attractional model of ministry" that has dominated mainline and evangelical Protestantism for so long
(p. 20). Or, as they go on to argue quite persuasively in the following paragraph it is to recognize that "God is up to something in the world that is bigger than the church even though the church is called to be sign, witness, and foretaste of God's purposes in the world. The Spirit is calling the church on a journey outside of itself and its internal focus. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, summarizes this imagination in this way: "It is not the church of God that has a mission. It's the God of mission that has a church." He is saying that God is at work in the world to redeem creation, and God invites us to participate in this mission. God is not interested in getting more and more people into the institution of the church. Instead, the church is to be God's hands and feet in accomplishing God's mission. This imagination turns most of our church practices on their head. It invites us to toward our neighborhoods and communities, listening first to what is happening among people and learning to ask different questions about what God is up to in the neighborhood. Rather than the primary question being, "How do we attract people to what we are doing?" it becomes, "What is God up to in this neighborhood?" and "What are the ways we need to change in order to engage the people in our community who no longer consider church a part of their lives?" This is what the missional imagination is all about" (p. 20).

I still have many questions about the connection between missional and missionary. Perhaps they may seem pedantic, but they persist. For if I understand what Roxburgh and Boren are saying there are ways we can engage in the kind of imaginative process they encourage; that is, there are ways we can participate in the kind of process that asks the question, "What is God up to?" Roxburgh and Boren are not asking anything new here; they are asking what we have failed to ask for so long: "What is God doing in the world?"

As we look back to see how God has lead us to this point, it is hard to imagine any missionary or pastor or church failing to ask this important question. But then again it seems we haven't been to awake to the reality that we are not in Kansas anymore! The mission is always closer than we think.

Andy Kinsey

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Never Forgotten

The following post will appear on December 12th in The Daily Journal. It is adapted from a previous post.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said that "being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, and forgotten is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. Loneliness is the most terrible poverty."

A few weeks ago I realized how true Mother Teresa's statement was when I and three others from Grace United Methodist Church went to the Nyarugusu Refugee Camp in Tanzania. Our experience was part of a larger mission, specifically to the Joy in the Harvest mission in Kigoma. As we spoke to persons in the camp, we learned a great deal about the importance of remembering others and of simply showing up to care.

Approximately 61,000 persons live in the camp. Most come from nearby Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. Fortunately, with political strife ending, many will be able to leave and return home. Most, however, have lost their livelihoods, including their homes. What comes next is uncertain. Ironically, life in the camp, while difficult, has provided a measure of security.

Our visit to the small United Methodist church in Nyarugusu was eye-opening. The members of the mud-brick church practiced what could only be described as "radical hospitality." The lively worship and visible demonstrations of kindness were truly inspirational. God's empowering grace was tangible and real.

Most inspirational, however, was the letter the pastor read stating how grateful the church was that we had simply come to the camp: "You didn't forget us. Thank you!"

It was a humbling moment. After all, the four of us from Franklin had traveled to Tanzania to do something. We went to accomplish a particular task.

God, however, had other plans! Visiting those who had been forgotten made us remember what was truly important: There is power in remembering who God remembers. There is power in remembering the most vulnerable of God's children. We went to Tanzania with one set of expectations. God had another set!

The experience was life-changing. I say it was life-changing because all too often we can forget how God surprises us by opening doors we may least expect. Too many times we can suffer from amnesia, forgetting what we need to do, or forgetting what is important. I know in my life I can forget where I placed the keys, or worse, forget to pick up the kids! The list is endless.

In a couple weeks many will pause to celebrate Christmas, the day of Christ's birth, the day a refugee family couldn't find shelter in the inn. I think it is safe to say that, at the time, most folks didn't know what had occurred; yes, a few shepherds showed up, and angels sang in glory, but otherwise the night was uneventful. Who would remember such a birth?

Our visit to the Nyarugusu Camp revealed a heart-changing truth: If it seems the world forgets you, take heart; God won't! In fact, God never forgets. No matter how often we forget God or each other, God never forgets us.

It has taken me a while to believe this, but it is true: Forgetting cannot be an option, especially on a continent where millions have perished. God doesn't divide the world between children "there" and "here." Either we all are God's children or we are not. We remember because God does.

Looking back on this experience, I can now understand why the refugees in Nyarugusu welcomed us so generously. Despite physical hunger, there was a deeper hunger: "You cared enough to come." This was the real message they shared. It was also what we needed to hear. It still is, especially now. May we never forget!

I look forward to receiving your comments.

Pastor Andy

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Challenge for Africa

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had a chance to share about our mission trip to Tanzania with loved-ones and friends. It was good to let others know about the church's mission there and to reflect on Africa's situation in terms of the future, that is, in terms of political and ecomonic challenges and leadership. The challenges are daunting and severe, to be sure, but the opportunities are endless. Trying to make sense of this continent requires a great deal of wisdom.

One of the ways I have been trying to make sense of our experience in Tanzania is to read Wangari Maathai's amazing book The Challenge for Africa. Wangari Maathai is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Green Belt Movement. In her book, she presents a different vision of Africa that brings to the surface the complexities and possibilites for change and improvement. She offers the kind of "hardheaded hope" and "realistic options" many are seeking on different levels of engagement, while also providing a necessary critique of what Africans can and must do for themselves, stressing the importance of responsibility and accountability along the way. Throughout, she is passionate about Africa's situation.

An example of what Maathai writes is worth noting. Near the beginning she writes how Africans need to break out of the "culture of dependency" that has arisen over the decades and centuries which has resulted "in too many Africans waiting for outside help instead of unleashing their energies and capabilities and taking actions today that will improve their lives in the future(p. 23). She goes on to say how "only Africans can resolve to provide leadership that is responsible, accountable, and incorruptible. It is they who must embrace their cultural diversity, restore their sense of self-worth, and use both to create thriving nations, regions, and the continent itself. It is they who must begin the revolution in ethics that puts community before individualism, public good before private greed, and commitment to service before cynicism and despair" (p. 23).

These challenges, of course, are not simply for Africa but for the world as a whole. In fact, what Maathai writes applies to families and communities as well: how can we all help to nuture the kind of healthy relationships that will provide for human flourishing and well-being? How can we re-imagine ways of relating to the environment that will work to sustain the precious balance of nature? How can we treat others with dignity and respect? These are good, basic questions.

I like what Maathai writes. She has lifted up issues of importance that affect the lives of millions. What I appreciate is her honesty: she writes with clarity of intention, but also with ease and elegance. And yet, she doesn't back away from the hard issues. For example, I appreciate how she addresses the nitty-gritty issue of leadership. One of the major tragedies of postcolonial Africa is that the African peoples have trusted their leaders, but only a few of those leaders have honored that trust (p. 25). It's a story becoming all too common in church and society, not simply in Africa. Getting to the crux of the matter will take courage and commitment as well as patience and perseverance. It won't happen overnight. Maathai encourages us to get beyond simple solutions and slogans.

In many ways, Maathai writes a parable about Africa: facing overwhelming odds, Africa is still a land of hope. There are still ways to reverse the despair. In fact, Maathai points out, Africa can change. And yet, Africa cannot travel down the road of victimhood as in the past. Rather, it must engage in the kind of solution-making that begins and sustains a conversation and looks for ways of making a difference, that is, the kind of solution-making in which we all need to share.

I know I am glad I have found a conversation partner to make sense of what I just experienced. I am glad I have found Maathai's book.

Pastor Andy

Ps: Please leave comments. I have gotten several, so it apparently is working. Thanks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christianity in Africa

Several persons noted over the weekend how excited I appeared after returning from Africa. To be sure, I am excited, and I am thankful for the short-time we had in Kigoma at Joy in the Harvest. We learned a great deal, and we were able to witness first-hand what God is doing through the work of the church there. It has been gratifying to reflect on the experience and to share the experience with others.

I am also excited because I think there is something new happening in Africa with respect to Christianity. I mention a section from Jehu Hanciles book Beyond Christendom to highlight this shift and to illustrate how "at the very least Africa has taken center stage in the study of Christianity in a way that would have been unimaginable a century ago" [p. 125]. Quoting Andrew Walls, the Scottish missionary, Hanciles notes that when "we take the recent accession to Christianity in Africa along with the recent recession from it in the West, African Christianity must be seen as a major component of contemporary representative Christianity, the standard Christianity of the present age, a demonstration model of its character. That is, we may need to look at Africa today in order to understand Christianity itself" [Andrew Walls, Cross-Cultural Process, p. 119]. Walls goes on to adds that "Africa may be the theater in which some of the determinative new directions in Christian thought and activity are being taken" [p. 123].

Hanciles and Wall's points are worth noting: once, in so-called Christian nations, the churches flourished. Now, new voices in the church universal are being heard. Once churches in the USA sent out the largest number of missionaries; now, the USA receives the largest number of missionaries, mostly from Africa! A shift has definitely taken place.

But others have noted this shift as well: missiologists like Philip Jenkins, Lammin Sanneh, Leslie Newbigin, and David Bosch, to name a few, have written about the changes in global Christianity. However, it has not been until recently that the trends have become more visible. Some of the fastest growing churches in Europe and North America, for example, are comprised of African immigrants. The lively faith and active mission-outreach characterize their outlook.

After visiting Tanzania, I can definitely understand this movement. It is not unsurprising (if I can use a double-negative). Rather, it is something we will need to watch and explore. In fact, it is something that we as Christians in North America and Europe will need to come to grips with as we seek to understand how culture impacts faith and how the Spirit moves to transform faith in culture. All these issues come into focus when dealing with the church's mission around the world.

It is why I am excited. It is also why I look forward to learning more about the rise of Christianity in Africa.

Pastor Andy

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prayer and Mission

After a twenty-five plus hour trip home, I now understand more fully the term "jet-lag"! The spirit is willing, but the eyes are heavy! It is good to return to the states. However, what we experienced in Africa will remain in our hearts and minds forever.

I thought I would share a few initial thoughts about our trip. Many folks may ask, "Okay, now what?" "What can we do?" They are good questions.

To answer them I think it is important to consider how we first need to come to grips with Jesus' commandment to "go into the world and make disciples of all nations," commonly known as the Great Commission, but also known in some churches as the "Great Omission" (Mt. 28:16-20). When Jesus says "go into the world," he means "go into the world." The mission is to teach all people. Persons who think we need to help only "here" and not "there" miss the point: God does not divide the world into "here" and "there." In biblical terms, "here" is always "there" and "there" is always "here." God doesn't see a "here" and a "there" but rather sees "everywhere here and there" and vice versa. God so loves the world! It is heresy to think otherwise.

The other point to keep in mind is that we Americans have a mindset that wants to get the job done. In other words, we tend to focus on what we can do. Or, as Claudia Wertz reminded us, we forget that sometimes the most important thing we can do is simply show up. That is, in traveling to Africa the most important thing we did was get off the plane! In doing so, we sent a message that said, "You matter!" We didn't have to do anything. Rather, we simply had to arrive, to show up.

I share these two points because I realized again on this trip how important prayer is to the life of faith and how important it is to support the mission of the church with our prayers. Prayer, of course, is the key to the Christian life. Without prayer we wither and die; we simply cannot meet the demands and challenges of the day with a Christ-like spirit. We cannot carry out the mission of God's kingdom with love and compassion. However, with prayer we can become what Christ called us to become. We can serve the Lord with joy and gladness. Or, or Lowell stated, we can realize that mission is fun! With prayer we can rejoice and give thanks.

This is why I would like to offer a few specific requests that I feel we all can practice as we think about joining our brothers and sisters in Christ on the mission field in Africa and around the world. I offer these requests knowing how prayer can make a difference and how it can provide the means of growing in faith and discipleship:

First, we can pray that God will use Grace Church to support our missionaries overseas. We have the privilege to provide assistance to several great families. Let's continue this support.

Second, we can pray that our support for persons like Lowell and Claudia will continue to grow and that our support for the mission of Joy in the Harvest will continue to provide a network of love for the people of Kigoma. When you realize that Joy in the Harvest is the only way many people receive assistance, you realize how important the support is. Prayer can move us to do what God is doing.

Third, we can pray that what we give is given out of love, and that what we give is given out of the great love Christ has for us. The two go hand-in-hand. We cannot rent asunder prayer and mission.

These are a few thoughts I have had since returning to Franklin. As we move into the Advent and Christmas Seasons, we will want to keep these requests in plain view and to remember that it is not always about doing so much as it is about showing up, giving thanks, and realizing we all matter.

Pastor Andy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Out of Africa

We are now out of Africa and in Zürich. The flight was bumpy, but we arrived safely in Switzerland. Our flight to Washington will leave in two hours. We are ready to return home!

It has been an amazing experience traveling to Tanzania. The four of us have many stories to share. In time we will communicate our thoughts and perspectives. It may take a few weeks, if not longer, to debrief. However, the one thing we all think is important is that missions is vibrant and important! How great it has been to see what is happening first hand. Joy in the Harvest, in particular, has an incredible presence in Kigoma. Our support is simply invaluable.

It is with the above point in mind that we can also express how significant giving to mission is. Our gift of $200 to the church in the Refugee Camp to repair the roof, and our gift of $2000 to Joy in the Harvest to put the floor down in Daniel's Place will go a very long way. In fact, this is the message we need to remember: so little can go so far. What we think is a little is actually a huge gift.

Well, the time is running out of my computer at the airport here in Zürich. We will need to catch our flight home.

God's peace and grace to all!

Pastor Andy

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Getting Ready to Leave

This post will not be long, but I would like to communicate that we are getting ready to leave Dar es Salaam for Zurich. Keep the team in prayer.

Our time in Dar es Salaam has been interesting to say the least! To be sure, we are not at Joy in the Harvest in Kigoma anymore! However, our trip to the Mikumi National Park was well worth the thirteen hour round-trip on the road. Travel mercies take on a whole new meaning in Tanzania!

It is extremely hot in Dar today - over 90 degrees. We will look forward to returning to the fall-like weather of Indiana.

We want to communicate to everyone our deep appreciation for the prayers of support. The encouragement has been wonderful. We also want to express how grateful we are for the ways Grace Church has undergirded this trip. We are thankful! We especially want to thank Glen Beck. Our hats are off to Glen!!!

If lucky, I will try to get out one more post from Zurich. If not, please know we will see you all when we return.

God's blessings!

Pastor Kinsey

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leaving Kigoma

Today was a day of mixed emotions as we left Joy in the Harvest in Kigoma. It was sad to leave Lowell and Claudia, but it is exciting to make our way back to the states. We will look forward to returning to our loved-ones.

I am writing this current post from the top of a building in Dar es Salaam. Our drive and host, John Francis, brought us here so that I could get a post written. I am thankful. The contrasts with Kigoma are striking. Dar es Salaam is a city of four million people. It definitely provides another view of Africa. As Lowell shared with us, there are basically three Africas: urban, rural, and small towns. Thus far, we have experienced all three.

I am also writing this post to share that we are now preparing to go to the Mikumi Game Reserve. This will supply yet another aspect of the African trip. Please keep us in prayer as we make our way there. It is a five to six hour trip by van.

I will end this post by sharing a quote from Mother Teresa's book Come Be My Light. In this book, Mother Teresa speaks of her stuggles. Alice brought the book with her, and we have enjoyed learning about Mother Teresa as we have moved among the poor of Tanzania. In light of the ministry of Joy in the Harvest, Mother Teresa writes about the lives of missionaries:

"The life of a missionary is not strewn with roses, in fact more with thorns; but with it all, it is a life full of happiness and joy when she thinks that she is doing the same work which Jesus was doing when He was on earth, and that she is fulfilling Jesus' commandment: 'Go and teach all nations.'"

As we complete this segment of our journey, we lift up these words of reflection and prayer. We also want to invite everyone at Grace Church to pray for us as we travel. May God grant us mercy and safety!

Ps: This may be my last post. If so, please know I have enjoyed writing. If not, keep on reading! I hope they have helped to communicate and inform! God's peace!

Pastor Andy

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Found Friends

During our trip to Kigoma, we have encountered all kinds of people. Many, of course, are from Kigoma, while others come from Europe or the states. It has been a blessing to meet so many persons who want to make a difference for Christ.

Several of the persons we have met are from Germany. Needless to say, I was surprised. However, once we began to converse it soon became apparent why they are here and what they are doing. Some, of course, are with the Lutheran Church in Germany. There is a strong Lutheran mission here in Kigoma. Others are working through the German government as part of Germany's extensive social service program. In Germany, following high school, a young person must spend one to two years in some kind of military or social service. Many young people travel abroad to work. The young people I have gotten to know while in Kigoma have completed high school and are now teaching in an Anglican secondary school, providing instruction in English, math, and science, to the children of Kigoma. It is very difficult work. A typical classroom, for example, has sixty students with only one teacher!

Slava is the name of one of the young person I met the other day. Slava was actually born in Russia, but his family is German. He is Pentecostal and has spent some time in a Pentecostal seminary south of Frankfurt. Next year upon returning to Germany he wants to attend university in Bonn to study theology and church history.

To be sure, Slava and I had a wonderful conversation. We spoke about discerning God's will and direction in life and understanding the life of the mind and heart. We also spent time discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Slava had a copy of Bonhoeffer's famous book Life Together; it is the book Bonhoeffer wrote when he was directing the underground seminary in Finkewalde during World War II. It was great to see a young person so passionate about living the Christian life. I hope we will stay in contact.

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the four of us went to a small beach outside of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika. There, we took some time to unwind. We also met two young Mennonite missionaries. In fact, one of the missionaries, Josh, went to school at Goshen College! Small world! Josh has been in Tanzania for two years, working primarily in the large urban areas. It was good to speak with him. Unfortunately, his church in the states has cut off his support, so he will need to return to the states next month. However, as he shared with us, he will hopefully find another church to undergird his ministry. God will certainly open a new door!

(As we have learned, this kind of thing happens a great deal on the mission field in Africa. Many missionaries lose support. It is unfortunate, but it is also why we need to keep in contact with missions like Joy in the Harvest to learn what it is doing.)

Both of these young people represent a slice of the 'people pie' in Tanzania. Words cannot describe the whole picture. To be sure, we have met many more. However, when we return, we will definitely want to share about our experiences and the other people we encountered. It has been nothing less than a rewarding and life-changing trip.

Pastor Andy

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Destitute Camp

Joy in the Harvest is a multileveled ministry with various parts and aspects - e.g., mission station for other missionaries, ministries to refugees, outreach services to the poor, vocational training and educational programs, evangelistic campaigns, to name a few. In different capacities, and on numerous fronts, Joy in the Harvest shares the love and compassion of Christ to the least of our brothers and sisters. It is a ministry that extends Jesus' hands in so many ways.

One of the specific ways Joy in the Harvest extends Jesus' love is to minister to the Destitute of Kigoma. Several years ago Lowell and Claudia Wertz realized there were 'gaps' in the social services of Kigoma's 'assistance' programs to the poor. The government of Tanzania was simply not caring for persons with basic needs, many of whom included lepers, AIDS orphans, the mentally ill and physically handicapped, the poor, and refugees. No one was providing help or relief. The needs were great.

Today, as part of our work, we went to the Destitute Camp with Lowell to pass out cleaning kits (towel, soap, tooth brush, tooth paste) and share words of encouragement and comfort. We also had the opportunity to pray with several of the people. One was a woman who had been bed-ridden for eight months. Sick and with leprosy we offered prayers for strength and healing. It was a moving moment.

What I shall remember, however, were the smiles and singing: Despite rejection, the people expressed joy. It was a reminder of how God's kingdom comes to us in the midst of pain and suffering. I will also remember how important it is to touch and tell others how they matter to God: We all are God's children!

Needless to say, it was an important moment, but it was also a moment of sadness, happiness, and anger all rolled into one: Sadness at the condition of the people, happiness to see joy on so many faces, and anger to know that societies, no matter the stage of development, have ways of abandoning people. Were it not for Joy in the Harvest the Destitute of Kigoma would have nothing. Or, to put it another way, despite what sociologists call a 'zone of social abandonment' Christ was experienced. A touch of hope!

To be sure, our time in the Destitute Camp made me realize yet again how difficult life in Africa is. There are no easy solutions to what Tanzania and many other countries are facing. The list of problems are endless. And yet, the church is called to minister. There is no place the body of Christ is not called to go to spread the good news. When Jesus said "Go into all the world," he meant "Go into all the world." The operative word, of course, is 'all.' Not some of the world, or this part of the world, or that part of the world, but ALL the world. It begins at home and then moves out to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8, Matthew 28:16-20). Everywhere! All the time!

As I reflect on today, I am reminded again of this truth, and of how we all are called to respond with the love Christ for all God's people everywhere all the time. We are called to share this love and to proclaim that nothing shall separate us from it - now and always. Amen.

Pastor Kinsey

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sermon from La Gungu United Methodist Church

Today, we attended the La Gungu United Methodist Church in Kigoma, down the road from Joy in the Harvest. We had a wonderful time as we worshipped with God's people. Other missionaries came to worship with us as well. It was truly an international experience demonstrating the unity of the body of Christ. Celebrating Holy Communion took on special meaning!

One of the special opportunities I have been able to enjoy on this mission trip is preaching. On Saturday, I was able to share a short-sermon with the refugees at Camp Nyarugusu. Today, I was privileged to communicate with the folks at La Gungu UMC. Needless to say, it was different, having a translator, etc. However, I believe the sermon went well. If the Pentecostal pastor from Nigeria thought it was good, then I will take that as a compliment!

Here are portions of what I shared based on Ephesians 2:1-10; remember how each sentence would be translated into Swahili -

"Yesterday, I shared with our brothers and sisters in Camp Nyarugusu that our Lord Jesus Christ is with us. I communicated that Christ loves us, and that he died on the cross to save us. Using the Fourteenth Chapter of the Gospel of John, I stated how God sends the Holy Spirit through Jesus to guide us and lead us, to help us and be with us. It is the hope of the gospel."

"This morning I would like to offer a word of grace using a passage from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. In this passage, we read how at one time we, who were once dead, followed the desires and passions of our flesh (vv 1-2). We were disobedient and dead to what has kept us from God, dead to the selfish desires of our heart. Therefore, at one time, we did not know God, and we did not know the love of Christ."

"That's the first part of our message: What we have done to mess things up! What we have done to turn away from God."

"But there is a second part to our message, and that's what God has done! There is God's side to the equation: God, who is rich in mercy, has poured out his love for us, that even though we have sinned and fallen short of God's kingdom, we have been made alive with Christ through the Spirit (vv. 4-5). We have been raised up together with Christ through the cross, and have been given new life. We have been given the great gift of God's love! In fact, we have been given the greatest gift of all: God's only Son, Jesus Christ."

"It's a familar message: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16)."

"In short, in Jesus Christ, God shows us the 'immeasurable riches of his grace'! We can't earn it; we can't work for it; we can only receive it in faith, in trust! For by grace are we saved! And by grace can we turn to God. By grace can we receive Christ and the benefits of our Lord on the cross. By grace! By God's free gift of love and hope!"

"A gift, given to us by the Spirit - that we may have the mind of Christ, and that we may walk as Jesus walked; that we may bear the fruit of God's Spirit and may ever grow unto the likeness of Christ."

"And it's all grace! God's grace! By receiving the Spirit into our hearts, by turning to God with our lives, by following Jesus in the Way! By grace! By God's amazing, life-changing grace! By God's all-powerful grace! Given out of love for you, for the world, for us all!"

"And so, receive this love, this grace and live! And live!"

"May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."

Pastor Andy

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nyarugusu Refugee Camp

What a trip! The last twenty-four hours have been an emotional roller coaster. We traveled by Toyate Land-Cruiser two hours to the north of Kigoma to the United Nations Nyarugusu Refugee Camp. It was probably the roughest trip I have taken by land in my life! I thank God for travel-mercies!

There are approximately 61,000 refugees in the Nyarugusu Camp. Most come from nearby Zaire, Burundi, and Rwanda. The camp has been in existence for close to sixteen years. To the children the camp is all they know. Fortunately, with the wars ending the people can return. However, this does not mean life will be easy. During exile, most lost their homes and properties. What will come next is uncertain. The pastors in these camps have a very difficult time communicating hope in the midst of the pain and suffering. Our prayers and thoughts are with them. As I reflected on their condition, it became very apparent that, if it were not for the ministry of Joy in the Harvest, these refugees would have little to nothing. Unfortunately, the church in the United States and Europe has forgotten them. (Note: Many of the refugees are United Methodists from other countries.)

Therefore, it was a joyful occasion when we arrived at the United Methodist Church in the camp today. Throughout the refugee camps it is important to remember that there are churches of all kinds - e.g., FourSquare Gospel, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, etc. We attended worship at a small, mud-thatched church in the middle of the camp. Approximately 502 believers comprise this particular congregation. Over the last few weeks several have come to Christ - six families from Islamic backgrounds and one family from a pagan background. The pastors and leaders shared with us a letter of welcome and concerns. I was moved by their humility and kindness. The love of God was visible and real! When we return, I will read portions of the letter to the people at Grace.

As part of the worship service, we also presented the pastor with a special gift: 150,000 Schillings, or about $200 (if that much) to complete the roof on the church. The people were thrilled. We all were humbled.

The worship service itself lasted about ninety minutes to two hours. The singing and dancing and praying were lively. Each of us took turns sharing testimonies and devotions. I used portions of John 14 to share words of comfort and encouragement. It was a special moment. I have been to many cathedrals in Europe and famous churches in America but this cathedral beat them all! Amen!

Following the service, in typical United Methodist fashion, we went to what I would call an Administrative Board Meeting! There, they fed us a banana and two boiled eggs, along with a coke. We then settled down to business: what to do with forty-two chickens that had died in route to the camp? The chickens were to supply eggs and meat to the people. The conversation lasted thirty minutes. Some things are universal!

There is a great deal to share about our experiences here. We are simply scratching the surface. It is so easy to fall into despair. However, it is also important to realize that without the ministry of persons like the Wertz's and others there would be nothing! Zero! Nada! The people in this part of God's creation would be forgotten.

Because there are multiple levels to any trip like this, it will take time to process. However, one thing is for sure: going to the refugee camp today changed our lives. We won't be the same.

Pastor Andy

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday People

There has been a great deal to understand as we spend time with Lowell and Claudia. This morning we spent time putting together health/cleaning kits for the refugees at the camp north of Kigoma. Many of the refugees come from war-torn Congo, or Rwanda, or Burundi. We will distribute the kits when we arrive tomorrow morning. The kits, by the way, consist of the following materials: towel, wash rag, tooth brush, tooth paste, and bar of soap. These kits are life savors! Thanks to the many churches back in the States that assembled and sent these kits to Joy In the Harvest. We may take such items for granted, thinking what can we possibly do? However, once we realize the connections we see how little things matter. Therefore, we will want to note how such projects, while seemingly small in our eyes, are really big to those who have been displaced.

Such an observation raises all kinds of questions. While we in America debate health care, for example, it is important to realize that in Tanzania, and the rest of Africa for that matter, there is NO health care. Many of the people in the towns and villages, not to mention the large urban areas, simply do not have access to care. Nothing! To bring doctors and dentists to a place like Kigoma, therefore, would supply a measure of hope beyond words. Again, we are simply talking about the basics in a place without access to the basics. It is something to think about with respect to future plans.

We are now preparing to help with another ministry at Joy In the Harvest. On Fridays, persons throughout the area head for town. Many are beggars. Because Friday is considered a holy day by Muslims, persons are required to provide some kind of offering or assistance to the poor. At Joy In the Harvest, we will be helping to access the needs of these persons and families. Many are Muslim. Our efforts will provide a small opportunity to share God's love in a concrete way. The message is simple but not over the top: Christ cares about you!

We hope all is well with persons back in the States. We miss our families, and I miss Peggy and the kids very much. Send everyone our love.

We will keep you posted of our work as we continue our journey.

God's peace,

Pastor Andy

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joy In the Harvest

Approximately twenty years ago Lowell and Claudia Wertz came to Tanzania with two other Methodist missionaries from the Congo to plant churches. The United Methodist Church did not have a presence in Tanzania, so Lowell and Claudia signed up! Today, a thriving and growing mission takes place in the western part of this country. Thanks to faithful persons around the world, especially in the States, Joy In the Harvest is now reaping the harvest of God's kingdom in Kigoma. What God has done through Lowell and Claudia is nothing short of remarkable.

This morning we were able to take a tour of Joy In the Harvest ministry. Lowell shared with us the ways in which this mission has grown over the years. The Computer School in particular is very impressive, and the community center now under construction will be one of the largest buildings in Kigoma. A radio station is also in the works. This has been very appealing to Bill Frosch who spent several years in radio broadcasting. Who knows how the Lord will use Bill in the future for this!!

There are many different aspects to Joy In the Harvest. One of those is the incredible organization and adminstration of the buildings, grounds, and staff. It is clear Lowell and Claudia have gifts in this department! The years of experience they have contributes to the way the mission operates on a daily basis.

To be sure, there is more work to do. The needs are so great it is difficult to know where to begin. And yet, Joy In the Harvest is an oasis of hope in a sea of poverty. When I take mission trips I am reminded again of the sacrifice of persons like Lowell and Claudia. I am also reminded of how important it is for churches like Grace Church to find ways of supporting the work here. So little can go such a long, long way. It is a partnership.

Tomorrow, we will make our way to the refugee camp north of Kigoma. We will leave on Friday afternoon and return on Saturday. I have been asked to share a word of encouragement with the workers. Again, I don't know what to say as I am the one who needs to learn from them!

Continue to keep us in prayer. Our prayers have certainly been with you.

Pastor Kinsey

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Welcome to Kigoma!

We have finally arrived in Kigoma. For persons following on Facebook, you may have gotten my initial posting. I think I also sent an 'alert' via the church email list. Anyway, we are now here and getting to work.

We were welcomed at the airport at noon by a twenty-three men's choir singing and dancing. What a show of radical hospitality! We then had a wonderful meal with the Wertz's. It is amazing to see the work they have done. It is a true blessing, and lives are being touched and changed.

Following our meal we settled in. Our rooms are quite nice, and we enjoy overlooking the lake. The weather is beastly hot - over 90! The sun hits the earth directly here, so it is quite bright.

After getting into our rooms, Lowell took us to the pavilion to feed the children. The four of us dished up over 200 plates of beans and rice. If it were not for this ministry, the children would simply go hungry. Many of the children, of course, are orphans due to AIDS and war. Lowell shared with us that the per capital income is less than $200.00 per year (if that). Most people try to survive.

Our evening was spent having a Bible Study with other missionaries. Lowell and Claudia asked me to lead. We spent time talking about Psalm 42:1-2. It is a special verse. We met people from all over. Several are from the states - notably Texas and New York; others are from Europe - Germany and Denmark. I struck up several great conversations with the young Germans who are teaching in the language schools. Next week I will plan to meet with them and discuss - above all things - Dietrich Bonhoeffer! My German Pietist heart was strangely warmed!

We are now getting ready for bed. Alice, Barb, and Bill are doing well. Mary Shott, our companion from Attica, has been a Godsend. She is working on a reforestation project.

Tomorrow, we will head to the market and get a view of Kigoma. Friday, we will head out to the refugee camp. This will take up most of Saturday too. On Sunday we will worship together. I have been asked to preach.

I will do all I can to share moments during our time here. I humbled by the work the people are doing in Christ's name. Persons have left all they have to follow Jesus. What they do for Christ is amazing. But then again, isn't that what it is truly all about?


Pastor Andy

Monday, November 2, 2009

Regarding Making Comments

I am not sure the Comments section of the blog is working. You can try to leave comments, but I don't believe they are connecting. I will have to see what to do next to make that happen. Please try, but know it may not work!

Again, the Team thanks everyone for the prayers. It was a wonderful send-off!

Pastor Andy

Arriving in Zurich

We arrived in Zurich one hour ahead of schedule. It was a good trip, and we made it safely to our hotel rooms. As I write, I can hear the jets fly over head. Zurich is a beautiful city, though at the moment it is raining!

While traveling on the plane I took time to begin reading a book that I hope to share during the course of this trip: Beyond Christendom: Globalization, African Migration, and the Transformation of the West. It is written by Jehu J. Hanciles, a young missionary from Serria Leone and professor of mission at Fuller Seminary. It is a book that tries to interpret the forces at work around the world and the impact these forces have on the mission of the church and vice versa. One of the main contentions of the book is that, despite the entrenched notions of Western dominance within global societies, non-Western movements and initiatives are among the most powerful forces shaping the contemporary world; this is especially the case with respect to migration and the rise of Pentecostal Christianity. It will be interesting to try to make sense of these things once we get to Africa.

Alice, Barb, Bill, and I are doing fine. It is now quiet in the room, though Bill is sawing a few logs!
Our room is a typical European room - small and cozy. I brewed a warm cup of coffee, so I am doing well!

To be sure, we are looking forward to getting to Kigoma. Once there we will meet with Lowell and Claudia Wertz. To learn more about their mission and ministry, go to www.joyintheharvest.com. This website contains helpful information.

Another person on our trip is Mary Shott from Attica UMC. She works for Joy In the Harvest with the reforestation efforts. She has been wonderful to have on the trip, as she has been to Kigoma several times. What a blessing!

Please watch for future posts. I will do what I can to keep persons informed about the trip and work.

God's peace and prayers....

Pastor Andy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prayers for Upcoming Trip

We want to invite persons to pray for the mission trip to Tanzania. We will leave on Sunday, November 1, at 2:30 p.m. As the itinerary shows, it will take a couple days to arrive in Kigoma!

Here is a breakdown of the trip:

November 1 - Leave Indy for Zurich

November 2-3 - Leave Zurich for Dar es Salam

November 4-12 - Arrive in Kigoma and work at the Joy in the Harvest Mission

Health Clinic
School and Orphanage
Evangelistic Work
Refugee Assistance

November 13 - Leave Kigoma for Dar es Salam

November 14 - Leave Dar es Salam for Zurich

November 14/15 - Return to Indy

Keep Bill Frosch, Barb Irving, Mary Shott, Alice Mann, and Andy in prayer.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome to the PD File

Welcome to the PD File: Notes on Practical Divinity.

In this blog, I will share insights and experiences pertaining to ministry. I will focus in particular on our Wesleyan theological tradition and offer thoughts and reflections as they relate to the mission of the church. Since this blog will be under construction, it will take a while to smooth out the rough edges. However, I hope it can still serve as a tool for helpful conversation.

Over the next few weeks I will post blogs from our mission trip to Kigoma, Tanzania. I hope it will provide helpful commentary on the trip as well as stimulate discussion on the church's mission across cultures. We live in exciting times, and the church is at the intersection of so many lives. The Holy Spirit is working in the hearts and lives of God's people.

This blog will also serve in time to communicate challenges and concerns facing the church. I enjoy expressing views about ecclesiology and missiology. The two go hand-in-hand.

Come and join this blog. And remain patient: to the technically challenged, this is one large step!


Andy Kinsey