Much has taken place since the last newsletter, and we are thankful for the continual support and generosity which has made it possible to continue the work without abatement. We have benefited greatly from the solar power which has been installed recently, and in this area without mains power this has been a great blessing. In England it is so easy not to value things like electricity, but here the vast majority of people have never known what it is to have it. Recently the charity was given money to buy bibles and 100 have been purchased. God willing, we hope to hold a session on the importance of personal bible reading at the end of the week. Sadly, the only gospel these people had been previously exposed to was one wholly unlike the true gospel. They have never been brought up under the protestant principle of ‘Scripture alone’, and normally believe anything a preacher will say! Unfortunately, around this area the preaching is often full of error. With God’s help, we are trying to emphasise the importance of personal acquaintance with the Word of God, which will enable them, like the Berean’s, to search the scriptures and discern the truth in the midst of so much error and misunderstanding. There was a sad event recently which typified the enslavement of witchcraft which binds so many in this area. A young man aged 18 developed a painful stomach and began to vomit blood. Pastor Mapema was there and called for James and Sam to attend him, but just as they were about to leave the parents intervened and said they did not want any help. They believed he had been cursed by the witch doctor, and that this was the inevitable outcome. Later, in the middle of the night, the parents, seeing the deterioration of their son changed their minds and called again, but it was too late. The boy died before receiving any medical help. Such a sad end to another life overtaken by the falsehood of witchcraft. There has been attempts in the last few weeks to reach people groups who are either completely untouched by the truth, or who have not heard the true gospel. These efforts have led us to a group of Maasai located in a very remote area further north and towards the Tanzanian border. There are 4 camps with a total of about 100-150 people. The language spoken is one which cannot be understood by any other tribe, but thankfully they do speak Swahili as well. We have contacted this tribe now on three occasions and, after initial suspicion they have now agreed for us to deliver an introduction to them on our intentions, and to preach on that occasion. This is due to take place next Friday God willing. There is always some uneasiness when speaking to them as they sit in a circle and speak for some time in their language, without any of us being able to understand what they are saying. They keep themselves to themselves and appear to know virtually nothing about the truth. We have since been told by someone from the next village (about 12km’s away) that they couldn’t believe the Maasai had allowed us into the camp! We thank the Lord for this opportunity and continue to look to Him to continue to show His hand and open doors consistent with His will. On Saturday 15th December we had a Sunday school prizegiving with the books kindly sent from one of the chapels in the UK. About 150 children came from the surrounding area, some with their parents, and Pastor Dalmas was invited to speak. He addressed both children and parents on the need of practical Christianity - the faith that any child has in Christ must produce obedience to parents and to God, and the parents should have a love and desire to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He spoke of how even here there is so much to draw our children into sin, and it is very important that we as parents set a Godly example, lay down the right foundation and pray that the Lord will work in their lives. The average attendance for the Sunday school is about 70-80 each week and they are learning from ‘lessons for life.’ They are also learning to sing hymns both in Swahili and English and this helps them in their schooling as English is one of the subjects they must learn. Most of the Christians here are only used to singing repetitive chorus and singing hymns is a new thing to many. We feel that it is profitable for them to learn hymns as they tend to have a greater depth to them; it is nice to hear the children sometimes singing them as they walk to school in the morning at 6:30am! Last year we planted 2 acres of maize and green grams, but because of the on and off rains the seeds sprang up and then were burnt by the sun and died. One acre of green grams survived, and we harvested about 75kg; 30kg of which we sent to the feeding program at Manna Likoni (Pastor Dalmas’s) School. The loss of maize extended beyond us alone, and many families around are going to suffer. The rains are not expected until the end of March, then the seeds can be planted, before they must wait 3 months for the harvest. We can only hope that the Lord will use this anxious and difficult time to draw people to Himself and a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We hope to continue planting as it can be a way in which we can support Manna Likoni and the feeding program there. We are thankful to the Lord as always for supplying our needs. We received a large donation a few weeks ago which has enabled us to start the underground rainwater tank. Water is still our biggest need because although we have the water from the well it is still too salty to drink. We are hoping the new tank will hold 100,000 litres of water collected from the roof gutters. This can then be used for drinking, watering the plants and cleaning the clothes. We have also had to dig two new cesspits; one for the Kingham family’s home and the other as an overflow. These are 25 feed deep and dug by hand. Over the last few weeks we have had 35 people working here plus two cooks to feed them. Each morning they are read the Scriptures, it is expounded to them and prayed over, and we look to the Lord to own and bless His Word to these men. Sam and Hannah hope to build their own home a few metres from the main building, which they hope to build with the proceeds of their UK home. We hope to begin in the next few weeks and get the foundation finished before the rains come. We have been having a few problems with the Landrover failing to start. We changed the starter motor but the problem has continued, and after searching the internet it seems that the ignition could have a problem so we have ordered a new one and hope to try and fit it next week. This has caused a bit of a problem as when we go to town for the food shop the car has to be left running all the time until we arrive home; thankfully you don’t have to turn your engine off at the garage here! There are no reliable garages to repair this sort of thing so we have no choice but to try ourselves. We thank you all for your continued interest in the Lords work here, please remember us in your prayers. Christian Love James, Elsie, Sam & Hannah Matthew 9:35-38 35And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; 38 pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
We are thankful to God for the safe journey of Sam, Hannah and Josiah to Kenya, to join James and Elsie and the family in the mission work at Mombasa. They spent a few days acclimatising to the climate in Mombasa city (the temperature there currently is 33°C!) and today are travelling to the mission compound. Please continue in prayer for the missionary work in Kenya..
The next update talk on the work of the mission will be held at Market Lavington Community Hall (SN10 4DG) on 8th December God willing. This is to be taken by Tom Gudgeon and is due to start at 15:00, as part of the carol service. All are very welcome to attend.
The next update talk on the work of the mission will be held at Redhill Chapel on the 7th September God willing. This is to be taken by Tom Gudgeon and is due to start at 19:30. All are very welcome to attend.
We would like to offer thanks to God and to all who have given in support of the work following the recent update talk, your generosity and kindness have been overwhelming. At the most recent count the amount raised was £4282.78. We pray the Lord's blessing on you each in accordance with the truth in His word -
Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.
The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
Today I had the sad job of collecting the body of a mother of 5 who was only in her 30’s, who was the sister-in-law of our friend and local pastor Mr Mapema. She had been diagnosed with cancer two years ago.
Due to some cultural customs, she was taken to live with her mother, while her husband and children remained in the town of Likoni near Mombasa, and he and the other family sent money when available to help with treatment. However, her mother (who says she is a Christian) believed her son in law had bewitched her. Instead of taking her for the treatment she paid the witch doctor to come and remove the ‘curse’.
This is the second death within one month of a middle-aged person that I know of, and there must be thousands more over Africa.
To the western mind, this is all very strange, but it is deadly serious, Satan and his demons are at work here in a very open way, corrupting the minds of these poor people through witchcraft. In the Western world his work is generally more subtle, albeit with the same devastating effect, but because it is so subtle we can very easily forget he is at work seeking to destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. It is him who has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (2 Cor 4.4) as he seeks his own preeminence and companions for hell.
On Sunday I preached from Saul going to the witch of Endor and the outcome of dealing with the forces of darkness, in a hope the Lord would use it as a warning to some poor soul.
The reason why I have felt constrained to email is that it is heartbreaking to see the manifest grief and suffering sin has caused in this world and here we seem to be on the front line of it. Death seems final, but really it is just the beginning of a never-ending eternity.
Please remember us and the Christians here who have come out of a culture steeped in witchcraft and superstition, who in many cases live in fear because they do not know the Word of God and the victory Christ has accomplished on the cross over the powers of darkness for all of His people.
We are hoping to do another update talk God willing on Saturday 5th May 2018 at Horam Village Hall at 2:15pm. We hope to hold various stalls of items for sale in support of the mission. All are very welcome.
It is a pleasure to write to you all at the beginning of another new year. We hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and new year. No doubt many of us have a lot of things to remember from last year, and maybe there are some things we would rather forget about. Sometimes life can be hard, we sometimes even feel it to be unfair, so It is a wonderful thing the Lord has given to us; the times and the seasons, the days, the months and the years. We need new days, new years, new beginnings to get our minds and bodies focused on the future. To stop and ponder the year passed and see how the Lord has provided, led, taught, corrected and blessed us. It’s good to look back and see the wonderful works of the Lord. I hope you can, and that you can see God at work in your life, transforming you and conforming you to the image of His dear Son.
As we, as a family, look back over 2017, we can say it was a hard year for us. At some points we had never been so low wondering how we would even get through the day, thinking we have just got it wrong and should just go home to the UK. But the Lord never left us in this condition and has never forsaken us. As we look back and remember the hard things we were called to pass through, I think we can say, like Job of old (Job 42:5) ‘I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee’. Our God manifests Himself to His people in the middle of their afflictions when they have lost all hope of self and lost confidence in people, He appears. King Jesus, “It is I be not afraid”. These revelations of His love and care enable us go forward into this year, looking unto Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith, knowing He is on the throne in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father, having all power, all authority, and whatever comes upon us this year He will remain the same. In December we had our first Church meeting. Elsie and I, with Mr and Mrs Mapema. We decided on the service order, service timings and Sundays school etc. We had a service on new year's day. I preached from John 3 about the new birth, having a new heart, a new spirit, a new creation, going to a new heaven and a new earth, to sing a new song. The first Lord’s day of the year we started the Sunday school. Elsie and Mrs Mapema taught it together. They have about 30 children ranging from 2 to 16 years, some have been to school, others have not, but they are all very keen! While the children are in Sunday school the adults have a Bible study, taken by Joseph and myself. Most of the adults have attended a church before but the level of Bible knowledge is very low. I asked them if any knew the account of Job and his suffering, only one raised their hand. Most, if not all the local churches are pentecostal. The pentecostal leaders don’t encourage reading/studying the Bible as they believe the Holy Spirit will give them all they need. Because of this, ignorance and false teaching are rife. The Bible says in John 8:31-32,’ Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’. We must know the truth to form a set of firm belief”s to arm us to fight false teaching. Jesus said “Thy Word is truth”.
One of the congregation here is a new convert. An old lady who has lived her life as a witch. Not long after we arrived back here from the UK she called for pastor Mapema to go and pray with her. He, knowing her way of life, was quite shocked at the invitation and invited me to go along, Unfortunately, I was unwell in bed preventing me from going, so he took another pastor. They prayed with her and showed her through the scriptures the way of salvation. She was convinced of the truth, cut off her witchcraft charms and her gown, and said “I will now die in Jesus”. Since that day she has been faithfully attending the services here. She is unable to walk because of a childhood disease and lives in very poor conditions as there is no support or equipment for disabled people. She comes to the service on the back of a motorbike and used to crawl to her seat. As you can imagine it was a pitiful sight. We have now brought her a wheelchair. She was very nervous to begin with but she is learning how to use it and it has improved her standard of living. The wheelchair was only a cheap one and it’s not suitable for the rough terrain here. Some of the Attleborough chapel friends are putting a crate together to send here so we hope to ship over a heavy duty wheelchair in that, God willing. Pastor Mapema said he has never heard of a witch coming to faith in Christ, so this, as with any conversion, is a really wonderful blessing for us here.
The orphan children I wrote about a while back, now live with the Mapema family. The reason for not updating you all sooner is because things were quite unstable at first. Obviously, they have been through some very sad times recently and we can’t imagine what it must be like for them all to lose both parents so young. They are now thankfully part of a lovely family again and we have been doing what we can to support them in this big change. Sadly, the children had no boundaries or discipline when their parents were alive so have found it very difficult to adapt. None have ever been to school (the choice of their mother rather than lack of money). The eldest girl, 18, has two children from different fathers. She caused a lot of problems in her new home, encouraging disrespect in the younger siblings, but has now left and gone back to live with her aunt. The next girl, Kadzo, 16 also had very bad behaviour problems and has moved to Mombasa. The eldest boy, Dzuye is 15. At first he was causing a few problems, siding with his big sisters and, encouraged by Joseph’s Muslim neighbours, was refusing to come to the church, claiming to be a Muslim. However, a family meeting was held and he was told to follow the rules of the house and go to church or he’d have to leave. Thankfully he decided to stay and is very happy. He is now attending school and always enjoys a ride in the Landrover, practising the new english words he has learnt at school. He is the eldest child in the primary school. The Kenyan system says you must start from the first class no matter how old you are. All the younger children have settled in well and are all attending school. It is lovely to see them being looked after so well. Joseph has re-roofed and extended his house, with two new bedrooms and he’s built his wife a hut for cooking and maize storage. Thank you so very much for your support, it has really changed their lives, which looked very bleak when we emailed asking for your help. Joseph and Agnes are very kind parents and it’s humbling to see how much they have willingly sacrificed to give these little ones a home and family.
Unfortunately, our 6 year old, John has today tested positive for Malaria. Thankfully we have the medication here and it has been caught early so he will begin the treatment right away. God willing, he will recover in the next few days.
Thank you very much for your support and interest in the work here. We wish you each a happy new year.
Brethren Pray for us, with love,
James & Elsie Gudgeon
There are plans to send a crate of useful items out to James and Elsie this summer for the benefit of the mission and Bible students. There is a list posted below (which may be updated as required) of things which we hope to send. If anyone is interested in providing or contributing towards any of the things below, please either post a comment or email us through the charity email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stationary items, particularly staedtler pencils and colouring pencils, pritt stick glue, A4 white paper, and A3 sugar paper.
Colouring books for children
Clothes of all sizes, second hand clothing of good condition is welcomed.
Land rover tyres
Land rover radiator, handbrake and seat covers.
(no food and drink please due to stringent customs regulations)
We would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. It has been brought to our attention that there has been a problem with the email system. Sincere apologies are given to those who have sent emails and not yet received a response, and we will endeavor to now respond to these as soon as possible. It should now be up and running.