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