Friday, June 25, 2010

Not much is good when you have TB

Meet Alice...she is 7 yrs old, and lives on the streets of Kitale Kenya.
She comes to Oasis of Hope drop-in-center each day for the free breakfast and lunch.
Normally she would also love attending classes and singing and playing with the 150+ kids Oasis serves every day.
But tuberculosis has robbed Alice of her ability to enjoy group activities for the time being...
She sits and watches the kids play and hears the songs and then the staff bring her meals to her...TB is common among street kids in Kitale and is sadly very contagious...
So Alice sits...and watches...and listens...and WISHES...that life could be different...somehow...

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Everyone is asking...what is going on at Purpose Driven Academy?
I wanted to get through Easter at Saddleback and not detract from the incredible weekend...but now here is a brief summary of the fire as I know update on the wellbeing of the kids...and a word about how we can help Margaret and the kids at Purpose Driven Academy...


Purpose Driven Academy is a Christian School of 525 students pre-K through High School.
It was founded by Mrs. Margaret Wanyonyi, wife of Pastor Moses Wanyonyi, and is an education outreach of DELIVERANCE CHURCH, in Kitale Kenya.
Although the school is only 8 years old, it has grown rapidly on the 1 acre church campus and with Impact Bible College, runs year round in 3 terms..

About the Fire...

Late on the evening of March 18th, 2010, a fire broke out at PDA, completely destroying the boys high school and jr high dormatories. Over 100 resident students were left with NOTHING but the clothing they were wearing ...AND THEIR LIVES.
Praise God that because of the timing of the day all students were in CLASSROOMS doing last minute 'preps' for the next day's National Exams... a Kenya-wide testing that determines your position for university and other school placement...THINK SAT's...nobody died ...and if you stood in those dorms you would say as I did, 'this is a miracle that no one perished'.
The fire's origin is still being sought by the Kitale fire investigators, but because of the fierceness of the fire and the lack of fire response and the complete destruction, that may never be settled.

Every child at PDA keeps their belongings in a small tin lockbox...For the orphans and streetkids at PDA, that small blue box contains EVERYTHING in their world...not much to us but all the world to them...maybe a note from a friend from Saddleback...maybe a picture of a mom long since gone from their lives...maybe a diary... maybe a book or a second shirt or pair of you and me, Random them, connection to life and history and memories...
I watched the next morning after the fire, as boy after boy found his box and hoping against hope broke open the charred tin...only to find the same results...NOTHING but coal-black ashes and burnt memories.

As I walked through the dorm I could hear the sounds of the night before.
Margaret called me in tears and explained the crisis and I told her to gather the boys and send them over to our compound... not really understanding what lay ahead but know we needed to do something...
About midnight the kids started arriving in shock and wondering what just happened and how it would affect their lives. REMEMBER, THESE ARE KIDS WHO COME FROM A LIFE OF LOSS AND ABANDONMENT.
For the next hour, Ayub, our caretaker, and Cleophus, our nite guard, the Rwandans, Emanuel, his sister Hannah, and Juliette, and Laila from Oasis jumped into action to find 100 freaked out boys a mattress and a blanket and a place to sleep for the night.
We prayed...we sang a song...and gave them some food...and we sent them to bed.
Then we started preparing some food and tea for the morning.
About 3 am I went by what had previously been my room and usually sleeps me and Connie...and looked in on the 18 boys huddled in there...
I wasn't prepared for what I heard...boys softly crying...not little boys...teenagers...boys who in the light of day would never be caught crying...
I was crushed...
In the morning I discovered many of the boys had wet their beds...another evidence of the trauma of that night...and another loss of control in their lives...
Then, thankfully it was morning...The Rwandans and Laila never slept...they just worked on turning 'fishes and loaves' from our pantry into enough to feed a crowd of boys...and they were EVERYWHERE...
They boys returned to campus and it was a media and political circus...jounalists, district child welfare officials, even the Member of Parliament from that region, all coming to see what the results of the raging flames had been...this poor kid found what all the others found...dashed hopes.
I've been to a lot of refugee camps, but never dreamed we'd HOST an IDP camp at our compound.

These 6 boys are kids that OASIS of HOPE has rescued from street life and glue and has sponsored and placed in school at PDA...all their very few posessions gone

These are the remains of the mattresses and blankets and sheets on the dorm beds.
The kids heading to school the next day looked to me to still be in shock and disbelief from the events of the previous night.
And this is what they saw when they returned...

OK STEVE ...enough already...the place burned down...WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

#1 realize that we are not the 'fixers' of every hurt and the 'healers' of every wound...but everyone can do SOMETHING...according to their own journey and situation. GOD is the GOD over every loss just as He is the Lord of every good gift.

The model we are going to use at Saddleback Church is the crisis on Mt Elgon a few years ago...We were so saddened by the deaths and destruction in the wake of the tribal clashes...
We didn't do bake sales and jog-a thons for Mt Elgon...( not ripping those methods...we just don't do that at SVCC)... we just put the word out in the community of folks who know and love Kenya, and a wonderful response came help over 100 pastors rebuild their homes, their lives, and their churches...

THREE MENTAL IMAGES that may guide you in giving to the rebuilding of PDA...

ONE SMALL...picture emptying your pockets at the end of your day...loose coins from a cup of coffee...2 quarters from the tollroad... a buck change from a big mac...picture collecting that in your drawer and sending it to encourage a kid back to school and some sense of normalcy. I don't care if you are 17 or 70...ANYONE can gather their loose change.

A bit Bigger...picture one of the kids that goes to costs 46 dollars a month to school and feed and house a student through the year...thats $550.. what 400,000 people in the US just spent on I-PADS...that's uniform and books and every expense for that child...PDA needs help right now with supporting these's not a life's a 'DO SOMETHING' moment...

A bit bigger still...despite the last year's financial roller coaster...besides the drop in stocks and equity...some of us have been blessed and have an ability to give a more sizable gift to PDA...PICTURE as Margaret does every day...picture the school moving off that tiny 1 acre church campus, which was never intended to be it's home and moving to a 5 acre plot off the church property...that kind of dream obviously takes larger gifts..

So let's wrap this up...
  • I am not telling you that you should give to the PDA fire response...that's not my job or's between you and God
  • I'm not suggesting for those who give...WHAT to give...again, God can speak much more clearly than I can to you...
  • What I AM saying is...for those who want to give to help PDA during this rebuilding and stabilizing period...
  • You can give dollars..they are needed for blankets and mattresses and beds and clothing.
  • You can give hundreds of dollars...they are needed for supporting the kids and keeping the doors open...
  • You can give thousands of dollars and help PDA move off the overcrowded site and have a place to grow and play and learn...
  • Pray about this, please. and let God speak to you about if or what to give...

Send a Check to
Saddleback Church
1 Saddleback Parkway
Lake Forest, CA 92630


for tax and accounting purposes, please make your check out to:
Saddleback Church
and on the memo line please write:

email me at

Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm Behind on my BLOG...SO SHOOT ME !!!

yes I know...

i stopped blogging for a while...

no excuses...didn't stop living...just stopped blogging about living...and they are distinctly DIFFERENT things...

but I am going to try and get some writing momentum again...we'll see...

I'm heading back to Africa 2 days after Thanksgiving and can hardly stop thinking about it...please pray for me and Don on the way...


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


One year ago Kenya was ablaze...

The hope of a peaceful transfer of leadership, following the presidential elections, collapsed as tribal rivalries and feelings of powerlessness turned into mayhem and mob violence.
In El Doret, 36 people were chased into an Assembly of God Church, where they chose to burn to death rather than face the murderous crowd outside. Stonic and I knelt at the ashes and shards of a woman who died in her the church.
No community was was tribe against tribe, Kenyans in the worst divide anyone could imagine.
First Kikuyu slaughter...then Kikuyu retaliation...the cycle seemed endless...
The streets of Nairobi, El Doret, Naivasha, Nakuru and Kisumu were absolute war zones...

If you were out in public you faced the brutal consequences of the street...
Hospitals were filled with the beaten, the burned, the machete-stricken, and the shot...

But God intervened...God heard the cries of Kenyan people...God brought back a sense of sanity and public shame...God replaced chaos with order...through the network of local churches and the voice of the spiritual leaders of Kenya...people rose up and declared 'ENOUGH !' 
Please pray for PEACE in Kenya.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Want to know the recipe for a successful summer leadership institute?
Start with a big helping of Torie Fields.
This little dynamo from BIOLA UNIVERSITY is a minister's dream, because she is always seeing things from a shepherd's perspective.

It doesn't hurt to have Cathy and Doug Fields as your mom and dad...and Cassie and Cody as your sibs...but I've seen lots of kids from GREAT families who just don't ever move from the 'Christian life of my family' to 'my own journey with the Lord'.
Torie is helping me and Chris Wohlers this summer with our PEACE RELIEF Summer Leadership Intitute...that's alot of words to say...'go to Kitale Kenya and do what God tells you to do'. 
Torie's summer has been a mix of teaching and encouraging, fingernail polish and wool blankets, 2 hour conversations with street girls and hugs to homeless moms. 
You can ask her how she perfected the tribal soccer dance called the 'Twanga-Twanga' but I'm sure Delia, Casey, Lyndsey and Caroline have something to do with it.
And in West Pokot she is known as the muzungu who CAN count to 10.
Torrie and Delia have been mentoring and teaching a group of former streetkids, known as the 'Mercy Girls', at Purpose Driven Academy...a Christian primary and secondary school for 450 kids at Deliverance Church. PDA is run by our dear friend Margaret Wanyonyi and is an extension of the ministries of Pastor Moses Wanyonyi and the Deliverance Church team. His church has been one of the great spiritual harbors for our Kenya teams over the past 12 years serving in the Rift Valley. When Torie and Delia and Sammy walk on the campus...pandemonium breaks out.

It was on a long-ago AWAKENING trip that God began stirring in Torie's heart about becoming an advocate for:
  • reaching out to the lost
  • encouraging and modeling servant leadership
  • creatively and effectivelyhelping folks rise from poverty
  • caring for the suffering sick
  • and helping folks find a path to educate themselves
that's matter what anyone tells you...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Widow...11 Kids...and a HOLY COW

During the Sabaot Tribal Land Clashes of 2007 and 2008,  9500 ft. up Mt. Elgon, Kenya, and a few meters from the Uganda border, Pastor Benson, his wife Alice, and their 10 children faced a terrible dilemma... to stay in their warring mountain community or flee to lower ground and the security of police and government forces.
Then all hell broke loose between the Soys and the Nurobos...
With gunfire and terror surrounding them, Pastor Benson, a graduate of Africa Theological Seminary's first Mt. Elgon Pastor's Institute, decided to gather his family and try to flee through the bush to the Kopsiro Police Station, where they could be escorted by army troops to an IDP camp.
This tree is Pastor Benson's final resting place...just 20 meters from the protection of the reinforced police station, Alice and Benson and their children were fired upon by opposition rebels forces.
As bullets rained down around them, Alice's son cried softly, "Are we dead?" and she pulled the 4 year old to her chest and whispered, 'God will deliver us'.
The family ran into the darkness of this dung hut, and trembled as they tried to plan how to get the last few feet to security. But then bullets began piercing the hut, and Benson told Alice, "I am shot". Alice, this mother of 10, and expecting another child in a month, would never see her husband alive again.   
And so, she and her 11 children live in that hut...smaller than your work space...and try their best to work out what Alice, in faith, declared, "God will deliver us."
A group from our summer PEACE Relief team traveled for the day, up Mt. Elgon, to visit Alice today with some hugs and some enouragement. The items we brought: maize, rice, wheat, blankets, lesos, cooking pots, flip flops, water jugs and washing basins...will all, wear out or run out, but we are not her family's Saviour...God is...and only God.
We can't deliver Alice, but we CAN love her as Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor and to care for the widow and the fatherless. We can do that...we can love... 

We also had a chance to deliver 2 sheep and a HOLY COW to Alice from the Thorsen small group at Saddleback church. This milk cow is 'in-calf' which means that in a few months there will be a baby cow, to also bless the family. This cow produces 300 liters of milk a month, which provides nutrition for the kids and income for mom to keep her 11 in school. 
Alice and her kids live in the ironic shadow of the Kopsiro Police Station, where they had hoped to find refuge. 
Proverbs 3:5 & 6 is either TRUTH and Comfort, or a convenient cliche we spout when we cannot understand the plight of people like Alice.
 I choose to believe that it is the truth...'TRUST in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understandings; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."

Monday, July 6, 2009

RELIEF in Kapsiro Kenya

The people of Kapsiro Kenya, atop Mount Elgon, are a proud and beautiful people. They are part of the SABAOT people group and are made up of dozens of clans and sub-clans. Two of these clans have been warring over disputed land rights for years now...the Soys and the Nurobo people, despite their common heritage have been caught up in disastrous fighting, leading to:
  • thousands of deaths
  • loss of home and security 
  • loss of farms and income
  • mass fleeing into the forest
Our PEACE RELIEF team partnered with a network of pastors and the local DISTRICT OFFICER...the highest local Kenyan authority....and distributed tons of maize, rice, sugar,wool  blankets, feminine products, flip flop shoes, wash basins and BIBLES.
Nearly eight hundred 'heads of family' showed up, representing 5,000 greatly suffering people.
Nick, a BIOLA student from our summer leadership institute, got to deliver a personal word of encouragement, along with this warm blanket, to an elderly Sabaot gentleman. Because these clans live at such a high altitude, nights during this rainy season are miserably cold under their temporary thatched roofs.Alyssa, who will be attending Azusa Pacific University this fall, dove right into the maize distribution team.
Paige and Anne, our Texan teachers delivered plastic wash basins to moms who were trying to do wash out of muddy potholes.
I had a chance to deliver a message of encouragement from Luke 5 on 
  • unselfish love
  • persistence
  • unity and teamwork
  • and faith

There were many times during the day when we had to abandon our vans and walk or push our vehicles to get out of the mud or up an incline...those stops often led to moments where our team got to give out swahili Bibles and share God's love with folks along the way.
It was one cool and exhausting day.