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Sharpening the Iron of the Church


End of Story

 

(Kenya 2007)We had begun a great work at the Kenya Christian School for the Deaf in Oyugis, Kenya.  We had established a bakery that was actually beginning to show a profit and I believed that our goal of helping to establish a self-sufficient and self-sustaining school which could give young, Deaf Kenyan children a real shot at making a life for themselves was in sight. I had raised over $5,000 to finance the beginning of the bakery and engage a teacher to train some of the older students. The aroma of the bread was pleasing and the smell of success was intoxicating.

What I did not realize is that I was dealing with a thief, who was merely using the school and well meaning donors as a means of self-enrichment.  In a moment, in a shocking turn of events we lost everything. All of the ovens, the money, school assets – everything was gone. End of story.

Sometimes when we think we’re at the end of a story, the story is just beginning.  

Sometimes when we’re done, God is just getting started.  

Sometimes when we’re ready close the book, God is just turning the page.  

Sometimes when we are preparing to conduct a funeral, God is getting ready for a resurrection!  

The Hebrews stood on the shores of the Red Sea with the armies of Pharaoh at their back. End of story. That is, until God blew His breath on the water and opened up a path for them through the deep.  

Peter and John rode out the storm on a sinking boat.  All was lost, until Jesus quietly spoke, “Peace, be still.”  

The armies of Moab were streaking across the desert toward Jerusalem like a herd of angry jackals. When Jehoshaphat looked at the prospects of Judah defending itself, they were slim to none.  All was lost; until God sent confusion into the enemy’s camp.

For every Goliath, God has a David. For every Midianite, God has a Gideon.  For every Pharaoh, God has a Moses, and for every famine, God has a Joseph. For every blind canyon, God has a way.  

And, for every question, God has an answer.  

It seems that God had our Joseph already in place.  Wesley Agengo, a young assistant administrator at the school, had been sent to the Philippines to study as a teacher for the Deaf and was working at the school when we opened the bakery.  It was Wes that was managing the bakery; teaching the children and supervising as some of the older students learned the trade; and, it was Wes that was sending signals that things were not right at the school.  

It was Wes Agengo that located a rental property about 25 km north of Oyugis, in the township of Ringa; an old nursery school that was adequate to start a new school.  With the assistance of Deaf Ministries International and under the supervision of Pastor Josephat Mulongo, Director of the Immanuel Deaf Churches of Kenya, a new school was opened as the Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf in the little town of Ringa.  I received two emails notifying me of the opening of the new school. One from Neville Muir and one from Wesley Agengo, letting me know that I was welcome to visit.

I was pretty bruised by the events in Oyugis and I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to get involved again.  I had shouldered the entire responsibility for that failure and for more than a year I had dragged around a huge sack of guilt.  I felt that had I been more astute, if I had acted more quickly on my suspicions, if I had just been more clever, we could have avoided the whole sad affair.  

I am slowly learning that sometimes God simply does not permit us success. God did not want me to succeed in Oyugis.  He wanted me to watch Him succeed in Ringa. Rather than to claim victory for my work, I would get to proclaim victory for His work.  Sometimes, He allows the works of our hands to die on the vine, bringing to ruin our own brilliance so we can see His Hand at work.

God is not applying for a partnership in our work, but inviting us to partner with Him in His work.

As much as I thought it to be different, the work we were doing in Oyugis was my work that I wanted God to bless.  That’s why I got so angry when it failed. It was MY failure, MY defeat. That’s why I felt cheated. That is why I was so embarrassed to write letters to our donors, because I felt that I had lost their money. In all of it, I felt like a complete and utter failure; and of course, I was. There was simply too much “I” involved. More often that not, it is our failure that moves us out of the way so God can succeed.

“I must decrease, that He might increase.” I continue to struggle against the Lord’s efforts to teach me this truth.  I “kick against the pricks,” so to speak. I so desperately want to do something for God, struggling to remember that God wants to do a work; a marvelous, miraculous, transforming work and he graciously folds me into the work He is doing.   John the Baptist was beheaded, Paul was executed in Rome; Tyndale was burned at the stake, and missionary friends Nate Saint and Jim Elliot were speared on a sandbar in Ecuador.  

Over and over again God shows us that failure of the flesh, the wickedness of the world’s opposition, even the death of His saints cannot diminish or hinder the work that He is doing.

I thought I was doing God’s work in Kenya, but I was really doing MY work in HIS Name.  That wicked man who robbed me of MY work did nothing to hinder God in HIS work. In fact, it was his evil that  actually advanced the school. This was what Joseph realized as his brothers knelt before him in Egypt: “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”  His brothers hadn’t sent him to Egypt, it was God who sent Joseph to Egypt.

Not only did God lead Wes to an adequate facility to restart the work of the school, He providentially located that rental property adjacent to the eventual home of the school. While the early stages of the school were cramped and limited, it sat on a plot of land that was literally touching God’s choice for a home for the school.  Later on that year, I would stand at the edge of a field just across the fence from the school staring at a field filled with weeds and water, in my heart of hearts “seeing” a home for Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf rising up in my spirit. It was as real then, in my heart, as it is now in brick and mortar. I knew then that the dream was not dead; I was just now able to see it.

The new Academic Center at Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf

In just a couple of weeks or so, I will cut the ribbon on a brand new Academic and Administration Center at Immanuel; 10 classrooms and 4 offices; the crown jewel of the beautiful campus God has raised up to be the Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf.  On June 15 I will stand in the midst of a miracle and I have pledged to declare before all who attend, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, for indeed He has done great things!” And THAT my friend, is the “end of the story.”

Discussion (3)

There are 3 responses to “End of Story”.

  1. Michael, thank you for sharing from your heart openly and honestly. The fact of the matter is that none of us have a completely pure heart and the work we do for our Lord and the advancement of his kingdom. We have mixed motives and are continually in need of crying out to our Lord Jesus for his mercy. The amazing thing is that he chooses to invite us to partner with him as flawed and imperfect as we are. Our God works everything together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Rejoice and celebrate greatly on June 15 as you did have a part to play, and you now have the privilege of seeing your dream come to pass.

  2. Penelope Kaye responded:

    · Reply

    Thank you, Michael, for sharing your brokenness and God’s restoration. What a beautiful story!

  3. Jenny Reid responded:

    · Reply

    We are so thankful for God’s blessing that you acknowledge in your memories of the establishment of Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf in Kenya. I remember the day Wesley moved in when you and your team were there at the same time as we visited.
    I pray God will bless the Opening of the new Admin and Classroom building and the work of the dedicated teachers at Immanuel Christian School for the Deaf in Ringa.

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