Here are some of the items of our most recent news.
THE CHRISCO CHURCHES
Our official base in Kenya is in the regular work of Chrisco Central Church among the residents of Kibera — one of the largest slum settlements in Nairobi. Much of the work there is in the hands of Pastor Jeremiah; Michael is there about a quarter of the time and at other Chrisco churches and their allies about 50% of the year. For a long time now he has been preaching on John's Gospel on the Sundays. Chrisco Central Church has various offshoots and 'daughter churches' in Masai-land, in Namanga (Tanzanian border) and elsewhere, where we send our elders and pastors-in-training. Our nursery school unobtrusively assists many who are desperately poor.
Africa does not have as many 'orphans' as is generally supposed (since children belong to the clan and the extended family is Africa's social welfare system). But the Eatons keep a watch over some at-risk children for whom we feel responsible and who are specially needy for one reason or another.
THE 'WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD'
In 2007 Michael spent 3 weeks preaching on 'The Whole Counsel of God' in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa — 40 one-hour sessions preaching, plus 10 one-hour 'question-and-answer' sessions. With the help of Christian friends in the south, the whole lot was recorded, transcribed and Michael was presented with the 450,000 words transcription! This is now being used in South Africa. It is a way of giving a cheap-and-easy, preach-able, training-course in biblical theology to pastors who cannot easily get the kind of training they need. For many of them it gives content to their ministry that they have not had before. This might be formally published at some stage but early in 2014 this was published by Grace Generation Church (Pietermaritzburg) in spiral binding. It is being used 'down south'.
A contract has been signed for the production of the 75 books of ´Preaching Through the Bible´ in a few large volumes. Also in the pipeline is the 430,000 word version of Romans.
The second edition of 'No Condemnation' has been published by Piquant. It contains three extra chapters on the work of Tom Wright.
THE 'WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD' IN DUTCH
A friend in Holland is working through the 'Whole Counsel' material; he tells me that he writes out a summary in Dutch and that in this way a Dutch book is coming into being which summarises the WCOG.
CAREY AND CALVIN EATON
Most of our friends will have heard of the tragedy which hit the Eatons in June 2014. Carey Eaton - one of Kenya's prominent businessmen - was with a group of friends at an evening meal in a Nairobi suburb, when the house was attacked by a gang. Carey was shot and lost his life. Many reports went round the world, and the media in Europe and Australia was full of praise for Carey's amazing work of redefining what a C.E.O. ought to be in Africa. Michael preached two sermons in Chrisco and in Nairobi Bapist Church at that time, speaking of our 'blessed hope' of glory and the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells. One can be listened to (in the download section of this website). The other has been transcribed and has gone into many parts of the world. We are still recovering from the pain of those days. Calvin is still in Kenya working in connecton with the various companies founded by Carey.
As always we are continually concerned with southern Sudan. Jenny continues to organise relief-work and evangelism-teams there. The various Chrisco activities and other gospel-ministries in Juba (capital of the new Southern Sudan) and in the areas further into the interior continue. The suffering there is terrible. It is like the 19th century. The north/south war has ended and South Sudan is Africa's youngest country. But internal strife is bad. We said before that ‘the peace’ that was negotiated is fragile and it is still true. But there are some encouraging features. Chrisco has planted some churches there – young and small but with great potential for reaching many others with the gospel message. People are clear about one thing: they do not want to be Moslems! The decades of bombing from the north has not been a recommendation of the Islam in the north. The southerners are more interested in the gospel - because of the persecution of every kind of Christian faith for many years in the recent past makes people want to know more about the faith for which they were once persecuted!
The "Branch Commentary", For about 17 years now we produced commentaries on the various books of the bible. This work was completed in 2007. Now work is going on aiming at a one-volume edition of 2.9 million words! Preachers need help in expounding Scripture in ‘points’ that make preaching freer, easier, and hopefully more powerful in the Holy Spirit. And some countries which are facing opposition and persecution need help, and we have reason to believe that the ‘Preaching Through’ material is helping them. It is nice to know that the entire New Testament exposition is around somewhere. Although it is sometimes difficult to get hold of the particular bit you want it is all in existence somewhere, and we persevere in getting help to preachers. We have learned that books that reach the world need prayer. They do not come into being easily!
Hebrews in German - Der Brief an die Hebräer
Friends in Germany will be interested to know that the first bit of 'Preaching Through the Bible' to be put into German is now available. It has also resulted in the first German 'Slices of Bread'.
The next few months
The next few months will find us mainly in Nairobi but also on visits to South Africa and UK.
Some major expositions are being put on this website. The preaching on 1 John is there and 1 Peter is appearing. A lot of our friends put preaching on the various church websites (Cornerstone, Johnnesburg; Westminster Chapel, London; Grace Generation Church, Pietermaitzburg).
You have no idea how much I struggle not to be a writer! I really do put people and praying and preaching (the three p’s) far above writing! Jesus never wrote a book, and Luther said ‘The church is a mouth-house not a pen-house’!
One of Luther’s editors said, ‘According to Luther’s understanding, the Word of God is not simply to be equated with the written text of the Scriptures .... It is a uniquely life-imparting power, a message communicated by men in whom the Scriptures had become alive. The church is, for Luther ‘not a pen-house but a mouth-house,’ in which the living Word is proclaimed'.
On the other hand preachers do need help in knowing what to preach and there is not much specially designed for them these days. For me, the thing for which much prayer is needed is the production of the big ‘Preaching Through the Bible’ in hardback form for the western world. Piquant Publishers and Langham Trust are hard at work in trying to produce it – and I get called upon the check manuscripts. I am currently trrying to find time on my travels to check various drafts. I have learned over the years that any book that will really help other people has to be prayed into existence.
Nairobi Cinema meetings
In Nairobi Cinema (Mondays and Thursdays) the preaching continues. There are a number of things that go on in-and-around the Nairobi Cinema meetings, Notes are produced. Two service sheets come out every week with material for people to read alongside what is preached. It is not a big meeting; inner-city Nairobi is not the place for big meetings in the way it was twenty years ago. The immense congestion of traffic in the Central Business District of Nairobi makes meetings in the evenings difficult to say the least. Michael parks the car outside the CBD and walks into town for the last kilometre because taking the car into town in the late afternoon is almost an impossibility. But still we have never felt free to close these meetings down and they continue. Some of our brightest Christian people love to stay on in town after work for the expositions and it is the place where Michael’s most detailed expositions take place. The rest of the world hear the abridgements!