Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wanawake meeting of the Kenya Assemblies of God
     Today, I was able to attend a session at the WWK meeting in Kitengale, Kenya. Once a year, the ladies of the Kenya Assemblies of God gather together to fellowship and worship God.  They ride for hours on a bus and arrive excited.  For some, it is the only break from hauling water each day to the house for washing and cooking.  I imagine for some it is the one time a year that during the weekday, they can sit and listen to sermons, hear words of encouragement, sing praises to God instead of taking care of the garden, feeding the children and washing the clothes by hand.  Many of the ladies slept in a large hall in the conference center.  They had a thin, foam mattress to sleep on in a room with hundreds of other women.  Perhaps that does not sound inviting to most of us, however, the laughter and chattering all during the night is evidence that most of the women were thrilled to have the company of other women.
     During the altar call today, women flocked to the front and cried out to the Lord to help with their burdens. The guest speaker for the conference, Deanna Shrodes, encouraged the women to live in unity with one another based on Psalm 133.  The message is one that is universal.  We have a choice to make in our relationships.  We can chose to speak words of life to one another or we can chose words that destroy our relationships with others.
     Our words can either bring unity or discord.  For me, I often allow words to flow too quickly from my mouth.  I do enjoy a relaxed conversation among friends.  However, I want to be more careful about speaking words of compassion and encouragement.  This life is filled with so many hardships and as believers, we should uplift one another and show the world our brotherly love.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

RKTC in Ghana - Part 2 - by Andy Whitman

We concluded our classes Friday afternoon despite frequent power outages, some water outages, and the intense West Africa heat. The final session was a model "Day Camp" complete with practical demonstrations of puppet shows, outdoor games, Bible studies, and Ranger advancements that could be done with the 5, 6, and 7 year olds of the local churches. We were also visited by the Men's Fellowship Director of the Ghana Assemblies of God and his staff.

a very hot Africa Coordinator

Friday night we held our dedication council fire. The staff silently led the trainees to the fire and one by one a staff member lit a torch and recited part of the Royal Ranger Code as the trainees formed a ring around the fire.

Dressed in a cowboy outfit, I shared a Royal Ranger story known as "The Most Valuable Horse" and then proceeded to talk about a Royal Ranger leader in my home church in Fredericksburg, VA who has faithfully served in our local outpost (and even in our district) since the early 1980's. I told them about this leader's effectiveness and how many boys have been saved and have gone on to serve the Lord or even into the ministry because of him, and I challenged our trainees to commit themselves to reaching the boys and girls of their nations. I also explained that it was no "accident" that they were present for this conference, but rather that God had a plan and purpose for their lives. I challenged them to come forward and throw a green leaf into the fire if they accepted the calling into the RR ministry.

I threw my own leaf into the fire to symbolize that I was continuing on in Rangers until God called me home or He called me to something else, and every trainee came up and followed suit. We had a moment of silence and then I offered the opportunity for anyone to share a testimony of the ways God had touched him or her in the camp.

For a few moments no one moved, and then one brave soul stepped forward and shared he was extremely happy to have been in this conference and God had showed him many things.

Another person shared that he had been to many camps in his life, but none with a spiritual emphasis where God was so honored and worshiped. A young woman shared that she finally understood how to work with the boys and girls and make Rangers interesting. Yet another trainee shared that he had been trying to sell a car for many months and that he was also very discouraged with Royal Rangers. He had no money to come to the conference and was considering dropping out of the ministry, but told God that if he was really to go to the conference, please let him sell the car. The Friday before the training began someone miraculously came and bought his car and he used money from the sale to pay for his registration fees and other expenses - he shared that he now knew why he was supposed to come and was committing himself wholeheartedly to the ministry and was ready to use the training he had received from us. In all, about 25 or so trainees came forward and shared that God had given them a new vision and breathed new life into them for reaching children.

The next day was graduation. Graduation is a big deal in Africa and the graduates sang and danced and celebrated for about 3 hours - it was hard to settle everyone down long enough to hold a ceremony! One of our graduates was the Children's Ministry Director for the Ghana Assemblies of God, by the way.

A group of young boys from the community was hanging around on the outskirts of the camp and had been watching all the activities. They came up afterwards and asked if they could join Royal Rangers, so we connected them with a local leader that had an RR program in his church.

Mathias, Stephen, and I left the conference center feeling tired but knowing that God had done a powerful work among the RR leaders of Ghana. On the way back to Accra, our host's car went in to a really deep hole and knocked the muffler loose. We had to stop by the side of the road and remove it completely and then tie it and the exhaust pipe to the top of the car to get back to town. In town, we went to a guesthouse and got showers and had one more spicy meal before going to the airport to return to our families in East Africa.

We thank God for making this training possible and for sending more laborers out into the harvest fields of Africa!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ranger Kids Training Conference (RKTC) in Ghana - Part 1 - by Andy Whitman

(I am doing the blog spot this time, as a "guest writer" and as the Royal Rangers International Liaison to Africa)

In October we finally held the long anticipated RKTC in Ghana. RKTC teaches Royal Ranger leaders from local churches how to work specifically with the youngest age level - the 5, 6, and 7 year olds.

This event was to be run by a team of American instructors since the specialized training is relatively new to our continent. The American team ended up missing their Aug. 2013 date and postponing their trip until August this year, and then notified me and the Royal Rangers (RR) in Ghana that they were cancelling altogether.

Walter Atsutsey, the national RR commander of Ghana, informed me that his leaders were extremely discouraged and appealed for help to save the RKTC. Although lacking in experience, we quickly put together a team of All-African instructors (I include myself, with the permission of our African RR leaders, as an "honorary African" since I reside in Kenya with my family). We believe in hindsight that this is the team that God really wanted and He did great things in this conference.
Stephen, Andy, and Mathias
Our international staff included Stephen Macharia (left) from Kenya, a very good friend. He is a dairy farmer and has long been a faithful laborer in Rangers, staffing many events in Kenya and even travelling with me to Malawi in the past. If you notice his tie, he is apparently always ready for Christmas, too.

On my opposite side in Mathias Kawerama, the national RR commander of Malawi. We have been all over Africa together and he is a first class instructor. He was the only one among us with experience running an RKTC.

Despite the Ebola fears in West Africa we flew from East Africa to Ghana to do our best, with God's help. Our flight was delayed approx. 11 hours so we were really tired when we arrived.

We joined additional instructors in Ghana on Tuesday and spent our first two days holding staff meetings, setting up classrooms and instruction sites, testing equipment, rehearsing our lesson plans, and tending to other logistical matters.

Pan Africa Staff

Our venue was a conference center in a remote region about an hour out of Accra, the capital. Even in West Africa, the classic baobab tree defines the landscape and we ate some wonderfully spicy food.

setting up the main meeting hall

On registration day, 79 trainees showed up - some from Togo and most from Ghana.


We divided the trainees up into eight patrols and held orientation. The official camp languages (all 3 in use at various times) were English, Ewe (pronounced like "a-way"), and French.

 Our West Africa Chaplain opened our conference up with prayer.

For the next two days we held intensive classes on working with Ranger Kids - classes such as day camping, puppetry, games, council fires, counseling, classroom management, music, nature craft, outdoor safety, using visual aids, etc., etc.

- To Be Continued -