Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

Our bags are packed and we are getting ready to start our 30 hour trip back. It has been an unbelievably grace giving and receiving trip.

We are walking away inspired and passionate from the work that we see God doing here. After walking these streets, meeting these children, and seeing the needs here, it has deepened our resolve to see Springs of Hope prevail.

If you would like to learn more about springs of hope and how you can support their work, visit

-Chris & Douglas

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Spiritual Birthday

Every year on November 16th I pause, find a place to hit my knees and offer a prayer of thanks. For it was on this day in 1961 as a mere 6 year old boy that I discovered the amazing grace of God that has been made available to me through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. I can still remember the moment, the church auditorium and the exact seat on the church pew where I knelt and asked Jesus to be my savior. Fast forward now to November 16th 2008 and today I received the best "spiritual birthday" presents a man could get. I taught today in the All Nation's Springs of Live Church in Nakuru, Kenya and at the end of the service a handful of people responded to the gospel of Christ and more than a few made commitments to taking the next step in their spiritual journey. Yea God! Yea God! Yea God! Then in the afternoon the second wave of gifts came my way when one of the Pastor's from the "land fill" sought me out to let me know that everyone of the people who had appropriated God's grace for salvation during our visit there yesterday made it to church today. Every single one! Can I say 'Yea God' again! What more could a guy ask for? The third wave of gifts to come my way for my spiritual birthday is a brilliant and beautiful young African woman who lost her father in her early teens and has given me the honor of serving in the role as her father. Her name is Grace and like her name she is amazing. An amazing daughter of God who is committed to defying the odds of the hard and despairing life that awaits most young women in this country. I'll do my best to be a source of encouragement, direction and hope to her. And I'll do my best to see that her dream of being a journalist is one day be realized.

The Pentecostal African church I spoke in today is a little different than Cypress. After about an hour and a half of some very spirited and lively worship the Pastor leaned over to me and asked how long I planned on speaking. When I told him I usually go 30 to 35 minutes he got a little concerned look on his face and asked if I could go 60 minutes? It was then I heard that famous line from the Wizard of Oz in the back of my brain: "Dorthy you are not in Kansas anymore!"
The passion and energy with which God was worshiped was both beautiful and contagious. I admired but this very white Pastor lacked the required rhythm necessary to join in...but I was dancing on the inside!

Then we moved on to two meals in two different homes and off to street church with the street children. Dozens of young boys in clothes they wear non-stop, weeks on end until they get something new and they start the process over again. Many have developed an addiction to sniffing glue. The glue fumes hit the brain and it gives the illusion of warmth and quells the hunger pains while detaching them from the painful reality of their existence. Joseph, Molly and students from All Nations church spend an hour or so talking with the kids, playing games, singing worship songs, teaching from scripture and then feeding their hungry tummy's. As I watched the service unfold I was reminded of the words of the worship song we sing...God is the God of this city...and because His servants Joe and Molly life here greater things are yet to come, greater things have yet to be done in this city!

Tomorrow we start the first of a three leg flight home. Over the course of the next few weeks I have a lot to process. Once again, I want to thank the family and friends who made this trip possible, you have a piece of all that happened in the last week.


my two cents - the most memorable moment of the day for me (Chris) came when, after a church service, we were invited to a very small house to visit a young lady named Rosebella. She was a single mother whose husband died many years ago. Her husbands death left her with two young boys to raise on her own. Fortunately she had the help of her mother. The best job she could find was in Nairobi two hours away working as house help to a family that treated her very poorly. She would go live in the slums in Nairobi for weeks at a time to make money and bring it back to her family. Between the rent that she pays for her small home in Nairobi and the rent she pays for her family in Nakuru (as well as all the other normal living expenses) - she has nothing.

Which made it all the more humbling when we walked into her house today and found a full spread of the best food available. She had rice & vegetables, chicken, home made chips, fried biscuits, and cokes for us to drink. As we sat down, she brought out a basin and pitcher and washed our hands for us. I image it was close to what the disciples must have felt like when Jesus washed their feet.

I felt humbled - almost embarrassed to be receiving so much from this woman who had nothing. I will never forget her generosity and hospitality.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day Six - A Pile of Crap

Today we spent the day in a part of town, known to the people of Nakuru as London. We would call it the city dump. Why, do you ask, did we spend the day in the landfill? Because we went to visit the village of poor families and orphans that live there in it.

Today was probably the hardest day we've faced here. As Douglas and I and crew climbed our way to the top of the pile of garbage, we had to focus on not gagging as not to embarrass the villagers that were so welcoming to us in their homes. The stench was almost unbearable. As we climbed we were surrounded by villagers - men, women, children just old enough to walk, as they sifted through the waste to find scraps they could sell or use for their families. Many children walked through the mountains of trash and broken glass with no shoes and only the clothes that they had managed to pull out of the rubbish.

We walked from home to home, welcomed by the families that lived there, to hear what life is like for them and what needs they are facing. We left in each house we visited a bucket of essentials that were put together back at the house. We found a few families that we were able to share the story of God's love for them with. For a couple of those families, we were able to pray with them to accept that love. It was very difficult for me though to find a way to talk about a good God in the midst of such a perverse environment. No one - no one should be forced to live like that - certainly not innocent people...children.

In the short time that we spent here in Nakuru, hands down, the hardest moment of the trip ransacked me today. As we were leaving one of the homes, an old women who only talked about how good God is to her, eventually broke down in tears and shared in Kswahili that one of her grandchildren that she cares for had been badly burned. When we asked if we could see the child she led us to the small bedroom where we found a child, laying face down, with a burn spanning across the entire lower back. The burn was so bad, there was no skin left on the child, it had burned all the way to the bone. When we asked what had happened, she said it was an accident, but also that her family was feuding...? We gave her money to immediately take her child to the hospital and get it treated. If we hadn't gotten there today, that child would have continued to suffer and potentially not survive. It was hard to see, but when I realized that this young boy was the age of my Conner, I - lost - it.

So much emotion filled us as we walked through the streets, we weren't able to speak to each other.

There were some bittersweet moments during our time there. I was surrounded by children hungry for love and attention as we walked. They loved getting they're picture taken and seeing it on the camera. It almost cause a riot. As I walked, I at all times had two, three, or four children hanging onto me - holding my hand, squeezing my leg. They had obviously not seen too many "Mzungu" (pasty white guys) before. They would laugh and laugh as they rubbed the hair on my arms or felt my stubbly beard.

They erupted when I lifted up my shirt to show them the hair on my chest -they laughed and shouted. I was petted every time I bent down. They all wanted to be held, and though they were filthy dirty - they were completely irresistible.

It was a despicably disgusting place, and at the same time, filled with so much beauty. I couldn't get it to fit in my mind.


PS. Chris captured our day well. I am still processing what we experienced today, it has created such disequilibrium in my spirit that it will take some time for things to settle. One thought I'd like to add is we were escorted through the area by three Pastors who have said yes to God's call to spend there days working among the people who live there. They handled people with such dignity and grace. Before driving off I pulled them aside and prayed for them. One day in heaven we will discover who the real hero's of our faith are. Today I met three of them.

Safari Photos

Here are a couple of my favorite shots of yesterday:

There are a few more up at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lions, Zebras and the Lion-hearted

One of the spiritual pathways that helps connect me with the Creator is to be in His creation. Today I received what could only be classified as a power surge of grace. We took a break from the action to go on safari. Since the time I was a punk kid and watched Tarzan to watching documentaries of the African wildlife on the natural channel as an adult I have dreamed of experiencing it first hand. If you have had the experience yourself you know that seeing African wildlife in the wild it is only one thing...a-m-a-z-i-n-g. We just about saw it all. Lions, zebra, warthogs, hyenas, gazelles, water buffalo, baboons, monkeys and more. Wow! I'm sure Chris will include a picture or two on this post and more on his blog. It still seems a little surreal to me, but it was what my soul needed. As great as it was, it felt a little incomplete not having Jacque by my side. She totally loves this stuff and would have thought she had died and gone to heaven. Funny how somethings can only be made better when shared with those you love.

The day ended with Joseph and I doing what we have done together now on three places outside the U.S. as we have ministered together. We hiked up a mountain together to look out over the Rift Valley and along the way had an un-rushed conversation of the soul. We discussed highs and lows, challenges and victories, the good the bad and the ugly of ministry and we did our best to encourage each other in the Lord. By the time we got back we rediscovered the wonder of what happens in a spiritual friendship: joys get doubled and sorrows get halved. Funny how somethings can only be made better when shared with those you love.

Tomorrow we go to the city dump to visit the famlies who scavage out an exhistence there. Safe to say the experience will be a little different tomorrow than it was today.



Thursday, November 13, 2008

And a child shall lead them

Today I sat out on the veranda of Joseph and Molly's home with a 15 year old young man named Francis. His mother died sometime ago and his father remarried a woman with two children. His step-mother despises him and his alcoholic father violently abuses him when he drinks...which is most days. Francis showed me the scars where his father has bitten off his wound is still open. He let me see a scar on his left leg where his dad swung a machete at him. He told me how his father recently taped his legs together and hoisted him in the air and before his dad could build a fire under him, neighbors intervened. Many days his family refuses to give him food and many nights they refuse to let him in the house so he huddles down in the bushes or garden to sleep. He told me how his father denies this bright young man the money to attend school. I could go on, but by now you more than get the circumstances of his life.

Francis then went on to tell me how good God is to him. How God spared his life by sending the neighbors to his rescue. How when he has not eaten for a few days God provides by sending Joseph and Molly and they give him food. How God has been so generous to Him by giving him money to pay for school through the Bails. How God even has put such nice clothes on his back, once again through you know who. "God is so good!", Francis kept telling me. "How can people not believe in our good God"..."God saved my life"..."God saved my soul"...Then he sang a song for me, lyrics that said: "My God, my God how good is thy name!" Francis wants to one day be a Pastor so he can tell people how good his God is. I told him that all of heaven is cheering him on and that as a Pastor myself, I can honestly say he would be a credit to my profession. Sometime today would you pray that the Heavenly Father would protect Francis from his earthly father. Francis is an amazing kid, any man in his right mind would be proud to call him their son.

Once again since I have been on Kenyan soil...the things I call my problems, got right sized. Once again God has changed my focus from what I don't have to the blessings I do have. Once again the people I thought I came to minister to...minister to me.

A Humbled Pastor (A.K.A. Douglas)

ps...I (Chris) too, fought tears he sat and told his story. And he is just one...just one of the voices drowned out by the roar of the millions of others just like him.

But tonight, as we sat to eat a traditional Kenyan meal around the table. We got to laugh and enjoy the meal with the friends we have made here. I got to hear how God and the church are breaking through thousands of years of tradition. I could never go into the complexity of the struggle here. Thousands of years of deep roots are working against the much needed change to this country, but tonight I got to see the power that God can bring to lives. Power that goes beyond tradition, government, distances, hatred, and hopelessness. I see the change that Molly and Joe and the work so many people are financially supporting - and it's real! Its a few lives at a time, but those few lives are joining in the work and changing their families and slowing beginning to bring change to their tribes & villages.

A hard day, but so good for my spirit. I wish you call could be here to see it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day Three - Salgaa & Kabarak

Today was our first day of shooting. We spent the first part of the day in a little village called Salgaa. But before I tell you about our time there, let me first just tell you that no one will ever get away with complaining out our roads or road maintenance construction back home. I traveled to our first stop (about 45 mins away) riding in the back of a 9 passenger van on roads, (some of which I'm not sure should even be given the name 'road'). I've made so much fun of Douglas and his "travelers tummy" - but let me just go on record today and say that I am all done joking about that...nuff said.

So after being very glad to be out of the car, we were greeted by a church service that was going on in our honor. We were introduced to the small village. They sang, danced, and told stories about life in the small village. I was terrible humbled by the way we were treated. I drop more at Starbucks any given morning than some these people have made this year. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I was given a mug of something that I am still a little uncertain was warm and smelled like milk straight from the utter. I put it to my lips, did my best impression of someone drinking, and smiled. They also gave us cokes, which I was grateful for.

After the service, we were able to walk through the village into some of the homes there and hear the stories of the families there. It was overwhelming to say the least. These families are facing a hopeless situation in the coming months...and there is nothing to be done. A village of people who, for circumstances out of their control, are being forced out of their homes. Some of which they've lived in for 50 years. I was overwhelmed with emotion...some tears, some anger, all painful.

We left that village and made our way to Kabarak (on a different, but equally as sickening road). We met and filmed a story of a girl named Helen. We interviewed her in the house that her and her son live in (aka-a 10x10 room). We heard her story - growing up, loosing parents, and eventually contracting aids. It was a painful story to hear, but even more painful is the realization that she and the others we saw today are just a microcosm of the millions of other lives here in Kenya.

As painful as the day was, there were moments of grace. Conversations with Joe and Molly on the long trips of what God is doing in them and through them, meeting some exceptional people who shine, despite the dark and hopeless world around them (shoutout to Daniel, Victor, & Grace-I wish you all could meet them).

I get to walk away from this place in a few days...its not fair that so many of these friends we've met can't also do the same.

A few pics up at


PS. Chris captured the day well. Here's a thought or two from my (Douglas) experience today. Where sin abounds grace abounds even more. The horrid effects of sin abound in the little settlement we visited today: hunger, women contracting the HIV virus from unfaithful husbands, children then having the disease passed on to them, homes the size of my dining room made from sticks, mud and manure with six people living in them, ring worm and all sorts of other disease and parasites that no one should have to live with. There were moments it felt a little overwhelming. Yet in the midst of all this, grace was abounding in ways that made me feel like a spiritual midget. God was worshiped with passion, prayers were offered from deep faith and hearts of gratitude. I am embarrassed to think of some of the challenges and disappointments that have caused my faith to struggle in comparison to what these brothers and sisters are facing. The man Pastoring in this community lost his home and all his possessions in the tribal warfare that broke out after the elections and he fled to this place with only his family. He exhibited such grace, no complaining about his situation or thoughts of revenge just gratitude to his God for sparing his family and for the chance to start over.

The highlite of the day for me was opening a bag of clothes my kids sent with me and watching the faces of the children light up as they got something new to wear.

I go to bed now humbled after being in the presence of those who have very little of what this world has to offer but oh so much of God's grace flowing through them.

Starting day two in Kenya

After two nights of sleeping on an airplane sitting up, I realized how much I have underappreciated a bed and sleeping horizontally. We woke up to a beautiful african day.

A second thing my appreciation grew for is our friends Molly & Joe. Seeing them and talking with them once again reminded me how valid my love and appreciation for them is. They are faithful and true to God's call on their lives in some very hard conditions. Spending just a short time here right sizes some of the problems and challenges I thought I had on the trip over here.

May we all stay faithful and true to God's call on our lives. And lets keep and ear open to heaven for any assignments from heaven.

The story will continue...blessings
-Douglas (and Chris)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Day 1 - Traveling & Amsterdam

Spent the first part (or the last part) on a plane flying from Memphis to Amsterdam. We took advantage of the 8 hour layover and caught the train into the city to spent a few hours walking around.

This is an odd city. Beautiful buildings cracking and leaning into the streets from the 1600's. Ornate chapels with hand painted murals, meticulously designed mosaics - most standing empty or since converted to a restaurant or museum. And all kinds of trouble to get in on these streets. Most over the top obscene, but still probably good I'm traveling with my senior pastor...I just kept looking forward.

We are now in the airport waiting to board our final flight on our way to Kenya. Another eight hour flight.

Tomorrow we start shooting. I'm excited and nervous about what I'm walking into.

-Chris (and Douglas)

Thursday, November 6, 2008 we come

Douglas and I set out in just a matter of days to Kenya to visit our friends Molly & Joe at the Springs of Hope project. We are going to film the progress of the school and some of the stories of the people there in Nakuru for our Christmas production this year. We're all vaccinated, packed (almost), and ready to go.

We'll update everyday on our trip. I will also be posting pictures and more stories at my personal blog at Check back as often as you'd like!