The lady across the aisle from me and I began yelling, “We want to land safe and sound! Get us back to Kenyatta - ALIVE!!”
Suddenly a young man burst into loud laughter as if the situation was extremely funny, which caught the stewardess’ attention. At long last she noticed our frenzied pointing at the flapping metal cover and reported the matter to the pilot.
Happily, the pilot turned at once back to Kenyatta for repairs and we all applauded.
At the airport, staff stood ready to evacuate the plane. But this proved unnecessary as a regular technician, mounted on a ladder, merely screwed the cover firmly in place.
Relieved and safe we were on our way again – alas, arriving in Kisumu nearly 2 hours late.
“You know her?” I asked, surprised. He smiled.
“Yes, we have met. She is Kenya’s minister of health. Ever since you prophesied over me, the Lord’s favor has been upon me with government officials and influential men and women.”
And so it is that this servant of the Lord is now known far and wide. Elected as deputy chairman of the Congress of Pastors and Bishops at an all-African convention, he has received multiple invitations from across the African continent. Unfortunately, however, money constraints prevent him from traveling. As in the lives of Rees Howells and Smith Wigglesworth, giants of faith who pressed into G-d’s call despite financial lack, Bishop Bera struggles with constant lack of funds while persuing G-d’s great call.
And it just so happened that prior to my coming, Bishop had to bury a beloved member of his church in Webuye, an African counterpart of Dorcas in Acts 9:36-39. Her family refused to bury her because of her faith in Jesus Christ. Arrangements for the burial, her house and her 5 daughters took 2 weeks, and all the funds he had reserved for my visit.
Astonished, I realized that had I come on December 5th as initially scheduled, the Bishop would have had no time for me nor for any of the planned meetings, as the burial would have taken precedence. Praise G-d, for He had rescheduled my departure date. Hallelujah!
Once in Webuye, we drove up a narrow, grassy dirt path toward the little house he now rented, unable to afford any further the previous, more spacious house.
A host of children came running up to me, excited to see me, and I exclaimed, “Are they all yours?!” Everyone laughed, “No!” While caring for his youngest sister and his own seven children, Bishop has taken in the two children of his widowed sister, four children of unemployed brothers, and the deceased Peninah’s five daughters who otherwise would have had to go to the “workhouse”, a government-run sort of orphanage for the poor, where the children have to work hard for their upkeep.
What love and compassion to assume this burden while never knowing from day to day where the money would come from.
Inside the tiny house, I wondered how it could accommodate 19 children, ages 5 – 21, plus 2 adults. Clothes hung over ropes tied from wall to wall for lack of space for a closet. The children slept in bunkbeds nearly touching the ceiling and on mattresses on the floor. The house resembled an overflowing matchbox stuffed to capacity. The “icing on the cake” was the outdoor hole for toilet.
“Dear Lord, is this the place where I am going to stay?” I inquired. I definitely would not use that hole, neither by day nor by night.
But the Bishop quieted my concerns. He, Mama Bera and I would be staying in Peninah’s house, with toilet and “shower” room inside.
“That I can handle, “ I thought.
While they were loading my luggage, groceries and coals for cooking7 it suddenly began to drizzle, then rain, and finally pour. One huge cloud dumped so much rain it sufficed for a week! I couldn’t believe it! This was not the rainy season!
Now all the dirt roads would be turned to deep mud, making it well-nigh impossible to reach remote villages!
Oh yes, Satan was very busy impeding my Kenya mission, as became ever more obvious.
For now the magistrate’s car (the Bishop’s car had broken down the day before my arrival!) was trapped in the mud. And the more the Bishop stepped on the gas, the deeper the tires dug into the mud.
“Tell him to stop this,” the Lord said and showed me a large aluminum sheet just lying on the ground.
“Place the aluminum in front of the back tires,” the Lord directed. It worked! Ankle-deep in the mud and laughing, the children pushed until the car got back onto the grassy path. We shouted loud praises and the children jumped for joy!
Praise G-d! We arrived! Only, as I stepped into Peninah’s house, I was no longer sure which was worse – this or the matchbox on a hill!
Where was the ceiling? An aluminum roof was upheld by rotting wooden beams. And as for the rooms, they were all open. My room opened onto a courtyard frequented by clucking hens with their chicks, several perpetually crowing roosters and seven highly aggressive geese. It was furnished with a large bed and a table, and for “closet” an iron pole was placed across 2 walls. A rope hanging from a wooden beam, with a cloth hanger dangling from it, held the mosqito net over my bed.
Suddenly thick smoke filled the house. I dashed outside. Ken, one of Bishop’s young men in training, had started a cooking fire inside the house of - open walls.
“Oh Lord,” I prayed while coughing fiercely. “Help! Make your grace abound, and let your Spirit fill this place and not smoke!”
What would become of this mission, I asked myself. Till now it was nothing but an obstacle course, worsening at every turn.
“Fulfill Your purposes for this Kenya mission, Abba, and protect me and the Bishop from any further attacks of the adversary.” I prayed as I lay down to sleep.
Staring into the blue mosquito netting while waiting for the loud Swahili chatter and laughter to quiet down, I wondered what was waiting for us around the bend.
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