Saturday, January 26, 2008


A friend just sent me this great link to a video about Rift Valley Academy in Kenya. Watch it, and you'll see why I loved my years there so much. RVA students are described in amazingly glowing terms on the video, and I want to echo the sentiment and say they most definitely are All That.

My first year at RVA was 1992. Just a few years before, Scott Wesley Brown came out with a song called Please Don't Send Me to Africa, a parody of someone "trying" to live for God but afraid of where His will might lead. In this person's mind, the worst-case scenario was being sent to Africa. Talking with churches and women's groups as part of the support-raising process, I remember people's eyes filling with a mixture of surprise and disbelief when I told them my prayer was the opposite: LORD, PLEASE SEND ME TO AFRICA!

If I had more time tonight, I'd explore this strange belief that God is out to make His children miserable by going far, far away to do hard, hard things they won't enjoy. Truth be told, the entire time I lived in Kenya I was overwhelmingly grateful to be there. Teaching and loving the students at RVA was one of the great joys of my life! Living in Kenya was icing on the cake. I grew up in America, but I grew deep in Africa. I wouldn't trade those wonderful years for anything.

Funny, isn't it, how music comes back to you and instantly transports you to another time and place. The music toward the beginning of this video is the tune to Kenya's national anthem which RVA's entire student body sings while gathered to raise the Kenyan flag on Friday mornings. It's as much a part of my heart as the Star Spangled Banner, and even better it's a gorgeous prayer:

Ee Mungu nguvu yetu
Ilete baraka kwetu
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi
Natukae na udugu
Amani na uhuru
Raha tupate na ustawi.

Oh God of all creation
Bless this, our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders.

Oh Lord, dear Lord, let it be.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Day of Prayer for Kenya

If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

On January 25th 2008, we are asking every Kenyan and every friend of Kenyans, everywhere, to take time to make a concerted prayer for Kenya.

We want EVERY Kenyan and EVERY friend of Kenyans in EVERY continent on the face of the earth to be praying together on this one day on behalf of our country.

How to participate:
* Spread the word: send this message to every Kenyan and every friend of Kenyans you know, everywhere -- text, SMS, e-mail, phone call, blog, etc.
* On January 25th, make a point of setting aside time to pray for Kenya. It doesn’t have to be a long time, but it must be a deliberate effort to pray for specific things about Kenya.
* You can pray individually, or get together with friends, workmates, someone on the street, your priest, pastor, congregation, youth group, etc.

What to pray for:
* Whatever else you feel in your heart to pray concerning Kenya.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(St. Francis of Assisi, 13th century)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Children Learn What They Live

Do you remember that poem? I think of it sometimes. I catch myself watching Jack and Sophie, and I wonder what I’m unconsciously teaching them about themselves and about the world as we go about our everyday lives. Every mother hopes her children will learn the best of what she has to teach them. I shudder to think what the children in conflicted places like Kenya are learning.

First thing every morning, while standing at the sink to fill the kettle with water for (the day’s first pot of) tea, I look down at the African Wisdom for Daily Life calendar sitting on my kitchen windowsill. This week it’s running a bit behind. I haven’t been able to flip past the Kenyan proverb for January 20. It’s too striking, too true and too ironic:

Good behavior is your best weapon.

Actions really do speak louder than words. Unfortunately, rather than fighting injustice with good behavior, some people in Kenya continue to turn on one another four weeks after the contested election. I keep reading news sites and other blogs about what’s happening there, and oh, my heart grieves.

So it was especially wonderful to read some good news out of Kenya, a friend’s account of something positive happening among some children in one of Nairobi’s slums.

Please keep praying for the children, and for all the people, of Kenya.

* * * * * * *
Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

(Dorothy Law Nolte, 1972)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Elijah Update (January 15)

For new readers to this blog, the following update is about a strong and brave little guy named Elijah, born February 6, 2007. His mom and I worked together at Rift Valley Academy in 1996-1999. Elijah has Hemophilia B, but more importantly, he has a worldwide prayer support team! Since my initial post about Elijah and his mom's initial update the very next day, posting updates from Elijah's parents on this blog is a small way I can give support from far away and generate much-needed prayer for Elijah's continued growth and healing. So please, join the praying!

Dear Praying Partners,

Elijah is such a blessing. We look back over 2007 and rejoice. We can see the amazing hand of God in our lives and in the life of baby Elijah. On April 19, 2007 we wrote the following:

Before Elijah was born, Joel and I led the latest Beth Moore Bible study, Daniel, at church. We both learned so much through it, and I have a few things to share with you. We were studying Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fiery furnace. Remember that story? What a fun story, worth reading again -- or for the first time. (In the book of Daniel... Check it out on any on-line Bible resource if you do not own your own Bible.) So many “mini” miracles occurred during that entire incident, and we see mini-miracles in our Elijah's experience. We learned that God delivers us in one of three ways:

1. He delivers us FROM the fire (makes it go away)
2. He delivers us THROUGH the fire (walks with us all the way through)
3. He delivers us BY the fire, into His loving arms (uses the situation to bring us home to Heaven)

In our class we had about 10 people. One of our members began to get sick during the study and said that she felt that God was delivering her BY the fire. She had a peace about it all, and now she has gone home to be with Jesus. We heard that she was working on a blanket for Elijah when she died. We pray and pray that God will deliver us FROM the fire. He has chosen not to make it go away quickly. Right now we feel we are being delivered THROUGH the fire. Elijah and his mom and dad are being held close to Him the whole way. Thank you for being with us in this fire and for carrying us THROUGH.

Well, in 2007 God delivered us THROUGH the fire. We experienced so many hard moments in the fire, but now we are experiencing the "Gentle Whisper" of His presence. We know He was present with us as He walked with us all the way! Since April, two more people from our Bible study have gone home to be with Jesus. Although this is a time of sadness, we are rejoicing as we know they are celebrating with their Savior.

Elijah is doing GREAT! He went on his first plane ride without medical staff around. He seemed to love the planes, and once we were airborne and he finished looking out the window he settled down and slept. This was great for us because then we could sleep.

We had a great time with Judy's family in Virginia. So many met Elijah for the first time and were overwhelmed with seeing in person the miracle they had been praying for. We had people tell us: "I had chills all over when I saw you walk in the room with Elijah." We had people weep when they saw him. We had such excitement and cheers for the little guy. It was wonderful for Joel and me to see such love for this little one everyone claims as their own. We’re in awe of the Lord who healed him. His Mimi and Pop-Pop, aunts, uncles and cousins all spoiled him rotten. Needless to say, Elijah loved all the attention.

The weather was amazing, and we loved feeling warm again. We returned to Kansas to see 13 degrees displayed on our bank sign. AUGHH! I remember Christmas in Africa being so nice and warm. :)

We pray that, as you go through this new year, you’ll also rejoice in all the Lord has done -- both the good and the bad. Through it all, God teaches us and molds us into his instruments. He desires to use us for His glory!

Pray for Elijah's strength. He’s sitting up better but as yet does not want to do it without one of us sitting behind him to fall onto. Pray for him to build up strength in his arms for crawling. He prefers to stand than do anything else. It is easy to get frustrated and think we’re so far behind. Joel was saying how great it is because God is giving us back the months Elijah was sedated, just lying in his hospital crib. We get to hold him and teach him things instead of chasing him around.

We’re also praying that God will touch Elijah's blood clotting abilities. The medical evidence may say that he has severe Hemophilia B, but we’re asking God to allow him to clot well. We haven’t had to use Factor IX to help him for six months! Please join us in prayer for this. Elijah is already a medical marvel, and we’re praying that God continues to touch lives through Elijah.

Also, would you please pray for a young mother who was just diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. She’s the mother of two young children. Pray for strength for this family as they face confusing days. We know that many in our “family” are warriors in prayer! Thank you.

Love in Christ,
J,J and E

Friday, January 11, 2008

Before & After Photos

Alright, this was taken a few nights before The Chop.

And this was taken a few days later, after a very fun shopping trip with my sweet-sweet nieces. (I vote for making days like that one a new Jones family tradition.)

Since arriving back home in England, last night was the first time ALL four of us slept ALL the way through the night, so we're on our way past jet lag and back into normal life.

By the way, this week Jack started Kindergarten (called "Reception" here). WAH!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I Keep Meaning to Post This

“Any calabash with a bottom can stand upright.”
(Kenyan proverb)

While we continue to pray for Kenya to miraculously forge a solid foundation of justice and peace in the current political crisis: a diversion.

I cut my hair!

Well, I didn’t do it. One of my lovely nieces did. On the Saturday morning after Christmas. In my sister-in-law’s kitchen. And after The Chop, I drove straight to the hair salon for a shape-up.

When the ponytail was dry, we sent all 13 inches of it to Locks of Love. I’ll try to post more pics tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We're All In This Together

I can’t get Kenya out of my head or off my heart. The country that was my adopted home for six g-l-o-r-i-o-u-s years, the people who opened my eyes to what joy and contentment looks like in Real Life, the place that for so long had seemingly avoided the pitfalls of tribalism in post-colonial Africa... Kenya is never far from my mind anyway, but these days I’m searching news sites and checking email frequently for updates on the situation, any glimmer of turning in the right direction.

Here are some specific prayer requests sent by a friend who has lived there, investing in the lives of Kenyans, for over 20 years:

Kenya needs our prayers
• Pray that the church will be THE CHURCH in this crisis: that it will be strength for the weak, that it will be a voice of peace and forgiveness to hearts harboring violence and evil, that it will be a source of food to the hungry and clothes and shelter to the homeless, and that it will be hope to those whose hope is faltering.
• Pray for continued mediation efforts for a peaceable solution to disputed election results.
• Pray that those involved in violence will become tired of fighting and lay down their weapons.
• Pray for those who have lost family and friends and who have lost their homes and are displaced -- may Jesus be their comfort in the hard days ahead.

For those who are interested, here are two reports -- an article by Reuters and a video by Al Jazeera (English) -- about Kenyans filling their churches today and praying for peace themselves. And here's an informative and provocative post by friends who returned to live there this year. Like-minded and like-hearted, they write about the possibility of peace if only Kenyan Christians would stand together as Kingdom people.

Loving justice, doing mercy and walking humbly (together, hand in hand and side by side) with God... Doesn’t sound like much at first, but it’s what our Heavenly Father prescribes, so it must be the cure for our many besetting societal ills. Which is exactly why the Enemy of our souls tries to keep it from happening, turning us on one another instead.

Which is why we all need to keep praying.

* * * * * * *
Lord have mercy on us
Come and heal our land
Cleanse with Your fire, heal with Your touch
Humbly we bow and call upon You now
O Lord, have mercy on us
O Lord, have mercy on us
(Words and Music by Graham kendrick)

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 NIV)

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, Our strong deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint, You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

God, You are everlasting
(Words and Music by Chris Tomlin)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Keep Praying for Kenya

I've just been made aware of a new blog, Pray for Kenya. Written by an expatriate living in Kenya, it's an outsider's inside view of what's happening there.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

On Our Knees for Kenya

After a lovely, sweet time with our families in Michigan and Virginia over the holidays, we're packing and preparing to return to England this week. I haven't made time for blogging lately, but once we get resettled at home, I hope to get back on track. Considering all that's going on in Kenya, though, I feel it's only right to post something. Anything. Except I'm in such shock, such sadness at the news reports, I hardly know what to say.

"Happy New Year" has a hollow ring to it this year.

Please, please, pray for Kenya. Pray for peace. Pray for reconciliation. Pray for God's Spirit to intervene as events unfold. Pray that the situation there will be resolved with justice NOW and that it will NOT unravel into another genocide like Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan.

Please, please, read all you can about what's happening in Kenya. Check out websites like CNN International, the BBC, TIME, and Assist News (world news from a Christian perspective). Educate yourself about Kenyan history, its politics and its people. Talk about what's going on there among your family and friends so that they can put the current news into context, too. Let's raise awareness of the unrest there so that more people outside Kenya can pray specifically and intelligently on behalf of all those within the country, regardless of tribe.

And see Hotel Rwanda if you haven't already. Let it NOT be said this time that the world watched for a moment and then looked away.