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Archive for September, 2017

The Politicization of Everything – Dr. Seuss

I grew up on Dr. Seuss.  I never knew he was a racist.  I guess First Ladies Clinton, Bush and Obama never knew it either because they often read to students from Dr. Suess.  Once the current First Lady offered a gift to some schools of Suess books he suddenly has become racist.  Go figure.

Suess once commented that fantasy is a necessary part of living.  “It is a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope”.  If that is the case we have a lot of folks living in a fantasy world.  It may be a necessary part of life but once and a while you have to look at reality as well

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Politicization of Everything – Missions

President Trump spoke to the UN this week and he took on the North Koreans, the Iranians and the Venezuelans.  So the Iranian guy who heard Trumps speech said it belonged in medieval times.  Venezuelan guy says it was racist and probably sexist too.  Hillary said it was “dark and dangerous”.  Criticism from a theocrat who foments a religion that forces everyone that believes it to go back to the 4th century and from a worn out Marxist regime that cannot handle billions of dollars in oil wealth but goes bankrupt instead, and a worn out politician whose husband gave the North Koreans billions to start the nuclear race to begin with, tells us what a world we live in.   That criticism tells me the speech was about right.  The topper might have been the North Koreans who called the President a “dotard”.  This is quite hilarious in so many ways.  To think that the strange little man with the bad haircut views the President as a dotard, tottering around in his dotage is rich.  Even funnier was the fact that the press, who I believe are mostly ignorant, (the idea that they are deliberately obtuse has crossed my mind as well), had to scramble on google and actually read a dictionary to find out what he meant.

The humor in so much of this has to be sought or one might go a bit insane.  This world is indeed coming unglued and the politicization of all things is evidence of the insanity.  We need to get out of the past we are told while we dig up old antebellum antagonisms.  We need to rethink society and our values while chanting the same political slogans that started when I was wearing bellbottoms and old army fatigues.  We need to revamp the Church’s Creeds while trying to make everything gender neutral.

The crazy world we live in is a world to which we send missionaries.  So deeply entrenched in our politics is the racist, sexist, homophobia designations that it bleeds into our mission work and our pulpits.  The very concept of a missionary is considered by some to be colonialist and racist. Our missionaries go to places where other churches are trying to preach the Gospel of sexual expression rather than the Gospel of Jesus.  The global South and the  indigenous churches we deal with there are much more conservative than our more “enlightened” denominations in the States are, and it make for uncomfortable times.

One of the larger churches in Africa recently called for one of the larger Lutheran Churches in the US to “repent” over their stand on sexual issues.  It has become a political football when it should be a theological one but that is the nature of the beast.  The church whose work it is to call people to repentance has forgotten how to do so.  When was the last time you heard any church in this country call upon anyone to repent over anything except perhaps driving SUV’s or owning a confederate flag?

 

 

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LWML Sunday.

2017 marks two significant anniversaries: the 500th anniversary of Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses and the 75th anniversary of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. Confessing the faith has not gotten any easier since these two events occurred. In fact, it may be more difficult to speak and to live as Christians now – and the future may even more challenging. Yet God is faithful and has promised that His church will survive all the trials that the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh can throw at us. Building on God’s promises, we know that this is our time to be distinctly Lutheran. Since 1942, the LWML has affirmed each woman’s identity as a child of God and her relationship with Jesus Christ, encouraged and equipped Christian women to live out their lives in active mission ministries, and supported missions around the world through their sacrificial gifts of mites, tithes, offerings, and tireless service. Now is our time to “Be Ready to Confess!” faithfully and boldly of Christ’s redemptive work for us and for all the world.

LWML Sunday – October 1

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Confessing or Analysis?

The most experienced psychologist or observer of human nature knows infinitely less of the human heart than the simplest Christian who lives beneath the Cross of Jesus. The greatest psychological insight, ability, and experience cannot grasp this one thing: what sin is. Worldly wisdom knows what distress and weakness and failure are, but it does not know the godlessness of man. And so it also does not know that man is destroyed only by his sin and can be healed only by forgiveness. Only the Christian knows this. In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner. The psychiatrist must first search my heart and yet he never plumbs its ultimate depth. The Christian brother knows when I come to him: here is a sinner like myself, a godless man who wants to confess and yearns for God’s forgiveness. The psychiatrist views me as if there were no God. The brother views me as I am before the judging and merciful God in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Life Together (published in German in 1939; English edition: Harper and Row, 1954), p. 118-119.

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Christ Freely Came to Our Aid.

94 percent of every donation to LCMS Disaster Response must be made available to carry out disaster relief, recovery and restoration work, and no more than 6 percent may be spent on engaging donors and fulfilling obligations to donors.

Donations to Disaster Relief by members of our church are very efficient and the protocols we use in disasters have  been listed by other agencies as some of the best in the world.

Our churches Board of Directors recently met and revisited the work that we do in emergencies and natural disasters.“We pray for the victims of these catastrophes and all the disaster responders, and we give thanks for the generosity being shown across the Synod in the wake of these devastating storms,” said BOD Chairman Rev. Dr. Michael L. Kumm.

The news in Puerto Rico is bad and disaster relief is very hard  there because of the location and transportation problems.  LCMS disaster response is in for the long hall.

Our mercy work is in our Lutheran DNA.  Luther said. “Although the Christian is free from all works, he ought in this liberty to empty himself, take upon himself the form of a servant, be made in the likeness of men, be found in human form, and to serve, help, and in every way deal with his neighbor as he sees that God through Christ has dealt and still deals with him . . . I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ . . . as our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another.

 

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Congratulations to Trinity New York Mills

On Saturday Trinity Lutheran in New York Mills MN celebrated 125 years of God’s Grace.  Trinity is a strong supporter of mercy and missions.  They have been very supportive of Project 24.  Pastor Kirk Douglas was in North Dakota for many years and his wife, Tammy is a North Dakotan too.  She is from the same home town of Bottineau as I am.  Small world.

I am impressed with the mission mindedness of this congregation and their mercy awareness.  Congratulations to Trinity and God bless your future under His care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To Die Is Gain

That is what Paul says in Philippians as he writes from jail, expecting execution.

To under-stand what Paul meant, we must invest our whole life in Christ then our life is from, by, in, and for Christ: He is our inspiration and breath, the source, motive, and secret of our new being, the goal of all our interests and efforts. We are His slaves, living to do His will: Him we will trust, love, obey, preach, follow, and for Him we will suffer. Death is a gain because Paul has Christ here and hereafter. “To live is Christ and therefore to die is gain.”

To live is Christ, and to die is Christ too, plus a crown (2 Tim.4:7-8; Rev.2:10). Death is better, as it is better to be done with sin, conflict, obstacles, to have prayers answered and hopes realized, to be beyond danger, to be completely and intimately united with Him whom we love and to live in glory with Him (Rom. 8: 17; Co1.3: 4) . (William Beck)

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The Funereal Defense of Human Dignity

 

I heard something on the radio in passing and I missed some of what was said but the point of it was that “the ability to hold a proper funeral is as close to a defense of human dignity as one can get”.  The discussion was held in terms of the politicization of everything from pro football to the weather and even funerals.  A recent funeral of Dick Gregory was evidently turned into a political rant by Maxine Waters whose only real claim to fame was getting Federal Disaster relief to South Central LA after a hurricane in the Northeast.  The funeral for Paul Wellstone was held up at as an example of another undignified political pep rally that broke into a funeral or vice versa.

I can’t blame political animals for using funerals as a platform for their ideology because their politics is literally their religion. The religious animals among us have used funerals as a good time happy hour extravaganza.  The funeral became a chance for every nephew and niece and cousin who can’t sing to come and sing.  It became a chance for every member of the family who fancied themselves as poets to write poetry and everyone who had a memory to stand up and stammer it out.  I wrote before that funerals today have become as one wag put it, like bringing a corpse to a concert.

The lesson on the radio was about a “proper funeral”.  I guess “proper” is in the eye of the beholder.  Talk to a funeral director who is dignified him/herself and ask about what funeral has become and you will be surprised.  So here as a public service is a definition of a proper funeral from one persons perspective which happens to be Christian.

It should begin in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit and end with the Benediction of Father Son and Holy Spirit.

Jesus should be mentioned at least as often as the deceased.

It should emphasis the doing and dying of Christ more than the doing and dying of the deceased.

It should have a real sermon instead of a meditation (whatever that means).

It should be the liturgical end of a life that had a liturgical beginning in Baptism.

It should be the defense of the dignity of a human life because Christ valued it enough to hang on a Cross to redeem it.

 

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Project 24 Report – still continuing

DIRECTORS’ REPORT

I planned various activities for the year 2016 according to the needs of the projects’ goals and objectives. These activities and actions included The Catechetical Bible Club Competitions.  (numbering starts at 12 because of some weirdness in my computer.)

  1. The State of P24 Forum
  2. Hosting short term English Language tutors
  3. Organizing the P24 Volunteers who spent time with the children in various sites
  4. Building the P24 team and forming sites Board of managements
  5. Conducting Bishops meetings, sites staff meetings and children conference calls
  6. Initiating Income Generating Activities (Sustainability projects)
  7. Organizing the construction of our New P24 Lenkishon site
  8. Creating the Beyond 24 program
  9. Hosting capacity building meetings
  10. Networking with other service providers
  11. Seeking to improve academic performances through libraries and ICT learning at each site
  12. Improving the communication and documentation systems
  13. Fundraising
  14. Enhancing leadership and management skills
  15. Ensuring proper health care for the children
  16. Creating the CCC:  K program
  17. Establishing young Sunday school teachers from boarding facilities to teach in neighboring churches.

THE DIRECTOR’S PROJECT TRACKING SYSTEM.

I have developed various tools which help the entire project team to plan, manage and track the project. Some of these tools include; a financial management tool, a reporting system tool, regular monitoring and an audit tool. At the end of the year, we use an evaluation tool to measure the performance and achievement of the set goals and objects.

 

RESULTS ACHIEVED THIS YEAR

Ø  Successful partnership between ELCK and LCMS

Ø  Financial management practices (Well Managed Funds Transfer from LCMS to sites)

Ø  Proper documentation

Ø  Leadership, coordination and management

Ø  Ownership of the project

Ø  Trust from donors

Ø  Efficient communication channels in the entire program

Ø  Accountability, efficiency and transparence is of high standards.

Ø  Sustainability: Income Generating Activities initiated per site

Ø  Gospel well planted

Ø  Inclusiveness to all as team players

Ø  CCC:  K initiated and 17 children already have sponsors.

Ø  Two sites adding to the old ones dedicated: Tumaini and Lenkishon

Ø  Contraction to completion of P24 Lenkshon to be dedication of 24th Feb 2017.

Ø  14 Children in Beyond 24 program (Children in high schools) between year 2015 to year 2016.

Ø  Number of children increased from 52 in the year 2015 to 154 in the year 2016.

Ø  Financial Cash Flow Reports submitted on time from all sites.

Ø  Teamwork promoted from the ELCK Head Office to congregations hosting P24 sites.

Ø  The ELCK P24 Catechetical Club Committee is now under the leadership of Rev. Alex

Ø  Successful State of P24 Forum. This is the 3rd since year 2015.

Ø  Bishops met twice this year.

Ø  Leadership and management skills enhanced.

Page 5

Ø  Successful site manager’s capacity building

Ø  Provision of sites libraries and computer laps

Ø  Creation of new networking

Ø  Organization structures were put into place

 

GIFTS RECEIVED BY SITES

Ø  Cows and mosquito nets (gifts for Othoro and Udom)

Ø  New Beddings (Rongo)

Ø  Water tank (Rongo)

Ø  Sanitary and food (Rongo)

VISITORS RECEIVED

Rongo: Three volunteers from the USA and many from around Kenya.

The P24 Catechetical Club Competition was held at this site on April 2016.

Othoro: Four volunteers from the USA and several Kenyan people

The State of P24 Forum was held at this site.

Udom: Two USA visitors

They also hosted the Catechetical Club Competition with several community and church members from the area.

Tumaini: Four from the USA and one from the East Africa Field Office

What was their reason for visiting and was their visit successful?

The reasons for the volunteers’ visits were to offer their services to children, learn a different culture, support the vulnerable children in English language tutoring, teach catechetical lessons, give health care services and overall, have fun with the children.

 CHALLENGES OF THE YEAR

  1. Children’s academic performance from sites are below standard.
  2. More strategic planning needs to take place at each site
  3. The mission and vision of the project needs to be well established
  4. The title deeds for the new sites need to be acquired
  5. A need for more staff trainings, capacity building and workshops.
  6. There was a lack of future sustainability plans and strategic planning

 GAP OR RISKS THAT NEED TO BE ADDRESSED

Now, the principal risks that can be faced by Project 24 are:

Ø  Lack of strategic planning

Ø  Lack of professionalism

Ø  Lack of sustainability and ownership

Ø  High dependence

Ø  Lack of project structures and policies

Ø  Lack of site manager’s induction programs

Ø  Leadership and administration gap

Ø  Lack of goodwill of domestically generated voluntary income.

 

I have identified risk management tools to cap up the said project risks.  I have continued to monitor, audit and control the projects to ensure critical risks have been mitigated. Once a year I conduct an evaluation to share the lessons learned from the year. Learned lessons are used to identify the new year’s activities.

Overall, the LCMS and the ELCK are committed to using best practices in their communication with their stakeholders and in their policy statements in the public domain.  These risks will continue to be addressed in the coming year.

LESSONS LEARNED/ RESULTS

As a result of dealing with program challenges and success, I have learned that follow-ups, project goodwill, teamwork, networking, best financial practices, effective communication, reporting systems, planning and management are key components for any project to succeed.

It has demonstrated that the governance faith placed in Project 24 by the stakeholders is well founded. The Kenyan team is controlling the project effectively with a strong hand in order for  the project to move to the next level of excellence.

ACTIVITIES PLANNED FOR THE SUCCEEDING YEAR

Ø  Construction of a new P24 site in the Nyamira diocese.

Ø  Capacity building of site managers

Ø  Catechesis training and Bible study per site

Ø  Improve children’s academic standards

Ø  Inauguration and opening of New P24 Lenkishon

Ø  Improve children’s health care

Ø  Catechetical Club in April 2017

Ø  State of Project 24 Forum at P24 Lenkishon

Ø  Invite volunteers to serve at P24 sites

Ø  Sponsorship program to continue(CCC:  K)

Ø  Annual report (2016)

Ø  Regular holding management meeting

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Project 24 Report continued

Children at Lenkishon

Project 24 report by Kissinger Nyang’au

OVERALL 2016 PROJECT GOALS

  1. Children are brought into contact with the Lutheran Church through Catechesis, Bible study, and daily Matins and Vespers.
  2. Through the children in the project, the Lutheran Church gains access to their family, guardians, and the surrounding community for the sake of the Gospel.
  3. Children are fed well and are in a stable environment so that this enables them to focus on their studies.
  4. Children successfully complete primary, secondary school and college/university
  5. Guardians and the local congregation participate and make a contribution to the children by providing school uniforms, books, exercise books, and pencils.

2016 PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  1. Children in all project 24 sites should be able to recite and memorize Luther’s Small Catechism and attend the catechism club twice a year.
  2. By the use of P24 sites, the ELCK shall spread the Gospel to the children’s families and the community at large.
  3. The children’s basic needs are met and conducted in a child friendly environment.
  4. Create and develop a child sponsorship program named Christ Care for Children:  Kenya. (CCC:  K).
  5. Foster project communal participation, ownership, sustainability through networking.
  6. Enhance education performance.
  7. Promote teamwork within the leadership
  8. Enhance and reinforce financial procedures
  9. Create a new system of governance

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF 2016

NEW FINANCIAL PROCEDURES

Within 2016, the LCMS developed a financial funding path to enable smooth financial communication channels from OIM, LCMS, ELCK, the local Dioceses and finally to every P24 site. On the 15th of every month, LCMS initiates funds to the ELCK designated fund. The money is then received by the ELCK which in turn is sent to each of the sites.  Upon receiving the funds, the site managers together with their relevant boards send their financial cash flows with evidence of bank statements, expenditure receipts, cash at bank and cash at hand. This practice  demonstrates accepted standards of financial methods. To enhance this practice, the Project 24 stakeholders meet once a year for a State of P24 Forum. This forum creates an opportunity for all project stakeholders to learn from each other with an aim of perfecting the project.

On 19th February 2016, all stakeholder’s members met at P24 Othoro for a shared forum which provided an opportunity for the financial issues to be discussed openly. Financial Statements were prepared in accordance with the LCMS accepted standards.  Statements of their income and expenditures helped us track the movements of each individual boarding facility. Audited accounts per every site were conducted on June 2016 to check on the Project 24 balance sheets. Detailed financial notes in terms of receipts and bank statements were received and filed in our office filing systems.

Overall, the LCMS’s principles of accountability has enhanced our program and all of the P24 sites are accountable for financial expenditure for the entire projects development.

GOVERNANCE

The steering committee has been properly governing the project this last year.

The steering committee members are:

  • The ELCK National Director of Development or representative
  • The ELCK General Secretary or representative
  • The LCMS Project24 Director
  • The LCMS Regional Project Manager or representative
  • The LCMS Area Director for Eastern and Southern Africa or representative

 

Each member of the committee has various responsibilities of managing the project. The committee oversees the strategic direction of Project 24 and the steps taken to ensure that the program is directed towards its goals and objectives.  The ELCK is structured in a way that delegates responsibilities from the Head office, to the dioceses, to the parishes and finally to the P24 project sites. Steps are taken to supervise and delegate this project structure.  Unfortunately, there is a gap in this organization structure. This challenge needs to be addressed by ELCK management team.

The steering committee developed many initiative activities such as: securing new income streams, raising the public profile of the organization, project marketing, and acquiring new facilities. They lead as examples by demonstrating transparency, accountability and team building. They communicate the project’s commitment to the best practice in the project’s policy statements.

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