“Wait right here,” said Getbez*, as he disappeared into a crowd of people. So, there we waited. It was my first mission trip. Ever. And, I was nominally in charge. A small group from my church, Christ the King, had flown into Nairobi and, after a quick nap, began a long drive north. As we circled Mt. Kenya, the landscape changed from lush and green to arid and brown. As Mt. Kenya faded in our rearview mirror, the road, which I found lacking to begin with, disappeared altogether. For the next six hours, we bounced around in Getbez’s car over washboard dirt roads, around crater-sized potholes, while avoiding thundering “lorries.” As we continued north, the landscape became more and more strange, and people less and less frequent. At one point in the journey, as evening was fast approaching, our car began making strange sounds. We stopped, got out, and discovered that our car, due to one too many enormous pot-holes, was literally falling part. Undeterred, John untied our luggage and used the rope to lash some parts of the car together. “Bush mechanics!” he said as we climbed back in.
Finally, much later than anticipated, we arrived at our destination: a little town in north central Kenya. It was dark. It was dusty. We appeared to be the only non-locals in the town center. There, Getbez dropped us off saying, “wait right here,” as he drove away to take care of some unknown detail. So, there we waited, four people, who twenty-four hours earlier had been sipping coffee at a Starbucks in Alexandria, Virginia. I recall looking at my fellow team members one by one and then saying, “I have never felt so far from home.”
Thankfully, Getbez did return and we enjoyed a wonderful trip. After a few days, we made the long journey back home, but I have returned numerous times, as have many from Christ the King, including my wife and two of my children.
Getbez is one of the plenary speakers at the New Wineskins Global Mission Conference 2019. He is the founder of an organization, a group of fearless church planters who serve in Northern Kenya - a majority Muslim area with many unreached people groups. Their work is the initial proclamation of the Gospel and humanitarian support as well.
Currently, he is building a community outreach project in the middle of a majority Muslim town north of Nairobi. It will house a library, a dispensary, a tailoring training center, and a much needed maternity ward. Eventually, the facility will host teams visiting from far and wide.
I have known Getbez for the past ten years. He has become a close friend and we have developed a meaningful partnership. As uncomfortable as those first few minutes in Kenya were for me, I am convinced that it is good to occasionally be “far from home.”
Prior to launching Christ the King, I served at The Falls Church Anglican. There, I witnessed the many global connections within that church and the positive impact of those connections. Although I could not have explained why at the time, I knew I wanted these relationships to be part of Christ the King.
Soon after our first worship service, Barb Nelson, a founding member, and I decided to find one overseas missionary partner for the church. We thought one was enough for our church in order to be deeply involved with one, rather than broadly involved with many. This faithful member made a list of potential partners, the first of whom was Getbez. After one cup of coffee, I called Barb and said, “Stop looking. We’ve found our partner.” And we did!
While we have reaped many, many benefits from our partnership with Getbez, two things stand out. First, our partnership helps us develop a “global vision.” Second, our partnership ensures that the fire for evangelism remains lit in our own setting. So, two benefits: vision and fire.
It is easy for us to let the fire for evangelism at home fade. We need good global partnerships to help us develop a global vision; good global partnerships that inspire us to remain faithful to our own evangelistic work by exposing us to the church’s primary evangelistic work to the nations. Your church may be small - many are in our young movement. So, start intentionally and remain focused. You will find, as we have found, that you receive far, far more than you give.
The Rev. David Glade is the founding Rector of Christ the King in Alexandria, Virginia.
*To protect the identity of this front-line evangelist, a pseudonym has been used here and his name has not been listed on the New Wineskins Conference speakers webpage, though he will be there.
To learn more about how you can build global mission partnerships, attend the New Wineskins Conference at Ridgecrest in Asheville, North Carolina this September 26-29. Visit NewWineskinsConference.Org for more information and to register.