A letter from Brenda Harcourt in Kenya
December 7, 2010
Dear friends and family,
“Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere …”
I love the Christmas season and I love sharing the Good News with others. As we approach this holiday I find that another year has passed and I have a list of people that I wanted to make contact with and just ran out of time.
Christmas in Kenya is a bit different from in the United States. We started seeing all the commercial trappings about mid-November, but churches do not highlight the Advent season as we do in the States. The churches are not decorated and no candles burn. BUT the message of Jesus Christ is shared with many. The message of Jesus is alive and felt in worship here.
I just finished teaching a five-week course on evangelism for the Gitoro church, a congregation that is planning to use the holidays to reach more individuals with the Good News. The schools are dismissed until after January 1 and many people are taking advantage of their holidays to be with extended family. The Gitoro church sees this as a time to reach more people in their homes and invite them to be a part of their church. They plan on telling as many as can be reached about Jesus Christ. “Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere …”
The Gitoro church is a fairly new church with fairly young members. They meet in a simple corrugated metal structure with a sawdust floor and simple wooden benches. They have a very active schedule with something happening at the church almost every night. They take seriously their commitment to share their faith and their responsibility to care for new members. Each person who enters their worship leaves feeling like they have a home in the congregation. They reach out to individuals in the community around them that are hurting, taking food to the hungry and responding to other needs when the cry is heard.
Raising money to purchase the quarter acre on which the church is located has been part of their struggle, but in the past two years they have raised almost all the money they need to purchase the land. Tithing is part of their commitment. Members who are employed are expected to tithe, and the vast majority do. Giving of our time and talent is a commitment that we all make when we join a church, but the members of this congregation take the commitment very seriously. They take their tithe off the top of their income, before food or school fees or any other expenses are paid. One family of four, with another on the way, is struggling to make ends meet on a salary of less than $100 a month. Of that, $15 a month is given to the church in tithe as well as extra offerings for special occasions. They told me how they feel blessed that God has given them so much and they want to return just a small portion to God in thanksgiving.
This church has never asked me for funds or asked me to try to connect them with a congregation in the United States. They only ask that I help them with training to better equip them to meet the challenges that God has set before them.
You who support PC(USA) World Mission are helping this church to grow as you support my ministry; I am able to help them with classes and training to enable them to be all that they can be and more. Each time a new need arises they contact me, and I begin the process of trying to gather information and prepare training that will help them meet that need. They join me in thanking you for your support and ask that you join them in shouting from the rooftops, proclaiming to the masses that Jesus Christ is born.
May God richly bless each of you in this holiday season and may you find renewed strength as Christ is born again in each of your hearts.
Merry Christmas and Blessings for the New Year,
Brenda S. Lindsey Harcourt
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The 2011 Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 59