Preacher James Tan

December-January 2018

The break back home over two months have started and ended with bouts of flu – one bout right after church camp, and the other just after my reservist stint, which was a few days before I returned to Nairobi. I am thankful for the timing, that such illnesses did not occur during the semester, church camp, or reservist training. The trustworthy medical care readily available back home certainly helped to ease the bouts of high fever and coughing spasms.

The “break” has certainly been a time of testing too, as it feels like an entire year’s worth of medical appointments, meet-ups, errands, and speaking engagements have been compressed into two months. Nonetheless, I am thankful that there has not been a lull in service to the Lord, near or far. Where at times I am tempted to complain, I am reminded of the blessings in being able to attend the church camp, services, fellowships, and to serve, or even speak a Word for Christ.

Hepatitis C
I thank the Lord for the good results from my last medical review at the end of January. The last test showed that the viral load was non-detectable at the end of treatment. A final test will be made in August when I return, before the specialist would confirm it as a complete cure. God willing, this “thorn in the flesh” will at last be removed after more than a decade!

BCEA Kenya
The first few weeks of the semester has been difficult, having missed a few weeks in January due to in-camp training and medical appointments. I had 4-6 hours of teaching hours each day to catch up with the credit hours for my subjects. I am teaching Galatians (3 credit hours), Theological Researching and Writing (2 credit hours), Bible Geography (2 credit hours), and Hermeneutics (3 credit hours) this semester.

Continue to pray for the students, especially the new students who must adapt and ad-just to a rigorous and disciplined system, which some are not used to. Despite having school regulations, it can be tough for some to understand the necessity of having standards and rules. Often, we need much wisdom, whether it be in preaching, teaching or personal counsel, to help the students to do their best in their studies, conduct, or service.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecc 9:10)

The prevailing culture here allows many to enter the full-time ministry easily. Some churches even frown upon theological training. Thus, there are students who arrive with a sense of status, regarding themselves as pastors and “reverends” (despite not being ordained). Such a sense of self-entitlement can hinder their desire to improve or learn. Receiving duties culturally reserved for women here (e.g. kitchen work) can be seen as demeaning. Many seek the prestige of the high office of being senior pastors, professors and bishops. However, not all are willing to be humble, and accept the pathway of rigorous training with the responsibilities that comes with it.

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” (1 Pet 5:6)

Some with sharper academic minds would come to fulfil the necessary requirements for a certificate or diploma, but would do so with no true convictions to doctrine. Some arrive with the idea that the school is a charitable organisation, where they should be deserving of handouts and welfare. There are individuals who can afford laptops and mobile phones, but would not contribute a single shilling to their heavily subsidised school fees. The faculty has certainly faced challenges in various ways within and without the classroom this semester.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim 3:16-17)

This sense of entitlement and pride afflicts not only those in the first world, but is very much alive here too. It is not easy to remind the students that after all, they are students here in a Bible college to learn the Word of God. Instruction cannot be given without the necessary reproof and correction.

Do continue to pray for the faculty, to have the wisdom to minister to the students, and to handle the day to day challenges in the college.

The Country
The year started with a long drought of 3 months, where we had to carefully ration water as the city’s water supply, used for drinking, came intermittently. We thank God for the borehole in our compound provides us with a basic water supply for washing and daily use. Now, there is a great contrast as it has been raining almost daily for the past week. The rains have been torrential, and many areas have experienced flooding, and some have died from the flash floods. Despite the rains, the city water supply re-mains intermittent for us.

The electricity supply over the past months have been unstable also. It seems to cut off at crucial moments when we are printing notes and tests, or just before the service begins.

While we remain relatively sheltered and safe in our compound, the daily lives of most people are affected greatly by the country’s mismanagement of resources. Poor, unsafe roads, and heavy rains would often result in some church members being hindered from attending services and fellowships.

The political situation has largely improved since last year, with the opposition party coming to terms with the incumbent party. The government seems to be progressing in revising policies and starting initiatives. However, on the ground, the bureaucracy is unable to keep up. Like many others, I have yet to receive my driving license, even after 6 months of waiting. The education system is being streamlined, requiring proper registration and documentation for a new unified coding system. However in the process, some local officials are unable to properly administrate it and would seek to exact their own “fees” for personal gain. Pray for the BEA kindergarten as they complete this process.

Do continue to pray for the nation, that the Lord’s people will continue endure and press on despite such circumstances.

Prayer Items
-The year started with a fresh cohort of 21 students. Thank God that these students are able to come and study the Word of God.
-The second semester will open on 8th May (May-July). I will have 10 teaching hours in total, for four subjects: Ten Commandments, Missiology, and the books of Romans, and Hebrews.
-Pray for the new students to adapt to the college life. Pray also for discipline and wisdom in handling the day to day student issues.
-Pray for the works of the college. There are constant maintenance issues, from the photocopier, the college vehicles, water tanks, etc. We would also have to put in fire prevention and other safety measures according to revised environment standards from the government.
-Pray also for the college, the church, the kindergarten and mission stations’ churches and schools.

-Pray that the Lord will have mercy to use the elected men and women to honestly gov-ern and benefit the local areas.
-Pray for those who are farming. Drought/rains may cause future food and economic issues in the country.

-Pray for the Campus Church, for the church members to grow in Christ. I am taking the church Bible study, systematically teaching the basic Biblical doctrines using “Fundamentals of the Christian Faith” by Dr Jeffrey Khoo. Pray for wisdom to teach clearly, and for members to learn.