(Report by Preacher James Tan)

Thank God for helping us throughout this year, and for the past two semesters. We apologise for the lack of updates, as the burdens of the ministry at times can be rather overwhelming. It is not an easy task to sit down, and put down our thoughts into writing. We are thankful for the Lord’s help, and the prayers and support of the church. If there are any concerns, do feel free to contact us, or even visit us!

BCEA Kenya
The past two semesters have gone by, and we are very much thankful to the Lord for His grace and mercies. The last semester was especially tough, as I took on 13 credit hours of teaching (5 subjects (Biblical Missions, Romans, Hermeneu-tics, Ten Commandments, Westminster Confession), and Shermaine with 10 credit hours (Through the Bible II, Teaching Youths, Church History II, Greek Elementary II). This was in addition to our added responsibilities in other areas for this year.

We encountered a few major disciplinary problems throughout the past two semesters. The first semester ended on a sad note, as we had to dismiss a foreign student for theft. We were informed of his plan of taking revenge on his friends for reporting him for skipping class. He decided to steal their passports, causing us to conduct a full search. Thankfully, the passports were recovered unharmed from his pocket, and we had security to escort him out of the campus. While the other cases might not be as dramatic, we were kept busy having to counsel the students.

These issues are painful to deal with personally, as we often have to struggle and pray, on what disciplinary action should be taken. It is hard to tread the line be-tween showing mercy, and enforcing punishment.
When rebuke or discipline is given, some students claim it to be persecution, playing the victim, and claiming that the college has no mercy or charity. This mindset comes from popular unbiblical teaching, where sin cannot be judged, and that one must be entitled to instant forgiveness, acceptance, and unconditional love.

Instead of addressing the problem and learning from it, they would rather fixate on how they are “targeted”, or how the rules are unfair towards them personally. They can be quick to blame the college for being too strict, while forgetting about the higher law of the Word that they are studying, and should be uphold-ing. They are quick to love sin and the sinner, and quick to reject and hate that which is holy, right and true.

There are students who would be so bold as to excuse their faults due to ignorance or forgetfulness, while smiling away, and saying “It’s ok”, when everything is not alright. They would walk around with pride, happily joking around with their friends as if all is well, without any contrition. Despite repeated counsel and chances given to them out of mercy and charity, this scene would repeat itself.

All it takes is a few black sheep to cause a whole lot of trouble both for the students and faculty. It is a frightening thought that some of these students are training to be pastors and preachers, and worse still, some already are. Our constant hope is that the counsel of the Word being daily preached and taught, would convict and change them.

While I have been here for only a few years and seeing a few such cases, the other missionaries have been here for over a decade or two, and they have experienced so much more, and worse. They have been, and continued to be victims of betrayal, libel, threats and lawsuits by the very same people. These are students whom they have tried to help. Yet, for the sake of the testimony of Christ, they do suffer, as “harmless as doves”.

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

There are days when we do wish that we can just simply preach and teach, without all these issues to deal with. However, we are soon quickly reminded that we cannot do so without practically and experientially applying it, both towards our-selves and others. On reflection, we do believe that such problems are allowed to happen by the Lord for the trying of our faith.

We are thankful though, that majority of the students are learning and growing. We thank God for a good intake, with 38 in the first year class, and a total of 86 students. Numbers aside, we do hope that they are genuinely called, and would be faithful to the Lord.

We faced quite a challenge as the kindergarten transitioned to the new curriculum instituted by the government. Being a private institution, we had to spend the extra effort to collect information from surrounding schools. We had to survey new materials, arrange for teachers’ training, and parents had to be informed. The graduating class also had to prepare some extra requirements to get ready for their interviews, in order to enter into primary school.

We struggled to obtain official information as most government websites seem to be built a decade ago, with information that is sporadically uploaded. Information that comes through word-of-mouth is often difficult to verify, and the more reliable sources seem to be the newspapers or government Twitter accounts. Thankfully, the Lord allowed a teacher-trainer to have compassion on the work here, and he was able to assist us, and to keep us up-to-date on developments.

We thank God for His sufficient provision, as many things had to be revamped within this year with the new curriculum (textbooks, assessment books, etc.). We were also kept busy through the April vacation, as all the classrooms were repainted, torn mattresses, broken blackboards were replaced.

The water supply was a daily issue throughout the past few months. Similar to the previous year, the water company stopped the water supply from April onwards. Their alleged claim of a broken pipe, was left unfixed for months. We found out that all the surrounding residences, universities, had no water supply either. At the same time, the groundwater table, was also affected by all the bore-hole wells nearby (some illegally dug) drawing water from it.

At the worst stage we were dependent on mineral water for consumption, and rain water for everything else. We were buying a truck of water every few days to ration amongst all the students and staff (70+ people) living on campus. Thankfully, we were able to obtain drinking water, but we had to suspend almost all non-essential cleaning duties, and ration it carefully for cooking or personal hygiene. It is a very humbling lesson, to learn to pray without ceasing for such a simple, vital resource.

Rumours persist, that the privately owned water trucks colluded with the water supply authorities to shut off the supply, in order to charge exorbitant rates. One truck’s worth of water would cost a third of our monthly water bill, and would last 4-5 days if carefully rationed.

The daily checks on the water tanks and towers, clearing air from the piping systems, just to get a bit of water pressure for a shower, as well as fetching pails of water, can at times drive us to murmur and complain easily. Still, we are thankful to the Lord that in the midst of all this, our borehole water supply gradually returned a month ago, and now the city water supply has been restored.

Discontentment can easily settle in, especially when we compare the situation to the earthly comforts back home. In the midst of this situation, the complaints we have back home can seem very tiny, when our basic resources here are taken away. These four months have felt very long. Surely, as we are tested, we do pray that we grow in daily contentment, exercising more patience and longsuffering, remembering just to live day by day in the Lord’s sufficiency as we serve Him.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

Daily Living
We are thankful for being able to spend much time serving together. However, at times we are really tried and tested in patience. As we live on campus, we are “on-call” all the time. Students do knock on the door for permission/excuses, medication, consultations, and sometimes, at rather inconvenient hours. Maintenance workmen (masons, plumbers, electricians, etc.) and kindergarten parents with enquiries or school fees would also come throughout the day. There are days where we find it hard to even sit down for a meal without interruption.

Thus, we have to be constantly watchful in our communication, not letting our frustration or emotions over issues and problems get the better of us. Daily, we have to remind ourselves that we are here to serve, and that there are no real “off days”. We do pray that the Lord will sustain and refresh us both physically and spiritually each day.

We are thankful for a brief visit by our family this month. The short time of fellowship, and familiarity of being around family, was a pleasant respite for us before heading back to our preparations for the semester ahead.

We do continue to pray for the church daily, and hope that all would grow in the Word of God and to live by it. As we minister to the students here, we constantly realise that Biblical knowledge does not directly translate to spiritual discernment, or conviction. We hope that all in the church would truly live in conviction and constraint, by the Word of God.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12)

Prayer Items
– The third semester begins on 2nd September. Pray for us as we continue to teach- (James: Gospel of John, Minor Prophets, Harmony of the Gospel, Major Prophets II, 11 credit hours total); (Shermaine: Through the Bible, Elementary Greek, Teaching Methods, Modern Church History, 10 credit hours total).

– Pray that the students will be disciplined and remain true to their calling. Pray for the graduating students this semester.

– Pray for us as we return on 17th November, Sunday. I will be heading for a 2 week in-camp training on the next day (18th-29th November).

– Pray for the Lord’s guidance for next year. We are planning to take time off from the ministry here to take an intensive full-time Kiswahili course at a proper language school, God willing.