Venture of Faith Report

March 12—April 1, 2009

Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo

         After three intensive weeks on the road, I am glad to be home and settled back into the routines of daily ministry. There was abundant evidence of the Lord’s presence and provision each step of the way. From the time I left home in Lynchburg until I returned, I traveled 23,769 miles (1,220 ground). There were twelve prayer seminars and I preached in one Sunday morning service with 700 present from ten churches. That service began at 7:30 a.m. with a baptismal service for twenty-five new believers; it ended after 3 p.m., the longest service that I have ever attended. When I gave an invitation at the end of my message, several hundred “repented” and a large number trusted Christ as Savior. The presence of the Holy Spirit was vividly real as lives were drawn to higher ground.

         Seminars began at 9 a.m. and ended at 4 p.m. We gave each participant a prayer seminar workbook and a pen. Although 3,307 registered for the seminars, all 3,400 Swahili workbooks were used. With the 700 in the preaching service, the total attendance came to 4,007. We fed all of them a meal of beans, rice, and a drink. The interpretation was in seven languages: Swahili, Adhola, Basoga, Luganda, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, and Kimbembe. There were 444 pastors in attendance and 187 churches represented. Thank you for your financial and prayer support.

         Over the years, we have learned to develop an itinerary that approximates the venue that has been agreed upon for a trip. Usually, modifications, sometimes minor and sometimes major, are required since there are so many variables related to travel. The “Venture of Faith” itinerary was set based on a preliminary visit that Martin Shikuku and Andrew Sakaria made to each country. Although this was a time-consuming and physically-demanding effort (they traveled by bus), both felt that it was necessary to meet pastors and leaders face-to-face in each of the nations to ensure the best results. Then they kept in contact over the months leading up to the seminars. The amazing thing is that we were able to follow the draft itinerary with no major exceptions (travel time, teaching time, sleeping time). The enclosed FINAL REPORT: ITINERARY includes detailed information. Please review carefully. You will rejoice!

Images along the way

         During the time in East and Central Africa, there are hundreds of images that I will never forget. One was the children. To say that there were children everywhere would be an understatement. I am talking about pre-school children as well as older children. As I taught in several countries, children flocked around the windows and doors looking in and listening. When I inquired about them, I learned that many were orphans either due to the wars or AIDS. In Burundi alone, there are 850,000 orphans. In Rwanda, one seminar was around fifty miles from the main road. My transport was a motor bike. I did not see one automobile, but I saw hundreds and hundreds of children. Wherever I walked, these children walked with me. We must not forget to pray for the children. Another image was the women, with long hoes, tilling the land, sowing, and planting or carrying heavy loads on their heads.

         In Kenya, Martin and I went to the site where three hundred people had fled to the church for safety during the post-election violence and then were burned to death. This has been made a memorial to remind everyone. We went to the refugee camp where thousands who had to flee their homes are still living in tents. Since their houses were destroyed during the conflict, they have no place to go. The tribal conflict that broke out resulted in at least fifteen hundred deaths and over 250,000 dislocated.

         In Rwanda, we visited a genocide museum, a memorial to over one million who were killed. There were thousands upon thousands skulls, other bones, and clothing worn by those who were slain. Near the village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a memorial for 700 who were killed in a recent conflict. War has been a persistent and consistent reality in this part of the world for decades and decades.

         In Rwanda, there was no running water and modern facilities but there were over 2,000 people in the seminars. In all five nations, travel by road was a challenge. There was unpaved road. We forded several streams.

An example of God’s protection

         I have understood from the beginning of the international ministry that we must depend upon the Lord for protection. Sue and I have sometimes traveled roads that were dangerous and treacherous and we knew it. Always, we have claimed His traveling grace and mercy to sustain us and carry us safely to our set venues. We have counted on your prayer covering and you have been faithful.

         On Friday, March 27, our seminar was in Makoboal, a village in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We hired a vehicle and driver. The road was unpaved with many turns and twists, ups and downs. There were a few other automobiles and trucks, but many motor bikes and bicycles—with two or three riders. The setting for the seminar was under big trees. There were 279 (60 churches/110 pastors), not counting the children, present. Many had traveled long distances to attend. It was one of the best received seminars anywhere in the world—a very blessed day in a beautiful serene setting.

         We never dreamed, however, that the driver had found a “drinking dive” and had spent his day drinking. It was soon obvious as we began the long drive back to Uvira that he was very drunk. In spite of admonitions to slow down (and we even had Uvira’s head of security traveling with us), he drove recklessly. At one point, we were within inches of colliding with a motor bike carrying two persons. Through the Lord’s mercy, we arrived back at the hotel safely. We found out later in the evening that our driver turned the van in, but later went back and retrieved it. He ran off a cliff and the van broke into pieces. I know that God answered your prayers for us that went up daily hour by hour.

Financial Report

         The budget was set at $14,980. One-hundred forty-two contributed $14,913.64--$$66.36 short of the budget. Expenditures totaled $16,222.64 ($1,309.00 over income). Since we provided for over four thousand and there was much travel required, the cost exceeded the budget that we had established. We rejoice in the excellent support given to allow the seminars in five nations.

         Again, thank you for your partnership in the prayer seminar ministry. Since Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi were new nations for us, you have now helped us provide prayer seminars in fifty-three nations. Pray for wise use of our time as we go forward in other ventures of faith!

Yours in Calvary love,

J. Gordon Henry
April 9, 2009

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