A Father of the Fatherless

Richard and Moses at Family of God Celebration Center, Mutalia, Kenya

Sunday was no different than usual. Moses is always one of the first to run to me when I arrive in the church in Mutalia.

I always make a careful effort to preach in a way so that everyone present – including the children – can understand the gospel message. When I finished my sermon, I was immediately rushed by the children, many of whom I’ve watched grow up these past four years. These children love me and I dearly love them. Half of this congregation consists of young children.

After a few minutes of hugs and fist-bumps, Moses, pulled me down and whispered in my ear, May I speak to you in private? His eyes were serious.

We walked to a secluded spot outside and I knelt in the dirt so this 9-year old boy and I could talk eye-to-eye. Will you take me back to America to live with you? I’ve asked my Mother and she says it is okay. What message shall I return to her?

A few hours later I met Moses’ humble and quiet mother. She and her two children live in the only place they can afford, a small room not bigger than the typical American’s bathroom. There they cook, eat, wash, play, sleep, do school work, and carry on the lives of a family.

I know my wife wouldn’t have minded had I arrived at the airport in Portland with Moses and another thousand children like him, but it was impossible. I’m thankful however, that God has given Moses and his little sister a godly mother who loves them, and that He watches over them when I cannot.

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation (Psalm 68:5).

The Power of God at Work

The congregation a the Family of God Celebration Center, Matuu, Kenya.

Sunday morning, July 16th, I arrived in the village of Matuu, Kenya, and sat down in the front row of a tiny church building. As the time neared to begin the service, I looked at the handful of young children mingled with even fewer adults.

I opened my Bible and glanced at the notes I planned to preach from. My heart sank. The sermon based on 7 verses in Judges chapter ten would never work.

The music began, the congregation of less than a dozen stood and began singing, and I bowed my head and tearfully prayed, “Lord, I have nothing to say to these people. I have nothing for them. Unless You speak to them from Your Word, this time will be wasted.” It’s a prayer I’m left to desperately pray every time I stand before any of God’s people, but this time the need seemed even more desperate.

When I was called forward, I repeated my little prayer for the zillionth time, opened my Bible, and began my sermon about a Jewish judge named Jair, and a Saviour named Jesus who shed His blood to save sinners.

After I finished, a man sat down next to me. “Thank you for that sermon,” he tearfully said and began telling me why it was so meaningful to him. He then went on to recount my sermon from the previous year.

Later, another man recounted all four sermons I’ve preached in that church and how God has used them to change his life.

The power of God in Kenya is the same as anywhere else in the world. Neither His work nor power depends upon me. The power of the Gospel isn’t in me or any one of us, but in His Word. My inabilities are meaningless when compared to the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. The transforming power, life-changing influence, and to-the-point relevance have nothing to do with the speaker or the venue, but everything to do with God’s Word.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Kenya in Your Blood

Click here to watch a 1-minute highlight video of our recent time in Kenya.

Thanks to my true son in Christ, who did such a wonderful job catching the highlights of our 30 days in Kenya and putting this video together.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Kenyatta, Odinga, and the Will of God

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God (Romans 13:1).

Kenya is a young nation, having gained its independence from the British on December 12, 1963. The nation has struggled to set aside tribal animosity and bind itself together as one people. Politics has been the flash point. A decade ago, over 1,000 people were murdered in election violence.

Voting for a candidate, or against a candidate, based on his tribal ethnicity instead of his beliefs – will destroy Kenya and any other nation. Tribalism divides rather than heals.

In a few days, on August 8th, Kenyans will go to the polls to elect their president. The great question every Kenyan should be asking is not which candidate will win the election, Kenyatta or Odinga, but how the hearts of sinful men will respond to the will of God.

Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves (Romans 13:2).

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

Letters to God

Lord, teach us to pray … (Luke 11:1).

For all our complaints, the United States Postal Service is a marvel. Each day, a postal worker picks up mail at your door and delivers it directly to any other door in the United States of America. More than 660 million pieces of mail are delivered each day in the US.

I can write a letter, make an invitation, or box a package, and the postal worker picks it up at my home and it can be delivered the very same day on the other end of the country. For my African readers, it would be the same as writing a note at your home in Kangundo, Kenya and having it delivered directly to the home of your friend in South Africa the very same day.

Post Offices even receive daily letters to God. Each letter is read and some are answered. Some letters received recently in Tampa Bay, Florida are thank you notes like this one in Florida, “God, thank you for coming into my life — and giving me Zayna.” Others are requests, “Lord, I know you are preparing a husband for me one day.” Even Jesus gets love letters: “I understand I’m your chosen land. I love you completely.” Some packages to God even contain small gifts of candy or money.

For only 49 cents, the US Postal Service makes this all possible, but messages to God can be sent without payment.

One day as Jesus finished praying to His Father, the disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. He had a way of intimately praying that was foreign to His 12 disciples. They knew fancy words and patterns, but nothing of sincerity from the heart to a personal God who loved and desired relationship.

Jesus taught them to pray by example and instruction. Have you been taught to pray? If so, do you make the most of it?

It is the Power of God

We’ve decided that a political victory, a judge’s ruling, or a bureaucratic tribunal is the answer.

Politicians can create laws to make life appear equitable. Judges can resolve disputes and settle long-standing injustices. Panel discussions can air grievances. Governments can take something from one person and give it to another. Shouting, protests, sit-ins, marches. Not one of these creates a lasting solution. None of these resolves the issue at the heart of mankind’s problem.

The cause behind every social ill, injustice, and ache in the life of humanity is one of the heart. The problem is sin.

Man’s political solutions are a denial of the cross. The preaching of the cross is the ONLY solution for what ails a person, a family, and a nation because only Christ Jesus changes the heart of the sinner. Only a new birth makes a sinner into a saint.

Change the heart, change the person. Change the person, change a nation.

Pastors: ever and only preach the cross and Christ crucified. It is the power of God.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

A Visa

One of the steps for my travel to Kenya is obtaining a visa. A visa isn’t a plastic credit card. It’s the approval from a government to visit and then leave a country.

To get into the nation of Kenya, an American must have the permission of the Kenyan government. The visa will allows us to stay a certain length of time in Kenya, and later it will become our ticket to leave.

Without a visa you can’t get in. If you lose your visa, you can’t get out!

The Kenya visa application isn’t too bad. It’s all done online, is only about 5 pages of questions, and a fee of $51.

There are countries which have treaties allowing citizens to travel without a visa. American citizens, for example, don’t need a visa to travel to Canada or Mexico. Americans can visit 99 different countries without prior visa approval, but that leaves 97 others where a visa is required in advance.

It’s easy to understand why people are confused about world travel. It’s even easier to understand why people are confused about getting to Heaven. Ask and you’ll get all kinds of answers: everyone goes to Heaven; good people get in free; those who engage in certain religious rituals like water baptism can go; after you die you can work your way there by good deeds and the good deeds of others.

Getting into Heaven, though, isn’t about what you or I or the guy next door thinks, it’s about what the King of Heaven says. Who does He let into His Kingdom? His answer is the only one that matters.

Jesus said it best to the Jewish leader Nicodemus. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).

Each of us is born into this world of humanity. We were born of blood, of the flesh, and of the will of our parents. These things, however, don’t matter to God. His government works differently. It’s about those who were born – not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man – but of the will of God (John 1:13). To those born again of God’s will, He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name (John 1:12).

Flying to Kenya

where living begins, pastor, Richard L Rice, Kimberly Rice, Matthew Ferraro, Kenya

When I make my journey to Kenya in a few weeks, and then home again, I’ll have to fly on 7 different planes and pass through 9 airports. The travel time will be a total of over 68 hours. Total distance by air is 22,990 miles at a cost of 9 cents per mile.

The Bible says that to be absent from the body means being present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

For the one whose trust is in Christ Jesus alone, upon death our:

  • Flight time to Heaven is instantaneous;
  • Distance traveled is immeasurable;
  • Cost to us, nothing; cost to God, the death of His Son;
  • Time waiting in airports is nil.

And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

We Want Miracles!

where living begins, pastor, Richard L Rice

Oh Pastor! If we had miracles in our church, it would be full. Why don’t we have miracles? What we need is miracles!

This was Jenny’s comment each time the church doors opened. She was fully convinced that miracles were the key to salvation. It can’t be denied that people are attracted to miracles, even faked ones, but our concern shouldn’t be what catches a person’s interest but what God says.

What is a miracle? A miracle is when God does something that could never occur naturally. Finding your keys after prayer isn’t a miracle; keep looking long and hard enough and you’ll usually locate them. Feeding 5,000 hungry men, plus women and children, with a few pieces of bread and fish qualifies as a miracle. Resurrecting a body dead and buried 4 days is a miracle!

About 3,500 years ago, God told Moses that He would send ten plagues upon the Egyptians to reveal His sovereignty, power, and glory (Exodus 7:1-7; 9:16, 29-30). As the plagues rolled through the land, the Egyptians admitted that Israel’s God was responsible. However, the miracles didn’t turn Egyptians to Israel’s God in worship, instead they became more stubbornly rebellious toward Him (Exodus 14:3-9).

The death of every firstborn Egyptian male got the nation’s attention and Pharaoh set the Israelites free from slavery, but not even this miraculous judgment of God caused a revival. Instead, Pharaoh and his army pursued Israel to kill them all.

Miracles don’t change a person’s heart toward God; miracles harden the sinful heart further against God. If the Biblical answer isn’t miracle-working, what does God use to bring about salvation from sin in the sinner? The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the Bible as the means to give saving faith.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

*** Follow us on Twitter @RichardRice124

To Kenya with Love

Matthew Ferraro, Pastor, Richard L Rice, where living begins, Kenya

In a few weeks I’ll be making my 4th, and likely last ministry visit to Kenya.

My wife will stay home in Oregon this time for financial reasons. Her varied ministry of singing, giving guitar lessons, teaching women how to crochet and begin their own home businesses, and speaking to groups of women will go unfulfilled unless I suddenly become very talented. I rely on my wife greatly, but I’ll be joined again by my 21-year old friend and son in Christ, Matthew. I’ll keep him busy again this year to the point of exhaustion each night.

Over the past year I’ve been working hard producing materials to be taught in our Bible school, Berean School of Ministry. I’ve completed 10 separate courses for 123 in-depth Bible lessons. These courses cover the Holy Spirit, water baptism, the nature of sin, the Bible, the end times, and much more.

The plan is for me to teach verse-by-verse through the 12 books of the Minor Prophets in the Bible school, preach in churches, encourage young pastors to be faithful students of God’s Word, speak at home meetings, and go anywhere to meet anyone to preach Christ Jesus. My partner in ministry, Pastor Isaac Mathembe, will make certain there is not a wasted moment of our time.

This blog will continue each weekday with new material while I’m away.

I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to the believers Rome: I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me (Romans 15:30).

Matthew and I will surely appreciate your prayers for us and the beloved people of Kenya. Thank you if you’re able to help finance our trip, provide a scholarship to a Bible school student, or make a gift to needy pastor. Online tax-deductible donations can be made via Paypal at SellwoodChurch@gmail.com, or by check via snail mail to: Sellwood Community Church, 23585 NW Jacobson Rd, #51, Hillsboro, OR 97124.

Click here to watch ministry video highlights from 2016.