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.

A Holy Ghost Crusade

Pastor, Richard L Rice, Kenya, where living begins

You probably know a “Quiet Guy” who goes unnoticed. He sits toward the back of a room and barely makes a sound, deflecting attention to make someone else noticed.

I grew up in a religious tradition that placed an extraordinary emphasis on the Holy Spirit and certain aspects of His work. There was the “Holy Ghost Crusade”, people got “Holy Ghost Goosebumps”, the “dove” was plastered on church walls and banners, every strange idea or thing – real or imagined – was attributed to the “moving of the Spirit.”

People claimed visions and messages from the Lord which were often nothing more than repetitions of Biblical ideas or cockamamie signs of self-worship. We boasted in being “Spirit-filled” rather than simple followers of Christ.

Show me people infatuated with the Holy Spirit and I’ll show you people who have gone astray from Jesus.

Please don’t misunderstand me. The Christian life is impossible without the abiding presence of the Spirit. Redemption becomes a reality in the sinner only by the Spirit’s work. He illuminates the mind to understand and apply the Word of God. He distributes spiritual gifts to the Church as He wills. He is the Third Person of the Godhead and worthy of all honor, praise, worship, and adoration.

However, Jesus said of Him, When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you all things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you  (John 16:13-14).

The Holy Spirit is the “Quiet Guy” of the Trinity. Yes, upon His arrival in the Church He came with the sound of a mighty, rushing wind (Acts 2:2), but all the noise that day declared the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11) in the Person of Jesus. The Spirit of God never takes the attention due the Son. Never.

Jesus is the One before every knee shall bow and every tongue confess (Philippians 2:11). If the spirit points to anything or anyone other than Jesus – including itself – it’s not the “Holy” Spirit doing the pointing.

Ambassadors for Christ

Pastor, Richard L Rice, Where Living Begins

My first day in Kenya I wore shorts into the village of Kangundo. When we returned home I noted to my host that I was the only one wearing shorts and asked if it was appropriate in the culture. I’ll never forget Isaac’s reply that everyone could tell I was an American by how I dressed and that they would overlook my offense.

Without thinking about it, I was a representative of my country. I began wondering what I was saying about myself and America to the Kenyan people. Representing America brought responsibilities.

As Christians, the Bible calls us ambassadors for Christ.

To be a Christian is to represent Christ. When we are saved, we become living witnesses of His love and truth and light. Jesus could have used a billion and one different ways to witness about Himself, but He chose to use redeemed men and women. He appointed us to speak and live Him before mankind.

No ambassador makes his own message. He represents his president or king and speaks only the word given to him. In the same way we must be careful that the word we pass along is that which God breathed-out in the pages of Scripture; whether it suits our fancy or not.

When we take the name of Christian, we live for Christ Jesus. We represent His will, honor His priorities, guard His reputation, and submit to His desires.

We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Only Jesus

Kenya, Where Living Begins, Pastor, Richard L Rice
My wife and a few of the wonderful people at the Family of God Celebration Centre in Matuu village, Kenya.

Our arrival in the small Kenyan village on Sunday morning was big news. Not only had three mzungus (the Swahili word for a white​ person) come to Matuu, one of them was Pastor Richard returned from America.

I met Albanas on my first visit to Matuu in 2014. A year earlier he had professed faith in Christ and joined the church. There was a mighty turn about in his behavior, but it was short-lived. He returned to alcohol and all manner of ungodly living. He was an apostate, a false Christian.

On Sunday morning, Albanas heard I was in the village and he hurried to see me. With tears and deep emotion, over and over again he cried and pleaded, “Pastor Richard from America, save me. I need you to save me.

All I could answer was, “Albanas, only Jesus can save you. Turn to Him.

My plea fell upon deaf ears and a sinful, stone-cold heart. After a few minutes, I asked two men to chaperone me from the building and a broken man who would not let go of me.

Most people expect too much from a pastor, even one from America. They expect him to do far more than any human being can do. While a godly pastor cares, he rejects the deceit of idolatry by refusing to do for anyone what only Jesus can do. The pastor isn’t Jesus.

Ministry at Kwa Matingi

Richard, Benedict, Kim and Rose (4)

This is a photo of Pastor Benedict Muendo and his wife Rose. Both are 3rd year students at the Berean School of Ministry in Tala, Kenya.

Last summer I taught at a conference sponsored by Pastor Benedict. For nearly 6 hours I taught from the Bible on the Doctrines of Grace: how from eternity God chose sinners to be saved, how He saves them by grace alone, and how He keeps them saved eternally.

Pastors, bishops, and church members walked or rode for hours to attend this meeting at the Grace and Glory Fellowship Church located on the remote coffee plantation in Kwa Matingi.

The building constructed of wood scraps, tarps, and corrugated sheet metal was packed with 150 and had an overflow crowd. Adults and children sat and stood inside and out listening in both English and Swahili. We ended by singing the great hymn, To God be the Glory, despite calls for me to continue preaching.

A few days ago I received an update from Pastor Benedict. God used the conference in an amazing way to impact the community, resulting in a second congregation being organized.

Kenya is a land of unsatiated spiritual hunger. People will walk for hours to hear the gospel preached. Cults are actively taking advantage of this spiritual hunger, but Berean School of Ministry stands as a strong voice for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

I’ll be returning to Kenya this summer to continue the teaching work begun in 2014. The support you provide with prayer is invaluable. The financial gifts to fly me to Kenya are so appreciated, and the monthly support to the School of Ministry made by both Dean F and Matthew F is literally changing lives of pastors, congregations, and communities.

Thank you for remembering God’s work in Kenya.

Click here for information on the Berean School of Ministry

Our Trip

the-fallThere is a short 16-second video I’ve posted online. You can view it by clicking here. It shows my trip to the Berean School of Ministry in Kenya for a day of teaching.

Some people boast of the ability to speak in tongues or work miracles. For whatever reason, God has decided to grace with the unusual gift of tripping on every flight of steps I encounter.

As a connoisseur of tripping, I’ve noticed that even when ascending stairs, I always fall downward. “Duh. That’s obvious”, you say, but it isn’t always.

We have a belief that we are marching on to some kind of perfection. It’s the philosophy of atheists and evolutionists, communist-socialists and capitalists. They all envision a world with humanity getting better and better if we accept their ideas. Whatever aspect of life, we’ll Make _____________ Great Again!

The Bible tells a very different story. The Bible tells us that God created this universe – not perfect – but good and very good (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). But then man rebelled against God through disobedienceThis sin of Adam and Eve is known as the “Up”, but The Fall.

We like to think that we’re all improving, but in reality, every time we sin in word, deed, or thought, we “fall” further downward. Jesus came to lift us from the hole we’ve dug by our sins and fallen into, a hole that is nothing less than a grave.

He explained it like this: Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock, and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these saying of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall (Matthew 7:25-27).

Today, obey the words of Jesus and trust Him to save you. When you do, He will lift you out of the hole and set you upon the firm Rock of Ages.

** For more information on the Berean School of Ministry, Tala, Kenya, click here.

All Grace

Matuu (6)God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work. As it is written, He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness remains forever

(2 Corinthians 9:8-9)

My wife and I were driven high into the hills above the tiny Kenyan village of Matuu to visit a family. Their teenage son had just that morning been released from the hospital after a serious infection.

The family lives as tenant farmers on a sparse plot of land. The small, one room home is set apart from the second building which serves as outhouse, kitchen, and barn. They sold their few chickens and a goat to pay the hospital bill and had no money for antibiotics, pain control, or any other medication.

We sat under a shade tree while the wife prepared two serving pitchers of piping hot white tea in the kitchen. When it was confirmed we would visit, she walked several miles that morning to the market for two loaves of store-made white bread and butter to serve us.

Though the family neither spoke nor understood English, we heard of the boy’s mysterious illness, their faith in Christ and work in the local church, and ended with a song and prayer of thanks.

As we stood to leave, we realized that the family had served us tea and bread and didn’t partake themselves. They had no money to feed themselves, but had fed us while they went hungry.

It’s a false and racist idea that Africans only want Americans as cash cows. This family wanted nothing from us; they gave to us out of their poverty like the woman Jesus commended (Mark 12:44). Their only want was for us to share in their thanks to God for their son’s life.

As Americans, we’re fond of boasting how we’re “not rich.” We compare our wealth by what our friend or neighbor has; really, we ought to be comparing what we have but others don’t.

Do you have ready transportation? A warm, safe place to rest your head? Have you ever travelled outside your hometown? Do you have food in your home for more than one meal? If yes, these things make you rich and most blessed. Give thanks!