In the Red Dirt of Africa

Dan and Heather Galat are missionaries with World Gospel Mission serving at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. In this post, Dr. Dan Galat shares an amazing story of God’s calling, a reluctant but obedient answer, and God’s amazing grace and mercy as the transition happened. Read about the Galats’ move to Kijabe and how God has been bringing people and purpose around them to comfort them during a difficult time in the red African “dirt”. (All photos were taken by Dan and Heather.)

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“If you would have told me a year ago that our family would be leaving Tenwek Hospital—the place we have called home since arriving in 2008, the place where we saw God work in powerful ways through the orthopaedic service in the hospital, the place where our visions and dreams for the future were so strong—and settling in a new place of ministry, I would have thought it was impossible. But through a series of family events and realizations of some deeper needs of our children, coupled with the sense that God was not finished with us in Kenya, we made what has felt like an impossible transition to a new hospital, a new home, and a new place of ministry so that we can be with our children as they attend school at Rift Valley Academy.

“The pain of packing our belongings, moving out of our house (which we recently remodeled) at Tenwek, and saying goodbye to those we served and suffered alongside of for so many years was almost more than we could bear. Starting over in a new hospital, making new friends, and struggling with questions of purpose felt overwhelming and exhausting. The more “ego-testing” challenges, such as learning to rest, asking for help, letting others take up the mantle of what we started, and feeling like I had let others down, almost proved more difficult to manage. Despite the need and “rightness” of this transition, my faith has been bent to the point where it feels it might break. “Is God really in all the transition and pain,” I have asked myself on numerous occasions.

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“Moving in Africa was quite the experience…despite the potholes and last 8 km of bumpy dirt roads, only one item broke during the process…a single coffee mug!” – Galats

“However, it is at these lowest points in the dirt of transition that God’s whispers are heard most clearly. It was in the dirt that I rediscovered Hebrews 12:5-7 (NIV): “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.” It was in the dirt that I “found” a book, which had been “hidden” on my bookshelf for years. Streams in the Desert, a daily devotional compiled in the early 20th century, has, on certain days, felt like it was written just for me. It was in the dirt when I heard most loudly the sound of laughter around the dinner table as each child told the highs and lows of their day. It was in the dirt, while asking God “why” that I heard him say, “Because you’ve worked hard, and it’s time for you to rest a little.” These small, divine reminders, truths, and events in the hardest challenges of transition helped keep me on track. It is because Jesus is there in the dirt with us; His blood stained it red, securing for us hope in the future. “A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Isaiah 42:3 NIV).

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“Sand Grouse, our new house at Kijabe. It has six bedrooms and is fully adequate for our family (and visitors!).” – Galats

“We are still in the red dirt of transition at our new place of service—Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. We still miss our life and work at Tenwek and hope God will call us back there at some point in the future. There are times when the sting, although diminishing, returns. However, God is sustaining us in the transition as this move was predicated on an investment in the lives of our children, who we pray will follow God to the hard and dirty places as they grow in faith. God never promised it would be easy. He did, however, promise He would be there with us through it all, especially in the red dirt of Africa.”

Will you pray for the Galat family during their continued time of adjustment? May this time of transition also be a time of rest and family growth as God uses the Galats in Kenya.

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“The view of the Great Rift Valley from our living room.” – Galats

Sharing God’s Gift

Minda Kleman is a missionary serving in church ministries in Honduras. She wrote in her latest prayer letter about how the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a great gift that we get to share as a family of Christ. She talks about this wonderful gift and how it has had a positive influence on two of her former Sunday School students.

“Just recently, God let me hear about His gift at work in the lives of a couple of my former Sunday School girls.

“A few years back Fatima and Gaby were in the middle of those trying pre-adolescent years. Neither of them came from Christian homes, but they were blessed to have a Christian neighbor who brought them to Sunday School. Actually, they came with a whole gang of kids from a very poor neighborhood. Their behavior was a problem. Fatima was the ringleader. They acted out in class and bothered the kids from the church families. To put it mildly, they tried the patience of the whole Sunday School staff.

“Normal class discipline and correction just didn’t seem to help. After times of praying and fasting, the Lord showed us that we needed to change our strategy. So with a couple of other teachers, we began to heap extra love and attention on Fatima and her best friend, Gaby. We got permission during the week to take them out for ice cream and to invite them into our homes. After a few months, we saw some progress. The girls were still naughty with some of the teachers and kids, but at least they were open to getting together and talking about their lives. As they grew up, they settled down a bit. For a while, they visited other churches as they didn’t like their Sunday School teacher, but eventually they returned to our church.

“Just this week Fatima asked if we could get together and chat. She shared with me how both she and Gaby had accepted Jesus as their Savior and how God is changing their lives. They no longer hang out with the gangs in the streets. They have opted to participate in youth activities at church. Even more exciting, was what Fatima shared about how God is giving them the courage to stand up for their faith at their high school. Not long ago they were asked to participate in a very ungodly dance group as part of a school activity. They went and talked with their teacher. They told her about their faith in Jesus and explained that they couldn’t do those kinds of things. The teacher replied, “But no one from your church will know.” That was when Gaby pointed upward and said, “But there is someone else who sees everything we do.” Such a simple yet powerful witness! Their teacher gave in and said she would find another way that they could participate.

“As you partner with me, I trust this blesses your heart as it has mine. There is nothing better than to see others receive God’s gift and grow in Him. Please pray that both of these girls will continue to grow in their faith. As you celebrate Christmas, I pray that you will be filled anew with the peace and joy of knowing Jesus, the very best gift of all!”

WGM can help you learn more about Honduras and find ways to get involved in Minda Kleman‘s ministry by clicking on the links.

Testimonies of God’s Mercy and Power

Tabitha Ministry is an outreach to Kenyan women who live in the area surrounding Tenwek Hospital. Since missionary Linda Spriegel started a Bible study in her home in 2005 for village women, the ministry has grown to more than 100 Bible studies that meet weekly in the villages. Linda’s latest post on the Tabitha Ministry blog highlights two specific women’s testimonies from the community. Read on to hear these amazing testimonies of God’s mercy and power.

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Photo credit: Linda Spriegel

“First, meet ‘Grace the Customer.’  Living alone, she lived for drink, going early in the day to the local brewer’s house to do chores so she could get the corn-based local brew for herself.  Tobacco was her other habit, and it all took a toll on her health.  Last year, sick, and troubled in her home by visits from evil spirits, she cried out to God.  He released her from the spirits’ grip, then appeared to her in a dramatic dream.  She saw heaven and wanted to stay there, but was told she needed to return with messages for her children.  She was healed from that time on, and shortly after, she finally got up the courage to look for a church.  There she heard about Jesus and gave her life to Him.

“She began attending a Tabitha Bible study, and although illiterate, learned the verses to earn her own Bible.  She takes her Bible to others who can read it to her.  She says, ‘His Word is like a bone.  I chew on it until it becomes soft and it enters my heart.  I never went to school.  I ask God to teach me Himself, and He does.’  She loves Galatians 5:1, ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.’  Her neighbor friend attests to the witness she is having in her family and in their community by her changed life and word of testimony.”

If you want to read the rest of the blog post, including a second testimony of the brewer who sold Grace the liquor, visit the Tabitha Ministry blog. WGM can also help you get involved in Tabitha Ministry and the impact it is having in Kenya:

Prescription for Renewal Conference

Our very own medical missionaries John and Linda Spriegel, Jim and Martha Ritchie, and Steve and Theresa Manchester attended the 27th annual Prescription for Renewal Conference in North Carolina in October. John, Jim, and Steve presented lectures and a report. The seminar, which was coordinated by World Medical Mission (the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse), is designed to educate, encourage, and equip medical professionals to practice abroad in a volunteer setting.

When describing the seminar, Franklin Graham (Samaritan’s Purse CEO) said, “These ministries are saving many lives, but more importantly, they are leading people to a new life through faith in Christ.” Samaritan’s Purse is a partner organization of WGM and has a presence at Chogoria Hospital, Tenwek Hospital, and other hospitals in Kenya.

Meet these medical missions families:

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Jim and Martha Ritchie serve in Kenya at Chogoria Hospital, specializing in medical training.

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John and Linda Spriegel serve in Kenya at Tenwek Hospital and with Tabitha Ministry.

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Steve and Theresa Manchester serve in Kenya at Tenwek and through a special project in hospice care.

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Dr. Jim Ritchie (Photo credit: Martha Ritchie)

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Dr. Steve Manchester (Photo credit: Linda Spriegel)

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Middle L-R: Dr. Steve Manchester and Dr. John Spriegel (Photo credit: Theresa Manchester)

Theresa summarized their experience: “Steve and John Spriegel each prepared two lectures for the CME Seminar on Friday, October 14th, on topics ranging from tick fever to meningitis. Saturday morning, Dr. Jim Ritchie gave a very inspirational report on the ‘rebirth’ of Chogoria Mission Hospital and many people were interested in talking with him afterward.”

Will you pray for those who heard the lectures and report? May they have the wisdom to know if God is calling them to the field and the bravery to say yes when they feel that tug on their heart.