An International Missionary Outreach Dedicated to Evangelizing the Lost  By Sharing The Gospel According to the Scriptures

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Mission Kenya

 

Please click on a link below to read about the work That the Lord is doing  in Kenya. .

Overview Of Mission Kenya
Bryce Homes Kenya
Ongoing Reports From Kenya
Lighthouse Trails Missions site

Bryce Homes in Kenya is expanding. We have added four new homes to the program. Please click here to read more!

Bryce Homes International was founded by Understand The Times as a program to assist widows and orphans around the world. The program is in memory of Bryce Oakland (1974 - 2001).


Bryce Oakland
 

Overview Of Mission Kenya

As with our mission programs in other parts of the world, the objective of Understand The Times in Kenya is to come along side and assist other ministries or missionaries that are already established in order to assist them in the call God has upon their lives.

We hope you love this new slideshow from the Bryce Homes for Widows and Children in Kenya as much as we do. First, you will see most of the new homes that have been built for these Christian families in Rongo and Suna, Kenya, solely from the donations of Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails readers. This project, which began just 2 1/2 years ago, truly has been a testimony of God’s love and faithfulness. There are currently 20 Christian families being supported now. New houses with metal roofs, plastered and painted walls, and cook stoves with proper piping and ventilation have replaced mud huts with grass roofs and cooking done on the ground. And the children are being taught the Word of God and the ways of the Lord. We believe some of these children will be used someday in Kenya to testify of God. The three men there who are directing this program have a solid understanding of spiritual deception and the times in which we live, and they pass this understanding on to the widows, children, and others.

The music being played in this week’s Bryce Home slideshow is by Canadian singer Trevor Baker (used by permission). The song is called “The First Place” from his Bring Me Back CD. You can purchase this CD at http://www.lighthousetrails.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LTP&Product_Code=TB-BB&Category_Code=MUS.  He’s a wonderful brother in the Lord who travels around North America sharing the truth of God’s Word and warning of the times in which we live.

 

The music being played in this week’s Bryce Home slideshow is by Canadian singer Trevor Baker (used by permission). The song is called “He Wrote How Great Thou Art” from his It’s All in Place CD. You can visit Trevor’s website at www.trevorbaker.ca. He’s a wonderful brother in the Lord who travels around North America sharing the truth of God’s Word and warning of the times in which we live.

Please visit the Understand the Times website or our Missions for Truth website for more information about the Bryce Homes for Widows and Children in Kenya missions program. The homes are supported solely by the donations of Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails readers. As you can see from the slideshows, God is blessing the work. New houses are being built, the families are being helped with clothing, food, and educational costs for the children, biblical discipleship is occurring, and plans for gardening and other self-supporting methods are being developed. (On the slideshow, you can click the magnifier icon to enlarge any photo.)

Understand The Times has partnered with Lighthouse Trails for this work In Kenya. We have a link to their website.

First and foremost, we will  also give them the Gospel of Jesus Christ'

As we are not able to be in Kenya and on the ground year around it is important we have reliable representatives that we can trust and help distribute the resources we are able to provide for needs and specific causes. Pastor r will be our Understand The Times representative for Kenya.

In November 2011 and again in March 2012, I was able to visit Rongo, Kenya and observe the ministry of Pastor Achilla first hand. The vision he has to train up pastors in the truth at a center in the Suna area is unprecedented. Through a partnership with Lighthouse Trails, a center is already being built in a remote location in Kenya near the Tanzania border where pastors can come, be taught and share the truth with others.

The Understand The Times vision for Kenya is to work with Pastor Achilla to help him distribute resources to a number of needy families by establishing a Bryce Homes program in Kenya.

 

As in in other parts of the world, we will try to help parents, grandparents or others who are already looking after their own and orphaned children but do not have the resources to do so. Because Kenya is so poor, we can make a huge difference with a small amount of funds.

Because the homes or shacks that these poor people are living in are in tremendous need of improvement, we will try to make the living conditions better as well as providing food, clothing and school uniforms. We want the children to grow up to be an asset to the community around them as they are provided a Christian education and food to eat.

Our program in Kenya will start small, and we will proceed as God provides. At first we will establish as many Bryce Homes as we can with the funds we have and see how the program works out. Rather than having individual sponsorships for each child we will ask supporter to fund the Bryce Homes program in general. We will be reporting the progress of this program often on our Mission Kenya web location.

In the long term we have a vision to establish a facility in the Suna area for orphans. For a small amount of money we are to build a facility from bricks made of the local soil. We are also able to buy some land that can be used for agricultural purposes which will give the people in the area work as well as the orphans the ability to produce their own food.

You can partner with Mission Kenya monthly or any amount, anytime by check or by donating online.

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Bryce Homes Kenya

Bryce Homes International was founded by Understand The Times as a program to assist widows and orphans around the world. The program is in memory of Bryce Oakland (1974 - 2001). Understand The Times has partnered with Lighthouse Trails for this work In Kenya.


Bryce Oakland

The Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails vision for Kenya is to work with Pastor Achilla to help him distribute resources to a number of needy families by establishing a Bryce Homes program in Kenya.

Pastor Achilla in Rongo has given Grandma Mary and the children she is looking after two bags of maize.  Johannes who is one of the team members will take the food to Grandma Mary's home which his need of repair.
This is an example of how our Bryce Homes program will work in Kenya. We plan to provide food and clothing as well as facilitate the children's education as much as possible. The fathers of these children have died from AIDS.

Some children, in Bryce Homes, are truly orphans. Some families have to give their children to Bryce Homes so they can be fed. The families can't afford it. We can feed orphans and keep these families together by your gifts to Bryce Homes. First and foremost we want to be able teach them about the saving relationship they can have with Jesus.

You can be a part of the work that the Lord is doing with the Bryce Homes program in Kenya. We are accepting donations for that work. You can give a one time gift or support Bryce Homes in Kenya with a monthly gift. If the Lord calls you to help with a gift, please click on the appropriate button below.

 

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Monthly Donation To Bryce Homes Kenya for $25.00 Monthly Donation To Bryce Homes Kenya for $50.00 Monthly Donation To Bryce Homes Kenya for $100.00

  Monthly Donation To Bryce Homes Kenya for $200.00

 

 

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Ongoing Reports From Kenya

October 2014

Bryce Homes in Kenya – Water Filtration for All, Small Business Project Going Well, the Threat of Disease, and More

We are happy to report that all of the twenty-four Bryce Homes in Kenya now have water filtration systems. Understand the Times began to place  water filtration units in each Bryce Home in June after Roger Oakland, founder and director of Understand the Times, returned from visiting the homes this past spring. Many of the children and widows were suffering  with disease and sickness because of unclean and contaminated water. In a June report, Roger explained:


It became apparent that one of the greatest needs for our widows and their families was water—both uncontaminated drinking water and water for other basic needs (bathing, washing clothing, etc.). Where our families live in a remote area, they are required to walk long distances to get water from streams, ponds, or community boreholes and then carry the water in five-gallon pails back to their houses. Not only is there the problem of the water source being a long distance away, such water also contains many pathogens that are the cause of serious life-threatening diseases.

 

Understand the Times was able to obtain water filtration systems from a company called Sawyer that provides such filters to many organizations that help the poor around the world. The Sawyer filters are inexpensive yet durable and easy to use. Thanks to Understand the Times and Lighthouse Trails readers, we have been able to purchase enough systems so that each of the Bryce Homes in Kenya have one. In addition to the water filtration systems, the families will all be receiving a water collection system as we have mentioned in the past. Some of the families already have them, and we hope all the families will have them soon. This allows for the collection of rain water that can be used for drinking, bathing, cooking, and personal hygiene

 

 

 

Small Business Opportunity (SBO)
We are also pleased to report that all of the Bryce Home widows now are participating in the Small Business Opportunity (SBO) program started by UTT. The small home-based businesses are up and running. As we have explained in other reports, UTT gives each widow $75 as a start up amount. She, in turn, buys raw materials or finished goods that she sells. Florence 2, the overseer of the project (and one of the Bryce widows), checks in regularly with each widow to talk about the progress and to remind the widows to save enough of their earnings to turn around and buy more material or product. The testimonies coming in from the widows have been wonderful. Each of them is testifying how this and the other Bryce Home projects have changed their entire family life. And best of all, when we hear these testimonies, they give the glory and thanks to God.

Solar Panel For Pastor Achilla
We are grateful for some special donations that came in that helped to pay for a new solar panel system for Pastor Achilla’s house. The decision was made to purchase the system after he had gone without electricity for several weeks, making extreme hardship not just for his family but also for the Bryce Home project. Being as Pastor Achilla is the head director of the program, it is essential that he be able to use his computer and also have light in his home. During any given week, many people come by Pastor Achilla’s house for some kind of assistance or to have a meal. We have found Pastor Achilla to be a very kind and giving man, and we are glad we were able to help set him up with solar energy. As God provides, we would like to see all of the Bryce Homes have solar panels in the future. Currently, most of them do not have any form of electrical or solar power.

Vitamin C And Ebola
As you can imagine, many of the Bryce Home families suffer from poor health. Most of the widows became widowed after their husbands died of AIDS. Needless to say, some of the Bryce Home widows (and children too) have HIV. For privacy sake, we don’t mention which ones do, but even if that wasn’t an issue, there is the ongoing threat of disease and sickness to all of the families. After hearing that Vitamin C could possibly help those with Ebola, we decided to try to make sure that the Bryce Home families each had a small stock of Vitamin C if they became sick with Ebola or other similar diseases. While we know that this is not a sure cure, it is an affordable and easy-to-obtain substance that can help improve the overall health and immune system.

PLEASE PRAY
Please join us in prayer as we ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance in moving into the next stages of development for the Bryce Homes in Kenya. It was just about 3 years ago that the project was launched after Roger Oakland made a trip to Kenya where he saw the tremendous and dire need in the lives of these Christian families in Kenya. Since then, twenty-four families have become Bryce Homes in Kenya. New houses have been built, clothes and bedding purchased, family agriculture developed, latrines have been built, cookstoves and stove pipes installed in all the new homes, and much more. And best of all, the widows and children are being taught the Word of God by Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, and other area pastors who have discernment; and many in the community are turning to the Lord in seeing His goodness and mercy. What many of them are saying now is, “God has not forgotten us.”

For those who may not realize it, this project is supported solely by UTT and LT readers. If you would like to help support these dear families, click here to go to the Understand the Times donation page for the Bryce Homes in Kenya. There is a short piece, below, answering some questions about the program. Also check out our newest slideshow (see below) for recent photos of the Bryce Homes in Kenya. And thank you for your prayers and support.

Five Things You Might Be Wondering

1. Does the Bryce Home project have a U.S. building that it must maintain?
Answer: No, there are no U.S. overhead building costs whatsoever.

2. Does the Bryce Home project have a staff it must pay?
Answer: The pastors in Kenya who run the program are compensated for their time, but there is no paid staff in the U.S. or Canada.

3. How much of the donations from Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times go directly to the Christians in Kenya who are in the Bryce Home project?
Answer: 100% of the donations received

4. How much accountability is there in the Bryce Home project?
Answer: Roger Oakland, director of Understand the Times and founder of the Bryce Homes International, travels to Kenya once or twice a year where he meets with the three Kenyan men (Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, and Walter) who are running the program from Kenya. He also meets with each Bryce Home family during these visits. In addition, both he and the editors at Lighthouse Trails have regular communication through the year.

5. Is there an emphasis on teaching the Word of God to the Bryce Home widows and children?
Answer: Definitely. While the program does put donations toward practical needs such as housing, food, clothing, water purification, latrines, standard education for the children, and start up money for agriculture and other businesses for the widows, there is regular instruction in the Word of God presented by Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, Pastor Lawrence, and Pastor Daniel.

 

 

 

June 2014

Kenya Water Program

While visiting our Bryce Homes in Kenya in March of 2014, it became apparent that one of the greatest needs for our widows and their families was water—both uncontaminated drinking water and water for other basic needs (bathing, washing clothing, etc.). Where our families live in a remote area, they are required to walk long distances to get water from streams, ponds, or community boreholes and then carry the water in five-gallon pails back to their houses. Not only is there the problem of the water source being a long distance away, such water also contains many pathogens that are the cause of serious life-threatening diseases.

It was also obvious to me that there was a very doable solution to this problem. When I returned from Kenya, we reported on the need to collect water from the roofs of the newly constructed houses that our donors have helped to build. Since then, in these past three months, we have been able to construct three water-collecting systems that cost approximately $500 each. Eve troughs collect water runoff when it rains that is then drained into large clean plastic tanks that store the water. The tanks are situated at the corner of each house, and the water can be obtained by opening a valve whenever needed.

 Below are the photographs of the three widows and the water-collecting systems that have been constructed so far.


  

Widows Finter, Terri, and Benedetta are overjoyed and very appreciative for the way the new water-collecting systems have transformed their lives. The following is a short testimony that Finter sent to us through Pastor Achilla, which expresses her appreciation in her own words:

I am glad and glorify the Lord Jesus for provision of this water tank. It has enabled my family to get clean rain water for drinking. Because of this, the common infections brought on by water-borne diseases, especially cholera and dysentery, have ceased.

Myself and the children have now been relieved from the burden of transporting water from the river using buckets carried on the head. Simply, it has given us peace.

The people in the village have also surprised us as many come to request even a glass of rain water to quench their thirst and even to take with them to their homes. I have always given the testimony of God's favor whenever people come for water.

This provision of the Lord has reminded me of the LIFE GIVING WATER which our Lord Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman (John 4:14). May the Lord be glorified. Amen. Thank you to all the people who have stood with me. May God do to you the same as you did to me. By doing God will’s, may He reward you all.

God bless you all,

Finter

In the future, as funds become available, we have plans to construct more of these water-collection systems in the remaining Bryce homes that we have built with metal roofs. In the meantime, we are working on a plan to supply Sawyer water- treatment/filtration systems so that all of our 24 homes will have a way to purify water for drinking.

During the month of June, Pastor Achilla and an associate will be picking up 10 of these units from a supplier in Nairobi. At the same time, they will receive instructions on how to maintain the units so that clean and uninfected drinking water will be available for these 10 homes. The remaining 14 homes will also receive these same units as soon as possible.

Evangelism

Finter’s testimony perfectly fulfills the vision Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails have for our Kenya Bryce Homes Program. While we feel compelled to let our readers know about the physical needs our families face and come alongside and assist them, this is only part of our goal. More important is the fact that these families are now sharing the light of the gospel to those who live nearby, and the love of God is spreading to others.

In a future report, I will be sharing an update about our Small Business Opportunity Program for widows. For as little as $70 per widow, we are able to provide seed funds to the widows who will be able to start a small business which provides an avenue towards self-sufficiency.

We thank all those who have partnered with us in the Bryce Homes Kenya Program. When we first met the widows and children who were to become the Bryce Home families, most of these widows were living in mud shacks with grass roofs (that leaked badly during rainy seasons) or old deteriorated plaster houses that also leaked. The floors were dirt, and both the children and mothers did not have adequate beds and blankets and often had only one meal a day. Cooking was done in an open fire on the dirt floor (which caused a terrible fire-threat and respiratory problems because of the smoke). The children’s clothing were little more than rags, and most of them couldn’t  attend school because they had no government-required uniforms.

Today, the lives of these Christian widows and children have completely changed. This is an incredible testimony of the Lord’s goodness and mercy. And your support has made the success of this program possible.

Please scroll down to read all of the reports.

March 2014

Report 11 Final Report

From the Kibera Slums to a Homa Bay Paradise

Another chapter of our Bryce Homes Kenya story relates to an amazing transition that has occurred for Pastor Vitalis and his family who have spent years in the Kibera slums of Nairobi living in deplorable conditions and circumstances. I met Pastor Vitalis for the first time when I arrived at the Nairobi International airport on my first trip to Kenya in November of 2011. As I had a layover of several hours before connecting with a flight to Kisimu, Pastor Achilla had arranged for Pastor Vitalis to meet and help me make my connection from one terminal to another.

Pastor Vitalis was my first contact with anyone from Kenya. He told me about his experience living with his wife and large family in a mud shack in the slums of Kibera. At the time, we were in the process of considering expanding our Bryce Homes Program to Kenya. He showed me a photo of where he lived and the number of children he was caring for, most of them orphans whose parents had been killed by the tribal massacres that had devastated Kenya as the result of a recent political election.

We had a meal together which brought up the topic of food. When I asked him how he was able to cope with such a large family living in the poverty conditions he had described, he opened up and gave me more details. “At best, there is only enough food to have one meal a day”, he said. Then he made a statement that I will never forget: “We usually eat some rice or beans just before we lie down at night so that hunger pains do not keep us awake.”

The following year on my second trip to Kenya when I was accompanied by my friend Byron Hardy from Canada, our connection from Nairobi to Kisimu was not scheduled until the following afternoon. This gave us time to get some rest as well as an opportunity to meet with Pastor Vitalis and his family in the Kibera slums. As his family had become part of our program by then, I wanted to see for myself the conditions they were living in and how we could help them.

Pastor Vitalis met us at our hotel, and after we hired a driver, we headed off to the Kibera area, which was about thirty minutes away from where we were staying. Finally we arrived and found a place to park. Both Byron and I were somewhat hesitant about stepping out of the vehicle. I have been to many slum areas before in other parts of the world. What I was seeing with my own eyes this time was as if I had landed on another planet.

We walked through the winding trails over very rough terrain. It was difficult to navigate the open streams of sewage that flowed everywhere. Garbage was strewn everywhere although in a few places it was concentrated in open piles. As Byron and I were the only white people in the area, we felt somewhat conspicuous. Finally we arrive at the Vitalis home. The door was a sheet that provided privacy from the outside world. Inside there was another sheet dividing the mud hut into two rooms. Byron and I were offered the two chairs that were in the one room.  We were asked to sit down and were offered a sliced bread. The children crowded around, and the entire family was introduced.

As Pastor Vitalis had been part of our program for over a year, I was able to ask him some questions regarding what differences his family had experienced. As I looked around from the location where we were doing the interview, a myriad of thoughts flooded my mind. While we were attempting to come alongside and make a small difference, the impact on the lives of this family was of paramount importance. Then I thought about the area where we live in Canada and the United States and the luxuries of life everyone takes for granted. Then I thought out loud: if only I could transport some of the people who live in abundance to this location so they could see, hear, and smell the sights of the slums of Kibera. Wouldn’t they be willing to invest just a cup of coffee per day to assist a Christian family in need who lives in these conditions?

 God Answers Prayer

Moving Pastor Vitalis and his large family of 16, which includes 10 orphans that he and his wife provide care, has been on our list of things to accomplish in Kenya for some time. When Lighthouse Trails and Understand The Times decided to do a special fundraising program in

December of 2013 focused on adding latrines and new homes, moving Pastor Vitalis and his family out of Nairobi became a priority. As Pastor Vitalis was born in the Homa Bay area and grew up there, he was known to the chief in that region. When he inquired about the possibility of moving back, it was a matter of him making a trip to see the chief and securing a deed for a plot of land.

Once the land was secured, plans could proceed with the building of a home when funds became available. When our donors heard about this need, they responded, and we were able to go ahead with construction. Pastor Achilla traveled to the site from Rongo and hired a builder to clear the property of bush and start the project.

When I arrived in Nairobi on my March 2014 trip, Pastor Achilla met me, and we spent the night in a hotel. The following morning Pastor Vitalis and four of his children met me at the hotel, and we discussed the upcoming move to Homa Bay.  They were enthusiastic about the move, which should occur around the middle of April. All sixteen children will be registering in a new school located near their new house.

On my final full day of touring the Bryce Homes in the Rongo/Suna area, we were able to start early in the morning and drive to the location where Pastor Vitalis’ new house is presently under construction.  While we first travelled towards Homa Bay then northward to the location by a paved road, eventually we branched off to a dirt side trail. After what seemed like an eternity, we approached the site where construction of the new Vitalis home was taking place. As we got closer, I could see that the area looked like a paradise compared to the Kibera slums where they are presently residents.

While Pastor Vitalis’ house is partially constructed, it will only take a matter of another couple of weeks to complete the process. Wooden poles are dug into the soil and provide the structure for the walls. Smaller branches are attached to both sides of the vertical poles. Metal sheets supported by wooden rafters form the roof.  Then water is mixed with dirt to make mud that forms the walls and floor. Finally when the mud dries, plaster is made from mixing cement, sand, and water, and the walls and floors are coated. Windows and a single door are added, then the house is complete.

When the house is finished, it will be painted inside and outside so that it will be white. As well, a latrine/shower will be built on the property, a cook stove and chimney will be installed, and eventually eves troughs will be added to capture water off the roof for storage in a large plastic tank.

The area surrounding the home where Pastor Vitalis and his family will live is extremely fertile. Fruit and vegetables can be grown, and livestock can provide meat, milk, and eggs. In the near future, the family will be able to participate in a small business program and work towards self-sufficiency. Pastor Vitalis can start a Christian fellowship in the area and spread the gospel.

What a Miracle!

This transition from hell to paradise, from the Nairobi Kibera slums to a fertile area near Homa Bay, from my perspective is a modern-day miracle. While some may insist that miracles require demon deliverance, being raised from the dead, or cured of a terminal disease, the Vitalis family story shows me God can be involved in changing impossible situations to bring hope and a real difference in people’s lives. While this story is just one example, it reveals how God is working in Kenya through the Bryce Homes Kenya Program. This is God at work in a supernatural way using ordinary people and ordinary circumstances.

Now think of this! There are also 23 other Bryce Homes in Kenya that have their stories to tell. On this trip, I made the decision to increase the number of Bryce Homes from 20 to 24. This means there are now over 150 lives being impacted that can share testimonies about the goodness of Jesus and the difference the Bryce Homes Program has made to their lives.

Is it possible this is only the beginning and that God has a plan for us to share this vision on an even broader scale? As support is provided from individuals and churches who seriously care about missions, we are committed to follow the Lord, wherever and however He leads.

 

Kenya Report 10

 

The Miracle at Suna

The Bryce Homes in Kenya are not all located in one concentrated area. At present, there are twenty of them scattered in a region northwest of Rongo that lies towards Lake Victoria and covers an area that is over 500 square miles. As you can understand administering a program to widows and families in such an expansive region is characterized by many difficulties. However, this is how our Bryce Home Kenya administration team has set up the program. This expansive outreach spreads out the support and gives opportunity to share the gospel over a wide area. This is the vision of the Bryce Homes Kenya program incorporated from the beginning.

The families situated in the Rongo region are all located within a few miles of each other. The widows and the children in this area are regular attendees of Pastor Achilla’s or Pastor Nelson’s churches. Delivering food to them is not such a huge task. In every case, a vehicle carrying supplies is able to drive close to the homes to make the drop off. In a few cases, the driver has to make a detour from a trail and head across an open field or pasture dodging the odd tree or large rock. Delivery of monthly food supplies can be accomplished in several hours.

Not so for the two homes located at North Kadem region or the six homes clustered in the Suna area. To reach these eight homes all in one day is a challenge. There are three major obstacles – the roads that are not fit for vehicles, the cows and goats who share these trails, and the weather. While the first 20 miles of the trip can be made on a modern paved road north from Rongo to Migori, this is the only portion of the trip that is reasonable. From Migori, the road branches off and becomes a winding trail where drivers do their best to navigate rock piles, cows, and washouts that act as speed bumps and hinder speed beyond a few miles per hour.

However, these goat trails, as I call them, remain passable as long as it has not rained recently. There is still another major hazard. My experience has shown me as the result of several of these trips, if there are dark clouds forming in the sky, you better be prepared for a flash flood as small lakes of water and rivers form in seconds making your way impassable.

 As it is not possible to carry thousands of pounds of supplies on the backs of a few men to their final destinations, the drivers are determined to transform their vehicles into “boats” and treacherously proceed crossing huge mud holes and small rivers.

Finally, after encountering several of these “near-stuck” experiences, the delivery mission finally reaches its destination and the goods are dropped off. In some cases, it is just impossible to reach the vicinity of the home by vehicle and Nelson, Achilla, and Walter load the bags on their backs and carry them by hand. On occasion, motor bike drivers come along and help carry the supplies on the final leg. All in all, monthly deliveries to North Kadem and Suna are riddled with adversity and hardship and always take more time than expected. If you start out at sunrise, you can expect it will be after sunset by the time you get back to Rongo to go to bed.

Why Suna?

Perhaps as you read through this report, you are asking the question: If there are plenty of widows and orphans in more accessible regions like the city of Rongo, why would you choose to travel into the wilderness into areas that are nearly impossible to reach? I have to admit, after my first experience of being shook up and thrown around in the front seat of a van for over 12 hours, I was asking the same question. However, now after seeing what God is doing in these remote areas, I have a new outlook and have grown to appreciate these widows who were chosen to be part of the Bryce Homes Program because God is not a respecter of persons including whether or not they live in accessible places.

In fact, it seems God is blessing the widows in the North Kadem and Suna regions because they have suffered even greater hardship because of the location in which they live. Pastor Achilla, who himself was born and raised in the Suna area, has felt a responsibility to assist widows and children who have been left fatherless from the very beginning of the program.

I will never forget the first time I visited Suna on my first trip to Kenya. When we arrived at Suna, we were met by a large group of children and about twenty widowed mothers who were singing songs welcoming us.

Most of the widows and orphans gathered there that day had never seen a white person before. However, in their desperation, they sensed that God had not forgotten them in their misery and that possible help was on the way. While their hopes and dreams may have seemed impossible at that time, we have now seen God’s hands at work. Through Lighthouse Trails and Understand The Times, donors worldwide have caught the vision and assisted us so we have been able to supply food for eight families on a monthly basis as well as build six new homes and six new outdoor showers and latrines in the Suna region.



Testimony from Suna Resident Show Miracles Have Unfolded

All six widows sponsored in the Suna region shared testimonies that revealed how thankful they are to God for answering their prayers. Isolated in a remote area when they were forced into a situation to look after their children alone was an unbearable situation. Because other families living in the community were as poor and desperate as they were, there was no way to reach out and ask for help.

Chief Jared, who oversees the community, made a special trip to Suna and followed us around as we visited each home. As an appointed representative to the community by the Kenyan government, he told us that what he has observed and reported is being discussed by many other communities and true Christianity is being observed in action.

Future Projects

As previously reported, there are a number of projects we are praying about for the Bryce Homes Program in Kenya. These include capturing water from roofs in storage tanks, water treatment in order to purify drinking water and implementing small business opportunities so families can work towards self-sufficiency. This will make a huge difference to Suna and will open up the possibility that more widows and orphans can be added to the program.

As well, we have a plan to add a pastor/evangelist devoted to teaching the Bible and being a spiritual leader for all of the families in the area. In the near future, we have plans to build a small church so that families can gather to worship. By a church, I am not referring to an elaborate building with stain-glass windows and a paved parking lot.

A wonderful miracle is underway in the Suna region. May God continue to pour out His blessings as the months go by as prayers continue to be answered and the gospel continues to be spread. My heart has been touched by what I have seen and heard and am committed to tell others so that they know about the good work God is doing through the Bryce Homes Kenya Program.


 

Report 9

Helping Widows to Become Self-Sufficient

Life in Kenya is difficult enough.  However, when a mother who has several children loses her husband to the ravaging disease known as AIDS (or some other all-too-common disease in Africa), her life becomes a horror story. Imagine if you can what happens when the man who fathered your children and provided food and shelter for your family suddenly dies and you are left alone. How does a widowed woman, who barely survived before the death of her husband, continue to live and support her children when she is on her own? Can you image the despair and hopelessness that overcomes her?

Families with widows as the only parent brought about by AIDS makes up 60% of the population according to one government official I met from the North Kadem area. Worse yet, in many cases both parents have been wiped out by this disease and grandmothers who are also single are called upon to raise their grandchildren. They have no income, no food, and no way to make their quality of life better.

While there are government agencies and global fundraising organizations dedicated to looking for solutions to the problem of AIDS, the fact is, there are a myriad of widows left helpless in dire situations. Families go to bed every night hungry and crying for food. The clothes they wear are nothing but torn rags. They huddle under thatched leaky roofs when it rains and shiver on mud floors without any mats of blankets so that sleep is impossible. Such is the life of countless fatherless families who belong to the family of God and the body of Jesus Christ in Kenya.

The widows in the Rongo/North Kadem/Suna area that God has called us to reach out to and care for are all Christians. When we met them, they were regular attendees of Pastor Achilla’s church or cared for by associate pastors who volunteered their services to care for those more needier than themselves. Pastor Achilla is well known in this region, not only as a man of God but a man who has great compassion for the poor and needy. Whenever and wherever I have traveled with him, people approach him and greet him. He is a true pastor that makes people a priority and loves and cares for those in need.

Before we partnered with Achilla and his team, he was already doing all that he could to encourage widows. Numbers were being added to his small congregation on a weekly basis. The burden to minister to their needs seemed like an insurmountable and overwhelming task.

It was this attitude and vision that caught my attention in November of 2011. The Bible encourages members of the family of God to reach out and care for widows and orphans and respond accordingly. In the book of James, chapter one and verse 27, we read: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction….”

Such a concept is a foreign idea for most churches and church leaders today. Their concept of spending the resources they have been given by their supporters usually goes towards buildings and empires that can be seen as marks of success. Missions programs that invest in lives far away are not good “business” decisions. “Real religion” in the modern world has turned God’s Word upside down. It is more about “more for us” and less and less for others. Widows and orphans are forgotten about and ignored.

This westernized mentality that drives the purpose-driven, church-growth mindset has always troubled me. For years, I thought and prayed about how this could be changed. Then there was a breakthrough. As our ministry was in the process of moving towards our Bryce Homes International Program that was born in 2006 in memory of my son Bryce, it seemed that a partnership with Pastor Achilla and his team in Kenya would be a perfect fit to fulfill God’s calling upon my life. This partnership, which later expanded to include the promotion by and support of Lighthouse Trails, has now proven itself for over three and one half years.  

The Road from Dependency to Self-Sufficiency

However, when God is truly in the lead, one never stands still or in one place. God is almighty and sees what is best and the steps that are required to move on. While the Bryce Homes Program has been a great success, there has been a question or concern that has been consistently at the forefront of my mind. While food has been provided on a monthly basis along with clothes, homes, and latrines to make life easier, there was something missing.

The purpose of designing the Bryce Homes Program was never to become a welfare agency by becoming a never-ending pipeline guaranteeing assistance perpetually so that entire families could grow up depending on others instead of helping themselves. Such a system, in the long run, would be harmful and destructive. I pondered. There had to be a better way so that through time a transition could be made from total dependency to self-sufficiency.

One of the main purposes and objective of my March 2014 trip to Kenya was to investigate the possibility of adding another dimension to our program. I wondered if any of the widows had ever thought about small businesses they could start that would subsidize the support they were receiving through the Bryce Homes Program. The results were delightful. Every single widow that I interviewed immediately responded to the question. I have many of these responses recorded on video and will later publish the report as a short documentary.

What surprised me was the fact that none of the widows had to think about the answer to my question, even though they had not been told beforehand what question I was going to ask. Every single widow already had prayed and dreamed about a time in the future she could set up a small business and not have to rely upon donor support. In fact, many of the women had previous experience with the small business they were desiring to start before their husbands had passed away. The death of their husbands had not only left their children fatherless and without their main source of income but also the widow herself, who had been a secondary bread winner, was no longer able to continue as all her efforts had to be concentrated on helping her children survive.

When you see and hear the responses the widows gave me when I told them about the coming Small Business Opportunity Program, you will discover for yourselves why God has been leading us in this direction. For now, I will show a photo of the widow and then briefly describe what kind of small business she wanted to do.

 

Small Business in Kenya

I must say that I was somewhat surprised by the entrepreneurial enthusiasm I sensed from these ladies who range in ages from 25 to 75. The concepts of making, buying, growing, and reselling were not new to them. For most of them, they or their parents had small businesses at one time in their lives. This is what life is all about in Kenya. This is how people survive and make a living. When a widow becomes a widow, she not only loses her husband, she also loses her potential to have a job. Worse yet, she knows that she becomes a liability to the community rather than an asset.

Knowing what I now know and seeing the countryside through eyes that have been opened wide, a flood of ideas and thoughts have poured into my mind. There is now a way to move on and start small business experiments one by one. It is not a matter of purchasing or renting buildings or forming a corporation with a fleet of cars or hiring staff. Each widow and her family can establish her own business right in the area where she is located. The widows may have to rent a “piki-piki” from time to time to catch a ride to the bigger markets where they will secure the goods they are going to resell, or they may have to set up a temporary “Kiosk” or display table. Although these costs are next to nothing in our standards, for them a penny is more than they can afford. What they need is “seed capital” to get started. Once they get going, their own creativity, coupled with hard work, perseverance, and good business practices, will become their lifelines to the future.

How Many Products are Sold In Rural Kenya   

 

Supporting Small Business is a Positive Solution for All

I see the small business program as having many positive benefits. While developing a small business, the whole family will participate and reap the profits in several ways. Rather than growing up expecting others to provide for them, the children will learn principles that come along with working hard for a living, and then this knowledge can then be passed on to the next generation. One of the requirements we will teach and enforce is accountability. Financial records will be kept and overseen as a way of measuring the progress and success of the program. We are already considering one of the widows to oversee records and encourage the women.

Now, think of this. What if these newly founded widow-entrepreneurs were to add another dimension to their lives and develop into widow-evangelists impacting the people and locations where they buy and sell their goods. A number of them plan to walk around their neighborhoods and play the role of door-to-door saleswomen. What a perfect opportunity to share the love of Christ and tell others about the good news and become door-to-door evangelists.

I am convinced this idea to assist our widows to start up small business programs has been inspired from above. In the future, we will be establishing a special project and letting you know what will be required to assist with the startup funds. While this figure has not been determined as yet, the amount is expected to minimal. If you are a business man or business woman, you will understand most businesses start out with an idea and then through time have the potential of growing. What would happen if some of our widows were eventually able to support themselves and even consider helping others less fortunate than themselves?

Like James stated under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, genuine or real Christianity is demonstrated when Christians are given the vision to support widows and orphans rather than being consumed with ourselves. I pray that God will use this program in order to touch many lives that will count in the present and for eternity.

 

Kenya – Report 8

Video Update From Bryce Homes Kenya. Showers and Latrines that were built as part of the Winter Offering Building Program.

Living Water for Kenya

You don’t need a scientific mind to understand that water is one of the main essentials for life. In fact, a primary foundation of basic biology is the declaration that without water there is no life. The Bible also uses water as a comparison when discussing the quality of spiritual life and following Christ. Jesus said, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

For those who live in technologically advanced parts of the world, it is hard to even imagine what it would be like to be limited by water in any way. If we are thirsty, we turn on the tap or go to the fridge and grab a cold bottle of water. We shower or bath daily, flush our toilets, and water our gardens and flowers without hesitation. Seldom does anyone ever consider what it would be like to be in a situation where water would be a limiting factor or worse yet even a threat to living. The availability and quality of water is a given for most who are reading this article. We consider this common necessity for life a God-given reality that we deserve.

The Outcome of Unclean Water

A trip to rural Kenya can be an eye-opening experience for someone like myself who has never had to struggle to access a plentiful water source for daily needs and especially good clean water to drink. The list of problems and potential disasters that face the people associated with water sources or lack of sources can be very discouraging in Kenya. The only running water that can be found is usually in a muddy, insect-infested stream. 

While boreholes, also called wells, can be dug, if water is found, it is sometimes salty and not fit for human consumption. The digging of wells is costly as it is done by hand, and the depth they must be dug is often very deep. Often the well is dug in vain, and even though the funds have been spent, there still remains no water source.

In the Rongo area, wells have been dug and water is accessible throughout most of the year. However, many different families access the water from these boreholes by dropping down pails attached to a rope. The pails are often dirty and full of germs. Walking on the surface of the well are cows, goats, donkeys, and chickens that deposit fecal debris continually. It is questionable whether or not water in Rongo is any safer to drink than in the country.

The biggest problem with water, when water is found, is that it is one of the leading causes of sickness and death in Kenya. Most people living in rural areas do not understand why they are sick and have no way of finding out as they cannot afford medical care. In other words, their bodies are constantly fighting some life-threatening situation; they don’t know what it is and they have no way of getting help to get rid of it. What a miserable way to live.

During my trip to Kenya last week, my driver, Steve, informed me that contaminated drinking water in Kenya is perhaps the most significant problem that rural people face. Coupled by the lack of education and an understanding of the cause of disease, they often equate the illnesses acquired from infected or contaminated water as “dark spirits” that are harassing them because they have done something wrong. While our Bryce Homes (which are run by Christian believers) are not vulnerable to this type of mentality, which comes out of tribal customs and beliefs, they still are subjected to the illnesses that come from unsanitary conditions. Dysentery is the normal response and is considered normal.

However there is much more for widows, orphans, and all others to deal with. Some of the waterborne diseases acquired through drinking contaminated water as listed (http://www.indexmundi.com/kenya/major_infectious_diseases.htm) include:

Hepatitis A - viral disease that interferes with the functioning of the liver; spread through consumption of food or water contaminated with fecal matter, principally in areas of poor sanitation; victims exhibit fever, jaundice, and diarrhea; 15% of victims will experience prolonged symptoms over 6-9 months.

Hepatitis E - water-borne viral disease that interferes with the functioning of the liver; most commonly spread through fecal contamination of drinking water; victims exhibit jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, and dark colored urine.

Typhoid fever - bacterial disease spread through contact with food or water contaminated by fecal matter or sewage; victims’ exhibit sustained high fevers; left untreated, mortality rates can reach 20%.

Then on top of this, add the parasite factor. Parasites can affect every organ in the body and cause horrendous damage and trauma. All of these things seem unfair and certainly unbearable. Such is the price one pays to live in a beautiful land plagued by poverty and disease that is accompanied by the lack of means to do much about it.

Based on my limited experience travelling around visiting our homes and speaking with my drivers and the Bryce Homes Kenya leaders, the symptoms described above are manifesting constantly with the people we are attempting to help. If these people remain subject to this same problem of contaminated water on a continuous basis, the problem of poor health will only continue, if not get worse. Although we are providing food, shelters, clothes, and good latrines, all of this soon becomes meaningless to someone who is dying from a disease caused by contaminated water.

Water Collecting and Water Purification

As we have previously reported, in an attempt to make the quality of life better, we have already constructed 12 new Homes for our families with metal roofs to keep them dry when it rains. On my March 2014 trip, while travelling from home to home, a sudden revelation popped into my mind. If the metal roofs are doing the job of keeping our people dry, then why not collect or capture the water that is shed by the roofs in a tank so it can be used. Actually after the idea came to me, I wondered why it had taken so long. When I was a young boy living on a farm in Canada, this is how our family collected water for washing and other daily practices.

When it rains in Kenya, it really pours. At particular times of the year, the certainty that there will be an afternoon downpour is 100%. Why not collect this water for human use rather than letting it fall on the ground and then run away. Sure enough, my idea was not new as later I noticed that some of the schools in the area were using this concept.

So here is step one. We will start with the Homes that are in the greatest need.  Some are miles away from a well or from a river. How much more convenient it would be to have water just around the corner – the corner being one of the corners of their own house. Lawrence, who does construction work (assisted us in the building of the latrines) has looked at the situation and has already come up with a plan. He is also capable of doing the eves trough (gutter) installation. After this is completed, we will construct a solid elevated base at one corner of the house where a plastic storage tank can rest and be secured. Every time the rain falls, water will be collected thus providing at least one good source of water for daily use.

In the near future, we will be obtaining quotes regarding the costs to assemble this simple yet vital way of trapping water. We will start with a few and see how this works. If successful we will add more as time goes by.

Purification of water for drinking purposes is an absolute necessity if we are going to improve the quality of life for the families we are supporting. It is a matter of doing some research, finding the proper device, securing the funds, and then putting this project into place.

When we have done this, we will be putting together a water collection/water treatment program similar to the latrine program.

When we told several of the widows that we were considering a program to help them with their needs related to water shortages and purity of water, they all were joyful. Later I will be documenting these interviews by producing a short video to post on our web site and YouTube.

Widow and grandmother Benedetta was even more than ecstatic. As soon as Pastor Achilla translated so that she could understand what I was saying about the coming water project, she broke into a dance and started to sing. “Praise God, Praise God, Hallelujah. Amen and Amen,” she squealed at the top of her voice. Then she broke into tears, “My knees get so sore now when I carry the buckets back and forth to the river for the water for cooking, drinking, and bathing.”

I looked over and saw the pails she was taking about on the ground.

Water Evangelism

So if Jesus proclaimed that believing in Him was the key of life and that “living water” would flow from us so that we would be a spiritual influence on others, what about the idea that the provision of natural purified water for those who are in need could also be a tool to share the gospel? Is it possible that sharing the good news of the gospel can go hand in hand with sharing physical water and making it pure to drink?

While true biblical Christianity must never confuse the true gospel with the “social gospel,” the true gospel recognizes that while the spiritual condition of a people is supremely important, their physical welfare cannot be ignored (see James 1:27; 2: 15-16). If food, clothes, houses, and latrines show that God cares for those in need, what about water, the most important and basic component of life?

Maybe those who have been given this pure water as a gift from brothers and sisters from around the world who care for them can share this precious gift with friends and neighbors who are not yet believers. Thus, the fulfillment of Jesus’ own words will become a reality in Kenya – believers in Christ will be filled to overflowing with spiritual water that they can share with their neighbors as they endeavor to evangelists for Christ.

While secular organizations also recognize the importance of assisting the poor and needy with the procurement of clean water, they lack the leading and direction of the Spirit of God and the Word of God. My prayer is that our Bryce Homes Program in Kenya will always be led by the Lord in the truth of His Word and that it would always proclaim the Gospel foremost. I pray we will develop a water collecting/cleansing program that will bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ. Lord willing, may we become known as a Bible-believing organization that leads the lost to Jesus by using “water evangelism” as a witnessing tool.
 

 

Report 7 Kenya

New Homes and New Latrines

I have never been enthusiastic about short-term missionary work that uses the “drop and run” method of handing someone a gospel tract then heading home never to be seen again. While God can use any method or technique to plant seeds of truth that later can be germinated by the Holy Spirit to produce good fruit, God has led Understand The Times in a different way. The way this has happened is truly a God thing. We did not come up with an idea or method and then put it in action by human means. By simply being led by circumstances divinely appointed, we came alongside nationals who are already strong believers and discovered they had a desire to reach their own people but lacked the means to do so.

This is exactly what has happened in Kenya. While Christianity in Africa is tainted (to put it mildly) with “every wind of doctrine” known to the Body of Jesus Christ (largely thanks to Western teachers), the contacts to whom the Lord introduced us were not only like-minded and grounded in the Word, they demonstrated themselves to be ministers of the gospel who operate with accountability. This is the first prerequisite that must be fulfilled in order to put together a team for implementing a program with an organization that is based halfway around the world.

As I have mentioned previously, the obvious lack of food required for nutrition for orphans and widows was the first indication to me there was a physical need that had to be addressed if we were going to be effective as ministers of the gospel in the country of Kenya. How do you tell someone about the wonderful salvation provided by the grace of God when each evening he or she goes to bed with hunger pains so intense sleep is not even possible? While those of us who live in developed countries have no idea what this kind of experience would be like, for the poor and desperate in Kenya this is just everyday life.

Further, while in the areas we are attempting to reach there is the possibility of producing food such as maize, beans, and rice, widows who have been left helpless by the loss of their husbands also have a problem with the lack of  regular water supply. They are held captive by a hopeless situation. Since nutrition is one of the main factors relating to health and growth, illness is common place in Kenya. This further adds to the woes of fatherless families who are attempting to cope with life.

The first phase of our outreach program in Kenya was to provide nourishment to the families we incorporated into our program on a monthly basis. This is done as our three leaders purchase the food in bulk, pack it in bags according to the size of each family, and then deliver it by hiring drivers and rental cars.

The supplies not only include rice, maize, and beans but essentials for cooking including salt and oil. Soap for washing and cleaning bodies is a luxury that most had never experienced, but now they have this too. The next phase was to provide blankets, clothes instead of the rags they were wearing, and mattresses for the widows so they did not have to sleep on the mud floors.

While the food problem was being addressed, it soon became apparent that the majority of the shelters our widows and families were dwelling in needed to be replaced. The typical conventional huts that Kenyans build in rural areas are made of mud walls and thatched roofs. Their durability to the weather is not long lasting, and they soon become leaky shacks not fit for humans.

Following my second trip to Kenya in March of 2012, we asked Pastor Achilla and his team to secure bids for the construction of a few new homes. Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails shared this need with our readers. First one home was built covered by a metal roof with four rooms instead of the typical two, the walls were painted white inside and out, and a stove was added in one of the rooms for cooking. These stoves, new for Kenya, were designed in Rongo. They have a chimney, which vents the smoke outdoors alleviating another major health problem.
 

 

To the present date, twelve new homes have been constructed in the Rongo, North Kadem, Homa Bay, Suna areas. These homes have become a landmark or a trademark for the Bryce Homes Program. As these plastered-painted-metal roof-with chimney houses are popping up everywhere, the word is being spread that God has not forgotten the poor and needy in Kenya. Government officials are taking notice and expressing their gratitude for the program, asking our leaders how it can be expanded further.

Now families can sleep at night and not fear their roofs will fall in on them or that a downpour during the night will force them to cover up with a plastic sheet. No longer do they have to inhale smoke that damages their lungs nor do they have to worry about their shelter catching fire as they sleep. While we have assisted in supplying beds and furniture, more furniture is needed. Keeping with our motto “As the Lord makes a way, we will move one step at a time.” The needs are so great we recognize our limitations and proceed with caution.

So far, I have documented several of the steps that have been made in order to establish the Bryce Homes Kenya program now impacting a country for the glory of Christ. For myself who has traveled to Kenya four times to monitor the progress, I have found a number of signs or indicators that have shown me God is leading us and that this is a “work of God,” inspired by God, and for the glory of God. The smiles on the faces of the widows and the orphans who are now accustomed to seeing a white man who has come from a far-away tells me and our Kenyan leaders that their faith in God has grown leaps and bounds since my first trip in 2011.

Adults and children are sharing their faith with others who are asking them, “How can the changes that have happened to you be possible?” They have observed that God has noticed them in their misery and has answered their prayers. They have been removed from their pit of despair and given hope, and now they are looking for ways to be a blessing to others who are still less fortunate. People around can see that Christianity is not a belief system just based on mindless emotion and hype. They see a practical display of the Christian faith that provides a plan by those who have the means to assist those who have nothing in the name of Christ as a demonstration of a real faith that makes a difference in the world. Many, because of their observations, are asking questions about how one becomes a Christian.  Others are powerfully seeing the hand of God and are coming to know Jesus Christ. Achilla’s church is growing, and there are plans to plant more churches in surrounding areas.

While food, clothes, stoves, furniture, and homes have been stepping stones to faith, perhaps the most significant project that has made the greatest difference is a project I never would have expected. On my last trip, Pastor Achilla pointed out to me the reason so many were sickly was because there was a need for outdoor latrines for the deposition of human waste. This may sound strange for us based on our western culture, but it is a fact of life in Kenya. We only know about the conveniences that go along with hot and cold running water – toilets and showers. Few have ever experienced the use of the raw outdoors when the call of nature comes on a daily basis.

Not so in rural or even urban Kenya. The nearest bush, patch of weeds, prickly sugar cane field or behind the biggest rock in site is the location where one retreats for relief. Basic hygiene dictates that such practices soon lead to disaster when body wastes are not confined and isolated. So necessary action became apparent – something needed to be done to find a way for this problem to be solved.

So Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, and Walter were asked to do the research. Lighthouse Trails and Understand The Times informed our readers of the need. Thus the Christmas/Winter 2013 Building Project was born. When donors found out about the project that would construct latrines for all our families the funds poured in from all over the world.

Deep holes in the ground were dug, brick walls and partitions were built and plastered, cement floors were poured, and finally metal roofs completed the frames. These small buildings were also designed to have a second function. A second compartment complete with a door, provided privacy for an enclosed shower.

Finally, came the last and most important feature. The first latrine was built with the typical “hole” in the floor. Apparently, that is the way it has always been done in Kenya. However, because of our North American point of view, the Bryce Homes Winter Construction Project established a new precedent and initiated a new style of latrine so that one could sit on an elevated seat.

While you may be bewildered why I would even consider mentioning these details, there is a definite point. What I discovered while visiting each home and interviewing the widows is that all were verbally ecstatic about the latrines and how they worked. The new style was an absolute hit, especially for the older widows.

In fact, the latrines have now become a major factor that has developed into another evangelistic tool for the Bryce Homes Program. Neighbors who come by to visit want to see the “new thing” that has come to Kenya. Private showers and “sitting” toilets have developed into a major witnessing tool. Who would have believed that a latrine could bring such an unexpected result?

Video Update From Bryce Homes Kenya. Showers and Latrines that were built as part of the Winter Offering Building Program.

While visiting Suna this time, I met with the Chief of the region. He had travelled there by motorcycle especially to meet me and thank me personally for the difference the program has made for the community he oversees. (I have his interview on video tape, which I will be sharing at a later date). The one thing he was emphatic about was the difference the latrines had made to the widows in the area. “No longer do they have to go and hide behind a bush when they are showering,” he said. “Now these women can live a life that gives them dignity,” he further declared. “Your contribution to our community has made my life easier. I am most grateful and thank the Almighty God for your coming to Kenya.”

It was obvious to me as we visited the homes in Suna the difference there was in the way I was accepted since my last trip. The love and gratitude expressed to me was very obvious. It was like I had become part of their culture and that they understood how much I cared for them as human beings. (Again, at a later date I will put together a video that will share these comments).

To demonstrate their appreciation I was given four chickens by four different widows topped off by a huge bundle of bananas by a fifth widow. Knowing how little these widows have and what they gave, I was reminded of the story of the widow in the Bible who had virtually nothing, but all she had, she gave to Jesus.

I am certain now that the houses, showers, and latrines that have been constructed through the support of our donors have made a tremendous difference. Only God knows where this will lead in the future. I am praying that I will be given the opportunity to return to Kenya again to see.

 

 

 

 

Kenya Report 6

Bryce Homes Kenya: Past, Present and Future

The reports we have been posting on our website about our March 2014 Bryce Homes Kenya tour until this point have been brief and centered on specific events. For the ones remaining, my plan is to provide more background information and develop the topics. As you will see, the remaining reports will be more like a small chapter for a book, that Lord willing, will be published sometime in the future.

One thing I need to say in this introduction is that missionary work in any country or place around the world must be a calling, not a job. Missionaries cannot be “driven” by some organized plan by man. They must be called, hear the call, have a compassion for the lost and needy, and then respond.

Further, missionary work must never compromise the gospel of Jesus Christ or ignore or water down the Word of God by incorporating a montage of religious beliefs. The Bryce Homes Program worldwide from its inception has been dedicated to reaching out to the poor, especially orphans and widows, by coming alongside and supporting national Christian leaders to administer physical support and spiritual guidance.

This is exactly how and why the Bryce Homes Kenya Program was born. When I first visited Kenya in November of 2011, I was not specifically searching for another project or for more work for our small non-profit organization. In fact, this came at a time when most of our church support had abandoned and shunned us following the position I took on the emerging church through the publication of Faith Undone.

However, what may have been meant for harm and discouragement, God redirected for His glory. While “church-growth corporate programs” encouraged by pastors with “church-growth mentality” continues to “drive” congregations to build bigger kingdoms here on earth, God has allowed me to move on and away from their plans and follow His leading. We are not interested in kingdoms built by man. We want to be conduits that God can use to serve others by meeting needs in hopeless situations while being ambassadors for Christ and the gospel of Jesus Christ. So far, the countries of Myanmar, Kenya, South Africa, and the Philippines have been the areas where we have been led to establish Bryce Homes Programs by the Holy Spirit.

The Growth of the Program in Kenya

Every missionary endeavor in which I have had the opportunity to participate has begun with a small idea. I have learned that in missions, ambition is not the key to success.  Nor is the size of the program a means to measure what is important and what is not. Our God is the One in charge, and He is the One who is building His Church. We are only His hand extended as we walk in His will.

As someone with a science background, I have been trained to make observations, and in the case of missionary work, it is important to identify the needs and then see how they can be met through limited resources. When we have shared these needs with others through reports or live presentations, God’s people have responded generously.

While a few pastors still have a heart for missions, their churches are usually already supporting others they know or believe in. Usually these are small churches that are struggling to exist. This is how God works. Being a missionary should not be a competition to see who can be the best fundraiser. We have not appealed for church support although we are blessed and encouraged when that happens. God has shown us there are individuals all over the world who are desiring to invest financial resources in a Christian-based organization dedicated to truth and integrity while these donors disperse their hard-earned funds for the cause of missionary work.

At this point, it would be helpful to show group photos of all twenty Homes, which by the way, I was able to capture on March 2014 trip. However, for now I will provide photos of a few.

 
 

One of my purposes for this trip was to document the numbers of children supported by each home to make sure the support we are sending each month to purchase food is sufficient. I was startled by what I discovered – 16 widows, 123 children plus the husbands and wives from the four Homes established by our Bryce Home leadership which makes another 8. This means that presently there are 147 human lives that are benefiting from the support we send every month.

As the program is never static, there are always needs that we address from time to time. So far, the Homes we have added have a connection with Pastor Achilla’s Church in some way. Widows and children attend but the church does not have the financial means to provide for their care. This is where Lighthouse Trails and Understand The Times have been able to play a role. We have made the needs known, and God’s people have responded.

Some may be wondering what are the approximate costs to provide monthly support for each of the 20 Homes in Kenya each month? Remember, there are also costs that we must factor in for the expenditure of delivering the supplies by hiring drivers and the small honorariums that our leaders receive for their hard work. According to my calculations based on all the information I have gathered on this trip, the amount per Bryce Home works out to be about $150 per month.

Aside from the monthly support costs, the program has funded the construction of 12 new homes and 16 latrines that I will mention in a later report. Rather than ask for individual specific support to sponsor specific children as we have for some of our Bryce Homes in Myanmar, we have found that this is too time consuming for our small organization that operates with mainly volunteer help. While all support designated to Bryce Homes Kenya goes to these costs which I have outlined, we are considering looking at an option whereby supporters can adopt an entire Bryce Home or as in the past designate the funds to specific purposes.

The Future of Bryce Homes in Kenya

The reason I am proposing a change is that while I have been here on this trip, I have become aware of the need and possibility of establishing four new Bryce Homes, bringing the total to twenty-four. Two of these Homes will be widows and their children – Widow Florence and Widow Beatrice. Widow Florence is already actively ministering to the other widows in the Rongo area by praying with them and encouraging them. She will also play an active role in administering and overseeing the Small Business Programs we will be assisting the widows with in the near future.
 

Another idea that was derived from this trip relates to the vision God has given us for Myanmar in that we provide Bryce Home assistance to pastors and evangelists with families. These diligent workers, although they work to provide a living for their families, are not able to make ends meet. As well, they have filled the corners of their homes with orphaned children who have come to them pleading for help.

As I have been strongly convicted, our support to them will accomplish our two main goals – providing for the needy as well as helping build up more ambassadors for Christ that will be impacting Kenya. One is Pastor Lawrence who was the person in charge of construction of the 16 latrines that we recently built. The other is Pastor Dan whom I have met on each of my previous trips to Rongo.

 

At a later time, we will be publishing their testimonies, telling you more about their families, and making it possible for their sponsorship.

For now I will conclude this report. As usual, over these past days, I have been waking up early in the morning desiring to record in writing the recent images and ideas that have been burned into my heart so that others can share them with me.

Obviously, not everyone is called to be a missionary. I had no concept as a young Christian thirty-five years ago that my final years of this earth would be devoted to such a cause. However, God has a way of directing and redirecting our paths, especially when there are bumps in the road and life seems to difficult to go on.

Only God knows what lies ahead. For now, I want to be faithful and place my hand in His and move on.
 

 

Report 5 March 2014 Kenya

A couple of days have passed since my last report from Kenya was posted on our Understand The Times website. The reason has not been related to the lack of material to write about. The fact is that the days have been long and grueling, and I have not found time to do any writing. This may be hard to understand for those who have never encountered missionary work in the land of Kenya. As for me, a person who  has made this same trip on four previous occasions,  it is expected that by day’s end, the body and mind will be completely exhausted.

The Bryce Homes Program in Kenya has blossomed beyond my imagination. When I booked my trip for March of this year, I underestimated how much time I would need to visit representatives from all twenty families of the Bryce Home Kenya Program. Further, these Homes are not all located in one small community. Much of each day is spent travelling over unbearable trails through the wilderness. The wear and tear on the body takes its toll.

However, while my time here has been difficult and tiring, it has also been enjoyable and extremely rewarding. Further, I have a greater appreciation for the work that our Bryce Homes leaders have faithfully demonstrated over three and one half years. They make these journeys distributing food and clothes on a monthly basis. Without their team effort and their desire to serve the Lord, the program would not be possible.

I have spent some time thinking about what would be the best way to adequately report to our readers the observations I have made while in Kenya on this trip. I came here to evaluate the program and have learned a lot. As well, I have been given insights regarding how Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails can assist the program in the future.  It is also important to let our donors read reports and see and hear about the progress. Without our donors, the program would not be possible either.

While I usually take ample camera shots and video footage to document my trips, this time I learned that I need to carry an extra chargeable battery for my Canon camera as well as an additional memory card. I have collected enough material to make several mini documentaries based on the interviews and live footage that I captured. In the future, this will give me several projects that will highlight my March 2014 trip to Kenya.

So in order to prepare the transcripts for these future mini documentaries that we will post on our website and YouTube, I am going to write a series of reports that will deal with broader topics than just describing what happened on the days one to four that I travelled the Nairobi-Kisimu-Rongo-Homo Bay-North Kadem-Suna areas.

Some of these topics will deal with observations that I made from projects that have already been completed since I was here the last time. Other topics will present a vision for future projects based on the needs I saw and how those needs can be met. Following is the list of topics I have chosen:

·        Bryce Homes Kenya – Past, Present, and Future

·        New Homes and Latrines

·        Water Sources and Water Treatment

·        Widows With Small Business Opportunities On the Way to Self-Sufficiency

·        The Miracle At Suna

·        From Kibera Slums to Homa Bay Paradise

·        Rural Kenya: The People and the Country

I think you will find these reports fascinating. For those of you who have been faithfully supporting and following the Bryce Homes Program in Kenya, I am sure you will be blessed when you see what God is doing in Kenya as light shines into the darkness and many lives are being changed.

For now, let me say that we are committed to allowing God to work through us and be open for the program to expand in the future. While the needs far exceed our ability to transform entire communities, it is very apparent that progress is being made and Bryce Home by Bryce Home, the light of Jesus Christ is shining and making a huge difference.

 

Report 4  March 2014 Kenya

After having an early breakfast at my hotel, we went to Pastor Achilla’s house and loaded up a vehicle with food supplies and headed out to the countryside surrounding Rongo on our way to Bryce Home Thirteen.

As usual, the weather in the morning to mid-afternoon at this time of the year in the Rongo area is beautiful. One of the first things I noticed was how the road we were traveling on had been vastly improved since the last time we had made this same trip. Apparently the new Kenyan government has made a commitment to the people to improve the country by turning cow and goat trails into roads that are now passable by cars. As always the road was cluttered with motor bikes which transport the people from place to place. Pastor Achilla pointed out to me one particular driver that had three people hanging on for their lives as they sped by us.

While I have always found the countryside around Rongo beautiful because of the recent rains, the abundant green foliage made our trip spectacular. On several occasions, I asked our driver if he would stop so that I could capture the scenery on camera.

 

 It was also apparent that my visit this time was in the midst of planting season. The techniques for preparing the soil and putting the maize seed into the ground varied from place to place. Because I still follow farming as a significant part of my life, once more I asked our driver to pull over so that I could take more photos.

Finally after travelling for about 40 minutes, we arrived at Widow Finter’s house. The last time I was there, it was under construction. Now it has been finished although the home needs to have furniture and mattresses for sleeping. At present, they sit and sleep on a cement floor.

Finter was delighted to show me the area that had been cultivated and some of the plants that were being grown. The red tomato-like plants are actually a type of pepper plant. They had been harvested from her garden and were being dried in the sun. When dried, the seeds would be extracted and ground up for a spice that is apparently popular in Kenya. She also has a patch of potatoes.

When I asked her about the new latrine that had recently been built for her, she broke out with laughter and joy. She compared what it was like in the past to the present when she and her family had to sneak out into the sugarcane field nearby when nature called. Further, she could not say enough about the “new style for Kenya” toilet that replaces “squatting over a hole in the floor” with being able to sit down in comfort.

The other aspect of the latrines that we have constructed is the fact there is also a second compartment for a shower. By a shower, we are not suggesting that this involves hot and cold running water. Water is brought to the shower in a pail, poured over the body in a cup by cup procedure and then drained into the deep hole dug beneath the latrine.

These latrines that were funded by donors through the Lighthouse Trails/Understand The Times Christmas donor project have been a real blessing to our widowed families. In total, 16 were constructed in the Rongo, North Kadem, Suna area. The neighbors surrounding the Bryce Homes marvel at the construction, especially the new sit-down feature, and the word is being spread how the Bryce Homes Program is impacting Kenya, not only physically and spiritually, but also culturally.

Finally, after taking photos of the family and individual shots, I walked around the house. As water is so difficult to come by in this region, an idea came to mind. Why not harness rainwater of the newly constructed metal roof and store it in a storage tank at one corner? Further, because there is a great need for purified water to drink, and many are getting ill because of bacterial and parasites, the time has come to find a system we can incorporate for making the water safe to drink.

 

Before leaving, I asked Finter if she had any ideas of what she would like to do if given the financial support to start her own business and thus move in the direction of self-sufficiency. She told me she had been thinking about this very thing for a long time and knew exactly what she would like to do – set up a small shop or roadside Kiosk where she could sell soap and household items. As you will see in later reports, all the widows we asked this same question all had excellent ideas. All we will need is a small amount of seed capital to get these widow-entrepreneurs off and running.

I was also delighted to find out that Finter is teaching Bible classes in her area and many of her neighbors are hearing about the gospel of Jesus Christ. This truly is what is at the heart of the Bryce Homes program that has now been implemented around the world. Light is being brought into the darkness and lives are being changed.

From Finter’s location, we continued on our way to visit Widow Florence, also located in the same area. I will report about this visit next.

 

Report 3  March 2014 Kenya

A meeting was arranged at Pastor Achilla’s church Sunday evening in order to gather the widows and orphans in the Rongo area in one location to greet me. I have been to this same building several times before at other meetings.   As we approached the tin structure, I could hear the sound of voices singing  loudly.

Over a time period of about two hours nearly every adult at the meeting was introduced and each person had a few words to say in welcoming me. I shared a short message that I felt the Lord gave me from Isaiah 61: 1-3 explaining how the death of our son Bryce and the Bryce Home Program, although a heartbreak and a tragedy for our family, was the inspiration that initiated a plan that has now brought joy and happiness to many unfortunate families in the Rongo area and around the world. I could see many heads nodding in agreement as this portion of the Word of God was very meaningful to them.

Some of the Bryce Homes children from the Rongo area had prepared several songs especially for this meeting. Also, the widows of the families from the Bryce Homes in the Rongo area stood up and introduced themselves. Later six more widows who also attend the church but are not yet part of the Bryce Homes Program were introduced.

At the end of the meeting as it was getting very dark, the rain started to pour down on the tin roof. Pastor Achilla gave me a final opportunity to address the group before concluding. I was thankful to be able to make sure the meeting would end with the correct emphasis. It is understandable that those who have received assistance from the Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails donor base see humans and human organizations as their lifeline. Because this was obvious from the comments, it was necessary for me to tell them not to focus on human sources and resources and to make sure they were looking to and thanking Jesus Christ alone. I told them we are only conduits the Lord uses as vehicles to bring the blessings they have received

Also without the diligent work of our ministry team based in Rongo, the Bryce Homes Program would not be possible. Each month we rely on Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson, and Walter to purchase the supplies and then distribute them to each home. Also when new homes and latrines have been constructed, this is done by their careful oversight. God has truly put together a team.

I also encouraged the widows of the Bryce Homes Program to be praying and thinking of ways they can eventually become self-sufficient or at least to work in that direction. While I am here, I will be discussing with our leaders some possibilities. There are so many other widows and families with the same basic needs who have not received support in the past. Further, as children in the program become young adults, they will have to pursue options that will allow them to move on and be an asset to their church and community thereby being a blessing to others.

Today, we will begin visiting the Bryce Homes in the Rongo area and making first-hand observations. I will be video-taping interviews that can be later posted as short YouTube programs so that our donors can hear and see for themselves how their resources are being invested.

Our Rongo tour will be the topic of my next report.

Report 2  March 2014 Kenya

Our hotel in Nairobi was comfortable; however, my body has not adjusted to the 11-hour time difference. I slept for short periods of time waking up abruptly wondering if the sun was about to rise. Finally, I got up and went downstairs to the lobby to use the hotel business facility to print out some papers I had forgotten to print before I left home.

During this process, I felt a tap on my shoulder. When I looked around, I was startled to see Pastor Vitalis standing behind me. Then I remembered that Pastor Achilla had told me he was coming to the hotel before we left for the airport to see me.

Pastor Vitalis had brought four of his children with him to meet me. Back at their home in the Kibera slums were one more of his own and eleven orphans. We discussed the plan for his entire family to move out of the slums in Nairobi to a home we have built for them in western Kenya near our other Bryce Homes. He shared with me his vision for developing the land that his new home is located on and starting a small business for his family to sell fruit, vegetables, and poultry.

After Vitalis left, Achilla and I had breakfast and then headed to the airport with our driver. Our flight to Kisimu was less than forty minutes where we were picked up by our driver Steve and we headed for Rongo. On the way, I nodded off several times then wakened as my neck was snapped back and forth as Steve navigated to speed bumps designed to slow down the traffic as it passes through small villages.

When we arrived at Homa Bay, located right on Lake Victoria, we took a tour of the fish market. As Kenyans love fish, I offered to buy a large pan full of Talapia as a gift for our driver and also our Bryce Homes leaders.

Finally, after the three hour journey from Kisimu, we arrived in Rongo. Later in the day, there will be a gathering at Pastor Achilla’s church that I will be attending.

 

Report 1  March 2014 Kenya

I am writing this report as I am flying over northern Africa on my way to Nairobi Kenya. The month of March is the time for my annual visit to our Bryce Homes Program located in western Kenya. Little did I know when I visited this area some four years ago what would lie ahead. Initially beginning with five Homes, the program has grown. Fifteen more Homes have been added so that we now have twenty Homes and over 120 children.

The Kenya Bryce Homes Program has been a joint partnership with Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails. While my initial trip was focused on the idea of working with Lighthouse Trails to establish a discipleship training center in the area, my attention was immediately drawn to the dire need of assisting widows and orphans. Lighthouse Trails shared this vision and together we reported in our Internet newsletters what we felt the Lord was leading us to do. Donors responded as we made some of the needs public, and we were able to provide immediate emergency assistance to several widows and their orphaned children who these Christian women were trying to care for.

What makes our program viable in Kenya, as well as in the three other countries where Bryce Homes have been established, is the fact that we have solid trustworthy leaders who direct the program on a hands-on basis. Monthly financial support is transferred to them and they are responsible for purchasing food and distributing it. Periodically we send funds for clothes and other special needs. As these resources are distributed, documentation (including photos) of their delivery is recorded and sent to us verifying that our donors’ funds are being spent with diligence.

A major part of our program in Kenya has been to advance the quality of life for these widows and orphans by replacing shacks that can no longer be lived in. We have also been able to provide the funds for school uniforms for each of the children (a requirement for Kenyan schools). More recently, funds were raised to construct outdoor latrines for each family. While I am there, I will be interviewing the families we have been supporting as well as our leaders to find how the program has made a difference to their lives and what other needs exist.

Reports will be posted frequently on our web site so that you will be able to track my progress on this trip. Also when I return, I plan to post several small videos that will document this trip.

 

January 14, 2014

Let The Digging Begin
Thank you to the Lord and to the donors of UTT and LT for your donations during the Winter Offering. Latrines for the Bryce Homes in Kenya are now being built. The slideshow below shows the progress.
4 have been built with 12 more next

 

December 30, 2013

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

The Bryce Homes Program in Kenya is now headed into the third year since it was founded in November of 2011. From our initial commitment to establish five homes we have been able to expand the program thanks to the generosity of the donors. We are appreciative of the regular reports, from Lighthouse Trails, regarding the progress of the program.

Each month financial support is sent to our representatives in Kenya who distribute food and other essential needs to sixteen widows and their families. The remaining four homes are supervised by married couples who have taken in orphaned children along with their own family. Three men, two of them pastors, participate in the organization of the program and the distribution of the food and essential needs.

Beside food and clothing we are concentrating on improving the standard of living for these families. Our latest building project is focused on building outdoor latrines for sixteen families as well as the construction of two new homes to replace shelters that are no longer fit for living. We are pleased to announce that funds raised by Lighthouse Trails and Understand The Times necessary for these projects has nearly been met. Four latrines will be constructed immediately and the remainder will follow in the New Year.

Click on this image to view it larger

We are in the process of moving one of our families who presently lives in the Kibera Slums located in Nairobi to a rural location not far from where our other 19 homes are located. This project will begin in February.

During the month of December we sent funds beyond the regular monthly support for purchasing new clothes. [The slideshow below shows] some of the children with their new clothes. Note the smiling faces that reflect the joy these children are experiencing now that they know there are brothers and sisters around the world who love and care for them.

Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails would like to thank the numerous partners who have given to this program which has changed so many lives. While churches that once supported our Missions projects in the past have withdrawn their support, God has raised up individuals from around the world, many whom we have never met, to come along side and catch our vision to assist orphans and widows in Kenya.

To each one of you, we say, thank you, and may the Lord bless you throughout this coming year.

Sincerely,
Roger Oakland
Understand The Times

 

 

 

August, 3, 2013

EPHY ( BRYCEHOME#3 ) IN SUNA, KENYA

As a mother of five children, life had become unbearable soon after the passing away of my husband who was the sole family, the breadwinner. My repeated attempts to solicit for ways of survival seemed fruitless but this was because I did not give our Lord Jesus the central pillar for family provisions.

Not because of my righteousness, not because of any value in me, the Lord brought me to the generous hands of readers (UTT and LT ) through the caring Ministry of Pastor Achilla . It did not take longer before I started receiving monthly donations in form of food stuffs and emergency funds that we use to get our medicine. Sooner, the next stop was at my dilapidated shelter (grass thatched house) which was unfriendly to our health. Since then, the shelter has been demolished and rebuilt. At least I can now shelter my family under proper roofing. Talk of its cemented wall with attractive paint on it, my children describes it better than I. Glory be to God Almighty.

With the greatest change in my family, my daughter Pamela, a pupil in Primary School had the following to say:

“My life has really changed right from nutrition, education and fear of the Lord. I now grow up with the knowledge of mercy, goodness, wonders and powers of the Lord God. I have therefore given God a chance in my life to be my teacher, provider and protector. May God bless the team of readers across the globe for I have escaped the infant mortality which claimed so many children’s’ lives due to unhealthy parental upbringing in Suna.

I finally urge and plead with the readers to stand with us in prayer to enable us build latrines; this would help prevent the rampant outbreak of preventable waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. May God Bless you all. AMEN

AGNES- (BRYCE HOME#8) IN SUNA-KENYA

My name is Agnes, a widow with 6 children. I would like to elaborate the depth from which our caring God has raised me with the children. When my husband passed away, I thought my remote wisdom devoid of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ could work out ways for me. Every effort I made be it in peasant farming or the unhealthy tobacco curing ended in smokes, Instead my health deteriorated and stress became unavoidable in my life.

Suddenly, without expectation I encountered the hand of God which reached me through the prayer of devoted readers/donors. Pastor Achilla became an eye opener to me when he and his team of pastors preached to me about Jesus Christ. By faith I believed and it did not take long before I started witnessing the real goodness of the Lord.

Since then, I have been able to have my children well-nourished and taken care of by the humble donations which include monthly emergency funds together with food from donations of readers and donors of UTT and LT. I bless the Lord for this work. My house currently has been painted and it is a shining testimony of the Lord in the whole village. I cannot leave out my children out in giving this testimony and therefore one of them known as Francis had the following to say:

“It is unbelievable, joy unspeakable to see our lives translated from fear of living to hope of living. I recall painfully how my mum used to give us the little food she could find as she went to bed hungry.

Sometimes I could ask her ,” mum, why are you not eating?” but her answer was, “ it is well”. It was until I grew up that I realized what her response was all about, insufficient food, leave alone balanced diet. May God Bless the team of readers/donors across the world.

May God Bless Roger of UTT and Deborah of LT.

 

June, 1, 2013

This is a note to update our readers about the ongoing ministry directed to orphans and widows in the country of Kenya. We are grateful to the donors who have so generously contributed from around the world. Tomorrow we will be sending financial support for the month of June that will provide for the basic needs of 20 families.

Below is a testimony we received from one of the widows who has been recently added to the program. There are many more families that we could add to the program initiated by Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails as more support comes in.

Dear Donors,

I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I thank the Almighty God for you people because through you He brings hope to the hopeless. Be blessed abundantly.


Emily, from Bryce Home #18, with some of the children she cares for.

I am a widow in Kenya and far away from America and the entire world. You take heart in the interest of my family – be blessed. I thank God for all these because all is happening through His grace.

My husband died in 2009, which left me with 6 children. It is true that I didn’t expect this to happen, but from April 2013, we started getting food donations: maize, beans, rice, sugar, cooking fat and bar soaps etc. This has gone well with my family for both April and May. In May, on top of food donations, my family got blessed with clothes, both of which have really improved the health of my family. True to sound, it is a sign of relief. It is actually proved to us that God created man in His own image, and it is through His image that He reaches and touches the lives of others at the time of need.

 


Emily is also one of the women in Rongo who makes baskets to help support her family.

As families grow strong and healthy, keep warm in clothes, may they take the most important task of embracing the Gospel in the biblical way and testify proudly in the name of our Lord. I pray for long life, good health , wider donation network, everlasting stability and true revelation of your effort in the Gospel outreach so that you may continue with your vision for the hopeless in many parts of the world.

Yours faithfully,

Emily

 

April 8, 2013
 

It has been some time since we have sent out a report from Kenya sharing the progress that is being made with the Bryce Homes Program there. After our last trip to Kenya in December of 2012, we reported that if support funds were available we would like to expand the number of homes for the care of widows and orphans. Thanks to the response from our readers from Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails we have been able to work towards this goal.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters located in various parts of the world we now have added four more homes to our program to bring the total in Kenya to twenty. Initially, the vision for this program started with five homes. Since the program began, we have seen how God has directed and blessed all that is being done. Not only are the children and widows receiving food, clothes, and medical assistance, they are being nurtured spiritually by the team that God has raised up in Kenya to oversee the program.

As well, eight new homes have been built this past year replacing shacks that no longer provided appropriate shelter. Each home is built with a metal roof, a wood stove and a chimney that directs the smoke outdoors. The widows have expressed their gratitude to their brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world who have expressed their love and concern for them even though they have never met face to face. Approximately 120 children are now receiving care, and for the first time in their lives have hope. This is how the Christian Church is supposed to work.

It is difficult to express in words what the Bryce Homes program means to my family and to me personally. Three years ago when I was at the point of despair and near death, it seemed like the ministry of Understand The Times had come to an end. Now, the ministry has been given new life as we have been able to focus on serving less fortunate Christians around the world.

If you have ever wondered how you could make a difference in a child’s life for a small amount of financial assistance, the Bryce Home program is for you. We could easily expand the Kenya program to twenty-five homes from twenty as God provides through supporters that catch the vision.

If you open the Understand The Times web site at understandthetimes.org, you will see rotating photos of all the Bryce Homes we support around the world. You can also find several pages on the site talking about our various Bryce Homes around the world. There are now 38 homes in four countries supporting over 200 children. We thank the Lord for all that He is doing.

 

Roger's Trip To Kenya December 2012 (Final report)

December 9, 2012

This will be the final report from my most recent trip to Kenya, December, 2 – 10, 2012. I am writing the report while flying towards Newark, New Jersey on my way from Zurich. I had hoped to have the report completed by now but have not been able to do so due to extreme exhaustion and some sort of stomach ailment that I have had for the last 36 hours. I have slept some between Nairobi and Zurich and also between Zurich and Newark and am feeling somewhat better. Hopefully the report will be finished by the time we arrive so that we can post it today.

Yesterday, Sunday morning, Pastor Achilla picked me up at my hotel and we went for breakfast at the home of Fred and Grace’s,  located in Rongo. Fred operates a peanut processing business in Rongo, and he and his wife are faithful workers in Pastor Achilla’s church. He has translated for me each time that I have spoken there at the church from English to Swahili. I met his entire family, and then we went over to Pastor Achilla’s home to take photos of his family before going to church.

While we were there, Walter appeared with his family, and I was able to meet all of them for the first time.    

On Saturday evening, I had met Pastor Nelson’s family. What a privilege to be able to work with the team God has put together.

Pastor Achilla’s church was full, approximately 150 in attendance. This includes younger children, teenagers, and adults. I spoke for about 45 minutes at the service, and then we had to prepare to leave as our driver Steve had arrived to take us to Kisimu. Before leaving, Pastor Achilla asked the widows in his congregation to go outside so that I could take their photos. Florence from Ang’ gogo was part of the group. She and her family had walked one and one half hours across rugged terrain to get to church. Could you imagine someone doing that in North America?

I took photos of the widows standing together. As you can see, there are many. Only two of these ladies are currently part of the Bryce Homes Program. These women all live in and around Rongo.

I want to conclude my report by making some general statements and then propose some ideas where I believe the Lord is taking us.

First the general statements:

  • The Bryce Homes Kenya Program has only been in place for about one year. In that period of time, we have been able to assist over 150 children and adults so that the hopeless conditions they faced have been greatly improved.
     

  • All of the children and the widows in the program have seen that God cares for them. Their spiritual growth has blossomed, and they desire to serve the Lord for as long as they live because of their gratefulness.
     

  • The leaders that God has raised up in Kenya are faithful, diligent, and extremely dedicated. Without them, the program could not function.
     

  • The program has a strong spiritual emphasis as all families in all the homes are being taught the Bible and biblical principles. Bryce Home 12 is actually not only a refuge for 19 teenage girls, it is a Christian school that provides Christian education.
     

  • We have been able to expand the Bryce Homes Kenya program as donors have responded to the need. People from around the world have given generously. Our present program requires about $2500 per month for the food for 15 homes, the cost of the distribution of that food, and support for those who are implementing the program.
     

  • During the past year we have also been able to construct 7 new homes for widows and orphans to provide shelter. The cost of these homes has ranged from $1200 to $2000.00 depending on the size and number of rooms.

Where to from here?
  • Nearly all the children and widows are in need of clothes, some still need school uniforms, but all need clothes to wear every day. Many are still wearing rags.
     
  • Some sort of a medical emergency plan is needed so that children, when they become very ill, can be cared for. This happens 12-18 times a year, usually at a cost of $100 for transport to a medical care center and the care received, which often includes some kind of medication. Notebooks,pens, and pencils are very much needed.
     
  • Many of the homes do not have outdoor toilet facilities. These can be constructed for very little and are critical for health and wellbeing.
     
  • We would also like to paint the newly plastered interiors white and provide lanterns for each home for obvious reasons.
     
  • For as little as $100 a month, we can add additional homes in the Rongo area so that food can be distributed. Our goal is an additional four homes this coming year.
Thank you for reading these reports. We thank those who are making this program possible
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Roger's Trip To Kenya December 2012

December 8, 2012

Saturday was a bit more relaxing as there were not any long road trips away from Rongo. As it was Saturday, it was basket-making day for the 12 widows in the Rongo area who are working with Lighthouse Trails in their “Widows from Kenya Basket Project. Dorcas, one of Pastor Achilla’s church members, has taught these ladies how to make braided baskets as a means of making some money. The ladies make the baskets, they are then shipped to Lighthouse Trails in the USA, and then sold from both their web store and their mail-order catalog. Lighthouse Trails pays the women a fair market price for the baskets. It is a wonderful program that provides some extra money for these widows and also gives them a sense of joy in knowing they can do something to help support themselves.

I photographed the process of making the baskets. While we were there, Pastor Achilla presented Dorcas with the funds sent from Lighthouse Trails for the most recent shipment. Dorcas would then be distributing the money to all the widows. Another order had been placed from Lighthouse Trails, and the ladies will be very busy for the next few weeks making more baskets.

At about 11 in the morning, Pastor Nelson, Pastor Achilla, and I headed to the outskirts of Rongo to visit Widow Mary and her family. Widow Mary lives in a terrible leaky hut with a family of 10. This includes her grandchildren and two daughter-in-laws who were married to her sons who died of AIDS. I met Mary one year ago on a Sunday morning at Pastor Achilla’s church. Seeing her home and the way she was trying to survive, moved me deeply.  Mary is now Bryce Home Seven and has been receiving monthly food support for over one year. This time I was able to tell her that she had been chosen as the recipient of a new house to be built early in 2013 because of funds donated by Understand The Times donors. She was so happy she began to dance and sing with joy until she fell on the ground.

Bryce Home 7 – Widow Mary

Most of the afternoon was spent at the hotel in a meeting with Pastor Achilla, Pastor Nelson and Walter. This was the first time I had been able to meet with Walter on this trip as he had been away at meetings related to his teaching and construction skills. Walter is a critical member of our team. Together, the four of us discussed the Bryce Home Program in Kenya over the past year and made some preliminary plans and suggestions for where the program can go from here. I will share some of those ideas on my final report.

Later in the afternoon, after another heavy downpour, we visited Pastor Nelson’s home (Bryce Home Two) and his 9 children. Then off to Pastor Achilla’s home (Bryce Home 15) and his 6 children. His wife had prepared a meal for us and invited several other pastors. I had been asked to speak to them on the topic of Creation and Evolution using a Powerpoint presentation.

I arrived back at my hotel room late and exhausted. My last day will be Sunday, on which I will report on my way back to the USA.

 

Roger's Trip To Kenya December 2012

December 7, 2012

Yesterday was day four for me here in Kenya – Friday. It was another grueling day after another long drive only this time our plan was to visit and distribute food to seven Bryce Homes in Suna located in an area about 2 square miles 60 kilometers southwest of Rongo. Some of the supplies were taken with us from Rongo, while the corn, beans, and rice were purchased from a bulk supplier in Migori.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the day for me was to see the incredible difference that the Bryce Homes Program has made in the community of Suna in the past year. Of the seven Bryce Homes in the area, five are new buildings fully completed (Widow Terry, Widow Benedetta, Widow Effie, Widow Agnes and Bryce Home 12).  A sixth home for Widow Mereza is nearly completed.

To hear the joy expressed by the widows and the children for what has transpired this past year was an incredible blessing. I recorded some testimonies to be shared at a later time. Benedetta, an 80 year old grandmother who cares for her five orphaned grandchildren, when she was asked how the Bryce Homes Program had changed her life in this past year, squealed with delight. When she finally got control of her emotions she told us that God had answered her prayers in a way that she could have never imagined.

While we spent about two hours visiting six of the Bryce Homes and dropping off the December food supplies, the remainder of our time was spent at Bryce Home 12. This home consists of the orphaned teen girls who attend a secondary school nearby. Lighthouse Trails has been largely responsible for housing and clothing the girls and providing other needs. Another donor, Pam, has taken on the responsibility of providing for their education. UTT has been supplying their monthly food needs. At present, there are plans to add an additional sleeping and eating area so that the 12 girls and their caretaker are not so congested. A well is being dug nearby also.

The girls had a special program for us, singing a few songs and reciting a poem they had made up sharing their appreciation for the support they have been receiving and explaining how their lives had been changed with a hope they never had before. They proudly showed us the baskets they have learned how to make as one of the crafts they have learned.

 

Finally as evening was approaching, it was time to hit the road and head back over the hard trip to Rongo.  On the way back to my hotel, I had time to reflect on the things I had witnessed during the long grueling day.  These brothers and sisters in the Lord who we saw today lived in hopeless circumstances only one year ago– no food, virtually no shelter, and rags for clothes. Now they were full of joy and appreciation to the Lord for what they had received through donors around the world, brothers and sisters who cared.

Through simply communication with reports like this one on our web site, their needs were made known to people, many whom I have never met.  God spoke to people. God provided through His people in a miraculous way. Isn’t this how true Christianity is supposed to operate?

We now have 16 homes in Kenya. The average family receives about $100 worth of food from our program per month. Our program is dependent on trustworthy servants who live in Kenya who we support on a very limited basis. Without them on the ground and doing the hard work they do every month, the ministry would not be able to function. They are willing to do more as funds are provided.

This past year, UTT has funded five completed homes with two more presently being constructed. Each home, three-four simple rooms with a stove and plastered walls fully completed  costs around $2000. There is an immediate need to build three more. Funds have recently been contributed to build two of them.

Every home is still in need of clothes and basic items such as lanterns, furniture such as tables, beds, and chairs. Children need school uniforms, shoes, and simple things like notebooks and pens.

I went to sleep last night with these thoughts. What else can be done? There is so much that can be accomplished with so little. Even that seemingly meager $100 of food each month makes the difference between life and death for these families. Many of us have so much we do not need. I also thought about the churches that no longer support the Understand The Times missions program claiming they have lost donors because of the “poor economy” and that they need to look after their own physical needs first. How sad!

I thank God He has given UTT a brand new vision. And I thank those reading this who have already partnered with us in Kenya and other parts of the world. God is using you in a miraculous way.

 

Roger's Trip To Kenya December 2012

December 6, 2012

To travel from Rongo to North Kadem via Migori is not really that far – about 120 kilometers by road. However getting from Migori to North Kadem, an 80 kilometer continuous rock pile, is another story. If you are not physically in good shape, you risk the chance of being shook up badly.  Think of this. It would be the equivalent of riding the large wooden roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm without getting off for three hours.

There are no words that properly describe this experience. However, when the day is done, I can look back and my mind and heart is filled with joy by what I saw and heard of what God is doing here in Kenya through our team. They have been raised up along with the support from Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails to reach their people, and they have a plan. How encouraging this is to see what can actually happen when the Church of Jesus Christ functions as the Church of Jesus Christ should function. I give praise and thanks to the Lord who has placed this vision in our hearts and has provided a partnership through faithful brothers and sisters in Kenya who are willing to be God’s hand extended.

In spite of the rugged trip, we finally did reach our destination where two of the Bryce Homes are located – Widow Lewnida and her 10 orphans and Widow Alice and her 4 orphaned children who are neighbors. On our last trip, Lewnida was looking after Alice and her children as Alice’s shack was no longer livable. Since then a new home has been built for Alice so she now lives on her own. However, Lewnida has taken in three new orphans into her home.  Both Alice and Lewnida gave testimony of how their lives had changed and gave glory and honor to Jesus Christ in video-taped interviews. We unloaded the December supplies at both locations and presented Alice and Lewnida their Bryce Home plaques.

While we were on location, Lewnida’s new four room house was literally being constructed by a crew of workers who had come from Migori. I was able to video tape some of the various stages of construction.  I plan to put together a slide show on how these houses are constructed at a later date so that those who have donated can see exactly how their funds are been being spent. While we were on location, another truck arrived with the wood for the rafters.  The house should be totally completed in a couple of weeks.

 

The highlight of the day for me was when the children gathered around me to see the individual photos that I had taken of them with my camera. They had never seen their own faces before nor had they ever got so close to a muzungu (white man) who could have been their grandfather. Pastor Achilla snapped a classic photo that I will always cherish.

After a couple of hours it was apparent that the late afternoon rain was on its way, and it was time to leave. Lewnida and Alice had prepared a meal for the workers and for us, and the table was set with food. We had a wonderful time together, encouraging one another and thanking Him for all He has done.

We arrived back in Rongo long after dark and very tired. Today, we will be going to Suna and delivering the December food support there. It will be a long day.

 

Roger's Trip To Kenya December 2012

December 5, 2012

My second day in Rongo was a full day and added another chapter to the many experiences we have had here in Kenya over the past year. While I had hoped to get off to an early start, not all that happens in Kenya goes according to plan. For example, just a simple task of going to the bank and changing money, is not simple. It can, and did take, over an hour.

To make the most of our time, Pastor Nelson waited in line at the bank while Pastor Achilla and I visited the location in Rongo where the cooking stoves we use in our new homes are manufactured. The whole concept of cooking with the smoke ventilated through the roof is a new concept for the rural areas of Kenya.  As you can understand many of the health problems that families experience are related to the inhalation of smoke from charcoal stoves. Families normally cook and sleep in the same rooms. We are thankful that God has provided a way that all of our new homes constructed for the Bryce Homes program are being equipped with these new smoke free stoves.

After loading up our van with the supplies to be distributed during the day, we headed for the first location. This Is the site where we are building a new home for Widow Finter and her six children who will be moving to the Rongo region from a remote location. While I was under the assumption this new home was in or around the town of Rongo, the trip actually took us about 20 kilometers south and west of Rongo.  After about one hour of careful driving over trails that substitute for roads we arrived.

 

The home was in the process of being built so I was able to see how the houses are constructed from ground up. The home will be completed in about one week and Finter and her 6 children along with her mother-in-law will be moving there. The house is situated on one acre of land in a very beautiful area surrounded by sugar cane. A school is located nearby so all the children will be able to attend. A source of water is only the real major problem to overcome. At present, this requires walking to a river that is located over one mile away. In the future, it would be a blessing to Finter and the community if we were able to assist by funding the digging of a well that would cost approximately $1000.

Finter, who is Pastor Nelson’s sister-in-law, is only thirty-five years old. She expressed her gratitude for those who have donated to make her new life possible. The neighbor, who the land was purchased from, met us and welcomed Finter to the community.

After leaving Finter’s house, we headed to the Ang’ gogo region, the area where two more Bryce Homes are located. While we could actually see the Ang’ gogo region a few miles south of us, driving directly there was not possible.  For the next two hours we wove our way over and around the goat trails with our van. Our driver was amazing.

Meanwhile the afternoon thunder clouds were accumulating. I must admit that on several occasions, if a vote had been taken, I would have been on the side of abandoning the expedition and waiting for another day.  Finally, we arrived near the community where Widow Florence of Bryce Home 9 is located. However, this did not mean we were at the exact location. What it meant was that we could travel no further by car and that it was time to walk and carry the supplies by hand. As the terrain was rugged and steeply downhill, it was all that I could do to carry myself. Finally, we arrived.

If you have followed our reports over this past year, you will know that Widow Florence’s house burnt down and through donor support, we were able to rebuild an entire new home. The family was ecstatic to see us. They were singing “With God All Things are Possible” in English. The home has been completed with plaster walls both inside and outside. The floor is also plastered. There is a single room for cooking with a wood burning stove and chimney that exhausts the smoke outdoors.

The monthly supplies were handed out and a Bryce Homes wall plaque was presented. Each of the Bryce Homes in our program will receive one of these plaques before we leave. Florence wanted to give a testimony and give God thanks for what has happened to her and her family since the Bryce Homes Program has been implemented. I recorded this and we will share it on our web site sometime in the future.

After making the long trek up the hill to our car, we headed towards Bryce Home 10 where Widow Yuniter and family are located. The trail would not allow us to travel further so Pastor Nelson walked ahead and the family met us at the car in order to pick up their supplies. While I did not see their see their home this time, Pastor Achilla told me that it has deteriorated to the point that it needs to be replaced soon.

From Widow Yuniter’s place, we had another 20 kilometer drive back to Rongo. On several occasions the skies opened up and we were deluged with rain. Our plan was to be back in time to visit Widow Mary’s place in Rongo, but that did not materialize. We made an attempt, but the road to her location was impassable because of the rain. We will have to do that on another day.

I got back to the hotel totally exhausted. Only the odd mosquito woke me up during the night. I am writing this on Thursday morning, and will report again tomorrow about our trip to North Kadem.

 

Roger's Trip To Kenya December 2012

December 4, 2012

The long journey from California to Kenya went well without any difficulties. Pastor Achilla met me at the airport, and we rested for a few hours before taking the short 30 minute flight to Kisimu. Steve, who was my cab driver from the past two trips, met us at the Kisimu airport, and we headed out on the last leg of the trip – a two hour drive to Rongo.

The first thing Steve told me was that his wife had given birth to a baby girl since I was last here in March of 2012, but the child suddenly died when only one month old. My heart ached for Steve as Myrna and I experienced the death of a child at birth some thirty-five years ago. I was able to share with Steve some thoughts that were hopefully encouraging to him.

As soon as we arrived in Rongo, we went to my hotel where I was greeted by several members of Pastor Achilla’s team. After checking in, I slept for several hours, exhaustion having caught up with me. I woke refreshed, and later in the day Pastor Achilla picked me up and took me to his home where we saw some of the supplies purchased for the December distribution. We then discussed our plans for the next four days to visit the 14 Bryce Homes in the Rongo-Suna area. We will be meeting with the families, delivering the December support, as well as assessing which homes are in immediate need of replacement.

 

While I am here, we will be adding one additional Bryce Home in the North Kadem area. This will be for twenty-four year old Widow Alice and her four children. Last March, when we were here, we visited her home and saw her husband’s grave beside the shack she was living in. Her house was in ruins. Since then a new house has been built for her, but it is now time to add her family to our regular support program.

Lord willing, each day that I am here, I will be sending a report to be posted on our web site. As a result of letting our readers know about the Bryce Homes Kenya program about one year ago, God has provided through faithful supporters. Many of you will be reading these reports. It is my desire that I will be able to testify to you how God is using the funds you have faithfully given and how this program is blessing the poor, while at the same time the gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed.

 

 

October 10, 2012

It has been approximately one year that Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails have been sending support to assist 15 Bryce Homes for orphans and widows located in the Rongo-Suna area in Kenya. The following two heart touching testimonies have been sent to us by two of the widows. Their own words explain how God is using this program to make a difference in lives and provide hope in hopeless situations in the name of Jesus Christ.

      


 

A LETTER FROM LEWNIDA, BRYCE HOME # 11
FROM NORTH KADEM - KENYA
 
Dear Donors,

I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. First I thank the Almighty God for enabling my vernacular language be interpreted so as to communicate to you.

I therefore have appreciative information basing on my improved living standards as a widow.

MY LIFE BEFORE THE BRYCE HOME SUPPORT

In order to give the whole testimony, I have to focus on my early life which was characterized by

Stress and depression:
Based on the demand of orphaned children under my custody, I had found it so hard to put bread on the table for them. Their food, if not to mention education, left me in a stressed life. I grew thin and had no hope in life.

Malnutrition
It looked to touching to the onlookers how my family members looked thin, because of deficiencies such as marasmus and kwashiorkor [forms of malnutrition]. This was also due to the persistence starvation which I could not avoid as a widow since I lacked energy even to till the land for farming.

School drop-out in children
My children found their school life so hard at early stages of lower grade education. They found it hard to study in hunger and without key education items such as books. I became afraid as a mother since many young girls as early as age 10 begin to give in early marriages for a living because their families are poor. My younger girls could not be an exception. This is why I was afraid.

Hopelessness
I had completely lost hope and used to think people who have breathed their last were better off than the starving living. However I fellowshipped with Pastor Achilla who helped me in prayers to press on in life by faith. He made me to know that Jesus is the hope of the hopeless.

 

LIFE AFTER THE BRYCE HOME SUPPORT

Today I speak of a big testimony. My life has seen light and can now talk of:

Food
My family has monthly received food including cooking fat, beans, rice, maize, sugar, etc. making my life to appear new. Glory be to our Lord Jesus

Hygiene
Provision of washing and bathing soap has miraculously relieved my family from health related infection such as skin diseases, parasites and cholera as well as other water born diseases. I can now wash my utensils with soap, wash my clothes and dress clean. My children have really changed hygienically.

Improved bedding
I cannot fail to mention the kind of comfort I now find in my current bedding status. The blankets and mattresses have really changed my life. My children can now sleep soundly.

Life free from malaria infection
North Kadem Region, being a malaria zone in Kenya, posed a great health challenge but now we sleep under treated mosquito nets. My children no longer suffer from malaria due to prevention measures by the Bryce Home Project and Lighthouse Trails readers.

Improved skin care
Since I was borne, I did not know that our skin required some body oils to keep it smooth and prevent bacteria infection. I can now maintain my skin and this makes me feel a smooth flow of blood beneath the skin in my body.

I therefore urge fellow widows to remember God is the sole provider of the bread of life and those who remain in Him will never go thirsty. Keep on praying. I continue to pray for God to open more doors to LT and UTT and to have faith even that my house will be built by the Lord's favor.
 

To Roger and UTT, Deborah and Dave of LT and all the readers/donors, I lack words to express my thanks but the Almighty God will tell it in your lives. Am so blessed.

May the Lord favor you to continue with such a noble task.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

LEWNIDA - BRYCE HOME #11 NORTH KADEM


 


This is what the new stoves look like. Terry's family now has one

A LETTER FROM TERRY

BRYCE HOME # 6 FROM SUNA - KENYA
Dear Donors,

Receive greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I take this God given opportunity to relay to you a thanksgiving information through this interpreted vernacular. My life as a widow with young children to take care of had been unbearable until when the UTT and LT intervened through the hand of God.


 

LIFE BEFORE THE BRYCE HOME SUPPORT
 

I would like to emphasize the level from which Bryce Home support project has taken me. My initial family life was characterized by:
 

Malnutrition

Poor feeding due to lack of food had hit my family hard, so hard that it robbed me of my beloved younger child. The high infant mortality rate swept across the village and my family was not exceptional. The major cause has always been measles. 

Unhygiene
I could try to maintain cleanliness but the cost of soaps and detergents became a deterrent. My family clothes and utensils were therefore poorly cleaned leading to body infection and water born diseases such cholera, typhoid, etc.
 

Body discomfort
Our primitive family mattress (mat) indeed made me grow older than expected. I lacked comfort due to the hardness of the mat. My children could cry at intervals over night when the situation worsened.

Harsh weather conditions
The kind of house (hut) we lived in became unbearably during rainy seasons as I used to wake up at night with the children until the rain stopped. It became horrible during winter seasons, colds led us into a massive infection from Pneumonia.

Unhealthy skin
Body oils necessary to keep the skin smooth were necessities which my family could not access due to their costs.

LIFE AFTER THE BRYCE HOME SUPPORT

A worthy testimony I can call it. My life has totally changed since:

Improved nutrition
My entire family now feeds on a balanced diet rich in protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. At least we can now fry the food/vegetable unlike earlier on. This has made deficiency disease a thing of the past in our lives.

Improved hygiene
The whole family can now bath, wash their clothes and utensils. Through these, skin diseases as well as water born diseases, have been kept away/prevented.

Enough body rest
The provision of mattresses and the blankets has relieved my body and the family from a terrible fatigue of the mat. This has made the local society start viewing us as a blessed family. Glory be to God.

Quality Shelter
The house I currently owned has been plastered and I feel well protected from cold and I find life good, the wood stove chimney has been put to prevent being infected by smoke. I can now pray for other widows who are still suffering as I used to do. May God bless LT readers and UTT donors richly.

Quality skin
The use of body oils (cosmetics) has made my skin so smooth and protect it from bacteria infection. My children too appreciate this. I do here them comment while playing. I therefore urge other widows, orphans and the less fortunate in the society to pray and pray and trust in the Lord Jesus. Sincere prayer is the key which will open a door for life.I now have FAITH in Jesus that more can be done for His glory.

May the Lord continue to favor the Roger and UTT, Deborah and Dave and LT readers to continue touching the lives of many.

 

Yours faithfully,

TERRY - BRYCE HOME # 6 SUNA - KENYA.

 

The following is a report written by the twelve girls in Bryce Home 12 in Suna, Kenya. Reading this report is very encouraging. It is exciting to see what God is doing in Kenya through the ministries of Understand The Times and Lighthouse Trails.
 
We are grateful to our readers who have supported the entire Bryce Home Program in Kenya. At present we have 15 homes that support widows and orphaned children that were barely surviving. The Bryce Home program also has been established in three other countries - Myanmar, Philippines and South Africa.
 

September 29, 2012

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Dear sponsors,

We collectively greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus christ.We,the Bryce Home #12 (Girls'Center) at Suna in kenya take this humble opportunity to say thanks to our sponsors from LT and UTT.

Each one of us at least now has a story to tell concerning our lives at this center.We recall how our backgrounds were dark but now have begun seeing the rays of light in Godly atmosphere.This letter cities various observations in form of testimonies collectively put under the following sub headings;

1.Improved spiritual status.
Most of us,all most,had no fear of God and this could be realized when we were new at the center.some of us had uncontrolled anger,disrespect among other vices.

Through the mercy of God,we were exposed to the True Gospel of Jesus Christ and sound doctrines.This truth were received through the servant of God Pastor Achilla and his team as well as from Roger and Byron who visited us and exposed us to the TRUTH.

We are so greatful for the donation of King James Versions Bible by the LT as this has played a pivotal role in our spiritual nourishement. At the same time we thank God for our teacher, Lukio, who is a true born again christian has always taught the word of God.

2. Access to Upper Grade Education
I
t is worth noting that most of us had lost hope after acquiring lower grade education and were therefore destined for early marriages as it had been the norm in most communities in Kenya. These communities view education of girls as a waist of time and resources.

Today we thank the Almighty God for proving this society wrong by openibg a door for us, as young women, to proceed to the upper grade education and now long to grow in FAITH to be able to serve God effectively.

Provision of books, pens and the equipment of our classroom has also made us to be a knotch higher in education and we give ALL the glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Improved Nutrition
Accoding to the word of God in the book of James 1;27 ( KJV ), we are very greatefull for what God has done to ensur we get our daily bread through the dear readers / donors. May the Lord Jesus favor the UTT and the LT readers since their donations have moulded us to live as the Fisrt Church of Acts 4;32 (KJV), by sharing whatever the Lord provides for us as the body of Christ.

4. Improved Health Conditions
Most of us recall how we narrowlly escaped the ills of the society such Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) where we were treted as beasts. Also to mention is the act of forced child labour we so suffered. Access to medication used to be a dream and mulnutrition claimed the largest share of our lives. A number of us are not afraid to say that poor health conditions and STI related diseases e.g HIV/AIDS robbed us of our beloved parents.

Today we have a different story characterized by improved health care. we can now access medication, receive sanitary towels, soaps, cosmetics among others.

5. Improved Clothing
We also thank the Almighty God who has the heatrs of readers/ donors to enable us be dressed up in full school uniform (blouses, skirts, shoes and socks). This has attracted many people in the community hence glory to our Lord Jesus.

6. Shelter and Bedding
We cannot fail to testify of our centre dormitory (Bryce Home # 12) which has kept us from cold and harsh weather conditions. Also included are the mattresses, blankets and mosquito nets therein'
We still trust in the Lord Jesus for the future expansion of the building to increase the dormitory space.

7. Physical Fitness
Our sporting activities are not left behind. We have been blessed to have a female sports teacher with an outstanding sporting character and talent. Through her, we have been able to maintain physical fitness through playing soccer, netball, volleyball and even athletics. We still trust in the Lord for the provision of sport shoes, games kit, first aid kit and other sporting paraphernalia.

8. Agricultural Project
We are so proud of our Bryce Home # 12 Farm where most of us have learnt to be productive in cultivation of maize. It was so interesting for us to see the fruits of our labour. We are convicted that this centre is moulding us to become self reliant in future. Currently we have embarked on horticulture and we are really finding it interesting.

9. Art Work
Also worth noting is the recent training we have engaged in to learn the art of weaving baskets using recycled polythene papers. Through our talented matron, Betty, we have learnt to become instrumental in environmental conservation

In conclusion, we therefore give thanks to the brethren who have stood with us through donations and prayers to make us be a people, what we once longed for.

Thank you and may God bless LT, UTT, Deborah, Roger, Byron, Pam Smith, our director (Pastor Achilla), Nelson, Walter and our teachers for their dedication to our lives.

Yours faithfully in Christ

BRYCE HOME # 12 GIRLS' CENTRE

 

April 29, 2012

Hi Roger,
 

It is so wonderful to see what God has done through the Vision of the Bryce Homes.
It has made the widows and the Orphans to Believe God.
That what the Bible say about the Widows and orphans has came real to them and they are saying that God Has proven that is God who remembered the dispice people.
About the Girls in Bryce Home 12.
 
Yesterday they came to Rongo for a mission at our church,everybody were suprised the way the girls are looking like,they are smart,clean and beutiful.Many are saying that they do not seems that they are Ophans,they like children with their parents.The church members whom saw them when they were going to Suna are amazed with what God has done to them,The vision of the Bryce Homes has given Hope for the hopeless.
They praises God with songs that give Him glory,this vision is from God.
Tell the donors that the Orphans in Suna,Rongo kenya loves them and they are Praying for them.
They are saying that every month they get food.
 
They are saying also that they have there parent in western of the world.
May God Bless them all and your family.
 
Pst Achilla

 

March 21, 2012

I am writing this as I travel back home from Nairobi to John Wayne Airport in Southern California. As I have 23 hours of flying time, I am able to process my thoughts with regard to the seven days spent on the ground in Kenya.  While I was confident last November that God had led me to visit Kenya, my return visit has confirmed the beginnings of a unique work that has the potential to develop further and bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

My vision for poor and orphaned children started several years ago when I visited Myanmar for the first time and saw the tremendous needs of orphans and widows. Soon a plan to work with national Christians to provide aid along with sound biblical teaching unfolded in memory of our son Bryce. We rented large homes with the goal of housing about 20 children in each home and found dedicated Christians who would oversee the homes and make sure the children were educated, fed, and properly clothed.

From one home, the program expanded to five homes, which we now call Bryce Lodges. We now oversee over 80 children in Myanmar. The children are individually sponsored by people from around the world. Our cost for renting the homes and providing financial assistance for the leaders and helpers comes from donations given to Understand The Times designated for Myanmar.

As time passed, I felt the Lord leading me to expand the Bryce Lodge program to other countries. Last November, I traveled to South Africa and Kenya in order to see what doors God would open there. And this past February, I visited the Philippines with the same vision in mind. While our experience has been very good in Myanmar with our program there, it became apparent to me that there may be an even better way to accomplish our vision to reach orphans by working through local pastors and their churches. Our vision was to provide resources from our donors to be administered through pastors and church members. We would also commit ourselves to assisting in education and Christian education so that children in hopeless situations would have an opportunity not only to be given hope for their futures but also to be salt and light to their communities and ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

When I left Kenya in November of 2011, my vision was for Understand The Times to provide for three to five homes there. These homes would be overseen by Pastor Achilla of Rongo. The families would be made up of widows and grandmothers who were looking after orphans and the poor.

When I shared the needs I saw with our Understand The Times readers, there was a generous response. This response not only came from Understand The Times readers but also from Lighthouse Trails Publishing readers who partnered with us through a special Christmas offering that provided for immediate needs for the widows and children we were committed to looking after. Some of the things this offering paid for were new roofs (and a couple new houses), mattresses, blankets, clothing, and food. Up until this point, many of the children had only been getting one meal a day, and several of them did not even have their own mattress and blanket.

Over the last three months, the program exploded from five homes to twelve. Along with Pastor Achilla, several other leaders have come forward who have dedicated themselves to the Bryce Home Project. Pastors in the Rongo area see the program in action and like what they see. Even local government officials have approached us to thank us for coming to Kenya and the fruit of the work there.

The potential to develop the Bryce Home program is essentially unlimited. The population surrounding Rongo has been ravished by the AIDS epidemic. Many pastors told me that 2/3 of their congregations were widows. The Chief of Riat and the Chief of Suna confirmed these figures were not exaggerated. The situation is hopeless, and no one knows what to do. In the meantime, children without parents are starving, improperly clothed, and often in total despair.
 

While Byron Hardy and I were in Kenya, we visited all twelve Bryce Homes. We saw with our own eyes the houses that had been built and the household items that had been donated. Every home is cared for by a pastor or church leader who lives in the area and who is responsible for the material and spiritual care of those living in the home.

Understand The Times is merely the conduit for funds donated from our donors who are worldwide. God has raised up a team in Kenya that report to us and keep us informed how the funds are being spent. Lighthouse Trails has played a tremendous role by helping us with the Christmas Special Offering to complement the Bryce Home Program in its initial phase and thus make a significant difference quickly.

This trip was of tremendous value. Now that I have gone and seen and heard the testimonies of the widows and the children as well as the pastors who are filled with joy, there can be no turning back. God is bringing light to Kenya, which is a very dark place. 

Following are some observations that we made as a result of visiting all twelve Bryce Homes in Kenya. As the program develops, there are a number of important things we need to prioritize and then implement in the short term. In this way, the Bryce Home Project in Kenya can become a model that can be repeated in Myanmar, South Africa, the Philippines, and other places that we are led to go.

·       There are at least six of the existing Bryce Homes that will need to have roofs completely replaced or the entire home replaced. A complete new home with a metal roof (plastered inside and outside walls and floor) can be built for approximately $1000.

·       Many of the children are still in great need of clothes. While some clothes have been provided, more are needed. While in the future we may be able to gather clothes from donors and ship them to Rongo, for now we need to come up with a special clothes fund so that ever month when food and household materials are taken to the homes, clothes will be taken as well. It is our understanding that Kenya does not allow used clothing to be sent to Kenya.

·       While I was there, two children became very ill and needed immediate medical attention – one had a combination of typhoid and malaria, the other child had pneumonia. If I had not been there with an immediate source of funds, the children would not have received the proper care and would have very likely died. We will need to set up a fund for medical emergencies.

·       There are three or four pastors and church leaders who are providing leadership for the program who have worked tirelessly and faithfully to make the Bryce Home Program work. While they are not expecting monetary compensation, because of their financial situations, they need to be compensated. It is not our objective to pay all the pastors involved, but those who provide leadership for the program and who we depend on should receive some help. Kenyan congregations are very poor and very small and pastors do not receive salaries.

·       Keeping records and having a place to store supplies is a very important part of the Bryce Home Program. For a small cost, we can rent a space in a building in Rongo that will accommodate this need.

The Christian Education Center that is located in Suna (not quite completed) must be completed by having the doors and windows installed, a fence put around the property to keep animals out and the land ploughed and prepared for seeding of maize. This building is an ideal location to have the children from all six Bryce Homes in the Suna area to attend classes taught on a regular basis, particularly on Sunday. The maize field is situated right next to the building and can be a hands on project for the orphans so they learn to work and have a source of their own food.

Future Plans:

·       Because most of the Bryce Homes around Rongo are situated in rural areas many things can be done so that the widows and children can become self-sufficient or at least to provide some of their own food for their own use or for sale. Small amounts of land may be rented or purchased for growing vegetables while raising goats, cows, and chickens may be provide food, milk, and a source of income. Peanuts grow well in the area, and there is a market for them. There is a member of Pastor Achilla’s church who knows how to grow peanuts and also how to process and sell them. Right now, many people work in local tobacco fields, which pays almost nothing and results in sickness and even death from handling the tobacco.

·       Small businesses can be established by the widows so they have a source of income. Already several widows are making baskets to be sent to Lighthouse Trails in the USA who will resell them to people who purchase them on their web site. The widows will then receive the income.

·       I am suggesting that we help widows so they can sew or manufacture clothes for children. Rather than have clothes sent to them from North America, we could provide material, they could make clothes and then purchase them from the widows with donor funds so the clothes could be given out to needy orphans in other Bryce Homes.

·       We will consider going back to Rongo within a year to hold a weeklong conference for pastors. We would teach them the Bible and the foundational principles of the Bible. We will take three of four teachers with us, train up the local pastors and provide them with tools they can use to spread these teachings throughout their area. I have asked Byron Hardy to pray about organizing such a conference.

·       There actually is a retreat center located on the outskirts of Rongo that has a meeting hall that would hold over a hundred people as well as a place to stay for the teachers and those organizing the conference. With partnerships from other ministries, a conference to promote sound biblical doctrine is very possible. The impact that it would have on the area would be of tremendous value. There is a magnitude of false teachings in Kenya that have been brought in from the Western world. It’s tragic.

Conclusion:

Much more could be said that summarizes my observations and shares a glimpse of the vision that God has given me. For now, let me say, it is a joy to know we have been Spirit led and Gospel focused, and that this program has been authored by Jesus Christ and is in line with the Word of God. We are merely following. The Bryce Home Project is not driven by some manmade plan conjured for the purpose of doing good and working together with false religions.

While there have been a few bumps in the road, it is obvious the hand of God is upon the Bryce Home Program. We are seeing the New Testament Church in action in our day. The church functions as a body as it should function. Rather than building earth-focused kingdoms, we are proclaiming the coming of the King. Rather than being “on the take,” those who have a role to play in the program are giving and giving.

Widows and orphans that once thought God had forgotten them, now see God in action. They have food in their stomaches. They have blankets to keep them warm at night. They have soap to wash their skin. Their faith in the Almighty God has been built up. Their prayers have been answered.

As well, members of the church are now able to be channels of blessing. They now feel like they are part of the family of God. The needs they wanted to meet but couldn’t afford to meet can be met. They can be the hands and legs for God to get the work done.

Entire communities are noticing the difference being made through the Bryce Home Program. People are saying “light” has come to their community through those who believe in the Bible. While these onlookers may not know God, they see God working through His people. Of course, our prayer is that many of those watching will be drawn to Jesus Christ and His free offer of salvation.

From my perspective, I see God in action through His people and His Word. It has given me new life and built up my own faith. The many years of being on the front line exposing apostasy left me tired and discouraged. People whom I once trusted and considered friends attacked, then abandoned me because I was exposing truth that was shining into their dark manmade kingdoms.

The Bryce Home Program has given me a new perspective in life. I have been touched by the testimonies that many of the widows and orphans shared with me. And their words echo in my mind: “May God give you a long life so that you may help others, just like you have helped us.”

If these reports from Kenya have been a blessing to you, please know that what God is doing in Kenya, He can do in other countries all over the world. While many within organized religion may have chosen to abandon orphans and widows because the leaders are more interested in building their own carnal kingdoms, Lord willing and by His grace and provision, we will do what they will not. Please pray for Understand The Times and Bryce Homes International.

This is just the beginning.

 

January 18, 2012

We received a report earlier today from Pastor Achilla in Kenya bringing us up to date with regard to progress with the Bryce Orphan Home Project. Pastor Nelson has moved with his entire family from Kisumu to Rongo where he will be establishing Bryce Home One. Along with his wife and seven children of their own, they have seven additional adopted children they are looking after.

Understand The Times has rented a home in the Rongo area for Pastor Nelson and his family. Understand The Times will be providing support for food, clothing, and education. He and his wife will help to administer the Bryce Orphan Home program with Pastor Achilla and be responsible for reporting to us.

We are able to announce at this time that Pastor Vitalis and his family will also be a part of the Bryce Home Project in Kenya. Pastor Vitalis lives in the slums of Nairobi. You may recall that I met Pastor Vitalis in Nairobi when I was in Kenya in November and was impressed with his vision and his desire to help the poor and needy as well as proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are presently in the process of putting together a board of directors made up of Kenyan pastors and headed by Pastor Achilla in Rongo. In March of this year, I will be making another trip back to Kenya, along with my friend Byron Hardy from Canada, to meet Pastor Achilla and his pastoral team in order to discuss the Bryce Orphan Home project and set up a long-term Bible teaching program that will promote the teaching of biblical truth in these Last Days.

While I did not expect to go back to Kenya this soon, it became obvious that it was important to come along side the Kenyan pastors at this time to make sure the foundation we establish is sound and biblically based. Byron is the President of a Bible school and is well grounded in sound biblical doctrine and will bring important input and expertise with regard to the training of pastors to stand for the gospel according to the Scriptures.

As per our previous reports, a number of widows and orphans have already been helped through support provided for basic needs from Lighthouse Trails readers. These funds were sent recently and have been distributed by Pastor Achilla and his support staff, which have provided immediate relief for many. Understand The Times, through the support we have received for orphans and widows will now come along side and continue to maintain these homes as the Lord provides.

The purpose of these reports is to keep you informed of what we are doing to invest the support we have received in a wise manner and with accountability.

Sincerely,

Roger Oakland

December 29, 2011
 
Year End Missions Report from Kenya
 
Readers of the Understand The Times reports from Kenya this past November will recall the reports we sent out on a daily basis outlining the needs and how we felt we could meet some of those needs. It was, and still is our vision to establish a minimum of 10 homes in Kenya for orphans and widows in memory of our son Bryce.
 
The reason that I felt I should go to Kenya in the first place was because of the partnership that my publisher Lighthouse Trails had with Pastor Achilla of Rongo. A ministry discipleship facility is being established in the community of Suna through the support of Lighthouse Trails readers.
 
Many of the orphans and widows we met were also from the Rongo- Suna area. Westerners who have never traveled to places like this have no idea what it is like. However, as we share these needs when I returned to the USA people who I have never met (who read the reports sent from Kenya) sent funds to Understand The Times for the Kenya ministry.
As well, Dave and Debra Dombrowski from Lighthouse Trails were touched by the reports. They set up a special year end fund to immediately help these orphans and their caregivers with improved shelters, food, blankets and clothes.
The process is now underway.
 

f you have donated to the Kenya ministry through either Lighthouse Trails or Understand The Times you can see the actual evidence where your financial gifts have gone. This is not hype or manipulation. This is Christianity the way Christianity is supposed to operate.
 
As 2011 comes to an end, I believe this report is the best way Understand The Times can present how we feel God is leading us in these Last Days. The churches that once supported our missions efforts told us they could not afford to support orphans and widows anymore because of their financial difficulties. The are now firing staff so they can maintain their programs and property investments. They are now compromising with the world in order to find ways to pull their businesses out of the mud. This is a clear sign their time has come and gone. Crystal Cathedral is a good example of what is coming to the megachurch model.
 
Understand The Times will continue to expose deception but we will balance this out with missionary outreach programs that spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you, if you have partnered with us.
 
Sincerely,
Roger Oakland

 

November 30, 2011

Hi brother Roger,

I just wanted to greet you this morning. I was to send to you the pictures from Suna where I went, but it was raining so much I couldn't get to the families. I will send the picture of the one widow I did get near the discipleship center with her grandchildren that she cares for. We will go next week. We will take a long mission so we can go to some other areas as well to see the widows and orphans there also.
 
I appreciate and thank God for the video that you made. It made the tears come out from my eyes. If I can look back to where I have come from it is a miracle. May God bless you. I am praying for UTT for people to catch the vision for the Bryce homes in Kenya.
 
May God bless you and pass our greetings to your lovely wife and family. Many people are praying for your return because the Word that you have given has stirred their hearts and they are very HUNGRY to hear your teachings and to know more. We are looking forward to receiving the books and the dvds also.
 
Achilla

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