Sacrificial, Risky Faith

by Rt. Rev. Steve Breedlove on March 28, 2024

This month’s Out Of the Ordinary falls on Maundy Thursday. That means many of you (for sure, all clergy) will be preoccupied, as we ought to be, “upon the meditation of those mighty acts by which you have promised us life and immortality” (Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week). I hope, though, that you will keep this OOO in queue for reading next week when life slows down and we are resting in the joy of the Resurrection.

There have been many ministry highlights over the past six weeks: two deanery retreats, a weekend visit welcoming a new church into the DCOH (Trinity Communion Church, Rochester, NY), a joyous consecration of a new ACNA bishop in Abbotsford, BC. Especially outstanding were two different trips to East Africa: teaching at the GAFCON Bishops’ Training Institute in Kigali (Feb 3-10) and a long-delayed visit to Canon Missioner Lawrence Mbugua and his wife, Grace Komo, in their home Diocese of Mt Kenya South (Feb 27-Mar 4). As you may know, Canon Lawrence lives in Charlotte but planted and pastored Emmanuel Anglican Community Church in Raleigh for years. (Rev George Kinuthia will soon be lead pastor there.) He actively supported the planting of Restoration Anglican in Charlotte, where Rev Denis Ocheing serves, and he will be catalyzing a new plant in Durham over the next season of his ministry. Canon Lawrence is a dynamic missional leader in the DCOH! However, few know about Grace’s ministries. In the US, she started and coordinates a daily live online prayer meeting from 5:00 – 9:00 am (EDT). People, mainly Kenyan Christians, living in multiple nations join for prayer. 

But what Lawrence and Grace are doing here in the US is just the tip of the iceberg. In the environs of the Diocese of Mt Kenya South, on the outskirts of Nairobi, Canon Lawrence and Grace established a shelter for the homeless (Grace takes the lead) and a residency rehab center for people recovering from substance addictions (Lawrence takes the lead). Both works involve substantial fundraising, the construction of residential and meeting facilities, hiring and overseeing staff, etc. In addition, Lawrence regularly ministers to staff, teachers, and children at a thriving orphanage, Mother Mercy Home. Grace is an outstanding teacher and evangelist in her own right, in high demand as a conference speaker and prayer ministry leader in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.

Step back a moment and consider what I’ve just described: two people involved in catalytic kingdom expansion through church planting, teaching and equipping leaders, prayer ministries, strategic institutional ministry development, and in-depth substantial care for orphans, addicts, and the homeless. Clearly Canon Lawrence and Grace are highly gifted, energetic, and capable leaders. But, other than deep love for Jesus and the Gospel, what holds such an expansive, multifaceted life and ministry together? 

One uniting factor in all these efforts is sacrificial, risky faith.

  • Sacrificial, in that Lawrence and Grace invested their own resources as well as their own lives in order to get things off the ground.
  • Risky, because they started what was far beyond their ability to complete, but they were convinced that whatever the Lord gave them to do was “something good for the work of the kingdom.”
  • Faith, because they responded in obedience to the leading of the Lord and the doors he opened. Faith, because they constantly face the unknown with the deep conviction that the Lord will provide, and friends, He does!

I noticed two other characteristics when I was with them in Kenya: Their home and their dinner table are full of friends and visitors. A couple from Georgia, moving back to Kenya themselves to start a ministry, have been there (with their granddaughter) for months. Two nieces live with them. Neighbors and relatives drop by throughout the day. Prayer meetings and hymn sings erupt spontaneously well into the late hours of the evening. In other words, their Nairobi home has an open-door policy, a large welcome mat, and a table that quickly, calmly, fills with food whenever needed. Lastly, Lawrence and Grace deeply love and serve people. People I met consistently described them as “dear and close friends.” The celebration of Lawrence’s designation as a canon in the DCOH was a five-hour worship celebration attended by over 250 friends of all ages. Tributes came from dozens of people, many of them from other churches and denominations, that Lawrence and Grace have befriended over the years.

I had the joy of baptizing two adult converts from the rehab center and confirming two other adults from the center. I preached a total of eight times in 4 days, speaking to over 2000 people in four services on Sunday alone. It was a delightful time of ministry! But the deepest joy was seeing this dear brother and sister in their home context and becoming acquainted with ministries catalyzed by one couple that reach hundreds of people from every walk of life imaginable.

What are the takeaways for each of us to ponder and pray about?

  • Is the Lord calling you (me) to any new level of personal sacrifice and risk for the work of Christ?
  • Is there any faith venture that the Lord has laid on your (my) heart to do – something that we know we cannot sustain personally apart from miracles – but a venture that we know we cannot escape doing, if we listen to the prodding of the Spirit?
  • What about my home? What about hospitality – the freedom to throw together a meal from whatever is in the frig, the willingness to stay up inconveniently late to pray with people, a willingness for long-term guests to occupy a spare bedroom?
  • The chief question for us to consider: Are we willing to measure our relationships by the simple question, “Do we genuinely love the people the Lord brings our way?”

Meditating on 1 Corinthians 13 seems like an appropriate way to soak in the love of the Risen Jesus as we walk into the glorious season of Eastertide. I pray you might consider joining me in doing that.

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