19 December 2013

Update

I've arrived safely at home. Thank you all so much for your prayers!

Praying

For those who have not heard, allow me to update you on the news in South Sudan. What has been called a failed coup attempt has resulted in military clashes in the capital (relatively distant from my current location), and the clashes are beginning to spread into other regions. The clashes have resulted from infighting among factions of the South Sudanese army. The death toll exceeded 500 yesterday, including many civilians. Several countries are beginning evacuation procedures for all of their citizens. The US embassy has told us to "depart immediately."

This morning, I am waiting to make an important phone call--and praying. I need to make a final confirmation that my scheduled flight to leave Yei will indeed be departing as scheduled. MAF, an international aviation association, is handling the flight, and they have assured me that the plan is to pick me up in Yei according to the original booking. But they also wanted me to call to confirm this morning.

I am in a city several hours' drive from the unrest and have seen no significant disruption of normal life—except that everyone is hanging around TVs and radios listening for news. The class went smoothly, and the students were attentive. Some of the church leaders in the class had never had an opportunity to thoughtfully consider several of the core ideas of the book. I am thankful to God for the awesome privilige to open up these powerful words of God and watch his Spirit work through those words in the hearts of these men. I left them yesterday with this prayer:

"Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen" (Rom 16:25-27).

Please pray for peace in this already war-torn country, pray for the progress of the gospel, especially through the dear men and women I have had the opportunity to teach this week, and pray that my scheduled flights back to home and family in Nairobi, Kenya, will not be hindered.

12 December 2013

Greetings from Yei

I have arrived safe and sound in Yei, South Sudan. The guest house where I am staying has been very accommodating and even has an internet cafe with decent speed. Praise the Lord for safety and for a dozen answered prayers about logistics and details along the way.
As of yesterday, Jenny and I have completed our formal language school training. Jenny commented at the beginning of the week, "Now begins the difficult part." One of the advantages of classroom-oriented training is that the student is paying the teacher for the external discipline and accountability for progress in the language. Daily exercises and regular testing become an enforced routine. The challenge of the coming months will be to continue to grow in our fluency through practice even when we don't have to be in class each morning demonstrating that progress.
We've covered a good deal of grammar in the last few months, and that's another advantage to the classroom. Often native speakers think little about the mechanics of their language. For instance, why do American English speakers say, "big, fat liar," but not "fat, big liar"? Uncountable repetition has given us an ear for what sounds right. From here out, our language study will focus mainly on learning from fluent speakers who have an ear for Swahili whether or not they can explain the grammar. Jenny and I are thankful for the opportunity to study some of the mechanics beforehand. Hopefully this will result in less frustration in the coming months.
On my way into South Sudan this morning, I've enjoyed a number of first-time experiences. Today was the first time for me to be alone on the plane with the pilot. It's also the first time the pilot has prayed with me before the flight! Also this was my first flight taking off from an unpaved airstrip. (See view from my seat below.)
Here are a few prayer requests on my mind at the moment.
Please pray for continued safety in travel and for open hearts and minds as I teach through Romans.
Pray for logistics in getting our container through customs. We just received notice that it has cleared the Arabian peninsula, so it's close, but often there's more of a challenge in unloading it than there is in getting it to Kenya.
Pray that the good news of Christ would reign in our hearts this Christmas season.
Thank you for your faithfulness in prayer!

02 December 2013

A Happy Thanksgiving

Huffstutler, Moore, and Pittsley Kids Feasting
Thank you for keeping us in your prayers as we concentrate on language study. We were glad this last Thursday to be able to spend the day with our Grace Baptist Mission team members. We have had an amazing year, and we're thankful for the way our Sovereign Captain has led, defended and protected us this year.
Because I am doing my best at this stage to take the position of a learner (especially focusing on the Swahili language at the moment) before presuming to teach, I am not involved in a specific Christmas outreach this year. On the other hand, God’s unspeakable gift of his Son transforms and compels us to open up ourselves and give of ourselves no matter what our level of preparation.
Recently, we were able to visit a man and his family in their home. I befriended the man when he was working close to the school where I am studying Swahili. He has since moved on from that job, but he still lives close by. I asked a local Kenyan pastor (who is also one of my Swahili teachers) about the best way forward, and he encouraged me to continue to befriend the man and his family. The man claims to be a believer, so the pastor encouraged me to disciple him and help him become securely attached to a local body of believers. I am hoping to carve out some time in the coming month to do just that. Please pray for wisdom and the progress of the gospel in and through me, this man, and his family.
Thanksgiving with the GBM Kenya team
God has provided an opportunity to train pastors in Yei, South Sudan. South Sudan emerged from decades of civil war as one of the world’s youngest countries in 2011. The church there has certainly felt the sting of societal instability, and many pastors have very little training in handling the Scriptures whatsoever. Please pray that God will use the block classes my ministry teammate, Dan Huffstutler, and I will be teaching to establish, stabilize, and grow his church in South Sudan. Dan’s class on Bible interpretation will be held from 6-Dec to 11-Dec, and my class on the book of Romans will be held from 13-Dec to 18-Dec.
We are elated about your specific prayers for us. Thank you for sharing with us in the work “for the sake of the Name” (3 John 7).

09 September 2013

Two Moves Later


Dan Huffstutler and I with 8 New EABST Students

Thursday will mark the end of our third week in Kenya. The jam-packed busyness has made it seem longer in some ways; the time we spent developing partners in the States now feels like a world and a lifetime away. Life will soon be settling into a routine.
Since we arrived in Kenya on Thursday, 22-Aug, we have moved twice. Once from the Mennonite Guest House, where we caught some much needed rest and recovery from jet lag, and then again from Paul Weaver's house. (Paul is a missionary supported by my sending church in Michigan; he blogs here.) He graciously allowed us to stay in his home while we got our bearings. Now we are staying on campus at Kenya Baptist Theological College adjoined to the beautiful Brakenhurst Conference Centre about a 40-minute drive from Nairobi. The college hosts the language school where Jenny and I will attend until mid-December.
For the last two Thursdays, I have been able to attend classes with the newest group of students at East Africa Baptist School of Theology, where Jonathan Moore and I will be joining faculty. It is exciting to see the way that the Lord Jesus is working in the men of Emmanuel Baptist to bring about this interest in church-leadership training. Only time will tell what he will do through these eight men.

Please thank the Lord with us for his provision:
Kate Moore, Jonas, and Jamin Climbing a Tree at
the Mennonite Guest House
  • We enjoyed a safe and uneventful (if long) flight to Nairobi.
  • We're very grateful for friends and teammates helping us adjust to life in Kenya.
  • We have found someone to help with childcare while we're in language school.

Please plead with the Lord on our behalf:
  • We have a number of documents we need to acquire for working and living in Kenya. Please pray that these processes go smoothly.
  • I am adjusting to driving on the left side of the road for the first time, and traffic is busy! Please pray for safety on the roads.
  • We will be beginning language school in mid-September. Pray for humility and perseverance as we work to learn Swahili.
  • After language school, we will need to begin learning from informal language helpers starting in January. Pray that we find good ones.

For more frequent updates from us, follow me on Twitter, or like our Pittsleys to Kenya Facebook page:



21 August 2013

Quick Update from ORD

We're sitting in the airport in Chicago, waiting for our flight to London to begin. We had a great time in Toronto for two weeks of this month. Our language instruction was centered on helping us make average Kenyans our Swahili teachers. We're looking forward to employing those methods soon. The highlight of our time was the camaraderie of our class. It was great to see how the Lord bringing people to himself from Bosnia, the Far East, the Near East, East Africa and West Africa. The joy of linguistics is knowing that one day every language shall praise our Treasure, the Lord Jesus.

As I check through my agenda of dozens of last-minute items, I am so grateful to the Lord for his shepherding us to this point. He is keeping his promises and accomplishing his plan to purify a people through your sacrificial investments and our partnership.
Would you be willing to pray for us as we travel through the night tonight and most of the day tomorrow? We'll be recovering from jet lag most of the weekend, I imagine, and making necessary adjustments to Kenyan culture for the rest of our lives.
I feel privileged to know all of you are behind us in this endeavor and to know that our Great Shepherd is guiding and keeping us on right paths for his name sake.

01 August 2013

Summer Print Newsletter

Here is this month's print newsletter:

21 June 2013

Bay Area Friend-Raising

Having a Blast
Jenny and I have been enjoying our time alone out here in the San Francisco Bay area, while the boys are having a blast back with Jen's family. We're looking forward to getting our boys back this coming Tuesday!

Canvassing for Crossway
Baptist, VBS
Three times during the last several weeks, I've planned to visit a church without being publicly recognized. Our job right now is strongly connected to developing relationships with people, and an unofficial visit to a church can sometimes be as effective as an official church presentation for developing those relationships. Each of those three times however, the pastor has given me an opportunity to share publicly our fundraising status and what we plan to be doing in the near future. We look forward to seeing how the Lord directs our relationship with these churches in the coming years. Thank you for your attention and care for our ministry, Grace Life Baptist, Fairway Park Baptist, and First Baptist of Pinole!
Grace Baptist, Fremont

Missionary deputation can be a slow process. Relationships of trust and partnership in the progress of the gospel are not to be rushed or taken lightly. Early in 2012, one of our friends from Grace Bible Fellowship in El Paso, TX, heard that we were going to be traveling to the Bay Area that spring and suggested I looked up one of his pastor friends. I did, and Michael Philipps and I met with the elders of Grace Baptist Church, Fremont, CA, for the first time in March 2012. A year later we met again while we were in the area, and this last Sunday we were able to present our ministry to the church as a whole. Rather than going to meet strangers, I was presenting the work for someone I've talked with, whose company I enjoy, someone I pray regularly for. While fundraising is a kind of work to which I do not feel particularly suited, friend-raising has been a treasured experience for me. God has been good to grant partners in the gospel whom we know and care for and who know and pray for us.

Please continue to pray for us that the final support amount will come in. We're at 82% of our support level and praying that the Lord Jesus will grant us to depart for Kenya at the approved 90% level. We're also praying for another $6600 outfit and passage funding to help us get our feet under us in Kenya.

Thank you for praying!

30 May 2013

Pennellville, Poughkeepsie, Midlothian

Spring Emerges
The last few weeks have put many miles on our trusty van as we have travelled to spread the word about the incredible opportunities our Lord is granting us in Nairobi, Kenya. Strong Kenyan church leaders are eager to receive tools for training the next generation for service with Christ's word for Christ's world, and we believe God is equipping us to equip them.
Grace Baptist Church of Pennellville hosted a missions conference early this month. We enjoyed sharing our ministry vision through a roundtable discussion with some insightful questions from the church. We loved our time there and look forward to seeing how the Lord directs our relationship in the future.
Train Awaits
After that, we traveled south to Poughkeepsie, NY, the northernmost stop on New York metro's Hudson line. One of my friends at Tabernacle Baptist Church worked to get us an opportunity to present our ministry to the church and hosted us for a great discussion over some delicious New York style pizza.
Another friend of ours was able to secure a meeting for us with the missions leadership team of Grace Bible Church in Midlothian, VA. We stayed the weekend with this family, whom we know from our time in El Paso, and we treasured the opportunity to catch up with them and become familiar with their new ministry venues.
During the last few weeks I have also been able to meet with a few pastors, sharing our ministry dreams with each, and leaving open doors for further discussion when I return to support raising after our first term.
Jamin encounters a neighbor's calf.
We are leaving for Kenya, Lord willing, with the plane that takes off from Detroit on 21-Aug. In addition, we have good prospects to have 90% of our monthly support by the time we depart. Though I admit it would be nice to be even closer to full support, we are setting our hope in Christ, our Captain, that he will care for our supply lines.
We are excited that after a generous gift from InterCity Baptist, our sending church, we can knock our outfit and passage request down to needing at least $6,600. Their gift was used almost immediately to jump on an opportunity that our friends in Nairobi found to acquire a vehicle.
Please pray with us that—along with safety and health and financial provision—the time of busyness would also be a time of personal growth in Christlikeness. Your prayers are precious to us!

03 May 2013

Ninafahamu Kiswahili Kidogo.

Teaching Children at COBMA
Before we had quite concluded our missions conference near Boston, MA, we had the exciting chance to meet a friend we met in Zambia, Allan Ilunga. Allan was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo but lived in America for much of his life until he returned to serve in Zambia. We're looking forward to a time when we can see one another again on that side of the Atlantic!

Meeting Allan at B & N
This last Sunday found us back at Heritage Baptist Church. They generously hosted us for a send-off service and assured us again that they were praying. We are grateful for solid church partners who "hold the rope" for us as we descend into a well of unknowns. Looking at our list of partner-churches, it's exciting for us to see how the Lord Jesus has brought us to each of these churches to accomplish his purposes in the world. Now, we're eager and elated to get to work, serving the mission of these churches to reach the world for his name.

With linguistics training approaching early this August and other projects reaching completion one-by-one, I have finally joined my wife in learning Swahili. The program we are using capitalizes on the native ability every speaking person has to learn language, especially spoken language (affiliate link). This method emphasizes taking part in pretend conversations with a recording, which works better than you might think, and one of the sentences it has me repeating often is "Ninafahamu Kiswahili" (I understand Swahili). This morning the recording made sure I added the word, "Kidogo," (a little) to the sentence: I understand Swahili—a little. Jenny and I have a long road ahead of us, but we are glad for the opportunity to show that Christ's name is great by working hard at communicating his good news well in Kenya.

Praise the Lord with us for
  • Health and safety over the last few weeks of travel, especially as we stayed near Boston during the lockdown.
  • Around $1400 has come in for our Outfit and Passage fund.

Please pray with us for
  • We have not yet met our new budget requirements, so please pray that the last amount comes in. We continue to stand around 80% of our original approved budget.
  • We have one-time needs associated with moving, so we need the Lord's provision there as well. At least $16,600 more is needed.
  • Time before departure is short, and we are still finishing up support-raising as well as preparing to go. Pray for a consistent hope in God during this time, not allowing the rush to be more important than the fruit of the Spirit.
Thank you for praying for us!


Shameless Cuteness

18 April 2013

Booked Tickets to Kenya

Jamin Simplifies Swahili
Since the release of our spring newsletter, we have been reacquainting ourselves with a few churches in the Syracuse area. We've been glad to meet again with friends at Calvary Baptist, Preble, and Bible Baptist, Cortland. Developing partnerships is often not simply a matter of hitting it off in a short one-time meeting. Being welcomed into a church is one thing, but becoming known is another. We've also been grateful for opportunities to spend time with New Testament Baptist, one of our closest partners.

I also had a great time over lunch with a missionary to South Africa who is now in leadership at Faith Baptist, Cortland. He encouraged me to maintain our focus on developing Kenyan leadership, working to develop confidence in God and his Word and ownership of Christ's worldwide commission.

Pastor John Stevenson
Faith Baptist Baldwinsville
Last Sunday had us in Faith Baptist, Baldwinsville. We were delighted to see how the Lord was working to keep this assembly together and build it up through some times of financial difficulties. Their attentive interest in our ministry was an encouragement to us.

This week we returned to Church of the Open Bible in Burlington, MA, near Boston. We have been relishing the extended time with the believers here and with other missionary families.

Ladies Discuss Missions
Conference Details
Our big announcement for this post is that, after getting a first-term trimmed budget approved, we have had our tickets to Kenya booked for 21-Aug! We're so excited to have an official departure date and have been praising the Lord for providing over 80% of our original budgeted support. On the other hand 21-Aug is now a concrete deadline for a couple of projects:
(1) We still have around $400/mo to raise for our trimmed budget.
(2) We still need at least $18,000 for our outfit and passage expenses.

Please pray with us for these needs.
Thank you for your prayers!

18 February 2013

To Denver and Back Again


I wrote last before we left for a great trip to Colorado. On our way, I had the opportunity to interview with the elders of Alameda Bible Church in Albuquerque. This is a step in their process of getting to know potential missionary partners. We are excited for this development. Please pray as the elders consider partnering with our mission to Kenya this week.

From Albuquerque we traveled on to Brighton, Colorado. We heard there for the first time for certain that Community Baptist Church has voted to become our partners. Their monthly support brought us over 75% of our approved budget and that much closer to reaching Kenya. Though our time with CBC was brief, it was good to catch up with our friends there and get to know them better.

Before returning to El Paso, we had the privilege of serving with High Country Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. While we were there we stayed with our new friends, the Bixbys. Our three kids had a blast with their ten. Their family story uniquely displays God's wisdom and care for his people; Jenny and I will never forget it.

We're grateful to the Lord Jesus for providing safety in our travels and progress on our support levels. We're also thankful that Josiah and Jamin have recovered from a nasty stomach bug they came down with in Colorado Springs.

Please pray that we are able to continue to connect with new partners and that the Lord Jesus would provide for our needs to get to Kenya quickly. God delights in coming to our rescue as we call upon his name.

28 January 2013

An Exhilarating Morning

This morning I was able to forward two emails to the business office at Grace Baptist Mission. One was from a church that has supported us for some time, New Testament Baptist. They voted on Sunday to increase our support and are now shouldering 10% of our approved budget.
The other email was also from a Syracuse area church, Heritage Baptist Church. We visited last fall and enjoyed a spirit of camaraderie with this newer church plant. The man who planted the church was a missionary to Brazil for a number of years and shares with us a passion to see godly national leadership truly lead on the mission field. They voted last week to become regular monthly supporters of our work.
Here are prayer requests that I've shared with our partners recently:
• I'm praying for at least 6 new partner churches in the coming three months. These are all churches with which we have some previous connection, and they have indicated some interest in partnering with us.
• I'm praying for quick turnaround on travel documents. I have acquired and/or located almost everything I need for a work visa. Pray that the final document arrives before 18-Feb.
• We need the Lord's protection as we travel to Colorado this week and to California in February and then back East in March. It may still be snowy both in Colorado and in Upstate New York.
• Pray for wisdom as we seek to raise our kids on the road to be humble, loving, wise and godly. God is generous to grant wisdom without scolding his people (James 1:5).

Praise the Lord with us for these two partner churches as well as for two new church contacts here in the Southwest. We've also had two sick kids recover from a flu or flu-like virus.

Thank you for your prayers! We're thrilled to see the Lord's help every step of the way.

13 January 2013

Inclined Is God Graciously to Help


"The more severely anyone is oppressed, and the more destitute he is of the resources of human aid, the more inclined is God graciously to help him." As I prepared to preach on 30-Dec, that statement from a well-known pastor caught my eye and has stayed with me. The work of God's Spirit begins with a conviction of our desperate need before him. Even when we're not at fault in our dire circumstances, God's Spirit moves us to acknowledge our needs at the Father's throne. That's why I write these updates too. We have needs, and you have a God who can help us!
The last few weeks I have busied myself contacting pastors about the coming months. We're eager to help churches and develop genuine relationships into gospel partnerships. We've introduced ourselves to two local churches in the area and have been praying to see how the Lord will use these new friendships.
I've also been preparing a spreadsheet detailing our needs for the move to Kenya. A number of churches have asked us about raising a special set of funds, called outfit and passage, to which they can contribute one-time gifts. Plane tickets, bunk beds, and kitchen appliances are all typically included in lists like this, as well as the major cost of bringing a container over. Much of the money we've already saved will go toward this fund, but we're still praying for God's provision for a number of lines on the list.
Another project I've been working on is getting travel documents together. Progress has been steady here, but there's still loads to do. One can never predict how this hunt may get stalled, so we're praying about this too.
Would you join us in our prayers for new partnerships, outfit and passage funds, and travel documents? The fact that we know you are in our corner means so much!
We can't do it without God's help, so thank you for your support and prayers.