Monday, March 27, 2017

Nestor Ndayishimiye and Hands of Hope Academy

In 1994, only eight years old, Nestor and his family were forced to flee their homeland of Rwanda. On foot, in the crush of thousands of other genocide displaced families, Nestor moved along with the momentum of the crowd for hours. When evening came, he could not find his parents.

It wasn’t until returning home, one year later, that Nestor was reacquainted with his siblings and parents. Nestor’s two sisters and four brothers had all managed to stay with their parents during the year. Only he had been lost.

“I know what it is like to be an orphan.” Nestor said, “I was one for a year. It is very scary and hopeless.”

The walk was long and difficult. Many did not have the stamina or strength to survive the stress and loss of becoming a refugee. “I saw people die as we walked.” Nestor said, “People just fell over. There were piles of dead bodies on the road.” Some died from the physical exertion. Others died from the torment of reliving, with each step they took, the deaths of their loved ones.

“As I walked day after day,” Nestor said, “I asked God, ‘How can I help people so they will not die?’ ”

“My parents put me in an Adventist High School. I became an Adventist at the school and combined my love for sport with the Adventist health message.”

During his year of living so close to the death, Nestor developed a passion for life. His focus on health from that year and through high school shaped him into the person he is today.

“I began teaching health at Adventist churches in Nairobi,” Nestor said. “Then I was invited to Kisii to teach in churches there. From there I was invited to Eldoret to teach about healthy living there.”

While running health camps in Eldoret, Nestor taught some street children. “One of them asked me if I could help them go to school.” Nestor said, “I didn’t know anything about schooling in Kenya, so I started asking around.”

“I asked some friends if they could help me pay for just one.” Nestor said, “I took her to a nearby orphanage. From then on, many street kids became my friends and asked if they could go to school. I began helping children go to schools in the Eldoret area. I started an organisation called Hands of Hope East Africa and we placed almost 40 students in schools over the next two years.”

Leon and Carole Platt were involved in sponsoring children at one of the orphanages and Nestor heard about them through an Australian man named Colin Hone.

“When I met Colin Hone from Holy Spirit Ministries,” Nestor said, “I invited him to come do his 10 days of prayer here in Eldoret. We ran his program for the pastors in three areas. In time, I became the Director of Holy Spirit Ministries in the East Africa region. I took the health training and Holy Spirit Ministries around to many churches.”

When they visited Nestor's Hands of Hope children both Leon and Carole knew they could really be happy helping to support a school like that. From Australia they kept in contact with Nestor and he found and began renting the current school site. “We named it Hands of Hope Academy and began filling it with children.” Nestor said, “In the past two years we have grown to 63 students.”

“Hands of Hope is a place where the children can be free to be educated and live a biblical healthy lifestyle.” Nestor said, “When we started the school we brought the 54 sponsor children we had placed into other schools into the new environment and gathered a few new ones from the streets.”

“I teach the students both sides of each health choice.” Nestor said, “I do not demand obedience. I allow decisions to be made. The freedom of choice is very important. Many people here in Kenya like my message because I do not point my finger and demand obedience. I give them a positive alternative and let them choose.”

At Hands of Hope Academy children are taught the health message and given healthy options and the freedom to choose. “About half the students are vegetarians now. All of them live a chemical free lifestyle - free from drugs, alcohol, caffeine.” Nestor said, “They have gardening responsibilities and plenty of room for sport and play.”

“We are raising them in as close to an Adventist home as we can get in a school setting.” Nestor said, “Last year 32 students were baptised!”

“We don’t push the children.” Nestor said, "As the director, I could do that. But when they become adults the will go back. When they make the decision for themselves it is more likely to be permanent. That’s how we do it here.”

To help Nestor run Hands of Hope Academy donate at:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dignity and Privacy Protected - Need Your Help

In an unspecified country
An unspecified number of young girls
Have just been rescued by an unspecified Christian man
Rescued from unspeakable abuse
These girls are now completely safe
Each especially special
They are not unspecified
In our Saviour’s eyes
They need to go to an unspecified school
Have an unspecified number of clothing items
Be allowed an unspecified amount of food
If you, specifically, are willing to help
$80 per child per month
Will provide
The need is real
The need is now
The need is specific

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Storytelling is God's Style

Story is the bedrock of the Bible. It doesn’t matter where you start. Turn to the beginning and you’re faced with two stories of Creation. Turn to the end and you see a seven-headed dragon spewing a tsunami in the desert. Pick a random spot in the middle and you’ll find Nathan wielding the sword of story to smite King David’s soul with self-incriminating judgement, Daniel recounting mirrored dreams of a multi-storied statue to a stressed-out king, a cupbearer explaining to Pharaoh that he knows precisely where to find the man who can interpret dreams, Paul calling himself a fool as he recounts the long list of abuse received by himself for the Gospel, Peter saying silver and gold are out of his reach but the story he has is worth much more, or any number of stories told by Jesus causing one disciple to write, “He said nothing without telling a story.”

Why all the stories?

Let’s imagine, for a moment, the God of the universe loved a little blue-green orb and its sinful inhabitants so much He decided to send His Son there on a rescue mission. They plan the rescue mission in detail. When His Son sets foot, in the flesh, on terra firma the plan is perfect. His approach, His delivery, His every act intentionally communicates in ways these creatures understand perfectly. To be understood is His greatest wish.

God sent His Son telling stories. Sent to reveal the character of God, Jesus brought Love to the world and in so doing saved them from the sin which bound them. Story after story, Jesus laid out the nature of God, mankind, Sabbath, law, love, obedience and more. Ultimately – through His life, death and resurrection – Jesus bridged the chaos between creature and Creator – restoring us by restorying us.

Then, promising us greater power than He displayed, Jesus handed the story to you and I before heading back to His Father. We are only disciples when we are disciple-makers. And we are only disciple-makers when we tell the story. God’s story is told when we feed the poor, when we care for the sick, when we embrace the lonely. We tell the story of God’s Love when we act within His character – communicating to be understood. We are effective as preachers, teachers, parents and parishioners when we care enough to connect people, in ways they understand, to the God who loves them – first by meeting their needs, then by restorying their lives.

The Great Commission is the mission statement of God’s storytellers – His disciple-making manifesto. We grow the Kingdom of God when we restore and restory lives. Bringing people into the Kingdom, baptizing them into God’s story and teaching them to seek to be understood - we send these disciples out with a story worth hearing.

Worship - Our Eternal Purpose


Any created being able to comprehend their nature as both created by God and loved by Him has but one response.


Created in God's Image, we more than other creatures, have reason to honour Him. We understand God's love for His children, His passion for life and His care for creation.


We worship God by loving Him and others, living well, and caring for creation.


Like the angels around the throne, the only response in God's immediate presence is, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty - who was and is and is to come."


It was our purpose in the past. It will be our purpose in the future. And, it is our purpose now!


Monday, March 06, 2017

Sabbath - From Chaos to Completeness


What has been the darkest time in your life?
What/who brought you out of the darkness? 
How did you respond to the light?
What changed in you after that experience?

Read Genesis 1:1

What is your favourite opening line for a book/movie/poem? Why?
Is Genesis 1:1 a good opening line for the Bible? Why?
What three things are revealed in this short verse? How is it a good opener for the Bible?
1. In the beginning – God
2. In the beginning God – created
3. In the beginning God created – the heavens and the earth

Creation and Re-creation

Every new beginning in life is the recognition of a new focus for your time and energy; a master in whom you will attempt to find solace, purpose and identity. How are new beginnings with God different than all other new beginnings?  (New beginnings that start with the true God – the actual Creator and Re-creator of life – will fulf the soul, the heart and the mind. For in Him we live, breathe and have our being.)
How does the Bible’s opening Creation story teach us about the creation and re-creation God wants to do in our lives?

Read Genesis 1:2

What state was Earth in before God started Creation week? (tohu-va-vohu, chaos)
How did you feel when you were in your darkest time?
What did you wish for? 
In your darkest moment, did light seem possible? Why?
How did you feel about God at that time? Did He feel close or far away?

Where was God’s Spirit before Creation week began? (hovering near the surface)
When we are in complete darkness of soul, is it easy to feel the presence and love of others?
If God’s Spirit is always hovering over us, why does He allow the darkness?

Esmerelda Devlin, a famous stage designer says, “You need to start without light to find it.”
What does this mean?

The lights often go off right before something amazing begins. Can you think of one?
(Bedtime - dreams, Sleep over. Movie, Concert – 80 thousand people in the dark, waiting for the light to shine on one person.)

Read Genesis 1:3-5

What do you think Earth looked like  when the lights first came on? (Chaos)
When you first came out of your darkest time, what did your life look like?
Chaos looks different for each of us - depending on where we are when we see God hovering above us and start over with "In the beginning God." 

In the fairytale of Humpty-Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Unlike the false gods of this world, God can do the impossible. Lives shattered in a thousand chaotic, formless and empty pieces can be put back together again. 

What helped you see God hovering above you in the darkness? How can we help others see God?
How has God recreated you? What is He currently doing in you?

Where do you think this Bible Study is going?
Now that the light is shining – what will Creation reveal? 

 Read Genesis 1:6-25

What did we see in these verses? (Creation from Chaos)
What did God create? (A safe environment and filled it)
How did God do this? (with the power of His Word)
God “saw” his work each day as what? (good)
Why does the author say God “saw” it rather than “said” it was good? (leading somewhere)
Why didn’t the author say “perfect” but only “good”? (God wasn’t finished yet. Chaos was still being reformed)

On the first day, God switched on the lights on Project Earth. Under the watchful eyes of those outside the story, He created something good that pointed to something perfect. Who was watching? (Angels, other created beings) 

As with any well told story, there is an intended audience. Who was the author’s audience for the story being told in Genesis 1? (God’s people and the surrounding nations)

Waking up the Neighbours by Shaking up their gods

The Israelites’ Mesopotamian neighbours believed Marduk (the god over all gods) calmed chaos when he defeated Tiamat (goddess of the sea) and then created the heavens and the earth. What impact do you think the story of Day 1 and 2 had on the neighbours?

They also believed Tiamat mated with Abzu (the god of fresh water) to populate the pantheon of lesser gods and then Tammuz (god of food and vegetation) blessed the land providing crops.  Day 3 suggests the Israelite God spoke and the waters separated, land appeared and plants started growing – all at His spoken command! No physical prowess needed. What might the Mesopotamian neighbours have thought of a God who creates with his voice alone?

Day 4 confounded the neighbours’ belief that Anu (creator of the stars  and father of the gods), Shamash (god of the sun) and Sin (god of the moon) were hovering in the sky looking over them. Instead, the stars, sun and moon were created by the Israelite God to provide light and direction and were not Gods at all. Can you feel the frustration rising?

Days 5 and 6 offended a multiplicity of gods. Lahar – the god of cattle; Sirtir – the goddess of sheep; Enten – the god responsible for the ewes, goats, cows, donkeys, birds; (the memory of) Kingu – whose blood Marduk used to create humans – and more. 

The neighbours had a god for everything – even beer (Sirtir) and barbers (Ninkamunna) – and were being confronted with the one true God who created everything, everywhere and everyone. The Mesopotamians were accustomed to hearing about other gods and adding them into their understanding of the world around them. But this God of the Israelites was both singular and jealous.

By this far into the story, the neighbours would have been saying, “This God is not like our gods. We cannot add Him to our pantheon. He is either the only God or nothing at all.” And their faith was shaken into chaos. They could not serve their gods and this new one. They had to choose. It was an unheard-of idea – and a difficult one! 

Would this story have switched off the neighbour’s lights sending them into spiritual chaos?
How is that a good thing?

How are people today like the Mesopotamians?
To what lesser gods do people give time, energy and attention? 

God's Temple

There is one more act of Creation that provided the final sword strike between the Babylonian pantheon and the Israelite God. Every god had a temple. To satiate their worldly needs, worshippers headed to the temple of the god of that need and made their offering. In the middle of each temple – no matter the god - was a statuesque representative image of the God for whom the temple stood. Each pagan temple was designed to focus the attention of the worshipper on the image in the middle of the temple. 

The people built these temples to honour their god then worshiped there. Genesis 1 tells the story of a God who built His own temple. His first act, was to switch on the lights so everyone could see what he was doing (without a sun! In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” And Revelation 21:23 says in God’s presence there is no need for sun or moon as the glory of God provides all the light needed.) God, the Light, shows up and begins working on His temple. He builds a ceiling and the floor (sky and sea), then the sidewalls (earth and water), then entrance and exit (time: day and night). Finally, after the temple is finished…

Read Genesis 1:26-31

What new realisation did you have in your reading of these verses?
How many times was the word “image” used? Why? (so the point wouldn’t be missed!)
These image-bearers were not to stand still but to care for the temple. How? (care, rule)
How good did God see things at the end of Day 6? (very good)

What does it mean to you that God created you in His image? 
How does being the representative in the temple – His image-bearer – affect your life?

Read Genesis 2:1-3

How many days it take for God to complete his work? (six)
Why have a seventh day? Was it necessary? (Holy rest is re-creation)
In the text, did God ‘see’ the final day as anything? (no)
What did God ‘do’ to the seventh day? (blessed it)
Holy (Heb: qadash) means “Set Apart”.  The phrase “Made it Holy” is actually the same word twice qadash it qadash. Why would the author describe God’s act of blessing the Sabbath as “setting it apart it was set apart”? What are we being told? (Sabbath is important!)

What does God do on His ‘set apart’ day of Creation? (rests from all His work)
In God’s work of recreating us, what benefit is a day ‘set apart’ each week? 
What does this phrase mean to you: “set apart I am set apart”?
What might happen if we do not set a day apart and truly rest? (back to chaos)
How important is it to you to ‘set apart’ the Sabbath day? Why?


Genesis 1 introduces a God who takes His people from chaotic to complete, from broken to blessed, from formless to purpose. Slaves in Egypt could become free in Canaan. Prisoners in Babylon could become worshippers in Jerusalem. God brings light to darkness. Jesus is the Light of the world. He defies the gods of the land by rewriting the rulebook. He is not one of many but the one and only. 

First God redefines our gods. Then He redefines us. We are His holy – set apart – people.
For six days, we work – serving as God’s image-bearers in His earthly temple through careful stewardship and acts of compassion – and on the seventh day, set apart by Him for one express purpose, we bless what He has blessed and set apart what He set apart by resting with Him and in Him.

Next week we will continue our study of the Sabbath. 
Now that we understand where the Sabbath came from, let’s see where it can take us!

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...