Quick Ministry Update

In case you didn't receive our monthly newsletter, read on for some exciting news!

First of all, we are coming back for a visit! We’ll be back from September 5th until October 4th to fundraise, fellowship, and eat lots of yummy food. We are pretty limited on time during the weekends, but if you would like to catch up during the week, please let us know as soon as possible. We would be more than delighted to personally thank you for your prayers and support while eating a double-double from In-N-Out or a California burrito!

Secondly, we have finally been approved for a work permit! This means we can be here without having to renew our visas every three months. Renewing visas is a little unsettling because we never know if we will draw the short straw and get denied another extension. Once we have the work permit in hand, we will be able to apply for our alien ID card, which will allow us to travel more freely to visit the teams throughout East Africa and overcome some logistical challenges, like setting up a bank account. Having a permit also means we can legally remain in the country for three more years.

After assessing the work that needs to be done, discussing with Kenyan and American Youth Venture leadership, and, of course, praying for wisdom and counsel, we feel there is a strong possibility of us staying here for those three extra years. Knowing we may be here longer than originally expected, we hope to move out of our quaint apartment and into a place more accommodating for hosting wageni (visitors, like you!) as well as various team members.

We found a potential future home (see above), but like most houses around here it is a bit of a fixer-upper. We hope to raise at least $3,000 by August to get the house in a suitable living condition before we move in. As co-laborers of the kingdom, we ask that you continue to pray for our time here as well as helping us reach this goal.

Donations and contributions can be made to Foothills Christian Church by clicking here. You can also mail a check to the church office at 350 Cypress Ln., Suite B, El Cajon, CA 92020. Just be sure to earmark the gift with “Chans Kenya Home.” As always, gifts are tax-deductible.

We thank each and every one of you for coming alongside us and for continuing to invest in the future of East Africa. While it may seem like you are merely supporting a small family of three, know that you are part of our mission. The work here could simply not be done without you! We pray that God’s mercy and grace would abound in your lives as you faithfully sow into the harvest of East Africa.

Mungu Awabariki (God bless you),

Jeremy & Rheanna

Student Highlight Vol. 1

Something we really love about Youth Venture in the U.S. are the testimonies of God’s redemption among San Diego’s youth. As such, we’ve asked the various teams to have open eyes, ears, and hearts to the ways God is revealing Himself to the youth in this nation, and we want to make sure that those of you back home know how God is moving among the youth in East Africa.

Thus, meet Najim Kemunto. At 15, she was married off by her parents to a polygamist. Now, at 21, she is in high school with two children. Unfortunately, while giving birth to her second baby via cesarean section, there were complications with the surgery that left her kidney damaged. Now, Najim is working through constant physical pain as well as the separation of her children, who are believed to be with their dad. A local boarding school in Nakuru has taken her in, and when we went to visit the YV club at the school, our local leaders, as well as Rheanna, had the opportunity to minister to her.

She was reserved at first, but after praying for her, a breakthrough occurred. Words can’t fully describe the influx of emotions that overcame Najim, but it was no doubt the power of the Spirit working in her heart and in the hearts of our team.

It was also by His divine intervention that just a week before coming to Nakuru, we met an American couple living in Kijabe, just an hour outside of Nakuru. The wife happens to be a physician at a well-known hospital in Kijabe so upon learning of Najim’s condition, we touched base with that American couple and quickly mobilized our local team to take Najim for a check-up - something she hadn’t received in an unknown specified amount of time. Ibrahim and another team member spent the entire day at the hospital while Najim received much-needed medical care and treatment.

While we’d like to say that Najim is now completely healed, there is still more that needs to take place - that of her physical condition but, more importantly, of her spirit. Fortunately, Youth Venture meets at the boarding school weekly, and there is a house mom who has sown and shown much compassion and love for Najim (this house mom is also expected to be a part of Youth Venture!)

We are so thankful to see God working through our team’s dedication and commitment to the youth, just as we see it in the states. We also know that through all of this Najim has felt the all-consuming, never-ending love of Christ - the first and most important step in any road to recovery and redemption.

Please join us in prayer as we lift up Najim and the untold stories of other kids of Youth Venture East Africa, and through it all, may He receive all the glory, honor, and blessing. Amen.

We're In This Together

When we lived in the States, we met every week at a friend’s house to fellowship with the saints and collectively worship our Lord. We would dine, laugh, cry, and minister to one another as well as discuss the gospel against the backdrop of current events. In other words, we went to a church home group. What made it easy and enjoyable to (almost) make it every week wasn’t the pastor’s constant, friendly rebuke if we did not show up; it was that we were all friends.

Over the past handful of years I, Jeremy, have had this mental question of how the Kingdom applies to everyday relationships. I think there’s some underlying assumption that all believers should be friends or have an unspoken kinship with one another simply because we share in the grace of God and our call to discipleship.

Since moving to Kenya and quickly, almost forcefully, making friendships, I've realized that there’s no time to waste on superficial qualifications; forming a friendship here means seeing beyond physical features, appearances, mutual interests (aside from serving God), language, and even culture. As we are here, seemingly alone, there is more meaning to friendship than what we were used to in the States. Our friendship circle is now opening up, just like our hearts, to really see the character of a person - that as fellow saints we are included in the same heavenly family and, thus, share the strongest bond any two people can have.

So, although we miss the many things that made San Diego home, we are learning and growing into building relationship here and how we can really take that anywhere we go.

A Weary World Rejoices

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With the season of advent upon us, I drafted a blog entry exhorting believers to remember why we celebrate with anticipatory joy this coming month. The familiar topic is usually in abundance during this time of year so would my entry merely add to the noise?

During my procrastination to click “publish,” I came across this article on the Nations Foundation blog. After reading, I quickly re-thought my original subject matter. I was particularly taken aback as the author, Rachel Karman, cited the first verse of “O Holy Night”:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Usually when I sing this song, I be sure to put on my best falsetto, as if trying out for “The Voice.” Rarely do I give ample attention to each lyric. This time, however, something grabbed my attention - one line that, I think, underscores our anticipation for December 25th:

The weary world rejoices.

You see, for a brief moment in human history the world was absolutely perfect. Man was at peace and lived in true harmony with all creation. That is, until sin and darkness entered and took its reign in the world. Rebellion, disobedience, and unfaithfulness resulted in forgetfulness (of God) and ultimately estrangement. Even to this day we are living under a domain of darkness - and so deeply that many aren’t even aware of their withdrawal from the Lord (and adamantly refuse, nay, deny to believe so).

With the current events happening locally in the States and elsewhere worldwide, it’s quite clear that we are in constant opposition to one another, pining in our own sin and error. Mere support for any political party has somehow become synonymous with one’s personal beliefs thus foregoing any empathy and compassion for one another; for Christian evangelicals, it would seem every other people group is receiving support and encouragement from the culture at large but not for themselves; the President’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is reigniting the ongoing contention in the region - a sensitive conflict dating back to the establishment of David’s kingdom; even in Kenya, there is an ongoing battle for the presidency - despite a repeat election - that dates back generations and is further exacerbated by tribalism and culturalism.

A weary world indeed.

However, the ancient world was not to be forever bound by darkness, and nor are we. While living in the States, I often judged how ridiculous consumerism seemingly took over the hearts of believers, myself included, during this season. I was my own Ebenezer Scrooge. I have since realized that we the Church, amidst our shopping, decorating, and peppermint mocha sipping, are not merely replacing our joy with balls of holly. Like the saints before us, rejoice in Christ who came to fulfill the word of the prophets and the promise of our Lord. We rejoice in knowing our hope has come to reclaim His throne. The joy made available thousands of years ago is the same joy we now celebrate; a joy that we share through our obedience to Him and our becoming like Him each day.

So, let us not grow weary as if there is no hope. Instead, let us celebrate in the ways we do. Let us break out the decorations and pull out all the stops. Let us buy our 7-ft noble (not douglas) fir trees at Costco. Let us shop until late hours of the night, looking for the perfect something for a particular someone. Let us build our gingerbread houses while singing along to Mariah Carey’s Merry Christmas album circa 1994.

And let us continually rejoice and praise Him for what has been done and what is to come.

A new and glorious morn.

Home

Disclaimer: A long update as we’ve been without wifi for the past five days!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks since arriving to Kenya. Many days have been spent shopping for home goods, getting acquainted with local businesses, and familiarizing ourselves with our new home-town of Kitale. We’re slowly but surely making this place a comfortable home!

It’s also amazing how we’ve bought nothing but the same produce and vegetables a couple of times and have been able to get creative in how we cook. So far, we’ve (most Rheanna) made stew, pasta, and even crepes - all from scratch!

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Above is a picture of the city market where we’ve done most of our produce shopping when we aren’t buying them in the supermarket. There are a couple of the latter in town, called Tusky’s and Khetia’s. A third, Nakumatt, used to be one of the biggest stores in Kenya but they’ve managed to go bankrupt. I heard they are in negotiations to partner with Tusky’s, but it’s all heresay. Anyway, we refer to these stores as WalMart because one can find essentially everything they need here - groceries, produce, home goods, appliances, etc. We’ve done most of our shopping here and are thankful to have these stores in town.

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The other day, we went back to Mattaw, an orphanage we visited on our trip last year. This is a pretty unique organization as it’s actually a 501(c)3 that operates an orphange, church, and school. We will hopefully visit this place quite often as it’s only a five minute drive from our house, and Shiloh immediately took a liking to the students, calling them “friends” whenever she saw them and inviting them to play on the playground.

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We took a couple of “boda bodas” from our place to the KMTI campus so Samie and Stephanie can have a private shopping experience from a local merchandiser. After shopping in the city market for the past few days, it was nice to have time to ourselves to shop without the bustle of the street vendors pining for business.

We were also planning to take a couple of months to settle in before starting any work with the Youth Venture clubs, but we couldn’t help ourselves! We’ve since visited three schools to conduct Youth Venture programs as well as began planning for two conferences taking place in November.

This is what some of our everyday “job” will look like as we visit different schools in the area and conduct a Youth Venture program or attend as special guests. The format is pretty standard every time - introductions, game, message, and prayer - but the students and faculty are always honored to have “mzungus” as their guests. They especially get a kick out of Shiloh.

As you can see, the past two weeks have proven to be quite tiring as we observe and experience a LOT on a daily basis! To be honest, it’s a bit taxing - mentally and emotionally -  especially when feeling homesick. Now that Samie and Stephanie are back in the States, we can really begin to settle into our lives overseas and will further lean on one another for friendship, encouragement, and support. We realize it’s an exciting yet challenging season for us, so we would appreciate your prayers for patience and unity within our marriage.

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We're Here!

Well, the day finally came; we made it to Kenya! First of all, thank you to everyone for your prayers, support, and encouragement. We had a great fundraising event at the beginning of August where the Lord doubled our fundraising goal expectations, and our home church was able to generate over $20,000 to help us start our new lives overseas. God is good!

After a full 24-hour day of traveling, we landed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 10:30pm on Thursday, October 5th. It took some time to actually leave the airport - particularly because we were traveling with 4 adults, 1 toddler, and 15 pieces of checked luggage - but praise the Lord there were no hiccups with immigration nor did the customs officers open and search through all of our bags. Larry Neese greeted us with a couple of arranged drivers and took us to the Hampton House, which is essentially a hotel and short-term living compound for missionaries. We will be here until Sunday when we depart to our new home-town of Kitale - about 7-8 hours north of Nairobi.

We didn’t get much sleep on the first night due to the time change (PST + 10 hours), but we were able to squeeze in a couple of hours once Shiloh went down. In the morning, Jeremy went with Larry to make his application for his work permit, which will allow us to remain in Kenya for at least two years. It will be a few more days to complete the process, but there should not be any issue to obtain the permit. Later on that day, we went out and successfully purchased a new sofa set for our living room. We had our eye on a few other furniture pieces, like a bed set and coffee table, but we may be able to secure these items for a more affordable price in Kitale. It’s weird and slightly challenging trying to shop for items that will fill a new place when we haven’t actually seen the property, but we’re incredibly excited to make our place a home!


The concept of home has taken on a new meaning nowadays as we transition to living here. We hadn’t realized that dying to oneself and taking up His cross could mean such a hard thing as saying “goodbye” or “see you later” to your closest friends and family only to transplant to and minister in a completely foreign land. However, as we fix our eyes on Jesus and consider how He was similarly commissioned, we are encouraged and faithful that He is continually going before us and making a way, just as He has done since the very beginning of this opportunity. As we continue taking care of business and settling in, our hearts are expectant and hopeful to see Him glorified here.