Miracle at the Bible Marathon

Posted by Garry Friesen December 13th, 2014

Family & Friends,

We just had our third Bible marathon and enjoyed all of 2 Corinthians and Galatians.  A new “miracle” named Shaban joined the marathon.  I noticed our newest reader.  He read and prayed in Kinyarwanda.  Everyone reads their verses in the language they are most comfortable.  At a break one of the student leaders introduced him to me.  “He is a miracle” Emmanuel told me.  He used to be a thief, on drugs and physically harming many people.  He had nothing to offer God, but open hands that said, “I need grace and plenty of it.”  It was a marvel to watch him as we read Galatians and its theme that salvation is only by grace through faith.  He was a poster child for the power of the gospel in Galatians.  He is renewing his mind for a new life.  He spent four hours with us reading Scripture, but recently he memorized John 1-4.  That is chapters 1-4 not verses 1-4!  He joins a 5:00am prayer group daily.  We have breaks from reading Scripture to read just one verse and pray a prayer of response.  He prayed in Kinyarwanda and I did not understand it, but I can make a pretty good guess at what he said,  “Thank you, thank you for grace and thank you.”  We remembered 2 Corinthians 5:17 as we looked at him, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

“Unlimited Internet”

Posted by Garry Friesen December 7th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Rwanda has internet!  This means you can pay for internet anytime you want.  Sometimes you can use it.  Rwanda’s appetite for internet is growing, but our capability is shrinking in the on-line traffic jam.  I needed a manual to figure out how you “pay” for internet, but there is no manual.  You pay for one day at a time or choose from 12 other confusing plans.  You get onto the internet by paying and then praying.  So far, my prayer life is no match for the internet. You have to buy a card to load in a day of internet.  One day is “unlimited” which means limited.  It used to be unlimited, but the company said people abused their service by using it like it was unlimited.  So they changed their service to limited, but found that it helped sales to keep calling it “unlimited”.  I’m spoiled.  I’m forgetting the days when my Kaypro computer had a four inch screen and took a minute to execute a command.  When I needed to buy a part, Kaypro went belly up.  I’ll get this update out as soon as I pay 800 francs for unlimited service and my prayer life gets up to snuff.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Aslan is on the Move

Posted by Garry Friesen November 30th, 2014

Family & Friends

My Narnia Sundays are a joy.  Our 15 kids form a semi-circle and get settled.  I summarize the earlier chapters with a pause here and there to let them fill in the blanks.  Last Sunday, we read 2 chapters with a break between episodes to discuss “symbols” in literature.  I gave examples of symbols including the ACT emblem on my shirt which is a Bible with a flame.  They suggested the Bible meant Bible college and the flame was the Holy Spirit.  Not bad.  I give them symbols from our Narnia book:  fur coats and a robin.  I asked what these symbols might mean.  Aaron said the fur coats showed that the children were going to be kings and queens.  Why?  He remembered that Lewis said the fur coats were so long on the children that they looked like “royal robes”.  Sarah had lived in snowy Indiana for while and said that the robin was a symbol that spring was coming and the witch’s winter was ending.  I was going to give them a literary explanation, but the kids beat me to it.  I memorized the ancient Narnian “rhyme” and quoted it to the group several times.

Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight.      At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more.      When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death.     And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.  (British “a-gain” to rhyme with “mane”).

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Literary Death Grip

Posted by Garry Friesen November 23rd, 2014

Family & Friends,

The Oregonian quoted me wryly saying that the “Kigali Kollection” project loosened up my strangle hold on all my books.  It was true.  Now I am a man who owns about a dozen books. That literary death grip, once loosed, freed up my C.S. Lewis collection to the Multnomah-ACT Library in Kigali, Rwanda.  It was given with the hope that Africa would learn about my favorite author and get as much joy and wisdom as I did.

Step One in the CS Lewis conversion of Africa has taken place!  Every Sunday 15 children gather in an ACT classroom to hear an old guy read about Narnia.  The youngest is three and only entertained by my antics.  The rest are 5-12 years and listening to my best attempt at dramatizing “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”  Step Two involves my three interns.  They will read the same book and discuss it in our Wednesday meetings.  The CSL Collection is in a container trekking the high seas for Kigali at this very moment.  When it arrives the soil will be tilled and the CSL seeds scattered as fast as a farmer’s son can toss them to the rich African soil.

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

Mark Twain, “A classic is …”

Posted by Garry Friesen November 16th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Mark Twain said, “A classic is a book that everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read”.  All my life I have heard about the classic novel, “Cry, the Beloved Country”.  I finally read it and the only problem reading it was when tears clouded my vision.  It is not only a classic, but it is readable and even poetic in its lyrical descriptions.  It is about South Africa, and race, and fears and hope.  It was written in 1946 when the story happens.  It is about how power corrupts and how only love and not power can change men’s hearts.

It is considered “The greatest novel to emerge out of the tragedy of South Africa, and one of the best novels of our time” (The New Republic).  I had trouble going to bed on time.  My book-loving self kept saying, “Please, just one more chapter” to my “always in bed by 9pm” self.  At the book’s end the Zulu pastor is praying on a mountain as the sun comes up.  The author’s final words are, “But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.”  Next, time my favorite quotes from the book.

Rwandan Rookie, G

garryfriesen3335@gmail.com

The vote passes 1-0

Posted by Garry Friesen November 10th, 2014

Family & Friends,

My students tell me that they have never had a teacher like me before.  That could be good or it could be bad.  So far, it is mostly good.  I’ve written a detailed “Walk thru the Old Testament” and created several “Draw Thru’s.  The draw thru concept has worked even better than the walk thru for many students.  The drawing is a time line with symbols to follow the history of, say, the Old Testament. The draw through of my End Times class featured Daniel 2 & 7, Daniel 9, and the events in Jesus’s Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24).  I want students to see the forest and not get lost in the trees.  After they get the forest, I push them to learn as many of the trees as can fit in a human brain.  Years ago I tried to introduce the “walk thru” at Multnomah for a Bible overview class, but the Bible department did not agree.  At ACT, I am the Bible department and so the vote was 1-0 in favor!  I thought that Africa told stories to each other all the time.  But, one of the African leaders just told me that I was only one he ever knew who gave narrative sermons by telling the biblical story to adults.  Why have we reserved the stories for children only?  I’m hoping that I will continue to hear, “I’ve never had a teacher like you.”

Rwandan Rookie, G

GarryFriesen3335@gmail.com

I Married You

Posted by Garry Friesen November 1st, 2014

Family & Friends,

During seminary days, Walter Trobisch captured my heart when I discovered I Loved a Girl and I Married You.  They are set in Africa where Trobisch was a marriage counselor and missionary. I found them here in Africa still in print.  I just reread I Married You and asked my new intern, Andrew, to do the same.  His wife picked it up and devoured it.  Andrew has read it aloud with her and discussed the issues raised by this fascinating story.  Trobisch lands in Africa and gives lectures on marriage.  Couples come to him for help with their African marriage problems.  We watch him apply universal biblical marriage principles to a trapped woman living with a sugar daddy, a pastoral couple with a demanding ministry coming between them and an engaged couple who are afraid that their differences will make their potential marriage a failure.  Trobisch’s wife comes for the last two days.  Just before the final day of ministry they have a fight.  They call in one of the Africans that they have been counseling to come and referee.  I hope Andrew and his wife enjoy it as much as I have.  Nothing like picking up a great book after 40 years and enjoying it again!

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

“C.S. Chinua Day”

Posted by Garry Friesen October 25th, 2014

Family & Friends,

Mark today, Friday October 25, on your calendars.  Call it “C.S. Chinua Day”.  It may become a national holiday in Rwanda, but first someone needs to know that it exists.  On this day I was asked to lead a C.S. Lewis Narnia Chronicles reading group.  We will start with 10 children age 5-10 and I will read the Narnia stories to their virgin ears.  Since coming to Africa, I have found my African C.S. Lewis.  He is the most celebrated African novelist and essayist, Chinua Achebe.  Today I found the link—The C.S./Chinua link.  On the same day, I read Achebe’s essay given at Cambridge, “The Education of a British-Protected Child”.  I learned that the link was the famous James Welch.  Who is he?  What! Next you will be asking what is “C.S. Chinua Day”?   Welch was a missionary and professor of religious studies in Nigeria, head of religious broadcasting at the BBC, chaplain to the king, and principal of a theological college.  AND he was Achebe’s college teacher in Ibadan, Nigeria.  AND He was the one who talked C.S. Lewis Lewis into giving theological radio talks during WW2 to England.  Soon his voice was best-known in England next to Churchill.  The talks later became the book, Mere Christianity.  The “Link” is James Welch!  Why are you sitting there reading the Friesen Fortnightly?  Get up and mark Oct. 25 on your calendar as “C.S. Chinua Day”.

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

ACT praying thru Acts

Posted by Garry Friesen October 18th, 2014

Family & Friends,

We just finished our first Bible Marathon with Africa College of Theology (ACT) students.  Our internship team of 3 students planned it.  My schedule for the four hour marathon did not account for the slower reading pace in English.  But, the feature of reading “Scripture in community” was just what the African doctor ordered.  Rwanda is not a reading culture, but our 20 students were a constant encouragement to each other to keep reading.  We read 22 chapters from the book of Acts. We stopped periodically to respond in prayer.  A person reads a verse that was significant to them and then prays in response. The roof lifted during the prayer times.  Africans love to pray.  Add Scripture to African prayer and the mix is explosive.  As one prayed the rest urged them on. It was encouraging to hear Hassan pray with passion about Ananias and Sapphira lying about money to the apostles (Acts 5:1-11).  There is a huge lack of financial accountability in Africa. God heard Hassan’s prayer that they would practice honesty with money in the church.  What could be more fitting than students of ACT reading ACTS and praying up a storm?

Rwandan Rookie, G

“Everything is good in my world”

Posted by Garry Friesen October 11th, 2014

Family & Friends

I tell friends about my experience in Africa.  One common thread is saying, “No matter how things go wrong in my third world country, when I join 20 students singing together, everything is good in my world!”  Recently, the rutted dirt roads and the cobblestone streets finally got the victory over my tires.  My first flat occurred near my house on Saturday evening.  On Sunday morning I was preaching, but first had to replace the dead tire.  It had been 30 years since I had the privilege.  My roommate was experienced.  He guided the process and I was on time for the church service.  Several days later, I drove down a busy highway and blew another tire.  I limped to a nearby parking lot (“parking lot” is a euphemism for an uneven dirt field).  Two Africans appeared quickly to inform me of my mishap.  Then they happily joined me in changing the tire like Tom Sawyer’s friends.  The same week I needed cash, and went 0 for 4 on finding a bank money machine that worked.  But, that night our class joined another for the opening songs. The singing started and saturated the room.  The dancing started and rocked the room.  Soon the whole class was in a dance line circling the classroom in joyful song and worship.  I paused between songs, and said to no one in particular, “Everything is good in my world.”

Rwandan Rookie, G

Gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org