In many ways, 2013 was the highlight of not only our 6+ years of ministry in Africa, but of our lives. Every year is better than the last, and we can’t imagine what could be in store for 2014 in God’s kingdom work and our small part to play in it.
Come, take a short walk with us through the past year of ministry, movies, maasai, and mobilizing the African church.
January began with a party to celebrate the completion of production (filming) of Andy’s directorial debut movie, The Distant Boat. 47 days of filming across a good swath of Kenya produced 80 hours of footage that would now need to be edited into a 2 hour movie.
Lesa also led a group of 20 high school students on the annual CFS (Cultural Field Studies) trip to Olepishet, our Maasai village where we partner with the local church to do community development.
We can’t remember what happened in February. Our family photo album contains photos of legos and deformed faces so apparently the kids weren’t getting enough homework. Andy helped lead worship at a conference for workers in creative access nations.
During our first 6 months in Kenya (2007) we lived through the harrowing experience of a deadly and violent election, which saw a thousand people killed and a quarter of a million people displaced. Our home at the time was on the border of Kibera slum, and riots, gunshots, tear gas were sometimes literally a block away.
This March was the first presidential elections since 2007, and in preparation for an uncertain time we stockpiled food, fuel, water, cash. We mapped out evacuation plans. School was cancelled for a week. But in the end, Kenya really proved itself in pulling off a close, but peaceful election.
April brought with it Lesa’s best musical to date, The Pirates of Penzance. If you haven’t seen the highlight video yet, click here to watch and be amazed at the talent found at our small, international Christian school! 2013 graduated more students heading into fine arts (music, drama, art) than any other year in our school’s history.
Our family also led our local youth group and parents to Olepishet over spring break. Sydney was a part of leading a Maasai family to faith in Jesus. And it rained so hard every night we abandoned sleeping in tents in favor of sleeping on the floor of the church.
May was wrapped up in graduation ceremonies and parties, especially for our family, as we had a senior who’d been living with us the entire school year. Katie Lang, whose family is very close friends of ours, had chosen to spend her senior year living with us and experiencing international education.
Her family came out for graduation, and then spent about a month with us doing safaris and celebrating the completion of the school year.
In June, Andy’s parents came for a visit, their 3rd time here in Kenya with us. And to top things off, we decided to make an epic drive to see the mission station in West Pokot that his parents’ close friends helped start in the early 80’s. It was an awesome trip, and the furthest into the bush we’ve ever driven (2 days), which wouldn’t be nearly as memorable without several break downs and improvised repairs to be able to return to civilization. We topped off the trip with a visit to Kakamega rain forest.
Up until this point, Andy had been leading the Distant Boat team in editing, test screenings, and reshoots in order to complete the film in time for a October release. July was the transition month, where he took off the “director” hat and put on the “composer” hat, and began the process of writing about 50 minutes of original music for the underscore of the film.
In August the final mix, including Andy’s score, songs by Kenyan artists, and re-recorded dialog was due. Andy worked a couple weeks in the studio of 6:30am-midnight mixing and recording sessions with the engineer to pull together all the pieces needed to make this 120 minute film sound good.
The kids also began school in August, our first time having a child in each school: high, middle,
September, and the Westgate terrorist attack, threw our lives and ministries into a tail spin. Only 5 miles from our house, and many friends, students, acquaintances were affected directly. And all of us were affected indirectly. School cancelled. The premiere of The Distant Boat pushed back a month. New inconveniences every time we go to the store.
But, as my friend and survivor Chris Suel said, “we didn’t come to Kenya because it was safe. We are willing to stay and do God’s will in an unsafe world because He is good and the Gospel must be boldly proclaimed”
Click here to read our post “Westgate, terrorism, and a loving God”
October brought with it the long-awaited release of The Distant Boat, and with it 4 premieres with different audiences, TV interviews, packed out theatres, and a big missions conference where the movie was officially handed over to the Kenyan church. The response has been incredible here… no tool like this has existed before.
November featured Lesa’s fall play, an Appointment With Death, an Agatha Christie drama, and the first show to be done at our school in theatre-in-the-round style. Robbie grew a mustache (not really) for his role as the hotel clerk.
And here we are in December, having just celebrated Kenya’s 50th anniversary of its independence and bouncing around between Christmas parties and concerts and festivities. Taking a breath. And praising God for the past year, and looking forward to another.
We hope that you see an immediate connection between your prayer and support of our family, and some incredible work God is doing throughout the continent of Africa. We are privileged to be placed here, in such a creative and vital role, and how those roles continue to grow in scope and influence as God continues to do something big here for his kingdom and his glory.
We are on the frontlines, no doubt about it. Kenya is on the threshold between what is Christian and what is not. Just yesterday there was another terrorist attack here in our city, the first since Westgate. The success of The Distant Boat has also made us more visible outside of our mission community. We praise God for all things, not just the good. And we feel stronger than ever that we are doing exactly what we were created to be doing.
We do have an immediate and pressing prayer need:
Starting last summer, our financial support has taken a bit of a nose dive. Our average giving since April has been about $1500/month short. That means around $7500 has been taken from our “work funds” (savings) to make sure we could receive a salary each month.
This month, for the first time in our 6 1/2 years on the mission field, we’ve run out of work funds and had to take a short salary. About $600 short.
We honestly are praising God for his grace. For the past 78 months of his faithfulness, and for the faithfulness that continues because his character is eternal and perfect. Praising him for his grace to help us not rest on our successes, but knowing that every dollar is a gift from someone else, and ultimately from him. Just like our relationship with God, there’s nothing we can do to earn or deserve this financial support. It’s only because people like you are sacrificing financially because they want to be involved in God’s work here through us.
Which is why we’re not worried. Ok, at least trying not to worry. But we did want to make the needs known so you could be praying for us.
Thankful and filled to overflowing,
Andy, Lesa, Robbie, Avery and Sydney Brown