What a distinct privilege it was to spend time with Denny Petrillo, president of BVBID recently at the Kenya School of Preaching in Kisumu, Kenya. Denny taught a short course, Ezekiel and Daniel, for the undergraduates and I taught Old Testament Theology to the Master’s students February 24-28, 2014.
Bad weather delayed my trip one day so Denny had to travel alone (sorry Denny). However, I got back on schedule Monday morning (Feb. 24) and only missed teaching one hour of my class.
Thursday (Feb. 27) the Charlotte Avenue group joined us in Kisumu before their return flight home on Friday. Charlotte Avenue, (of Rock Hill, S.C.) is the overseeing congregation of KSOP. Their group, consisting of Mike and Teresa Rowand, Dow Hix, David and Debra Thompson and Aaron Gallagher, had conducted an evangelistic campaign with KSOP students and local evangelists in Ndwara (a church planted late last year outside of Bondo, Kenya). Denny and I were able to worship with the good brethren in Ndwara on Sunday, March 2, where 32 were present. God blessed the efforts in Ndwara and Butere with 32 baptisms. Praise God! KSOP is so blessed to have Charlotte Avenue as the overseeing congregation. One of the greatest blessings is that Charlotte Avenue is “hands on” in their mission work. Mike Rowand and Dow Hix are elders at Charlotte Avenue and David Thompson is a deacon. Thank you to the men and women from Charlotte Avenue for your tremendous zeal and dedication in the kingdom.
On Friday, Feb. 28, a rare event took place in that the president of BVBID, Denny Petrillo, Director of KSOP, Charles Ogutu, an elder of the over seeing congregation of KSOP, Mike Rowand and the Coordinator of KSOP, Michael Reese, were all able to meet in Kisumu, Kenya for dinner. I know other BVBID extension schools have tremendous support. I am sure, however, that to have this combination of men involved with a Bear Valley School together at the same time in the same city of the extension school is rare.
On Saturday, March 1, Denny Petrillo, Mike Rowand and I (Michael Reese) accompanied by David Wasonga (evangelist at Ahono Church of Christ) and Joseph Patrick Tuju and Caleb Omolo (elders at Ahono) were able to visit the Nyamasare congregation (in Ugunja, Kenya) and help with the planning of a church building for this new congregation. It was great to see the long-term impact of graduates of Bear Valley Schools in East Africa. David Wasonga is a graduate of Andrew Connally School of Preaching in Arusha Tanzania (with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree). He also is an adjunct teacher at KSOP. Yet David is a true evangelist working diligently to help congregations like Nyamasare grow.
On Sunday March 2, Mike Rowand departed for Nairobi and eventually back to his home in South Carolina. On Monday, March 3, Denny Petrillo departed for Denver, CO. All alone, I began my second short course, “The Education Program of the Church,” with 18 undergraduate and graduate students. Many congregations in East Africa do not have children’s classes or teachers trained to teach. In this class the students learned how to establish and administer a Bible School program in the local congregations of East Africa. The class included teacher training as well as learning how to develop and teach age-appropriate lessons. I personally enjoyed teaching this class as much as any I have ever taught. Thank you men for a great class.
On Friday afternoon, March 7, I began the long trip home, arriving back in West Virginia around 9:00 p.m. Saturday evening, March 8. I have learned that each trip is unique in its challenges, blessings and rewards. This trip was no exception. I would like to thank God for allowing me to be a part of this great work, the men and women of Charlotte Ave., Charles Ogutu our director at KSOP, (and Elias Omallo, academic dean) the elders of the Bear Valley Church of Christ for their worldwide vision to spread the Gospel and the very capable president of BVBID, Dr. Denny Petrillo.
May God continue to bless this work richly.