Oswald Chambers writes,” Clouds are the sorrows, sufferings, or providential circumstances, within or without our personal lives, which actually seem to contradict the sovereignty of God. Yet it is through these very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. …. It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purposes in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child-…”
After reading this passage recently, God brought to mind one of the Caleb Pastors in Kenya, a dear friend to many of us here at Harbour, Pastor Mugo.
Pastor Mugo and his family had faithfully started, grown and led a large Full Gospel Church in their former hometown. The townspeople and so then, his congregation were predominantly of the Luo tribe… who during the weeks and months leading up to the December 2007 national elections, were being prompted by tribal and political leaders to rise up against their Kikuyu neighbors, who are the largest and seen as the “dominant” tribe throughout Kenya. During the violent post election tribal clashes, Pastor Mugo, his wife Faith, both Kikuyus and their 3 daughters, Sheila, Charity and June, were literally run our of their hometown of Muhoroni, Kenya and fled east to Nyahururu..
In one devastating night, a large group of Luo’s, many from his own church congregation, burned down the church, broke in, looted and destroyed Faith’s small shop in town, burned a field of crop that Pastor was growing to help supplement his meager income as Pastor, and surrounded his home, forcing the family out with only two suitcases of belongings. They fled in their car eastward to safety in the middle of the night. Praising God that they escaped alive, and together, and completely dependant on God for their future… the next day… the next season… with their whole lives.
I will never forget meeting Pastor Mugo. A tall man, with an intense spirit, kind, a hearty laugh to go along with his great sense of humor, and a passion for Christ and a heart for people that is rare in men I’ve met on both sides of the Atlantic. And to worship with Pastor and to hear him preach… wow! To some, he may seem intense and fiery… but when one knows the man who passionately preaches the Word of God as he does, one knows it is the Holy Spirit alive and reaching out to touch lives through his words and life.
There is not a cloud that could be much darker than to experience those here on earth that you would call friends and family… your church family, betray you and seek to destroy you in the way Mugo’s community did. They certainly were clouded by selfish tribal and greedy political aspirations that, to a sounder mind, never would make any sense. But even to so many who call themselves “Christian” who live in the self proclaimed “Christian nation,” of Kenya, tribal roots often times run deeper than faith and obedience to Christ.
Pastor Mugo traveled back to Muhoroni in 2009, a little over a year since that horrendous night, and participated in a reconciliation service that he was invited to by his former congregation. The Spirit of God was working in their hearts as well as Mugo’s and during this season, he came to a place of being able to forgive these brothers and sisters who betrayed him.
I had the privilege to accompany Pastor on a trip back there yet again in the summer of 2010 and I could see as he showed me all of the places that meant so much to he and his family at one time, the hurt and sense of loss he still felt. As we walked over the rectangular cement pad that was the foundation of the former church, which was all that was left, he pulled out a couple of photographs to show me what the church had once been. As we stood there, one by one, people arrived, hugged Pastor Mugo and welcomed him back. As most Kenyans are, they were also so welcoming to me, this “muzungu” woman, and by the end of our short visit, I made a few new friends.
The purpose of this visit was to look at, survey and pray over the site of the church re-build across town. Pastor Mugo along with Pastor Wachira from the African Inland Church denomination, were raising funds, supplies and help to come alongside this wayward Full Gospel congregation to erect a new church building so they could start over. Over the hour or so we spent at the site, the crowd grew, as word got out around town that Pastor Mugo was back for a visit. I was astounded as, by the time the men had had a chance to look around and take measurements and we formed a large circle to pray for the church, we were a group of at least 50. We were all coming together, before God to ask for His grace and leading in the life of this church, it’s congregation, and all who were coming alongside to love and support it.
As we drove away that day, to make our way home, I asked Pastor Mugo if these people that had come were his Kikuyu friends and former church members or some of the very people that had hurt he and his family so much… and to my surprise, he said yes, it was those very same people. Why was I surprised? Because I had just stood there, talking to and praying with, these gentle, welcoming, even I’d say, loving people and I just couldn’t imagine a scene where these same people could turn and act out so violently against one another. What became more apparent to me that day, was the depths of darkness we are all capable of sinking to when we let our “selves” get in the way of God’s plans and purposes for our lives and the lives of people around us. What God also showed me that day was the heights to which Christ can allow us to rise to when we “unlearn” our selfish ways in the clouds that He allows to surround us at times, and when we learn to lean in and depend on Him alone for our lives… even when it seems impossible to go on, let alone forgive and love and give sacrificially.
The hurt is still there for Pastor Mugo and his family. It was evident that the day we went back to that place, was a difficult day for he and his wife. However, he followed God’s call that day, he reached out, yet again to people who didn’t deserve His love, leadership and support. But like a child, who deeply longs to forgive and love and trust again, he did. The church is now rebuilding, the congregation is together again, without Pastor Mugo, though, we trust that His example of Christ’s love and sacrificial care will live always in the hearts of so many in that church and many who know this story.
It is Christ’s love and not ours alone which triumphs through all that are obedient. As Pastor Mugo would say, “To God alone be the glory!”
And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 & 4
“Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.” Proverbs 20:11
In Christ and in His service,
Sheryl Thornton Walker