Learning the Gospel From Joe and Elfi

Joe and Elfi Muutuki visited Columbia early this week. Joe is a native Kenyan who pastors New City Fellowship in Nairobi. He speaks several languages, has a two masters (one from Germany and one from Covenant in St. Louis), and is writing his dissertation to finish his PhD. The Crossing and KCLP have partnered with Joe and others to work in Kenya helping orphans, educating children, planting churches, and training local pastors. There is much happening as a result of our partnerships but instead of focusing on that, I’d like to share some ways that they showed me the gospel.

1. New City Fellowship is unique among Kenyan churches in that it focuses much of it’s attention on the 200,000 Asians (mostly Indians) who live in Nairobi. This Asian subculture is mostly isolated from African culture and there are lots of suspicions that each group shares about the other. Because New City is committed to share the love of Christ with cultural “outsiders”, the grace of the gospel is magnified. Africans befriending and worshiping with Asians in the name of Christ is a demonstration of the power of the gospel to triumph over cultural divisions. It shouts, “Christ is supreme not racial and cultural heritage!”

In heaven when we worship Christ with believers from every “tongue, tribe, and nation”, we will see the glory of Christ shine. Every Sunday at New City, one can get a peek into what heaven’s worship will be like.

2. One of the ministries that New City emphasizes is called “Overcomers By Grace” and it’s mission is to show the love of Christ to the handicapped by spending time with them, teaching them basic life skills (e.g. brushing their teeth), and sharing the gospel with them. Joe and Elfi shared that because of the Indian caste system and the Hindu teaching of karma, most Asian handicapped people are left to suffer alone. The thought is that their disability is due to the bad karma from past lives and the only way to get rid of it is to go through the suffering brought on by the disability. Therefore alleviating their suffering is actually in the long-term hurting them.

By investing in real relationships with disabled people, the church declares that the disabled are made in the image of God and loved by God. Their condition is not a result of their own personal sin but one of the sad effects of living in a sin cursed world. Jesus’ death and resurrection provides a way of salvation to all who believe. That’s good news not just to the disabled but to the physically healthy too. The truth is that we are all morally and spiritually disabled and therefore we all need the healing that only Jesus, the great Physician, can bring.

3. One more glimpse of the gospel from New City. Joe’s assistant pastor is a former Muslim named Shafkat. (I’m not sure of the correct spelling.) Shafkat was a leader in a Mosque where he called the daily prayers. All that changed when he was in an accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheel chair. Because of his disability, Shafkat was not allowed to enter the Mosque much less continue in leadership.

Not long afterwards he heard about Jesus and how through Jesus’ death a person could be made right with God. The gospel of grace stood in stark contrast to the gospel of “measuring up” that Shafkat had grown up with in Islam. He soon put his faith in Christ who welcomes every humble, repentant sinner. Now Shafkat, a former Muslim and a disabled man, partners with Joe in leading a church that reaches out to Africans, Asians and the disabled. Jesus is seen, magnified, and cherished.

May God’s favor rest on New City Fellowship in Nairobi.

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