We hope you all have been well, we're fine here in Kenya. We arrived safely in Eldoret back in December, it took us nine and a half hours to get here from Lodwar. Ericka was pretty uncomfortable for a few days afterward, but she's feeling fine now. When we checked in with her doctor here in Eldoret, she asked Ericka why she had come in because she and the baby seemed perfectly fine. So, we are paitently awaiting little Clark # 3, the due date is mid Feb.
We have just had an encouraging end to the year. In November we had 5 students graduate from the Bible Institute, one man and 4 ladies. In the weeks following the graduation many churches held seminars for the youth, ladies, or a revival. All of the graduates were involved in teaching lessons at these meetings and Bob taught and showed the Jesus Film. At the last meeting that we were supposed to attend, all of us came down sick so we couldn't travel. But we heard the most encouraging report that 6 pastors and 3 graduates went to the meeting on bicycle or public transport and that everything went really well. It is awesome to see God maturing His people here to take on more responsibility and that they will go ahead without us, help one another and spread the Word of God.
Recently it came to our attention that all missionaries would have to start paying income taxes on the money they bring into Kenya. We received some pretty frightening e-mails from other missionaries about demands for back taxes, fines and penalties. After I had heard enough rumors and speculation I decided to visit the Kenya Revenue Authority myself here in Eldoret. The officers were very helpful in explaining what I was and wasn't to pay taxes on. It seems we are to pay taxes on all cash and benefits that we receive personally here in Kenya, any money or benefits we pass on to churches or funds we use to promote the work of God is not to be taxed. Once I had the facts I felt a lot better about our tax situation here in Kenya, they did tell me I would need to pay taxes for 2004, but the amount they figured I needed to pay isn't too teribly much. Please don't think that I will enjoy paying this new Income Tax, the government here is still as corrupt as ever and I'm sure most of the taxes I pay will eventually end up in off-shore, numbered bank accounts. On the other hand, we feel confident that we will be staying here in Kenya for the remainder of our term and we are still waiting to hear if a final appeal for exemption will be accepted or not before we start paying.
While we were wondering about the tax situation and planning for the worst, I had started to consider moving to Uganda or Tanzania, somewhere that we could start a new work while still checking on the work in Turkana. The option of moving our family to Sudan is still too risky. In what little research I did I found many places in Tanzania with no missionary presence. I'm sure there are just as many places in Uganda where the Lord could use us. Please pray for us that if the Lord is wanting us to consider moving to a new area we would be sensitive and follow his leading.
Report from Sudan. Pastor Gitao came to visit us here in Eldoret on his way from Sudan to spend Christmas with his family in Nakuru, Kenya. He reports that the work of the Lord is going very well, many are accepting Christ as their Savior, he is discipling new Christians in three different villages and has plans to preach in many more villages once he has finished discipling and training leaders. Pastor Gitao has been a great encouragement to us as well as other Kenyan churches and pastors. He is the first one in our movement to go to a completely new area trusting God to provide for his needs and protect his life. We pray that others will follow Gods leading and become missionaries like Pastor Gitao has. Security is still very bad even though peace has been made between Khartum and the SPLA. His area of Sudan is still very much like the "Wild West," the only law is a gun and whoever has more or bigger guns is the law. Please pray for Pastor Gitao's safety.
Thank you all for your prayers and support, we will continue to await the arrival of our new little one and also prepare for returning to Turkana.
In Christ, Bob Clark
Family and Friends,
The newest Clark has joined us. Riley Isaac Henry Clark was born February 22nd, 10:22pm. He is 8 pounds and 19.3 inches. The labor was 2 hours and 3 pushes.
Mom is doing well. We were discharged from the hospital this morning. Mom is planning on taking it easy and enjoying the new little one.
Bob, Ericka, Vance, Edward, and Riley
We are so glad to report the progress that the Lord has brought about in the ministry here in Turkana District of Kenya. I would like to begin by giving credit to the missionaries who came to Western and Northwestern Kenya years ago and started the foundation of our work. We have simply continued to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the Chief Cornerstone who many Kenyans have accepted.
This last week all of the Pastors we work with from Turkana and South Sudan went to a pastors conference in Eldoret sponsored by a fellow missionary, there were over 150 national pastors in attendance. At the end of the conference it was suggested that the pastors try and assist Pastor Julius Gitao our missionary/pastor to South Sudan. Upon the motion of assisting Pastor Gitao many began confessing that they had taught and preached to their congregations about missions, but none had ever done anything about it. At that time all of the Pastors, all nationals, took a collection to assist Pastor Gitao with his travel expenses to and from Sudan! They also committed to present before their churches the possibility of supporting Pastor Gitao in his mission work in Sudan! At that meeting there were no "white missionaries" present, all of the motions, giving and commitments were made by Kenyan national pastors! I believe this indicates that we are nearing our goal and the goal of missionaries before us to have Churches led and pastored by nationals, those churches starting new churches and finally sending nationals to foreign fields and supporting them. The commitments made at this last pastors conference are making this happen. We are so thankful to be a small part of what God is doing here.
In Turkana District we have two churches that are ready to begin building permanent buildings. Please pray for Paulo Loreng, he has been an evangelist to the village of Neremit for the past 3 years and has completed Bible Institute training. His home church would like to commission him to pastor and formally start a church with the Christians at Neremit. Pray for the continued spiritual growth of our pastors and leaders, the past three seminars our pastors have attended have greatly encouraged them.
We would also like to report the latest addition to our family, another boy. Riley Isaac Henry Clark was born on February 22, at 10:22 PM. He weighed 8 pounds and was 19.3 inches. Ericka started into labor about 8:30 in the evening and we had just enough time to get the kids settled with fellow missionaries, get to the hospital and have the doctor arrive about 10 minutes before the birth. They were released from the hospital the following morning and both continue to do well. Having children is much cheaper here in Kenya, the final cost of delivery including hospital, doctor and medication was only $135 US, which we were glad to pay. God is so good!
God bless you for your prayers and support.
In Christ, Bob, Ericka, Vance, Edward and Riley Clark
Fellowship Baptist Church
17818 Lawrence 2200
Aurora, MO 65605
Things are going well here in Turkana, the Lord has blessed with rain and we are so thankful. The temperature has dropped into the 80s and 90s which is a welcome change.
Rain brings interesting developments among our churches. Two weeks ago it rained near one of our churches closer to Uganda so many Turkana migrated that direction. The result was a large drop in attendance in two of our churches where it hadn't rained and a large increase in the church in the area where it rained. It is a challenge working with nomadic peoples, but it seems the best strategy is to try and plant as many churches as we can in the different trading centers around Turkana District, then as folks migrate to different regions they will be able to attend the church in their area.
Recent work has involved much preparation for a group of college students who will be coming in June. I have set up the wall posts for two different church buildings in hopes that we will be able to put the roofs on when our group arrives. We have also dug a well, poured a foundation and prepared cement blocks at the Bible Institute in preparation for work we plan to do there. By the end of this week we hope to have completed a second foundation and made enough cement blocks to build a kitchen and caretakers house at the Bible Institute.
I was greatly blessed these past two weeks to spend some time with some of the Pastors in their churches. In Namoroputh we put up the wall poles on a Saturday and then I preached on Sunday and afterward baptized 23! The following week I went to Neremit and again we set the wall poles on a Saturday and on Sunday I preached. At Neremit I was able to fellowship with three pastors and our missionary to Sudan. It was a great blessing to hear of their vision to reach many new villages in Turkana and Sudan with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe if the Lord moved us on tomorrow we could leave knowing that the national pastors have a vision of reaching their own whether they have my help or not.
Ericka is working hard preparing for the group that will be coming and on top of that trying to keep up with three little boys. Our boys are certainly boys, Vance tries to run down the dogs and cats with his little push car, Edward eats anything that doesn't eat him first and Riley has a strong set of lungs and can inform the whole neighborhood when he is not happy. So, pray for Ericka, she makes our house a very nice home even with the chaos of those three little ones and my traveling.
The longer I'm here the more I realize how much I don't know about Turkana and the more I realize that the nationals are so much more effective at reaching their own for the Lord Jesus. Pray that we would be good partners with the national pastors and that all of us would be grounded in God's Word, abiding in Him, that He may bring forth much fruit in our lives.
I'm sure most of you have heard that Dr. John Garang has died in a helicopter accident in southern Sudan. We would ask you to pray that the peace he helped to arrange with the Muslim government of the north of Sudan would hold. Our Missionary Gitau has seen many opportunities unfold in Sudan since the peace has been signed. We already have heard that the US Government has sent special envoys to encourage both sides to continue with the peace. Prayer is powerful and can keep the peace in place to allow us time to spread the Gospel to many who have never heard. Also, your voice is powerful. I believe that as Americans we do not fully appreciate how much influence our government has around the world. If you have the opportunity or would take the time to contact your Senator and communicate that you support our country's efforts to keep the peace in place, I know the people of southern Sudan and Missionary Gitau would be very grateful for our concern as US Citizens.
We are doing well here in Lodwar. Edward came down with Malaria this week, he is either building a good resistance or we caught it early enough because he is recovering very well.
A funny side note about Vance, he is now getting big enough to go out and play with other children around. The names of some of the kids he plays with are Mohammed and Osama, they truly the are nice children. I was surprised yesterday by the way they were talking with other kids and using forceful language. I know that now in the US you could just expect even the smallest children to use hard language that they have picked up from TV, but here it is a bit different. One child was getting mad at another and said, "As sure as there is One God, my daddy will come get you!" So, some days we are glad that our kids aren't exposed to things in the US and have playmates named Mohammed and Osama.
God bless you all and keep praying,
Dear Friends and Supporters,
We made it to Sudan and back safely, what a trip! I believe that God has truly had mercy on that country to allow peace which in turn has allowed missionaries to come and more help to arrive. God worked in us here in Turkana to lead myself and 6 Kenyan pastors to go and visit the work of our national missionary, Julius Gitau.
We drove from Lokichokio, the last village in Turkana where we have a church, to Chukudum. It was a trip of 130 miles, but on the GPS only 60 Nmi from Loki, it was like driving in a giant loop to get around mountains and gain access to the only passable road into the mountains. From Chukudum, we left the truck and hiked 15 miles up to an elevation of 6700 feet, yes it was a tough walk. Missionary Gitau was the first missionary into the area 3 years ago and our presence there was quite a novelty to the locals.
While there we felt completely safe among the local people, yes there were men carrying their machine guns, but the whole time I was there I never heard one shot or ever felt threatened by anyone. Most of the elders and government officials we met were glad we were there and told us they wanted us to be there to help change the hearts and minds of the people who have been so accustomed to war and hard living. The village where we did the most ministry was called Kauda, but we also ministered in Nagishot and Chukudum.
Our ministry was going hut to hut, slowly explaining the Gospel of Jesus Christ and inviting people to believe on Him. We invited people to come see the Jesus film in the evening to help them better understand why Jesus came to die for our sins. The response was wonderful. After the second day of going hut to hut and showing the Jesus Film we had about 100 people come forward to accept Jesus as their Savior! Please pray for the new believers there that they would grow in the Lord and allow Him to change their lives. While there we were so blessed to baptize three young men who accepted the Lord Jesus!
The local Christians carried all of the equipment to show the Jesus film. I was amazed! They just divided everything amongst themselves, generator, VCR, video projector, PA system, speakers, ect. put it on their heads and up the mountains they went. A couple of times they carried my back pack when they could tell I was nearly whipped. One evening while we were showing the film one of the men gave me his coat to keep warm. What servants of the Lord!
The land around Nagishot is very fertile, people have no trouble getting grain or growing tobacco. The greatest problem in the community is drunkenness, so pray that the Christians would live new lives and use the resources God has given them for His glory.
Please pray for us as we seek to spread the Gospel in that area. Missionary Gitau is our lead missionary in Sudan, but has asked I help them start a Bible Institute in Chukudum and build a church building/school house in Kauda.
Safety. I believe that security in the area of Chukudum in South Sudan is much better than even most areas of Kenya. The local SPLA commanders always wanted to know where we were going so they ensure our security, the local people told us that no one would cause trouble because everyone wanted missionaries and development. We slept in the huts of local people with our shoes outside, no shoes ever went missing. I left a pair of socks in one hut and when we came back to that place they gave me back my socks.
I have already planned a trip to go back to Sudan in March or April. We will take in the supplies to start the Bible Institute and whatever material I can get together to help build up at Kauda. Please pray for that country, our safety, the new Christians and that everyone will be able to hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support,
In Christ, Bob Clark
P.S. If you meet any Senator or Representative thank them for our country's efforts to bring peace to Sudan.