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Why, of all places, Nderu town? A small village about 35 miles (55 kilometers) west of Nairobi, is where this ministry started. 

The short answer to the question is, we didn't choose Nderu. It chose us. Or rather, our Lord chose it for us.

The long answer means telling a story. That's this article.

I learned a long while back that it's the Holy Spirit that grants us our gifts, but it's Jesus Christ who chooses the where and when. When you're driven by the spirit to do ministry, this can be a patience-trying principle. Gifted, driven, but not fully prepared, a follower of Christ can be found "cooling his jets." There is definite Biblical precedent for this.

In the book of Acts, we read of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (whose name was changed to Paul, whom we know best as the Apostle Paul). He did not become an instant success, though. When Saul went to Jerusalem to "join" the apostles there, he moved freely around the city and preached. Basically, though, he just stirred up a lot of trouble, to the point that some leaders threatened to kill him. Acts tells us that "When the brothers learned of this, they took [Saul] down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus. Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord." (Acts 9: 30-31)

Saul was sent home, where he "cooled his jets" for several years. He was called, gifted, and driven. But he wasn't ready until the church sent Barnabas to pick him up and get him started on his real ministry. Saul thought he was called to convert Israel. But Christ had him in mind to convert the other nations of the Roman Empire.

In 1991, I thought I had found my true calling. I had been called to ministry long before, then felt a powerful call to evangelism. (I had my own "Damascus Road" experience, involving a motorcycle instead of a horse. But that's another story.) The Church ordained me an "Evangelist" instead of a "Minister." I was invited by a native pastor from Tanzania to go to east Africa for an evangelism tour. For six weeks I was treated to crusade preaching evangelism in Tanzania and Kenya, enjoying phenomenal success in reaching the lost for Christ. I thought for sure, "This is it!"


Next thing I know, I'm back in the USA, "cooling my jets." No more doors were opening. Sure, I had various meetings and services, and they were successful. But the big-time evangelism wasn't happening.

Then, in 1999, it all changed. A letter arrived from Nderu Kenya.

Back on that trip in '91, I had lived for two weeks with a young pastor named Isaac Njenga. He made sure I was fed and protected, and pushed me from place to place as we preached the Gospel. I preached. He interpreted. We were a very effective team, and we became fast friends. We had exchanged letters for some time afterwards, but then his letters had stopped. Now I knew why.

This latest letter was from Isaac's wife, Mary. He had married soon after my '91 trip. Together they had three daughters. Isaac had advanced in the Africa Inland Church to a position of leadership in the Church District. Then he fell ill. He developed high blood pressure that couldn't be properly controlled. He fell to a major stroke at the age of 31, and God took him home.

Now, technically I'm the "leader" of this ministry-- the evangelist; the one with the education and the degrees. But I'm not the true founder. I read Mary's letter with sorrow for the loss of my friend. My wife, though, who had never met Isaac personally, read a far different letter. Men communicate literally. Women "read between the lines." When my wife read the letter, tears were streaming down her cheeks. She turned to me and said, "David, we have to help her." My wife Cheryl is the true founder of this work.

We wrote back to Mary and sent her a small monetary gift to help out with some immediate needs. Then we prayed about what to do next. God opened our hearts and dumped in a big dose of James 1:27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (Emphasis added by God, directly into our hearts.)

God also put us on a search for ministries that specialized in working with widows. We found several that operate in the United States, but virtually all of them are local ministries. We found lots and lots of ministries for children, both national and international. But we found no national or international ministries for widows. None.

Was this God's clear call to our real ministry?

In the meantime, Mary sent us another letter. She thanked us for the gift we had sent, and told us of her dream. She wanted more than anything else to minister to the other widows around her. When she became a widow herself, she said God opened her heart to others. As a pastor's wife with a Bible College education, she felt this strong calling.

Yes, this was God's clear call on our lives!

So, we wrote back to Mary and shared what was on our hearts. We gave her another gift to help her out. Then we formulated our first plan. We incorporated NewCovenant Evangelistic Ministries as a non-profit. We named Nderu's widows as our first "project." We stopped sending Mary gifts of money. Instead, we started to pay her a salary every month, so she could work with us to pursue this ministry that was now "ours."