Thursday, 24 April 2008

To God Be The Glory!

The above picture is of 39 MP3 players. A few more were missing from the picture. Each was loaded with 160 sermons preached by English Baptist preacher Dr. Stuart Olyott - some of whose work you can find at Dr. Olyott kindly gave permission to copy these - around 7000 sermons in total!

An MP3 player was given to around 40 pastors. Many of these men live in remote areas, and rarely get the chance to hear anybody else's preaching than their own. They generally have good books, because they've been given those in past years. But it's one thing to have Calvin's Institutes on your shelf - it's another to actually translate that solid theology into something digestible by your fellow mud-hut dwellers. Stuart Olyott can help them here, because his sermons are models of presentational clarity in preaching the Reformed faith clearly, fully and directly. He doesn't have many applications suitable for people who look after goats all day, but you can't have everything. The truth is preached in these sermons with passion and power, and I've already received back many comments on their helpfulness.

One pastor with his MP3 player

Many of these pastors live without electricity, and we were able to give many of them a solar-powered charger too to keep the players running. I hope they'll be able to work out all the various leads and connectors!

We have wonderful opportunities now because of modern technology. The money for the players resulted from an informal e-mail appeal sent across the oceans. The players are Chinese and very cheap. Solar panel technology has also come down in price a lot in recent years. Pastors in the remotest places can now listen to dozens of sermons by a man they've never met - and their churches can be helped. Living today, we have an immense opportunity to do good in the furthest-flung places. One session this morning was on the importance of local churches helping each other. The MP3 players were an example of that - churches in foreign countries gave the money, and the Nairobi church was then able to help the rural churches in Kenya. Praise God for what he has made possible to bless his people today! We have an immense opportunity: which means an immense responsibility. The master who gave his servants the talents required something back from the; God who has given modern Christians such immense opportunities will also ask us what we did with them.

The pastors were here in Nairobi for an annual conference. Our preacher was Conrad Mbewe of Zambia - a very gifted preacher known in the UK because of conferences taken there. We were very blessed as he (and others) preached various messages concerning the local church.

The question for you, dear readers, to try and answer is: Why does this renowned Reformed Baptist preacher have 3 lit candles at the front of his pulpit, whilst the listening pastors look benignly on? Answers in the comments!

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