Heading to Kenya once again. We are putting a group together to leave around the first of December, returning 12 days later. Our commitment date, that is the day we hope to have the minimum number of travelers to make the trip happen, is August 21. Our plan is to make initial air purchase by September 1, 2016.
Go and Do likewise has been traveling to Kenya since 2007. I made my first trip there in 2007 and have returned every year at least once. The village of Rionchogu is my Kenya home, if you will. The people are my Kenya family, the students, some now about to graduate from University are as my own. I am sharing this as I want to share them with you. You can find stories and experienes of others throughout our website and Facebook page but these are the experiences of others.
Join this trip in December, travel with us, come see and experience your own story. It just takes the first step, decide to go. Then just do it.
THIS INVITATION TO TRAVEL IS NOT MY PRIMARY OBJECTIVE FOR THIS POST.
I am beginning to share through this regular post the Go and Do Likewise story. Unashamedly it is my story as well. We, Go and Do Likewise, are in a season of change. As for all things these must come.
What follows is the first chapter of a recent writing:
GO AND DO LIKEWISE: A Story of Hope
By Bud Potter
My journey started like this. I am the second child of parents who came through the Great Depression—parents who were from rural families and only one of whom graduated high school. One consequence of this shared background was the characteristic that most defined them: hard work. In other ways, their backgrounds were very different, and they agreed that as a family we would not discuss certain topics. Foremost among these were politics and religion.
Other than a faint memory of getting on a yellow bus one summer for one or two trips to a place where a lady taught stories about Jesus, I have no early history with any faith community. In fact, I remained outside the church for decades. I was baptized as a 30-something adult and spent the next eight or nine years living the old life but claiming the new. I found out claiming does not account for much.
My walk with God began with no preparation or training, no understanding of theological doctrines or traditions. I had simply an awareness that something was very wrong, and it needed to be fixed. As a 40-something, I came to a point when I decided I needed to change my priorities and habits. On my knees I asked God to change me. While easy for God (he had paid the price already), it was and is not always easy for me.
At one point it became quite apparent I had an important decision to make—frankly, the most important decision I would ever make. By this time I had immersed myself in seeking God through Christ. The question that continually surfaced in this exercise was quiet at first. Each time, though, the need for an answer felt more urgent. If Jesus was just another person, then I could strive to be the best person I knew how and be fine with it. If he was who he said, however, and in fact carried the authority of the Creator, then I needed to take the path to discipleship.
The simple but difficult decision to be a disciple of Jesus affected most every remnant of my life. The decision brought a season of conflicts that still exist on some fronts. These conflicts are not necessarily about good versus bad, or right versus wrong, though they can be. These conflicts are, most definitely, about faithfulness to God’s ways. I relate this so you might know that God can use anyone, wherever they may be in life.
During a conversation with my older brother in 2015, we spoke of the nature of our current involvements. We had both retired from regular business activity some years previously but both found ourselves involved in other interests. As we continued this conversation my brother made the comment that he needed to decide if his current activity was a hobby or a business. He said, ”If it is a hobby, I can quit anytime. If it is a business, I have to think of the others involved.”
His comment brought to my mind a similar situation with which I was involved. For years I have participated in a spiritual journey, Go and Do Likewise. While many other people have joined me from time to time, I am the only person who has been involved at every point. So I had to ask myself, was this a hobby or was this more? As with my brother’s business involvement, if Go and Do Likewise was a hobby, then I could quit anytime. Just hang it up, stop. If it was more, then I needed to take steps to assist any who might follow. If after my season there is to be an ongoing testimony to God and his provision through Go and Do Likewise, then I must write the history of Go and Do Likewise, a history that is in particular mine. If there is to be an account for others to look back at, I must tell it.
These stories are all about God. As you read, you might tend to focus on the people or the activities. Whenever we encounter stories such as the ones in this book, that is easy to do. The central figure in every story here, however, is God. The organization Go and Do Likewise has one purpose: to glorify God.
The stories reveal a simple learning curve. Initially the group Go and Do Likewise was loosely formed—just a few guys and gals who wanted to help someone in need. The stories are generally in chronological order. That was not my original intent, but it is the outcome of the effort. God is consistent, so the work he began, he will bring to completion. That means the beginning is important. The stories also describe a journey of unfolding seasons, and changes, and learning. Lessons had to be learned, and from them came further opportunities to experience and learn even more. Just as when we are good stewards of little, God provides even more, so it is with opportunities to serve—and to learn. The stories follow a chronological order because God teaches us as we go.
We would learn as we went along, though God did not waste time beginning instruction. Repeatedly we encountered a few basic principles that, we eventually realized, we had to learn because they were foundational to the journey. For this journey and these stories the consistent lessons are these:
- We need to give up the urge to evaluate God’s plan based on our view of some outcome.
- Along the way we will always doubt, but without doubt faith cannot flourish.
- If we are obedient to hear and act on God’s plan, the Lord will provide.
- Relationships are key to Kingdom participation.
- We are to glorify God in all we do.
If the reader allows, the stories will reveal mystery that is part of every journey with God. The stories have a beginning but not an end. They are not intended to pass on God’s plan to another person. I have learned that the change of seasons is God’s work. Our part is to listen and walk in faith.
My hope is that my sharing the journey of Go and Do Likewise might lead some readers to step out into their own mystery journey with the living God. I hope that another will embrace the reality of Ephesians 3:20–21: “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can think or imagine, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.” My hope is that if there is to be a new season for Go and Do Likewise, another person will be encouraged and empowered through these stories to participate in it.
Many people have had much to do with this journey: Terry Debay, my prayer partner for over 20 years, without whom Go and Do likewise would never have been, without whose active participation much of the history would be not only different but I think less. Dr. Ron Lavin, who as senior pastor at King of Glory Lutheran in Fountain Valley, California, said, “Luke 10, the Good Samaritan story. Buy some hats and shirts.” Dave Brandmeyer, my silent “lighthouse,” always encouraging, always challenging. Alan Marcum, who was always there to help. Tim Hansel, whose presence in my life at a very challenging and difficult time taught me to laugh at myself. Lisa Simpson, who was always looking to stretch the envelope of partnership between Go and Do Likewise and Helping Hands. Kiefa Moseti Ontiri, possibly the most dedicated man of God I might ever meet; Kiefa, my friend, my brother. Patty Jolly, who took the time to Google Kiefa’s name and keep the story alive. Eaar Oden, whose profession in visual media brought about our introduction and whose dedication to bringing everything to God in prayer raised my awareness of that need to a higher level. My children—Greg, Tamera, and Melissa, and their spouses—Katie, Joe, and Jon, who even when they might have looked at me with a slight question on their face never stopped encouraging, never tired of my stories (that I knew of), and especially never stopped loving me. I love you all.
A special thank you to Lynn Gaede, who introduced me to her sister, Beth Gaede, who as editor of this writing has made so much of it come to life and who has put up with me, no easy matter.
There are many others, and you will meet a few of them in these stories.
To all the others, this is your journey, too. A piece of who you are has been left with me. A friend once told me that he viewed the church as God connecting a billion points of light. To those mentioned above; to all those whose journey crossed mine on weekends of painting, cleaning, cutting, and all the other tasks we took on; to those who passed by and asked questions; to the girls of Helping Hands and the staff who loved them so much; to the Kenyan students who have taught me so much about dedication and courage; to all my Kenya family; to the American students who made God so real to strangers—you truly are among the billion points of light my friend spoke about.
Without you, there is no story.