Rumors and False Reports

How do you decide where to go to church?  Not coming from a religious family, that was an interesting question for me.  When I was in kindergarten and first grade, my brother and I walked to the closest church to attend the Sunday school class.  Later I visited different places with friends.  Twice I was introduced to churches because of who I was dating.  Finally, when I was 21, living in New York City, someone asked if I wanted to study the Bible and for the first time in my life I was able to make a decision about where to go to church based on learning what God had designed a church to be like.

Kenya was interesting to me.  When we met people and discussed religion, we discovered that the faith they practiced was usually dictated by the region of the country they came from.  Kenya was divided religiously according to where different missionaries were sent over the years.  One section of the country was assigned to one church group, another section was assigned to a different church group. I think that happened so the missionaries wouldn't argue.  It also helped in organizing education in many rural areas during earlier times.  In Nairobi, however, there were churches from all different groups.  When we moved there in 1989, we weren't a registered group in the country - we were simply a bunch of disciples sharing the Bible with our friends.

We rented various facilities and moved around to several different locations, especially the first few months we were there.  At first we attracted little attention, accept for a few undercover visits from Kenya's
secret police.  As our friends studied the Bible and the church grew, we began meeting regularly at the New Stanley Hotel.  The hotel is located on a corner in the center of the city, which made it easy to find and easy to get to.  It was a great place for us.  For some reason, however, meeting there also seemed to bring out a lot of gossip and false rumors about us.

One Sunday when we arrived to worship, the room we met in was full of left over decorations from a wedding reception that been held there the evening before.  The next week in the paper it was reported that we were "bell worshippers."  I guess there was a big paper bell left as part of the decorations.  Another time a report claimed that we danced naked in the aisles during service!  Some of the reports were funny to us and some were downright bizarre!  Perhaps the aim of the reports was to make people afraid of coming to our services, but actually our attendance grew more and more as people wanted to see if those things were really true or not.  While some might have been disappointed to see that the rumors were false, many people were impressed with our warm fellowship and the straight, honest preaching from the scriptures.  More and more people wanted to study the Bible and made decisions to become disciples.

We learned to not fear false rumors and gossip about us.  There were times when I lived in New York that people also made false claims about our group of churches and I have to admit that sometimes I felt a bit of fear in my heart.  Not because I believed the claims, but because it was uncomfortable to have people believe false things about me.  By the time these things happened again in Nairobi, however, my faith and confidence had grown to the point that I was unshaken.  I had also reached a point in my life that I refused to be swayed in the way I lived by what others thought about my decisions.  I love the Bible, I love God, I love my family of churches and honestly, I love my life.

Here's a link if you would like to see photos of the New Stanley Hotel...

I have to say that it has been modernized and updated a lot since we met there around 1990.  The Heritage photos show more of what the outside of the building still looked like back then.  Looking through the site did bring back many good memories...

Lori ZieglerComment