Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of blogs by Daystar U.S. development officer, Walt Avra, reflecting on his time in Kenya during a recent trip.
Alan always reminds us that “God is the one who has brought our Daystar U.S. team together.” This year has been a big transition with the addition of three new staff members and Alan as the new executive director. It was such an honor to travel with my co-workers, Alan, Nancy, and Terra during our recent trip to visit Daystar in Kenya. The new memories, relationships and opportunities to serve together unified and strengthened us together in this great work.
Alan has been connected to Daystar for over 22 years and his passion for the mission and students of Daystar is so contagious. Alan is an encyclopedia of Daystar’ stories and history. He also seems to know everyone on campus and this has opened up so many doors for us to build relationships. He said numerous times that Kenya is his second home and Daystar is a second family. Truly, everywhere we turned he was introducing us to his Daystar parents, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and Daystar students he has adopted as his Daystar daughters. He has seen Daystar grow from a university of a few hundred to now a few thousand. Despite its great size, Daystar still seems like a big family in Christ and Alan is passionate to see Daystar continue to grow in its mission to educate Christ-centered servant leaders for the transformation of Africa.
Not only does Alan have contagious enthusiasm for Daystar, but he is also an example of how to listen and serve the community. He is a model of servant leadership as Daystar U.S. comes along Daystar University to support, encourage, and be a voice for Daystar in the U.S. I am so glad that I can learn from him!
A few lessons I learned from Alan during our trip:
Encourage and Celebrate: We all need encouragement, especially the Daystar staff and administration. Life is hard but God is doing good all the time. Alan reminds us that “God causes all things to work for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” Our main purpose during our visit was to encourage our Daystar colleagues with the faithfulness and sure promises of God. This was a great opportunity for me as I saw so much evidence of God’s grace at Daystar during my first visit. There truly are hundreds of reasons to celebrate God for the great work He has done and is doing at Daystar through the impact of its 18,000 alumni in communities throughout Africa. This can be by simply saying “good job” or by encouraging our Daystar colleagues with the truth of God’s promise.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
God is in Control so we should be Flexible: Things don’t always work out the way that we had planned. Several times during our trip, we were “interrupted” by unexpected conversations with staff and students and sometimes these meetings didn’t stay on our “time-schedule.” Alan reminded us that God has a plan and often that plan was what we were expecting. We need to loosen our control and remember that God is in control and then serve God’s plan and God’s people. I was glad that Alan reminded us that the people are more important than the plans.
Build Deep and Strong Relationships: As Americans, we are wired to “get to the business” and skip all the small talk. I was so thankful for Alan modeling a true love and compassion for each person. Each person matters to God and they should matter to us as well! Each person has a unique story and that story matters to God and sometimes we need to give time for them to tell their story. You would not believe the stories we heard during our visit. There are stories that seem unbelievable and amazing. God is doing amazing works but if we don’t slow down and listen we will miss out on the blessing.
Learn the Culture and Language: A key part of building strong relationships is putting yourselves into the shoes of another person. We cannot obey the command “love your neighbor as yourself” if we don’t understand the culture of our neighbors. By showing an interest in their language, we can step into their culture. Alan knows quite a bit of Swahili and it really does go a long way to build a relationship when you try to learn the language. Terra did a great job of this as well. There are also multiple tribes represented at Daystar with their own languages and cultures. Alan really surprised some folks with a few phrases in Maasai!
Be ready to serve: Alan has been to Daystar many times because of his long term connection with the university. This trip was his first as the Daystar U.S. executive director and I know that was quite an adjustment with his new responsibilities and expectations. Despite his many years of experience and his new title, Alan was very quick to serve whether he was carrying equipment for the graduation or assisting an elderly lady to her next location. He met with all the heads of the university yet he was always ready to acknowledge every student, security guard, and the gardeners on campus. One day, the gardener gave him a few pointers on the best way to groom the bushes.
This is God’s ministry and God’s university. We are His servants and He is accomplishing His purposes. I am so grateful to learn from Alan. What a privilege to be a part of His team!
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Optimistic Bridge-Builder | Impact Focused
I love to learn from my brothers and sisters in Africa and South Asia where my family lived and served the past 7 years. It was a joy to be involved in installing water hand pumps and providing basic education in villages without clean water and without the good news of Jesus.
I became passionate about Daystar University through my strong friendship with a Daystar graduate, Julius, who became my mentor while in graduate school. I am inspired by the great faith of others and how God can multiply our efforts as we work together.
I enjoy exploring the outdoors with my wife, Mercy, and our two children. I also enjoy reading books and the news.