Reflecting on 2020

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner

In reflecting back on 2020, I do not think that anyone could have predicted the amount of change that we would see in just a year.  I remember when COVID just came out and air travel around the world was shutting down.  Food and other necessary items became scarce.  Churches and schools shut down.  The economy as well took a downward turn.  Could anyone have predicted this? However, for me, the greatest tragedy this year are the lives that were lost.  COVID has taken so many lives that I do not think anyone has been untouched by its effects.  We too have lost great friends and those who were also leaders in this ministry of helping to train children’s and youth leaders.

I remember seeing the beginning of the pandemic coming up on the news.  The predictions of lives that were to be lost was unbelievable.  I also remember silently looking around and hoping and praying that it would not touch our family or anyone we knew.  Sadly, though we did see loss.  Our loss may not have come from COVID directly, but the loss was felt.

However, with great loss also comes a sense of thanksgiving and appreciation.  We can appreciate life and the gift we have received from Jesus in remembering that Jesus died for all.  He paid the ultimate sacrifice so that when the pain is too much, we know that Jesus died for that.  I am so thankful to know that the friends we lost this year knew Jesus and served him faithfully.  I am thankful that I was blessed by their friendship and saw their faith grow.  I am also reminded of how short life is. 

Is there anything that you have been putting off?  Are you sure of your relationship with Jesus?  Are there people that you would like to impact?  Would you like to make a difference in the world somehow?  Somehow, now seems like the right time to go and do juts those things.

If you are looking for something for your students to do to welcome the new year….

Check out a free resource found on Teachers Pay Teachers:

Enoch (Part 8)

II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”

Enoch felt bad that he had disappointed his dear leader Biff but something inside had shifted.  A few days passed and, taking Amos’s advise he looked up and saw a beautiful soaring raptor.  Even though Enoch believed he was a turkey, his true eagle eye sight had a very good view of this soaring eagle.  He looked at the eagle and he looked at himself.  He looked again at the eagle and looked again at himself.

That same sense of pure joy once again surprised him.  Maybe he was an eagle.  Maybe he was meant to soar.  He walked back to the forest edge where he had space to practice.  He began to exercise his wings.  He lifted off the ground and began to move gracefully along the surface.  With a few more flaps of his wings he turned toward the sun and upward.  Enoch thought, “Oh boy, does this feel good!”  Suddenly, he heard the voice of the Biff gobble screaming at him to stop – but it was too late.  Enoch felt the warm thermal air lift him higher and higher.  He could see the mighty Mississippi off in the distance.  He soared that direction and to his delight viewed many menu options swimming near the surface.  He swooped down, stretched out his talons, grabbed a walleye and gracefully landed in the nearby branch of a dead oak tree.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

Enoch was free!  He had tasted of the turkey world and found it greatly wanting.  Now he had finally found his way back home where he belonged.  There is an Enoch in all of us.  The Enoch of the Bible soared so close to God that Father invited him to come on up the rest of the way (Genesis 5:24).  Even as believers we are searching for something better, and God is quite willing to satisfy.  Even in the midst of difficulties and the storms of life we can find a place of soaring. By the power of the cross we defy the law of sin, death and the ways of this world and discover the law of life and libery in Christ Jesus.

Enoch (Part 7)

II Corinthians 4:3 “. . . .the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ . . .”

As Amos the Wise owl flew off into the sky, Enoch knew he was left with some serious thinking to do.  Owls are wise, and this must be a voice to consider.  He stretched his wings, looked up at Amos soaring in the sky and felt a sense of joy he had not felt before.  It was impossible to describe the joy and it came as a surprise but it felt very good.

Enoch stretched his wings and began to move them up and down.  He was surprised to discover that they actually lifted him off the ground.  He had hopped around with the turkeys in low branches before but never really considered it truly flying.  As he tested his wings in a clearing on the edge of the forest he began to take off along the ground and use his wings in a new way.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

Biff, his turkey mentor had noticed that Enoch was not with the gang and went looking for him.  This was a common occurrence as Enoch was always slow and falling behind the group.  When Biff finally found Enoch at the edge of the woods and saw what he was doing, he let out a loud gobble, “ENOCH, stop that behavior right now.  That is not how Turkey’s fly!”  Enoch quickly pulled in his wings, plunked to the ground and apologized profusely to his dear leader Biff.  He was sternly scolded for his misbehavior and promised to do better.

Something was happening in Enoch’s heart but the pull of the world was very strong.  We must be aware that we live in a world where Satan is the prince.  He has established systems and carefully crafted messages to keep us down.  Everything Satan touches and influences turns us away from our God given potential and the intimate relationship He desires us to have with the Holy Spirit.  Be aware; be alert to the Prince of this world and his deceptive schemes.

Go to Part 8 HERE

Enoch (Part 6)

Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way to death.”

Enoch read all the self help books and listened to Biff’s advise but something was still not right.  Every now and than he would stretch out his wings and feel the power of something he could not quite understand.

One day he heard a voice from above hoot down at him. An Owl called out to Enoch, “Hey, what are you doing walking around on the ground with your head down.”  Enoch explained that he was looking for acorns, as this is what a proper turkey eats for lunch.  The owl began to laugh so hard he nearly fell out of the tree.  Enoch did not understand what was so funny.  The owl apologized for his abrupt response and introduced himself as Amos the Wise.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

Amos asked Enoch if he really believed he was a turkey.  Enoch exclaimed, “Of course I am a turkey as this is what I have been told by my friends”!  Amos shared that he had some very good news for Enoch if he was interested in hearing.  He told Enoch that he was not a turkey but an eagle.  That he was designed by God to soar in the sky, nest high up in the trees and eat fish from the river.  Now it was Enoch’s turn to laugh.  This could simply not be the case as he had invested all his growing up years into learning how to be a turkey.  The owl assured him that he was, indeed, an eagle, advised him to look up in the sky, keep stretching his wings and listen to God’s voice.

Sometimes it is difficult to hear the truth.  Enoch had been so convinced of his turkey identity that he was not yet ready to face a different reality.  He knew something was not right, he was not yet complete, but how could he trust this new voice?  Are you ready for a fresh start?  Are you excited about learning something new about God and about yourself?  God is ready to share some great news with you today.  Are you ready to listen?

Go to Part 7 HERE

Enoch (Part 5)

John 10:4 “. . . .the  sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”

Many weeks past in Enoch’s life and it seemed that the harder he tried to be a good turkey, he was simply not able to succeed.  He became more and more discouraged and depressed.  One day he decided to go to a turkey bookstore and purchase a best selling self help book on how to succeed as a turkey.  He put all the ideas into practice and it seemed to help a little but something was still not right.

Biff encouraged him that he was seeing improvement.  Enoch was happy to be accepted by the turkey gang and assured Biff that he would keep trying his best.  Biff explained that trying harder was the key to his future as a great turkey.  With Biff’s encouragement Enoch went back to the bookstore and bought many new titles:  How to Turkey Trot in 6 Simple Steps, How to Influence Others with Great Gobbling and How to Fit in With Rich and Famous Turkeys.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

As we continue following Enoch on his life journey toward fitting in and being happy as a turkey it should be painfully clear that Enoch is working hard, going in the wrong direction and heading for disaster.  The story certainly applies to the unbeliever who has never been awakened to the joy of following Christ.  For believers, however, this story is also all too often applicable as we lose our way and drift from listening to the Good Shepherd.  For many believers they arrive at a comfortable place, part way toward understanding their identity in Christ but than camp out and never go further.

Like the children of Israel, they found freedom from some level of slavery but in the wilderness they neglected to go deeper with God and refused to hear his voice.  They may have been trying hard to be good people but they did not understand that God had a much greater breakthrough for their lives.  Of all the voices to listen to remember that you are God’s sheep and you can listen to His voice and press deeper into your true identity as a child of His love.

Go to Part 6 HERE

Enoch (Part 4)

Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit. . . .”

Enoch’s new found “friends” began to question him about his life.  He explained his eagle past, his parentage and desire for fish.  The turkeys were very troubled.  They had never met a turkey so deeply confused.  They began to inform him of his turkey identity, explaining that he was not an eagle, as there was no such thing as an eagle.  There is no such thing as soaring high in the sky or eating fish or growing up in a nest high in a tree.  Enoch was pretty sure they were wrong but it was difficult for him to prove or explain his story.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

The next day, Biff, the turkey gang leader began to train Enoch in the ways of turkeys.  He showed Enoch how to walk like a turkey, how to talk turkey talk and eat turkey food.  All of these turkey behaviors were critical for Enoch to learn if he was going to be a respectable turkey.  It was clear to Biff that Enoch had been neglected as a child and had to learn how to live properly.  Enoch needed to be turkeyerized.

Enoch wanted to fit into the gang so he tried his hardest but. His feet were not designed for walking but the turkeys said that he must walk in order to find food.  His bill was not designed for cracking acorns but the turkeys told him he must eat the acorns.  Over time, Enoch became more and more convinced that he must, indeed, be a turkey.  Of course, he always knew he would never be a good turkey but he would try his best.

Who are you as a believer in Christ?  Christ is in you and you are in Christ.  You are created by God and you have been bought with a price.  This is not a ferry tale.  This is reality.  And yet, there are so many turkeys in this world, dead set on turkeyerizing you.  Their false philosophy and deceit bombard us all with messages determined to destroy our true identity.   Christ in you, the hope of glory!

Go to Part 5 HERE

Enoch (Part 3)

Proverbs 27:7 “. . .to one who is hungry, everything bitter is sweet.”

Enoch the fledgling eagle continued on his journey through the deep dark woods.  As he wondered, he became increasingly hungry and tired.  He could not find any fish or anything that even resembled fish.  Off in the distance, a gang of turkeys were carefully observing Enoch and following quietly behind.  The turkey gang leader, Biff engaged his fellow turkeys in a discussion and they decided that Enoch must be a misfit turkey that had lost his way and was perhaps, a little slow with the gobble.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

Biff approached Enoch and startled him from behind with a gobbling question.  “Who are you and what is your name”?  Enoch turned around suddenly, though half startled by the strange looking creature, he blurted out, “I am Enoch the eagle and I am very hungry!”  Biff asked him to wait, returned to the gang of turkeys and after considerable gobbling discussion they all returned to Enoch with happy news; they would be willing to take him into their gang, and shared with him some of the acorns they had collected for their evening meal.

Enoch was very hungry.  When you are really, really hungry, you are willing to eat almost anything.  Enoch had a very difficult time properly breaking the shell, but after much encouragement from his new turkey friends, he managed to consume his very first acorn.  It was awful! The bitter tannins in the acorn nut tasted nothing like the sweetness of the walleye his mother had brought him.  But his hunger was stronger than his senses and he ate several more, ending up with a terrible stomachache but a full stomach nevertheless. 

What are you eating?  Healthy food is very satisfying and good for our bodies.  Even more important, what is your spirit eating?  Where are you going to satisfy your hunger?  There are an exorbitant number of turkeys willing and ready to feed garbage to your spirit.  Too often, we surrender our souls; our minds, wills and emotions to eating junk food.  God wants to fill us with rich milk and spiritual meat from His word.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Go to Part 4 HERE

Enoch (Part 2)

Isaiah 55:2 “Why do you spend your money . . .and labor . . . for that which does not satisfy.”

Our fledgling Bald Eagle friend, Enoch, had become increasingly hungry and uncomfortable.  The sparse meals from mom and dad were not enough to satisfy his taste buds so he hopped up to the edge of the nest, spread his wings and jumped.  Unfortunately, Enoch was not quite ready to fly.  Though he was approaching his eight-week old birthday, he had not stretched his wings enough, he had not flapped them up and down to strengthen his muscles, he had not studied the methods of flying that his mother and father had attempted to demonstrate for him.  He was unprepared for flight.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

The result was a long fall to the bottom of the forest and a near death experience.  Fortunately, his spread wings and the soft leaf bed below protected him from major injury.  Enoch stood himself up, shook off the dry leaves and began to walk through the forest to find some satisfaction for the hunger he felt deep inside.  It was both a sad and comical site seeing a nearly grown eagle walking through the forest.  The eagle’s tallowed feet are not designed for walking; they are designed for landing on branches and capturing fish.  Enoch should have known this but he wasn’t thinking straight, so off he went looking for a juicy fish meal in the middle of the forest.

God has designed us in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually for a purpose and a way to live.  When we wonder from His ways, we find ourselves in the wrong habitat, looking for something that is impossible to find.  Our natural desire for fulfillment turns into a lust for something that destroys.  God created us to be fully satisfied with Him alone.  His home is in our hearts and His unfailing love satisfies are deepest longing.  It is easy to blame others or our circumstances for the messes we find ourselves in.  It is time to wake up, turn around and take responsibility for our actions.  God is ready and willing to feed us the good food and the good drink that truly satisfies.

Go to Part 3 HERE

We Added a YouTube Channel!

So, we added a YouTube Channel. On our site we have several dramas written so that youth ministers and children’s workers may be able to use them in their churches, groups camps and in other settings. I have been so impressed with our drama team productions that I just had to share them. Please subscribe to the channel and keep checking back as we will continue to update videos now and then.

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner Ian Duncan (left), Raphael Ndemo (right), Prince Okulo (left arms), Amani Okulo (right arms) perform the Midget Dance Nasha Style

Several years ago our team at Nasha Minsitries was challenged by a ministry partner of ours (Youth Hope) to allow youth to start taking some leadership roles. It was a great idea, but something that was new to our cultural context in Kenya at the time. I approached our board leadership with the idea and was immediately met with a lot of “no’s” and head shaking. They were wondering what the youth could do and what types of jobs would be appropriate. So I met them again with the idea of creating a student leadership program. In this program youth would be paired up with an adult leader and assist them. They would also take part in the drama team – which is something that the older leaders did not want to do. The idea grew and we started with our first student leadership team that year.

The student leaders did great. They helped in crowd control and making sure all the kids and students were getting to the right areas on time. They assisted in group discussions which also helped the other students to open up more in our small groups. And finally, one of the greatest developments that came out of that was a great drama team. Every year after that we had some element of drama in our camps. Sometimes the dramas presented a deep message that communicated the gospel or got people to think. Other times, the dramas were funny and lightened the mood a bit. However, no matter what, our dramas were one of the great highlights of camp each year.

I wanted to share some of these dramas and encourage everyone to see them as an opportunity to give students a chance. Some of the student leaders that volunteered that first year are still with us today many years later and now lead worship, counsel with students and even lead programs. Giving students a chance at leadership now, helps develop stronger leaders for tomorrow.

The Story of Enoch

I recently came across a story shared by my uncle, Brian Rupe and thought it had so many important lessons to share. Over the course of the next few weeks I will attempt to put parts of this story here. Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Deuteronomy 32:10-11 “…He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, like an eagle stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.”

Enoch Part 1

The fledgling eagle was named Enoch.  He was an only child and grew up in a large nest carefully prepared by both his mother and father.  The nest had been in the family for several years and its size had been added to every year, growing to 6 feet across and 8 feet deep.  Enoch’s Florida relatives had built a nest 9.5 feet in diameter and 20 feet deep, estimated to weigh almost 3 tons; the largest known Bald Eagle nest in the world!

As all baby eagles, Enoch really loved his nest and his life. The soft feathers placed for his bed made sleeping a pure delight and the daily menu of sushi, fresh from the Mississippi river could not have tasted better.  Both mom and dad had helped to build his home and sat on him as an egg to keep him warm. He loved looking up into the blue sky watching their amazing soaring flight patterns as they effortlessly circled higher and higher on the warm thermals.  

acaciacorner | The Acacia Corner photo taken from

Life could not have been any better until one day it was clear that mom and dad were both wanting Enoch to begin discovering the world for himself.  You see, life had become too comfortable for Enoch and they knew that in order for him to find success in life, he would need to learn how to fly.  They showed up less frequently with meals and Enoch’s growling stomach was motivating him to find food on his own.

Have you ever been uncomfortable with your life?  Have you ever felt hungry for something but uncertain as to what it is?  The stirring of the nest mentioned in Deuteronomy can also refer to helping someone wake up.  The seasons of discontent can be opportunities to wake up to a new understanding of who God is and who you are as His child.  Take advantage of discomfort as a gift.  The danger is filling that hunger with things that are harmful.  Go after God and allow Him to satisfy your deepest desire.

Go to Part 2 Here