My Last Day in Kenya

Day 7 in Kenya

Today is bittersweet, I’m so excited to go home and see my family, but also very sad to be leaving such a beautiful place. I can only hope that God will bring me back here again one day. It was an early morning as we awoke to watch the sunrise over the savannah.


Our goal was to see rhinos and leopards today, and while that search came up empty, we did see some incredible things today. For instance, we saw a group of four lions, two young males and two females, hunt a warthog this morning. While the hunt looked promising it was ruined by some hyenas who spooked the warthogs.


We then ran up on three more older male lions. Pretty amazing seeing this big guy.


After hanging with the lions for a few hours this morning we decided to have breakfast on a hill overlooking the savannah inside the park. Imagine sitting on a hillside eating breakfast while watching cape buffalo chase away lions in the valley below.


We also got really close to some elephants,


some giraffes,


and of course zebras.


I’m currently 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean on my way back home, and I can’t wait to see my wife and kids. It’s been a great trip, but there’s no place like home, and I can’t wait to get there. Thanks to all of you who’ve spent the last week keeping up with me.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Kitchwa Tembo Safari

Day 6 in Kenya

Today, was a huge transition as we moved from seeing Compassion bless kids, to seeing Compassion bless pastors and leaders. This morning we woke up early to catch a flight to the Kitchwa Tembo Camp in the Masai Mara. Our plane was a bit smaller than I’m used to, but it’s perfect for landing on a dirt runway in the middle of the African savannah.


The Masai Mara is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and connects to the Serengeti National Park located in Tanzania. It is known for its exceptional population of Masai lions, African leopards, and Tanzanian cheetahs, as well as the annual migration of zebras, gazelles, and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti. Upon landing at the reserve we were served tea and snacks before jumping into our Land Rovers to head out on our first safari.


In just a couple of hours, I believe I saw more wild animals than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Some of my favorites included the hippos, the zebras, the elephants, the giraffes, the baboons, the hyenas, the crocodiles, the warthogs, and the cape buffalo. As amazing as seeing all those animals was, I believe the scenery may have been the most impressive.


It’s absolutely breathtaking here. After our first safari we headed to the hotel to check in and get our rooms. We just so happen to be staying in tents, which I love since I’m such an outdoorsmen, but seriously these are the type of tents I want to stay in. Check out the view.


It’s currently 11pm while I’m writing this and I can hear monkeys howling in the trees outside my tent. Pretty awesome, what’s not so awesome, were the two snakes they found in one of the tents another couple was staying in next door. After lunch and a quick meeting to debrief on our trip, we were back on safari again. What’s funny is that because there’s so many of the animals, you quickly become disinterested in many of them altogether and just concentrate on the one’s you haven’t seen yet.


For example, elephants. Elephants are amazing creatures, but I bet we’ve seen over a hundred elephants today. So, for our afternoon safari we wanted to concentrate on finding lions, rhinos, leopards, and cheetahs. We ran up on four female lions napping pretty quickly. At one point I was within 10 yards of one and it never even looked up. Our guide informed us that lions are very lazy and sleep around 18 hours a day. He also told us that warthogs are very dumb, because they’ll be running away from a lion then forget why they’re running, turn around, and get eaten.

Cheetahs were a lot harder to find, and you’ll never believe how we spotted them. After a very long time driving a few of the guys decided they needed to…um relieve themselves. So, we stopped the vehicle, let them out to do their business in the middle of the savannah, and when three or four of the guys had their pants down, the cheetahs appeared. Luckily for the guys, the cheetahs were still a few hundred yards away and our guide had eagle eyes. We were never able to get very close to the cheetahs but it was still cool to see them run away from us.


That’s it for tonight, they shut the electricity off here in a few minutes to conserve energy. Tomorrow, we hope to see rhinos and leopards as we go on our last safari, then board a plane home.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Meeting Pauline

Day 5 in Kenya

Today was a little different than the past few days because it was Sunday, and Sunday means you go to church. The church we went to was located within one of the largest slums in Nairobi, but you couldn’t tell it by the way they worshipped. What amazes me is how these people can have so little, yet are able to worship God with such passion and joy. It’s something the American church can learn a lot from.


After church was one of the best moments of the trip, we went to lunch and I got to meet my sponsor child, Pauline. Just to be transparent, I didn’t sponsor a child until I was invited on the trip and learned that I would keep the opportunity to meet her, an opportunity few sponsors ever get.


I learned that Pauline was called a miracle child. Pauline is currently 5 years old, and didn’t walk or talk until she was 3 1/2 because of malnutrition. Luckily, Compassion stepped in and made her a part of the program. Had they not stepped in, there’s a good chance Pauline wouldn’t be alive today. Pauline lives in the slums with her mother who suffers from epilepsy, and an older brother who makes sure she gets to the Child Development Center each week.


It’s impossible for me to ever convey the environment many of these children grow up in. Pauline had never drank out of a glass, let alone eat at a restaurant. She doesn’t know any of the Disney characters, she had never seen bubbles before, and she had never even tasted candy. Most of the children’s families that are sponsored through Compassion live on less than a $1.25 a day. When you’re here and you see the conditions these children are growing up in, it can look like a hopeless situation, but there is light coming out of these dark places.


Take for instance, Jey Mbiro who spoke to us tonight. Jey grew up in one of the largest and poorest slums in Africa. When Jey’s mom was unable to provide food for his family he took to the streets to beg for food and money. He eventually got arrested for stealing and put in prison at the age of 9. In prison he prayed to God for a way out of prison and poverty. Upon his release he thought he would once again have to go back to the streets, until he was invited into Compassion’s Child Development Program. He would graduate from the program, go on to college, and have a successful career in music in Kenya. He is now a youth pastor, and DJ living in Atlanta, Georgia, and also speaks on behalf of Compassion. He is just one of many success stories coming out of the ministry of Compassion.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Meeting the Maasai

Day 4 in Kenya

Today we visited the Namuncha Child Development Center. It was an experience I’ll never forget. This particular CDC is located two hours outside of Nairobi in the Maasai community, and the views getting there are incredible.


The Maasai people are historically a nomadic tribe famous for being mighty warriors and cattle-rustlers. I’ll  always remember them for how they greeted us. After driving for an hour on a paved highway going down a mountain, we entered the Great Rift Valley and proceeded on a dirt road for another hour. Along the way kids would run out of huts and fields to come wave at these white people. Keep in mind, many of these kids have never seen a white person. Upon pulling up to the project 300 kids ran to greet us with song. Once everyone was out of the vehicles the kids formed two lines for us to walk between as they sang and walked us in. I may have shed a tear or two thinking about how blessed I was to get to experience this.


After we were welcomed the leaders introduced themselves and the kids performed some songs for us. We were then shown around the project. The incredible thing about this project is that it all began with a church that met under a tree 20 years ago. Now, with a lot of faith in God and the help of Compassion they have a church building, a school, church offices, a kitchen,  etc. What’s even more incredible is this one church has went on to plant ten other churches in the community.


We got to sit in for a few minutes on class today where the kids were learning the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead. The teacher was great, and we later found out that he actually attended the school that the church started many years ago.


We then went to visit one of the homes of a child who is part of the program. This family like most others live in a hut made of sticks, mud, and cow poop. Funny story, as part of our day we got to help the family with daily chores, one of the groups with us got to mix together a combination of poop, water, and dirt to help rebuild a house. My group got to shovel goat poop out of a pen that the family could later sell as manure. Better to be shoveling it than mixing it with your bare hands I always say.


We then returned back to the project for lunch, which included potatoes, rice, stew, and a mystery meat. Now worries, I’ve been popping Pepto like Macklemore has been popping tags. After lunch we got to play soccer with a kids for a few minutes before we had to load up to go back to the hotel.


As we got ready to leave, the leaders of the project gathered us together and presented each one of us with a Shuka, necklaces, and bracelets to thank us for coming and proclaim us as honorary members of the Maasai tribe.


Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.


The Road to Heaven

Day 3 in Kenya

Today, we woke up had breakfast and headed to the Compassion Headquarters. On the way, we saw a man get hit by a bus, which is not surprising considering that there’s basically no rules when it comes to driving here. There’s no traffic signs, so it’s basically just one big game of chicken, which the larger vehicles normally win. The man ended up being helped up and put into a van. He looked like he was going to be ok, which is fortunate since he just lost at the game of Frogger.


Upon arriving at Compassion we were invited to take part in their morning services which included worship and a short devotional. We then met with the Director who oversees all operations in Kenya. We learned that Compassion is working with 373 churches to serve over 107,000 children. We were given a tour of the building, met the staff, and then loaded the vans to head to our next destination.


Our next destination was a church in Kiserian that partners with Compassion to offer a Child Survival Program. In the past, Compassion would offer sponsorships for children once they turned 4 years old, but what they realized was that many children die in Kenya before reaching that age. So, they implemented the CSP to help pregnant mothers and mothers with very young children.


The program provides training in various areas that help mothers learn how to raise a child. It also provides a place for mothers to come together and share with each other, as well as teach them to do simple tasks they can do to better their economic situation.


Lunch is always the most uncertain part of the day for me. I’m a picky eater in my own home, so eating in a Kenyan village is adventurous to say the least. Yet, the people here are wonderful and it’s a big deal to them to get to serve their visitors. So, today I had a small serving of rice, a stewed potato, a few pieces of beef, and a tortilla. Oh, and two Pepto Bismol tablets. Needless to say I finished eating very early, and made my way outside to where the kids were enjoying recess.


What I experienced after lunch I may never experience again. I was the only white person around and 50 or so kids surrounded me like I was a celebrity. All of them had to touch me. They wanted to rub my arms and touch my hair, and if they weren’t touching me they were trying their best to push their way to get to me. After several minutes I invited them to show me their classrooms, partly because I thought a new environment might help, but mostly because I knew their teachers would be there. It turns out the classroom just made it worse because we couldn’t all fit, so I had to call on the teachers to save me which they got a kick out of.

After a short break to nap and shower we headed out to Carnivore for supper. Carnivore is an all you can eat meat restaurant, so I was more than a little bit excited.


After being seated they brought out bread, soup, and salad, but let’s be honest everyone’s here for the meat. They bring out many different types served in different ways and they have options in Kenya that you don’t have in America. So, since I’m being adventurous I tried crocodile, ostrich meatballs, and even ox testicle. I know what you’re thinking, how was the testicle, it actually wasn’t that bad. The only thing I didn’t try was chicken livers, because you have to draw the line somewhere.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Heroes’ Welcome

Day 2 in Kenya

Today is Mashujaa Day in Kenya, also known as Heroes’ Day. It is a national holiday to honor those who fought and contributed to Kenya’s independence. Seems only fitting that I’m here with Compassion who are fighting to save children’s lives, spiritually as well as physically.


Today, we visited the Mango Kubwa Child Development Center. On the way we passed two men riding camels, several men herding goats, and a man carrying a goat on a motorcycle. I wish I had pictures to show you but it’s frowned upon to take pictures of the people here. Many of them want money for the privilege. So, you’ll just have to trust me.

I was able to take photos at the CDC, where they take care of 315 children each week. They honored us by praying over us, performing many dances and songs, and acting out the story of the good samaritan.

Interesting fact, the kids are fascinated by arm hair. They will sneak up to you just to touch your arms.


This is Melvin. Melvin is much better at taking selfies than me. He is currently 19 years old and has been a sponsor child since the age of 3. He is going to a tech school to become a mechanical engineer.


As Melvin was showing me how every child with Compassion has a folder that basically tracks everything about their life, this little girl came and crawled up into my lap. The children are amazing here despite the circumstances they are growing up in.

This particular CDC is next to the 3rd largest slum in Nairobi, with over 250,000 people living in quarters smaller than many of our closets. That’s not an exaggeration, I went inside one to visit one of the children’s homes. It couldn’t have been bigger than 100 square feet and 7 people lived in the space. It was made of mud, tin, and sticks and felt like a sauna, and it’s a cloudy day here. All the kids who attend this CDC come out of those slums.

They are responsible for waking up, getting ready, and walking themselves to and from the CDC. Children the same ages as my children, walking through the same streets that buses and motorcycles drive on. And yes, the streets are just as crazy as you would imagine.


Compassion provides them with much needed meals, classes, and medicine. But more important than that, they provide them hope. Hope in the name of Jesus.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Travel Day

Getting to Africa

It’s 1am in Nairobi, and I just laid down in bed. We have a meeting at 8:30 in the morning so I’ll make this short. Let’s face it, 17 hours of flight time doesn’t have a lot of highlights.


Nashville to Atlanta is a really quick flight. 38 minutes from take off to landing.

Atlanta to Amsterdam not as quick, luckily I got a window seat beside a talker.


Yes, that is a person under that complimentary Delta blanket. No, she is not dead, this is just the natural reaction to flying for 8 hours in a 3×3 foot box. A box that the guy in front of me decided wasn’t enough and kept trying to lean back as far as possible as if there wasn’t another person with no leg room right behind him. It was so bad I had to keep grabbing my drink cup because his chair kept ramming into it.

Luckily dinner was on the way.


I was given the choice between chicken and pasta. I went with chicken, the safe choice. Little did I know it would be served in a cat puke puree. Thank goodness for the sea salt brownie, not pictured because I devoured it. The guy a row over devoured his meal like it was his last, I was tempted to ask him if he wanted the rest of mine.

I feel like I’m being too negative. Did I mention I paid $16 for wifi service that didn’t happen to include streaming services like Netflix? I learned that when they sent me the confirmation, which also informed me wifi only worked within the continental United States.

But all in all, it really wasn’t that bad. I did have a good book to read.


Donald says we all should learn to live a better story, but there’s a problem.

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.” 

It’s been a great book, I encourage anyone who’s wanting to live a better story to pick it up. You can find it here.

Hopefully I’ll have a better story for you tomorrow, but for now I hope you find joy in my pain.

Hey, if you just stumbled upon this post, I want you to know I’m in Kenya with Compassion International for a week. I wanted to document my experience to share with my family and friends and anyone else who may be interested. I will be back sharing my thoughts on leadership, church growth, and more next week. If you want to follow along with the blog, make sure to subscribe to get email updates delivered to your inbox each week.

Adventure Awaits

When I was 15 years old I took a school trip to Europe. We spent two weeks touring the countries of Germany, Austria, Italy, Monaco, France, and England. I had my first experience with alcohol in an English pub, experienced my first topless beach, and visited a monastery that held a piece of the cross Christ died on…at least they claim. It was an adventure I’ll never forget.


As we get older it seems the opportunities for adventure get fewer and fewer.

The opportunities that do come along we often let pass by because of fear, responsibilities, finances, or a combination of these things and others.

But when an opportunity came along to travel with Compassion to Kenya for free, I jumped at the chance.

So, for the next week or so I’ll be documenting my adventure on the blog. This will help me process everything I experience, while sharing it with my family and friends.

If you have no interest in my adventure, no hard feelings, I hope to see you back here in a week or so.

For everyone else, get ready to go with me on a journey across the world, my flight is leaving soon.

I’d love to hear about the biggest adventure you’ve ever been on. Let us hear about it in the comments below. And if you don’t want to miss out on a single update, make sure to subscribe to the blog and get email updates along the way.

The Apps of a Pastor

Guest Post: Travis Sinks

Most pastors wear many hats. The variety of things we juggle from event cordinating, counseling, visual designing, general business organizing (such as insurance, finances, etc), sermon preparation, spiritual leadership, and much more, can be overwhelming. I for one am glad we live in an age where we can utilize technology to give us a leg up on all of these things.


As someone who loves testing new applications and workflows to be more productive, I have tried MANY different applications. I hope that these can be of use to you. I’ve added links to the ones I’ve written in more depth on and I hope to write on all of these eventually so I’ll add links for those as I do.

NOTE: Personally, I am an Apple user. I love their products and the people who make applications for them so I don’t see changing anytime soon. However, many of these apps can be found on other platforms, and those that don’t have similar counterparts I’m sure you can find.

I’ve split up the list into apps that have iOS and OS X versions so you can see what will work in specific use cases. I hope this helps you find an app to help you in your situation!

IPhone/iPad and Mac apps:

  • Logos – Of course, I have to mention a Bible app in a list of apps for pastors! There are many good ones, but I prefer Logos. I use to only like it for study, and I had others for general reading, but they’ve recently updated their interface so generally reading the Bible is now on par, if not better, than others Bible apps.
  • Evernote – I love using Evernote as a catch all digital filing cabinet. This is where all my receipts (business, church, personal) go, as well as a ton of other things such as prayer requests, sermons, graphics, contact info, and general information backup. You can read my blog post where I go more in depth at this link, and this followup post on how I send information to Evernote.
  • 1Password – I can’t emphasize enough how much of a blessing this app has been! Not only for creating unique passwords, but between all the different Instagram, Twitter, email, and bank logins (just to name a few) I have because of personal, business, and the church’s – this app has been a lifesaver and I can’t imagine working well without it.
  • Text Expander – As I’ve written before, Text Expander is my top typing tip for pastors, and really anyone at all.
  • Dropbox – As we move forward in the digital age, files are becoming bigger, and file sharing and syncing is evermore important. Dropbox has been such a great tool to sync preferences and information between my Mac and iOS devices, but it’s also been a great way to share large groups of pictures, or large audio files. You can read more about that on this post.
  • Pocket – One downside of the digital age has been an overwhelming amount of information. I use pocket to save articles that I want to read whether from Twitter, Facebook, Safari, or just a random link in an email. This helps me have an ongoing list of things I’m interested in reading, so when I have some downtime, I’m never short on things to read.

IPhone/iPad only apps:

  • Drafts – As I’ve written before, I think having a notepad is extremely useful. I personally prefer a digital version for most situations, so I’ve come to love the Drafts app as a way to take notes and then be able to send them anywhere I want to store them (usually Evernote).
  • TurboScan – When I shared my receipt management workflow, I explained how I use TurboScan to get high quality scans of receipts. I also use this app for other paper items I want to digitize such as Christmas cards or even driver licenses.
  • Onsong – This is the very best app I’ve ever seen for worship leaders. I use to have an ongoing Word document where I would copy and paste each song into a new setlist for Sunday. Onsong is a great app where it not only organizes your songs individually to be grouped together into sets, but you can also change the key of a song with a simple click rather than having to edit each chord. It can do so much more, but these two functions alone have been amazing and totally worth it.
  • Hours Tracker – As I freelance making websites and doing marketing for churches ( in addition to being an assistant pastor, I’ve found it very important to track my time both inside and outside of church work. This app is a simple, yet extremely useful app to do just that.
  • WeekCal – This is just my personal calendar app preference. But I encourage anyone in ministry to become good at keeping a calendar, it’s one of the most useful things you’ll do.
  • Services – This is one of the apps from Planning Center which is a great app to schedule and organize volunteers for services and events. Their iPhone and Android app (services) makes it extremely simple for volunteers to accept/decline volunteer scheduling, add in block-out dates, and to see their upcoming volunteer day/time.
  • Metrics – This is another app that requires some online setup at This is provided for FREE by life, the creators of the YouVersion Bible app and many other helpful tools. We use the Metrics app to keep track of attendance and new people on both Sunday’s and in community groups, and to also keep track of rededications, salvations, baptisms, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

Mac only apps:

  • Keyboard Maestro – Although more of a technical app than the others, Keyboard Maestro is an app meant to create macros for your mac so you can automate frequent actions. It can do everything from keystrokes, to moving the mouse, clicking the mouse, utilizing input variables, and even editing the text on your current clipboard.

I hope some of these apps bring a solution to an area in your work, life, and ministry. If you have any apps you think ought to be added to this list, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Travis Sinks lives in South Florida with his wife and son. He is the Assistant Pastor of Redemption Church Delray Beach and a business marketing and growth consultant at Elite Business Growth Solutions. You can read his blog, focused on ” Equipping the Church for the Work of the Ministry,” at twitter & instagram | @travissinks

5 Shots to Revitalize a Dying Church

Vaccines are fascinating to me. I think it’s amazing that we can be protected from deadly viruses and diseases through something as simple as a little shot. Wouldn’t it be amazing if protecting your church were that easy? Maybe it can be.


Not that I enjoy shots, quite the contrary, I try my absolute best to avoid them. However, when you’re about to take a trip to Africa, there are some vaccines you need to get. At least that’s what my wife told me.

So, I made my way to the doctor’s office prepared to get two shots. I read some scripture, say my prayers, and try to remain calm as I wait for the doctor to appear. Five minutes pass, then ten, then fifteen. Twenty minutes later the doctor finally shows and sees I’m in a cold sweat.

He reassures me that this won’t be that bad, and then proceeds to recommend I get five shots instead of two. The good news is one is optional. The bad news is if I contract Yellow Fever, there’s a 50/50 chance I survive. So, five shots it is.

A small price to pay for survival, but is your church willing to pay the price?

Because these are the five shots every church needs to survive. I’ll tell you like my doctor told me, “This may sting a little.”

  1. Change

You can change, or you can die. It’s that simple. Nothing survives without change. As much as you may love your traditions, your past, how you’ve always done things, it will be the thing that kills you.

  1. Mission

If your mission doesn’t somehow revolve around reaching those who don’t know Christ, your days are numbered. We realize this in the early days of the church, but over the years many of us move from being on mission to maintaining what we already have. This is a recipe for disaster.

  1. Passion

The passion level of the church will never surpass that of the leader. It’s easy to have passion when you’re starting out, but it’s hard to sustain it year after year. So, ask yourself, “How is my passion level?”

  1. Leadership

In many small town churches, the congregation votes on every decision from deciding the pastor’s salary to deciding the color of the carpet. This is not just a bad idea, it’s unbiblical. Healthy churches allow the pastor to lead through a team and put in healthy guardrails for accountability.

  1. Youth

If children and students aren’t a priority in your church, you already have one foot in the grave. The church doesn’t survive without the next generation, so you better make sure you’re investing in them.

My arm is still sore from the shots I received, but I feel a lot better knowing I’ve taken the necessary steps to protect my health. I hope after reading this article you will be able to say the same.

What other shots would you add to this list? Why? Let us know be leaving a comment, and make sure to subscribe to the blog to receive tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.