earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — February 2012

Advice for Prospective Missionaries to Africa

Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia, recently visited Allen Park for a luncheon and discussion with local pastors and seminary students. Pastor Mbewe’s church is involved in training and sending men to plant churches in several countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. We were glad to have the opportunity to pick his brain.

He was asked what advice he would give to anyone  interested in serving the Lord as a missionary in Africa. He gave two points: visit and listen.

1. Visit Africa. Since we can’t learn everything about a place through TV and the Internet, we’ll need to see it in person to understand what the real challenges and prospects are.

2. Listen to Aficans. Since we will never understand African culture as an insider, we Americans are not the best authority on what a Christlike believer looks like in Africa. Fruitful ministry partnerships between Africans and Westerners must involve humble two-way conversations where the Scripture and the culture are carefully considered.

Good advice. In my opinion, these points would be just as helpful if extended to any mission field.

February 28, 2012   No Comments

Faith Baptist Church in Oconomowoc, WI

We have found that our personal meetings with pastors have been a generally positive experience for a few reasons. The meetings themselves have been a unique opportunity to hear about what God is doing among his people. Also, we are seeing that these initial meetings are usually focused on technical discussions about missions and philosophy of ministry, a good preparation for church presentations where the pastor can speak confidently regarding us and I can highlight the common ground between our work and the church we are presenting at. Our meeting with Faith Baptist Church in Oconomowoc on February 19 was one that came about and was benefited by an earlier meeting with the church’s pastor. I gave my presentation, took a few questions, and preached for their evening service. Then, we joined the congregation for a fellowship meal following the service. Being at this church also provided the opportunity to catch up with college friends–a small often overlooked perk of pre-field ministry!

We have a full week ahead of us. We return to Detroit today, February 20. I will have a pastors meeting, house work, and research to keep me occupied. Laura’s baby shower at Inter-City Baptist Church is Thursday evening. We will then be attending the church’s couples retreat and leaving from there to spend a day with Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church in Cincinnati, OH, for a ministry presentation and fellowship.

February 20, 2012   1 Comment

February 2012 Prayer Update

Next month will mark the end of our first year of pre-field meetings.  I would never have guessed a year ago that pre-field ministry would move so quickly and pleasantly. Since the most recent trip to Tanzania involved planning for life in Africa, it seems that what remains to be done in the States is more like a sprint than a marathon. As we begin this stretch of pre-field ministry, here are the praises and prayer requests that come to mind:

  1. Matt’s trip to Tanzania was safe and profitable. It provided me answers to questions and helped us know how we should be preparing for our move to Africa.
  2. The pastors, deacons, and students responded positively to the recent round of Bible Institute classes and seminars. The seminar for deacons was the first of its kind for these churches. Judging from the discussion, we can tell that this is something worth repeating in the future.
  3. Given the current level of our church support, we expect to leave for Africa in late August or September. Our church partners are now covering over 73% of our budgeted support.
  1. The next few months will require a number of decisions regarding the transition from pre-field to field ministry. The variables that will affect our plans include the birth of our baby, the time it will take us to move out of our current home, and the progress of our financial support. Please pray that we will be sustained through the last leg of pre-field ministry and begin our first term well prepared.
  2. We are grateful to have people praying for the health of Laura and the baby.
  3. Please pray for our safety as we start racking up miles on the road again. We have been recently reminded that safety in travel is nothing to take for granted!

February 16, 2012   No Comments

Safari Njema: The Trip was Good

As I left Africa, I found myself wanting to return soon. So, I think the trip was a success! Discussions with Rob and Dan were very profitable. One purpose in meeting there was to help manage the current transitions in the ministry. One aspect of this transition involves teaching in the Bible Institute. Dan will be taking on more teaching responsibilities as Rob has shifted away. And for my part, it was exciting to have my name put on the schedule, beginning with  course notes I will be helping to revise by the end of 2014. This trip has also reminded me, however, that there is quite a bit of Swahili and culture yet to learn before I can contribute in that way.

I am returning to the US with a good list of things to do and acquire before we make the move to Africa (a second purpose for this trip). Being on the ground in Tanzania helped me confirm what it will mean for us to live and serve there.

And, last but not least, if you are reading this, it means I’ve returned safely to Detroit. Ironically, I’ve safely flown over 18,000 miles in the last two weeks. Laura, on the other hand, was involved in a train accident on her way to Springfield, IL, to visit family this past weekend. By God’s grace, nobody in the accident was seriously hurt; Laura and the baby are quite well. The first two cars derailed when the train struck an 18-wheeler. This is a reminder that safety does not ultimately depend on our effort to avoid apparently dangerous situations.

Thank you for your prayers. I plan to get some pictures from my recent trip online in the near future.

February 8, 2012   No Comments