earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — February 2013

The Skinny on Container Kesho

The shipping container with items for Tumaini Children’s Home and a few of our things is waiting for us in Mombassa, Kenya. We are waiting for Tanzanian Revenue Authority to grant us tax exemption for items donated to Tumaini. The approval process has been started, stalled, and then restarted more recently.

Container Kesho being packed in Allen Park, MI

Container Kesho being packed in Allen Park, MI, Aug 2012

When we have inquired regarding the progress of the paperwork, the most common response is “kesho,” the word for “tomorrow.” “Tomorrow” is just a literal translation. In actual usage kesho could actually be several weeks away. So when we hear, “kesho,” we should understand, “any day after today.” We have thus dubbed this shipping container “Container Kesho” as a tongue-in-cheek admittance that the process is working towards our sanctification.

We do believe the paperwork is now moving in the right direction. We are praying that Kesho comes before the end of March when the port in Mombassa unloads the container into their archives and begins charging rent for storage space. God is sovereign over these situations. While we wait God has provided some things that we expected to receive on the container by now. Kesho will come at just the right time (Ecc 3:11).

February 25, 2013   1 Comment

Seminar for the Churches’ Doctrinal Statements

The proper function of a doctrinal statement in the life of a church is what sets a church apart from a social club. That is, our existence and our work is defined and authorized by God’s word; unless we acknowledge this in practice, we are not much different from the run-of-the-mill charitable society. But if biblical doctrine is ever to function as it should, the churches would need to begin with a doctrinal statement they agree with wholeheartedly.

The churches have been using a statement that they helped write before their doctrinal convictions had matured. Some of the language in the current statement reads awkwardly or possibly implies unbiblical ideas. Last week (Feb 12–14), the Bible Institute sponsored a seminar for revising the churches’ doctrinal statements.

Seminar in Progress

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February 17, 2013   2 Comments

February 2013 Prayer Update

For us, life in Tanzania is picking up speed, literally. I am now (finally) a legal driver here. We have decided on and purchased a vehicle. This gives us the means to run errands and explore more freely. Beyond that, I don’t believe we could comfortably call this place our own until we became able to meet day-to-day needs without our friends walking us through it step-by-step. This vehicle is likely to be the largest purchase from funds entrusted to us for our outfit and passage, which reminds us of God’s kindness through so many generous and varied gifts: love offerings, occasional gifts from churches, children’s programs, and so on. Thank you for your willingness to be part of God’s provision to us!

Ian is keeping us on our toes at home. He can’t walk yet, but he manages to find ways to explore and rearrange everything within 3 feet of the floor. Jana Eads recently offered to contain Ian’s curiosity for a couple hours each week to help Laura find more time for language study.

Here are a few ways you can be praying with us.

Praises:
  1. Pastor Elias received the treatment he needed and is now recovering well.
  2. Living here reminds us of how exceptionally privileged we are that our needs are being met. We thank God for our daily bread and the help of many who are giving to provide it.
  3. The recent Bible Institute session was productive and encouraging for the students. We were also encouraged by the ministry of our guests who came to serve in the Institute and spend time with us.
Requests:
  1. Fellowship with our coworkers has been a highlight of our almost-five-months here. Yet, finding ways to worship meaningfully (i.e., in a language we know) is a bit more difficult to do regularly. Please pray that we may continue in our spiritual disciplines and that they may bear fruit in us.
  2. February 12–14 the church pastors will meet with the missionaries to review their doctrinal statements and consider implementing a doctrinal catechism for use in the churches. The overarching desire is that these discussions will produce deliberate approaches to discipleship throughout the churches. Please join us in praying for ongoing discussions about how we can intentionally build others up in the faith (Col 1:9–12, 28; Eph 4:12–13).

February 8, 2013   3 Comments

Bible Institute Class on Church History

The Bible Institute met for a class on church history last week. Fourteen students were in attendance. About half of the class are Institute graduates who are invited to return to participate in the class as the notes are improved for each iteration. When I didn’t have other language projects going, I sat in the back trying to understand what was being said.

The last topic in the class summarized the spread of the gospel since the Reformation. It concluded with an exhortation to consider the possibility of Sub-Saharan Africans bringing the gospel back to North Africa—not technically church history, though we are certainly aiming to that end.

February 1, 2013   No Comments

Pastor Elias’s Surgery

I am glad to say that Elias is now at home recovering from hernia surgery. He went into surgery on Monday the 21st, remained at the hospital one week for observation. The doctor sent him on this past Monday with good news. It appears the operation went well.

We and a number of members from his church were able to visit Elias at the hospital on Sunday, January 27th, after attending the worship services in Nyakaliro and Luselelo. We talked about his progress, sang a few hymns, and prayed for his recovery.

As other friends have pointed out, Elias has been smiling throughout the whole ordeal. I tell you that this man is a paragon of hope in our Lord. Elias’s wife was noticeably encouraged by the visit. She had been needed at the hospital to prepare meals for her husband while her kids were left at home in the care of their neighbors. Needless to say, they were glad to visit mom and dad with us.

The recovery period will keep Elias away from work in his field. He will be relying on others to do the weeding and harvesting for him. Some have stepped up to meet this need already. We pray more will follow and that God may use this situation to strengthen the church. On behalf of Elias, his family, and the church, thank you for praying!

February 1, 2013   No Comments