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

Swahili Conversations on Spiritual Matters

In our latest set of prayer requests I said that we are praying for boldness and wisdom to engage people in conversations using a language we aren’t yet comfortable with. Now I’m glad to say that we are already seeing fruit from these prayers. While visiting homes in Nyakaliro last week we happened to wade into a number of spiritual matters. Here are a few of the things we discussed:

  • One of the Bible Institute students is being asked by his neighbors how one knows which church is the true church.
  • A man building a house in the neighborhood asked us, “What is the Bible?” He happened to be reading a translation of the New Testament into his tribal language, though he has been having trouble understanding some of the older language.
  • Later that day, after being invited in to someone’s house, our host mentioned that Christianity was similar to other religions that worship one God. This man had joined a church but hadn’t attended in more than three years. His comments expressed the attitude that Christianity is basically as good as any other religion. We had the opportunity to talk about why the Christian doctrine of reconciliation by God’s grace makes faith in Jesus Christ unique. Then we began to challenge him about faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

My interest in these conversations is still primarily for learning. I am still not free to say what I would like in the way I imagine it in my English-dependent-brain. At times I needed to repeat myself and get help from my friends, though I believe that the conversations were all productive communication. Thanks for praying with us for progress in learning the language. Conversations like these are the single greatest motivation for pressing forward.

July 25, 2013   2 Comments

Lessons from Village Visits

I spent Wednesday through Friday of this past week in the village of Nyakaliro visiting Pastor Elias and his family. I took the nearly 5-hour bus ride there and stayed in Elias’ guest room. This is the second trip I’ve made like this in the last 3 months for the purpose of learning Swahili. Being in Nyakaliro provides me the advantage of nearly an entire’s day worth of good visitation opportunities. Since there are practically no English speakers for hours in any direction, I am forced to use Swahili for the entire trip.

Of course, the expedition provides opportunity for learning many other lessons not strictly about language learning but certainly significant for preparing for ministry in this context. Here are a few from my notes:

  1. Traveling by bus is an inexpensive means of travel—though costly in time and energy. Always ask if there is a seat available on the bus just for you. Otherwise, you may end up standing on the bus.
  2. Pastor Elias has more pastoral and pulpit experience than I do. Moreover, he is a man of evident godly wisdom. I truly have much to learn from him. Staying with him reminds me that our partnership with local pastors is a two-way street.
  3. There are economic and health related hardships that people in the villages face that I have difficulty comprehending. I am so accustomed to being insulated from such hardship that I struggle to walk just a mile in their shoes.
  4. Nyakaliro is sufficiently cut off from the news of world around them. Some get updated through their phones or radio; a few even have TV in the village. On the next trip I could help my friends by bringing a recent newspaper.
  5. Remember to shut the door to my room when I’m away. Otherwise, a chicken may come in and lay an egg on my pillow (again).

July 14, 2013   3 Comments

July 2013 Ministry Update

We recorded a short video as our monthly update for July. Watch it here if you can or follow the link to see it at Vimeo.com.

Here are a few ways you can be praying with us:
  1. We believe that modeling Christian faithfulness here will require more time in fellowship and more substantive conversations with believers and unbelievers around us. This desire and the limitations of our Swahili regularly run us up against our own inadequacy. Please pray with us for boldness to seek out these conversations and strength to continue learning how to speak about spiritual matters.
  2. We are grateful that God has provided a means to receive good and relatively inexpensive treatment for Matt’s tooth issue, though it will require multiple trips to Nairobi, Kenya. The first appointments are now scheduled for the last week of July.
  3. To raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord requires God’s enabling grace in any setting. For a couple adjusting to life in Africa at the same time, that much more dependence on God is required. Strange skin rashes and the expectation on us to raise children like our Tanzanian friends keeps us looking to God for grace. Your prayers in this matter would also be greatly appreciated.
  4. Nearly all of us can be thankful that our income is more stable than the average village pastor in Tanzania. Please pray that God would continue to meet the daily needs of Pastors Samson, Hamis, and Elias, and that they would be given the grace to persevere in the work.

July 7, 2013   3 Comments