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

September 2013 Prayer Update

This week we are celebrating the first anniversary of our life and work here in Tanzania. We are glad to report that God’s grace has brought us far in learning how to live in suburban Tanzania. Through all of our prayers we have grown into relationships with our new neighbors and teammates. These relationships have helped us meet needs and resolve problems. Now they have also begun to produce opportunities to talk about our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. As we have prayed these discussions naturally occur as we express our interest in knowing our neighbors.

Pulpit in Sweya

Matt is also now seeing opportunities for ministry that are appropriate for our understanding of Swahili. He had his first opportunity to preach in a Swahili church service last month. On this occasion the message was split between him and Dan Eads, though it provided valuable experience. We are also excited about  sharing the gospel through Bible stories and the prospect of both Laura and Matt sharing some devotionals with the Tumaini children.

Knowing that our progress has been made through the ministry of your prayers, here are a few ways you can continue praying with us:

  1. We are pausing to acknowledge God’s grace over the past year. He has protected, provided, and enabled us to progress in preparations for gospel ministry. “Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever” (Psa 100:4–5).
  2. Please pray for that God’s word will be faithfully shared and received through the telling of the biblical narrative. We are also depending on God to provide opportunities and wisdom to approach those opportunities and respond to the questions which follow.
  3. Though it is an exciting season, it is also a very busy time for all of us. Matt and Dan are making long day-trips to the other side of the Mwanza Gulf every week for training in bible storying. Out of necessity we are resorting to itineraries with little margin for flexibility, knowing that trying to coordinate so many people in a short amount of time is a recipe for disaster here. Please pray that God makes the labor effective in the way he pleases.

September 14, 2013   No Comments

Adding Depth to the Ministerial Roster

The new evangelism project using Bible stories has actually grown out of a desire to increase the number of people involved in ministry among the churches. Ephesians 4:12 explains that the work of ministry involves the whole church. With respect to the Great Commission this means that the responsibility to make and mature disciples falls on more shoulders than the pastor’s or of those trained in the Bible Institute. It seems to us, however, that the bulk of the ministry load in the churches in our fellowship is left to the pastors. We believe that in order for these churches to truly succeed in multiplying themselves, the roster of people involved in ministry will need to be deeper than it currently is.

Evangelism Training Session in Luselelo

Evangelism Training Session in Luselelo

THE GOAL: To prepare each person to share the gospel and do their part in maturing the body of Christ (See Matt 28:18–20; Eph 4:11–16; Col 1:28; 2 Tim 2:2)

THE CHALLENGE

What we consider the traditional means of discipleship are unfit in communities where most have no more than a Sixth Grade education and nearly everyone is practically illiterate. After four or more years of classroom training, the committed Bible Institute students become adjusted to learning through reading and Sunday-school-type lectures. While it may work in the classroom, the same approach would flop in the churches. We have taken the proverbial fish out of the water and shown him dry land, then dropped him back into the water without also giving him a way to explain dry land to his fellow fish.

OUR WORKING THEORY

The training method we have started is borrowed from the playbook of other missionaries. They have cut out many of the practical obstacles that keep those who hear God’s word from going out and bearing fruit. This approach to discipleship is not much more complicated than sharing God’s word, then encouraging those who heard to go out and share the same message with others. The concept is so simple that even someone like me, with an elementary-school-level Swahili is left without an excuse to begin sharing the gospel.

Over the next month or so I plan to explain more of the program and the principles behind them. I’d like to invite you to continue praying for the project. Would you pray that we the missionaries would find the wisdom to equip everyone to share God’s word faithfully and take our responsibility to share the gospel seriously? Would you pray that God would open doors of opportunity for all of the participants to share his word with our friends, family, and neighbors, and grant us the boldness to seize those opportunities?

 

 

September 3, 2013   1 Comment