earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — March 2014

First Profession of Faith

I remember the first time I shared the gospel with someone and then prayed with him to repent and believe in Christ as his savior. Later that day, he made a profession of his new faith in Jesus Christ to our group of friends, remarking, “I feel like a new man.” By God’s grace, he went on to demonstrate the fruit of his decision over the following years. It is an unspeakable privilege to play a small role in what God is doing to draw people to Himself.

Last week I had a similar privilege here in the village of Shadi.

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March 24, 2014   8 Comments

Swahili Words to Confuse if you Want a Laugh

People unfamiliar with a language have an uncanny ability to mix up words that have very different meanings. This is one reason why kids say such funny things. Our son has inadvertently confused some four-letter words for completely appropriate words with similar spelling. We laugh, knowing he is just learning. Some of my own language learning mistakes are almost as unfortunate.


Here Are some Swahili examples that I still confuse occasionally and cause a good laugh.

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March 17, 2014   8 Comments

March 2014 Prayer Update

February brings the long rainy season and a calmer period of ministry before visitors start arriving for the North American Summer. While we miss having our teammates around, their absense together with the pace of this season has created an opportunity to shift more attention to our other neighbors. As a result I find myself talking about farming, fishing, and cow theft among other things. There are still a few administrative details and property improvement projects to attend to. There are also occasional review sessions for the Bible storying project. Otherwise, we are anticipating that we will see a boon in our language and culture learning over the next few months.

Prayer Update

Here are a few ways you can continue praying with us:

  1. The church in Sweya has been making great efforts to save money so that a pastor can be called, but they are recently experiencing challenges that threaten their plans. Please pray God may provide for their needs, that they may have the strength and wisdom to lead themselves until a pastor can be called, and that God may provide a good man to pastor the church.
  2. Last month the church in Sengerema formally called Hamisi to be their pastor. Hamisi accepted. With an exceptional expression of commitment, the congregation’s letter to Hamisi outlined five ways that they would support him and his family. Please join us in thanking God for this evidence of growth in the church. Let’s pray that they may be able to keep their commitments to their pastor.
  3. The church in Luselelo, under Elias’ guidance (the pastor of their parent church), is beginning the process of formally calling a pastor for their own flock. The exceptional poverty of their location presents some additional challenges to anyone called to lead this church. Please pray that their choice may be Scripturally qualified and willing to accept those challenges.
  4. Having completed one full set of Bible stories for training in evangelism, I’ve been asked to lead regular review sessions with the churches’ ministers. If this is going to be a truly successful project, the church leaders will need to commit to teaching the stories without missionary help. Please pray that these review sessions could help them overcome some natural reluctance.
  5. Please join with us in praying that the next six months will be a season of marked growth in our language and culture learning. In some ways, we can be more focused on this kind of growth while our teammates are on furlough. To reach our goals, we will need to learn how to identify our gaps and scrap together the discipline to close those gaps.

March 7, 2014   2 Comments

Adding Depth to the Ministerial Roster, Part 3

This is the final installment of a short series on the Bible storying project we started in August of 2013. Previous posts may be found here and here.

The seminars in which the Bible stories are taught are divided into three parts:

  1. In the first, the participants are asked about their efforts in sharing the stories since the previous meeting. Sometimes this is an opportunity for a quick review or a word of encouragement to persevere.
  2. In the second section, a new story is introduced.
  3. And in the third, the participants are given an opportunity to practice sharing the story with one another.
    The entire seminar may take about two hours. But popping in and popping out for a meeting is unheard of here. Two two-hour seminars on the west side of the Mwanza Gulf are a full day’s work. Here is a typical day’s schedule for such a trip.
Sat, Feb 2, 2014
5:20 am depart home
6:15 am arrival at Kikongo for 1st ferry
8:45 am arrival in Nyakaliro
9:30 am participants gather at the church in Luselelo; we have chai
10:00 am seminar begins
12:00 pm seminar finishes
12:30 pm Elias and his children pack to leave
12:45 pm depart Nyakaliro
2:00 pm arrive in Sengerema; visit with Hamisi
4:00 pm begin session
4:45 pm depart Sengerema
5:30 pm board ferry at Busisi
7:00 pm drop Elias and children off at Buhongwa
8:00 pm return home


Suya and our truck in Nyakaliro

Suya and our truck in Nyakaliro

It will be a while before we know the true impact of teaching with Bible stories. With regard to our objective to involve more people in the work of evangelism and discipleship, we are already noticing the following benefits:

  • Bible teaching can reach a broader audience. Going to the churches and teaching basic Bible stories has made teaching available to church members who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend our Bible Institute. Challenges presented by people’s age, interest, and even language ability are being overcome. For instance, stories may be translated on the spot for people who are more comfortable in their tribal language than in Swahili.
  • Bible stories have unique strengths for teaching. During the course of teaching the stories people are naturally picking up ideas that are more difficult to teach systematically. Stories are well-equipped to demonstrate man’s need for God’s grace and God’s patience in response to us.
  • Memorizing the material makes it usable in nearly any context. We hear that Bible stories have been used in conversations where people can’t carry a Bible with them. Pastors have used the stories as texts for their sermons or as standalone Bible readings in worship services.

After finishing one set of stories we have enough experience to warrant pressing forward. To make the project truly successful, the churches will have to pick up the responsibility of leading these training sessions—something we have yet to see realized.

March 4, 2014   No Comments