earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Posts from — January 2015

A Wedding and a Funeral

Today we are attending the burial of one of our institute graduate’s younger brothers. This young man died in an altercation involving an illegal fishing operation. He was one of a few collecting evidence on behalf of the authorities when he was attacked by a group involved with the use of illegal fishing nets. Several were injured; our friend’s brother was the only casualty.

Due to the circumstances of his death, the normal funeral proceedings were amended to give opportunity for a few officials to encourage everyone to refrain from acts of revenge. In many similar situations criminals are run down by a mob and beaten or worse. This is certainly being considered here. Earlier today I was asked if Christians could be justified in taking matters into their own hands if they suspect the police unwilling (read: bribed) to charge criminals.

On a more happy note, this Saturday another Bible Institute graduate will be getting married. After several good attempts in recent years, this is the closest he has come to an actual wedding. One of his former fiancés died during the engagement. On another occasion, the requisite bride price he paid was stolen. And a few other would-be brides called off the engagement–some citing disinterest in being a pastor’s wife. But this one looks like it’s going to happen!

We’re all happy for him. I will have the privilege of saying a few words in the wedding ceremony about the meaning of marriage.

Weddings and funerals are normal and even good life events in any culture. It is the context of this week’s events, however, that are a striking reminder that we are ministering in a tough environment. Thanks for praying.

January 29, 2015   1 Comment

Church ‘Summit’ Debriefing

In the Meeting

Last Thursday’s (January 15) meeting with our American pastors and the Tanzanian church representatives was the first of three scheduled reviews in a year-long effort to respond to some financial and leadership challenges in the churches here. Nobody has definitive answers to the problems we are facing, so our discussion wasn’t intended to reach a solution. Rather, this meeting was an opportunity to learn from one another and from God’s word. In this regard, it was a success. God blessed us with all the good things that can come from such a diverse group of brethren. Experience was shared, burdens were expressed, and Scripture was brought forward to encourage and exhort.

The churches are being entrusted with some aid to help cover some financial gaps. These gaps have been one reason that a few pastors have stepped down and other pastors are so occupied with the basic needs of their family that there is little time and strength remaining to minister to the flock. We have left the churches free to choose how to use what has been given them as long as they agree to discuss their challenges with us in light of the Scriptures and report the use of all gifts to representatives of the other churches. Last week we found that this second requirement prompted an excellent discussion about ministry priorities. It was encouraging to hear our Tanzanian partners challenge one another.

While I am back in the States for our furlough, Dan Eads will remain here carrying on the dialogue with the Tanzanian churches. We pray that these discussions will continue to provide helpful course corrections for all of us.

January 21, 2015   No Comments

January 2015 Ministry Update

New Year’s Day in Tanzania is similar to Thanksgiving in America. Here, people celebrate with food and rest from work, but the real significance of the day comes in giving thanks for God’s graces. Most churches in Tanzania I know meet New Year’s Day morning for worship and thanksgiving services where people share testimonies of God’s grace in “allowing them to see a new year.” In addition to acknowledging grace to begin a new year, there are also testimonies about what God has done in the previous year.

Maybe, the regular attention given in these updates to the challenges of living in a new place takes away from the reality that there are many things about living in Tanzania that serve us well. Observing all the thanksgiving to God that our Tanzanian friends volunteer at this time of year is refreshing. When it comes to observing God’s grace on New Year’s, they’re spot on. The town-wide pot banging at midnight on New Year’s Eve, however, is another story…

In the spirit of the (Tanzanian) New Year, we’d like to give thanks to God for his grace in bringing us to Africa and enabling us to serve Him here. We are now closing up the last bit of objectives for our first term of ministry in Africa. In less than a month we depart for the States and begin our itinerant visits to all of you. [Read more →]

January 13, 2015   3 Comments