earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — November 2015

Visitation with Ian

Ian in town
Sometimes I get the privilege of putting on my missionary hat and my daddy hat at the same time (though neither hat actually comes off at any time, right?). Last Friday, Laura and Kyla went into town to join the fellowship of missionary ladies for their monthly Bible study. This typically leaves us guys at home to our own devices, except that Fridays have now become the day each week I go out to Usagara with Wiliam for visitation. This week we all went together.

Wiliam, Ian, and myself during an evangelistic visit in Usagara

Wiliam, Ian, and myself during an evangelistic visit in Usagara

We successfully made visits and shared the gospel in spite of a few “tummy” problems. Ian gets the chance to make new friends; and it’s good for all of us to be reminded that we are all people with multiple important hats to wear. Wiliam, who has a wife and a few boys of his own, has been making weekly trips to Usagara for this ministry. His family stays back in Shadi while he camps out his weekends an hour’s drive away from home. Despite our differences, we can all relate to the need to share the gospel and the desire to see family after a few days away.

November 23, 2015   2 Comments

The Past Two Sundays

In order to start the process of choosing a new Bible Institute class, the last two weeks I’ve visited each of the five churches to make sure that everyone is on the same page. I intend to continue updating you about the Bible Institute, but what follows here is a short account of “regular” Sunday happenings over the last two-week tour.

Lusolelo, Sunday, Nov 8

Last weekend I saw the three churches on the west side of the Gulf, overnighted in Nyakaliro, and attended the worship service in Lusolelo. There I had the privilege of preach from Leviticus 19:1–8—a choice of text that was made for me, not be me. (Later I learned that Laurent was particularly interested in an example of how to preach from the Law. I hope I served them well!)


the church in Lusolelo prior to Sunday service

After the service, the church’s building committee walked me through the work that they are putting into the parsonage before Laurent, his wife, and 12 children could possibly move in(!). Then, we had an early lunch which was delicious (but probably the cause of a day’s bout with food poisoning later that week). Before I began the 3-hour drive back home, we read through 1 Thessalonians 1 and prayed for the church.

Shadi, Sunday, Nov 15

Yesterday I stayed nearby home to deliver my letter to the church in Shadi. In the place of a regular sermon, Pastor Samson has begun teaching his way through a 10-question catechism. Having defined salvation and the gospel on previous Sundays, this week was occupied with the definition of repentance.

Pastor Samson initiated this teaching himself, observing its need through conversations with church members. As he is reminding the church in each message, these things are foundational to life as a Christian and necessary for answering others outside the church.

To be clear, this isn’t the first time most of the people in the church have heard these things, though Samson and the other pastors would tell us that it takes a long time for these concepts to sink in.

A highlight of the sermon-discussion on repentance was the testimonies of a few people that gave illustration to how God has helped them turn away from traditional practices involving talismans and spirit worship and turn to Christ. One likened this change to the way that we, the white pastors, have moved to Tanzania and “learned how to live well with us.” Her point was that we Christians need to adjust to a new (Chrsitian) way to live.

The rest of that Sunday was spent reading, wrestling with Ian, making a video call with Bibi and Babu Gass, and meeting with team.

November 16, 2015   No Comments

November 2015 Prayer Update

Jack Bean sprout

The hard rains we have been getting over the past couple weeks are certainly an answer to prayer. If the rainy season continues as it started, 2015 may be the most agriculturally productive years of the past three. Of course we are also grateful for the break in intense sun as we move into the Southern Hemisphere’s Summer.

heavy rains

But there are also less positive consequences to consecutive days of heavy rain. When everyone practically lives outside during the day, rains mean that opportunities to visit and share God’s word have to be delayed. When the ground doesn’t soak up much water, erosion is a problem. The sudden change in weather is blamed for sicknesses that pop up in every village this time of year. And the consecutive days without sun mean that we who rely on solar power must find other ways to charge devices and heat water.

Rains In Usagara

The group serving the church plant in Usagara is scrambling to get the “tent” (more or less) rain proof. For now, if it rains during the service, the group picks everything up and carries the benches, tarps, and pulpit by foot to a borrowed room across the street about 250 yards away. A couple weeks ago Sunday, the church furniture was setup and stored three times before the service was completed!

Samson sewing roof

Pastor Samson of Shadi sewing the new roof for the tent in Usagara

So efforts are being made to put a more permanent and weather proof roof on the tent. Unfortunately, the new roof lasted for just a week. It did fine with the rain but blew over in the high wind.

new roof

securing the new roof on the tent in Usagara

During breaks in the rain we are still making efforts to share the gospel with Usagarians. While the believers in Shadi are giving time and resources to share the gospel and work on the property, the group assembling for Sunday worship is also beginning to volunteer for similar work.

preaching with pictures

Wiliam preaching the gospel using a drawing in the sand

Prayer Update

  1. Praise the Lord for a peaceful election process here in Tanzania. Violent situations were isolated and minor. The new president was inaugurated this week and it appears power is transferring without incident. We continue to pray that God would preserve the peace for the sake of His gospel.
  2. Wiliam Samweli (pictured above) has volunteered to lead the church planting work in Usagara. Please pray that he will be given wisdom and confidence in the Lord and that he may be able to care for his family while spending time away for ministry. Please pray that I may be a Barnabas-like helper to him in this work.
  3. We are beginning to ask the Tanzanian churches to recruit a new class of Bible Institute students. The selection is an essential part of fulfilling the great commission and 2 Timothy 2:2. Considering how Jesus prayed before selecting His disciples, this is certainly a matter worthy of prayer.
  4. Please pray with us that God would enable us to be good stewards of the things in Tanzania and in the States that He has entrusted to us. In particular, we have been working to find renters for a home and buyers for a vehicle.

November 5, 2015   No Comments

Call Me Mng’wananogu

Paulo stopped by recently to give me a Sukuma name. Many of you may recall that Paulo served as the pastor of the church in Sweya for several years. You may also know that he is the one who has “baptized” our teammates with their Sukuma names.

You can call me Mng’wananogu (if you can pronounce it). It is the name given to a son who is favored by his parents because he is easy to send on errands. For this reason his mama may set aside an extra portion of dinner for him.

I am told that it’s not official until we slaughter a goat and have a naming party. I don’t have any goats ready for that, though some have already gone ahead and started calling me Mng’wananogu.

Sukuma village

A Sukuma village some time between 1906 and 1918.

When living in Sukumaland it’s good to be as Sukuma as I can. Although putting concerted effort into learning the Sukuma tribal language will have to wait while I’m still plugging holes in my Swahili, I have enough Sukuma to greet people and ask about their family. And that much is enough show people that my interest in being here goes beyond superficial matters. So Mng’wananogu I am.

November 1, 2015   No Comments