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Jonas Update

Remember Jonas?

Some of you may remember the testimony of Jonas’s departure from the church in Lusolelo as I shared it in our US church meetings last year. I explained his struggle to make ends meet and the circumstances which led to his stepping down as their pastor. Mentioning his experience was intended to help you see the complexity of the challenges facing the Tanzanian churches: specifically that spiritual growth in the churches is in some way affected by the economic condition of the churches and their pastors.

Jonas’s is one example among a few similar circumstances that led us to begin temporarily supporting the Tanzanian pastors with modest stipends and helping their churches with building projects. Similar thinking is driving our agricultural projects.

Rebound

Jonas’s spiritual and material recovery since those days has been a source of thanksgiving to God and encouragement to us. After leaving Lusolelo, Jonas returned to his sending church in Nyakaliro. Having reconciled with the church in Lusolelo, he took up occasional ministry with the church in Nyakaliro. His service stepped up when Pastor Elias made the move from there to Sweya.

In other ways his move back to Nyakaliro made life more difficult. With no farm property to work or church offerings to help, his only source of income was day labor. If it is available, day labor is typically hard work for little pay. For a few weeks in this season Jonas was moving large boulders uphill with an old cart. I remember being impressed by his ravenous appetite after such hard work! But soon thereafter the church in Nyakaliro called Jonas to be their pastor.

About the time that Jonas became pastor of the church in Nyakaliro, the ministers began receiving stipends. It has now been about 10 months since the start of financial aid. So far, Jonas is a prime example of what we hoped would be accomplished through the distribution of stipends.

Jonas's old house

Last month Jonas and I walked through Nyakaliro and passed by the house he rented before he had the opportunity to move into the church parsonage. That old house has collapsed and been completely abandoned—a metaphor of his family’s condition about a year ago. When I drew Jonas’s attention to the ruin, he responded only with a smile, but his meaning was unmistakable. Jonas is undoubtedly relieved and overjoyed with thanks to God for being able to close a sad chapter and move on to other things.

Chickens and Church Planting

Instead of boulder moving, Jonas is now engaged with leading teams of church members in evangelism in the nearby village of Bukokwa. They, as a church, intend to start a new congregation there. Work has been steady and their message has been well received.

At home Jonas has invested a portion of his stipends into chickens. The first round, which hatched in March, numbered around 60. Some have been lost to predators and illness, but he and Mama Neema have demonstrated true ingenuity in guarding the investment. Jonas’s express intention is to start a chicken (and turkey!) farm that will enable him to focus even more effort on his pastoral work without needing stipends from outside.

pink chicks

Elsewhere

While Jonas is an excellent example of initial success in this endeavor, not all the other churches have demonstrated such dramatic improvement. Please continue praying with us that Jonas’s good intentions would be fulfilled and that the other pastors would find their daily bread and be enabled to put more energy into good pastoral works.

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