earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Posts from — September 2016

Baptisms and Membership Interviews

We baptized eight believers in Lake Victoria near Usagara this past Sunday. Several of those baptized became believers through evangelism involving William, myself, and Bible Institute students. This step follows the near completion of membership interviews and sets us up for chartering a church in Usagara.

Baptism Service in Lake Victoria

Baptism Service in Lake Victoria

William and I talk about how the activity of these weeks resemble labor pains approaching birth. But honestly, the analogy is weak since neither of us would know anything about real labor pains. Even when it comes to the birth of a church, this is the first time for either of us. All we really know is that at the rate things are progressing we all expect to peak soon!

Blessings of Membership Interviews

We believe that church members must be saved from their sin by faith in Jesus Christ and baptized as an obedient testimony of their faith. Membership interviews are a way for us to ask membership candidates about their faith and baptism. They also provided opportunity to answer questions about the proposed church constitution and statement of faith.

Convinced that a biblical view of membership is essential for the health of the church, I consider the interviews important for a good start in Usagara. But I also found the interviews an incredible privilege. Here are some blessings are worth sharing:

  1. Many of the prospective church members started attending services without much of any contact with William or I. The interviews provided a good excuse to visit each home and get to know one another.
  2. What follower of Jesus wouldn’t want an excuse to talk about the gospel? It doesn’t matter what language is used–it never fails to amaze me to hear “Jesus died on the cross for my sins.”
  3. Where people believed but didn’t quite have the words to describe it, the interviews provided opportunities to teach fundamentals of the Faith.
  4. We regularly found ourselves interviewing one person within earshot of others we haven’t yet been introduced to. Gospel conversations in the interviews naturally flowed in to gospel conversations with many others.
charter members

William making the list of charter members

What Comes Next

We hope to charter the new church in Usagara Sunday, October 2. On that day we will be joined by representatives from their mother church in Shadi, who will recommend that those qualified become members of their own church and elect William as their pastor. The fellowship of Tanzanian churches will need to recognize the new church. And, Lord willing, we will begin construction of the parsonage.

September 23, 2016   No Comments

To Build or not to Build

At some point in the church planting process most churches will want to build a building. In almost every case, the cost of building can present a young congregation with one of its first sizable challenges. When people are poor or property and building materials are expensive, the challenge is more acute. Here in Tanzania it seems the difficulty in building church buildings runs cross grain to what everyone expects a church building to be.

big church

A beautiful church building for $170,000

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September 17, 2016   3 Comments

September 2016 Ministry Update

In this video update, we talk about the blessings of having guests from our partnering churches. We also look forward to the events of the coming months. Watch it here or follow the link to see it on Vimeo.

Prayer Update

  1. Thank the Lord for season with safe travel and good visits with our guests.
  2. We met with representatives of the Tanzanian churches on Tuesday (30 Aug) and discussed church and missionary cooperation in church planting. The results of the meeting were positive. Besides the evangelism we missionaries are doing (in Usagara and Malimbe), please pray that the other efforts being led by Tanzanians to spread the gospel and plant churches would be bear lasting fruit for the glory of God (e.g., 2 Thess 3:1).
  3. We have started membership interviews in Usagara where we will be asking prospective church members about their faith and agreement to the church constitution. Please pray that God may help us to foster a mutual understanding of the true gospel (despite language barriers) and build unity grounded in Scripture.
  4. Bible institute students should have finished their work assigned in February’s class on the gospel. Dan and I are preparing a class on spiritual growth to be taught in September. Please pray that homework and teaching would prepare people to honor God in obedience.
  5. Please pray that God may preserve Laura and I with sufficient strength and patience to serve each other and our children. I’m sure we are all aware of our need for God’s grace. Some days the intense sun, noise of young children, and the typical stomach ailments can mount up and cause us to feel that need acutely.

September 1, 2016   No Comments