earthen vessels, East Africa, and the gospel
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Pay no Attention to the White Man in Front

Mbugani is still remote enough that the presence of white skin causes commotion. This can be good and bad for the advance of the gospel. It may attract people to hear. But it may also become a distraction.

Foil for Jesus

This past Saturday I joined a group of 10 from Lusolelo doing evangelism in Mbugani. Pastor Laurent and I met with friends of those who have already expressed interest in the gospel on earlier visits. As at other times, some people see a white man speaking in Swahili and stop to listen out of curiosity. All is well!


One new contact, being evidently pleased with the message, began exhorting his neighbors. “You should listen to this white man,” he said. “He has come all the way from America to bring God’s word to us.” Hear his emphasis: “He left America to come here!…You would do well to listen.” It is at this point that my whiteness became a distraction to the gospel.

Then again, maybe I could just be a foil for pointing others to Jesus. We considered the distance of Jesus’ journey to us:

have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! (Phil 2:5–8, NIV)

Christ Jesus came further, suffered more, and accomplished greater things than any white missionary in Africa. Notwithstanding the suffering of our missionary forbears and the ongoing “filling up of…Christ’s afflictions” (Col 1:24), there is no comparison. So, pay no attention to the white man in front of you.

Missionary Superheroes?

In Tanzania we are deliberately working to push the attention away from us towards our Savior. Similarly, we have attempted to make our gospel partnerships with American churches more about the advance of the gospel than about the messengers. Sometimes I fear that this focus may get lost in all the tedium of regular missionary updates. So, on the occasion of that exhortation to our new contacts in Mbugani, please allow me to echo that message to you as a friendly reminder.

We are very grateful for your intercession on behalf for our wellbeing. We are even jealous for such prayers. Please also continue praying with us that Jesus’ name would be exalted in Tanzania.


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