Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Re-Engaging in ACSOP

Hello friends and brethren,

I wanted to take a moment of your time to let you know that we are again engaging with the work in Tanzania at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching.  The school took a significant hit with the loss of its founder and our friend, Cy Stafford.  Nevertheless, the work must persist.  There is a great work going on in Arusha that is glorifying God and causing growth in the kingdom.  We need for people who have been committed to helping that work succeed to remain committed, now more than ever.

The leadership at Bear Valley has asked me to take over as the Coordinator for the Andrew Connally School of Preaching.  This is a part-time, volunteer role that I will be filling while continuing my work in the pulpit at the Lehman Avenue congregation.  However, the role means that this blog will be active again as we share reports from the work.  I'll be reaching out to supporters to assure them that ACSOP is still in good hands and has an important future.  It is also still in need of continued financial support and prayers.  Hundreds of churches have been planted and thousands of souls have been saved through this work.  Let's keep it going strong!

Till all have heard,

Daniel Gaines

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Thank You!

Hello friends,

It hardly feels like it has been 3 years since we packed up and moved our family to Tanzania, Africa.  Time has flown by, and with your help, a great amount of good was accomplished. 

We asked you to help us with a four-fold mission:
  • Preacher Training – Directing and Teaching at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching
  • Personal Evangelism
  • Benevolence
  • Church Growth
I hope that you’ve been able to keep track of us through our blog and email reports, but if not, then let me give you a very brief synopsis of what was accomplished.  We were able to play a role in the training of more than 40 East African gospel preachers.  Through the efforts of our students, campaigners, teammates, and ourselves there have been hundreds of baptisms and restorations over the same time period.  Food, shelter, clothing, and education was provided for some very needy individuals.  The churches in the area, working together grew stronger in the Lord, and local leadership was enhanced.  All in all, we feel like it was a very successful mission and we’re proud to have been a part of it.

You might wonder, “What now?”  We plan to return to Tanzania each year to lead campaigns or teach short courses.  Any further donations that are received through Lehman Avenue will be dedicated to these campaigns or to ongoing benevolence projects.  Meanwhile the Maynard, Norman, and Storks families will continue to work full-time in Tanzania.  Let me know if you would like information about contacting these families to help with their support. 

Thank you so much for your support, prayers, and encouragement during this mission.  May God richly bless you.

Your fellow worker,

 Daniel Gaines

Our family walks to church on our first and last Sundays in Kisongo, Tanzania

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Do Short-Term Mission Trips Do Any Good?

     The internet is full of articles criticizing the value of short-term mission trips.  I'm often asked by our visitors about my perspective as a full-time missionary on these trips.  So I thought I'd take a few minutes to share my thoughts.

     I admit that some of the criticism is valid.  (I especially question the value of campaigns whose purpose is to provide unskilled labor for some work project, when they could hire local unskilled labor for a small fraction of the costs of their trip and provide badly needed employment.) However, I think that the criticisms can also be overblown.

     We have the opportunity to host numerous campaigners throughout the year, and I love it.  Some groups are more organized than others.  Some are easier to work with than others.  Some are better prepared than others.  Some are more effective at achieving their stated goals than others.  There are obviously strengths and weakness, mistakes and triumphs, that exist in campaign work.  (Perhaps another day, I'll share some thoughts about making campaign work more effective.)  However, I think that all of them have importance and value.  Even poorly run or ill-fated campaigns have value.

     In fact, I would like to suggest 8 reasons why short-term mission trips are valuable regardless of the immediate outcome of their stated mission.

1. Some Campaigners Experience Spiritual Growth - On some level, most campaigners are doing something that they consider to be bold for their faith.  This leaving behind of their own comfort zone can help push a person to higher levels of spiritual maturity.  Ideally campaigners have also undergone some preparations for the work they will be doing while on the field.  This preparation also helps their spiritual growth by forcing them to dig deeper into the basics of their faith than they might have previously.  

2. Some Campaigners Gain a Broadened Perspective of the Worldwide Brotherhood - For many Americans, the world outside the nation's borders is a scary place that they would rather ignore.  If you spend a little time outside the country, then you quickly learn that it's not so scary after all.  People dress differently and speak differently, but underneath those superficial differences people are still people.  Customs vary, but the drives that make us tick are really the same.  
     When you see your brethren from across the globe face to face, then they become more real in your eyes.  They are not stats and figures.  They are priceless souls with real needs, real strengths, and real weaknesses.  They are saved by the same blood of Christ that saves you.  They are just as important as you.  This perspective can help break down the "us" and "them" mentality, and the brotherhood is all the better as a result.

3. Some Campaigners Become More Evangelistic Back Home - Sharing your faith is easier on a mission trip.  It's what is expected of you.  There is no social stigma against it.  Some campaigners really try to share their faith for the first time on a mission trip.  They realize that it wasn't really as hard or scary as they always thought it was.  Emboldened by their mission experience, SOME campaigners go back home with a greater evangelistic zeal, and their local congregations are blessed as a result.  I know specifically of people whose lives have been changed by this phenomenon.  

4. Some Campaigners Become Supporters and Advocates of Mission Work - Remember point #2?  Having seen the field first-hand it is more difficult to ignore the importance of mission work.  They've seen the good that is being done, and the needs that remain. Maybe they're not ready to commit to moving to the mission field themselves, but they want to be involved.  So they enable mission work through prayers and financial support. They remind their church leaders that their congregations should be mission-minded.  Every missionary needs a solid support team back home or they cannot do their work effectively.  Some of the best "senders" are people who have been campaigners.     

5. Some Campaigners Become Full-Time Missionaries or Ministers - When I was in 8th grade my life plan was to be a wealthy businessman, or maybe a doctor, or possibly a lawyer.  In any case I was going to make a comfortable living.  The following summer I went on a campaign to Suriname.  Honestly, I wasn't very useful on the campaign.  I was too young and inexperienced to be of much real help aside from handing out flyers.  However, a seed was planted in me.  This was the beginning of my desire to become a preacher.  Whatever my plane ticket cost that week, I think it was worthwhile in view of the years of ministry that eventually grew from that seed.  
     Obviously not every campaigner will become a full-time minister or missionary.  However, almost every missionary that I know was influenced in that decision by having participated in a mission campaign earlier in their life.

6. Excitement is Stirred Up Among the Local Population - This can give a shot of energy to their regular evangelistic efforts.  Our local evangelists pour in countless hours of work in pre-campaign and campaign follow-up efforts.  While they work steadily through the year, things get shifted into a higher gear surrounding the campaigns.   There is a buzz created in the neighborhood, and the local congregation experiences an increased profile and sense of "legitimacy" because of the international presence.  

7.  Locals Feel Connected to the Worldwide Body of Christ - Brethren from across the globe share fellowship as they work side by side for the cause of Christ.  People that would have never met or even known of each other's existence become friends because of campaigns.  I am often asked by locals for news from their friends in America.  It is a beautiful thing to witness the relationships that form between repeat campaigners and the locals that work with them.

8. Missionaries Feel Remembered
- Even though we are rarely actually alone because there is always someone needing our attention, mission work can sometimes feel very lonely.  The missionary is isolated from his home country and culture.  Sometimes it can feel as though he is sending reports into some sort of void, unsure if anyone is actually reading them or cares about his efforts.  However, when people visit on campaigns they often reaffirm the value and importance of the mission effort.  Even though we get lots of visitors, I have friends at other mission points who would love for someone to come, but can't get anyone to.  They feel neglected and abandoned by their supporters.  
     Are campaigns disruptive to our routines?   Yep.  Do they cause extra work for us?  You bet.  Do they sometimes accidentally create problems that we have to deal with when they leave?  Yeah.  Are they worth the trouble?  Absolutely.  I say bring them on.  Karibuni sana!  (That's Swahili for "Y'all are very welcome!")

Campaign Wrap-up

     Over the past 3 weeks, we've had the pleasure of working with about 25 campaigners from 3 different, overlapping groups.  Kensington Woods, North Tuscaloosa, and Hoover all brought groups to work in the area.  It was great to see some old friends among the campaigners as well as get acquainted with some new faces. The efforts resulted in at least 16 baptisms in Njiro alone with others taking place near Namanga and in other neighborhoods.  There was a great deal of door-to-door evangelism as well as a VBS for the children.  VBS continues this week at Ilkiurei and later at Kisongo.  The Njiro effort was capped off by an overflow crowd at Sunday morning worship service at Njiro.  I counted 89 in attendance, which far overflowed our little tent built for a crowd in the 20-30 range.  
     We are also happy to welcome our newest teammates, Todd and Susan Storks, who arrived last week.  We hope that they will have years of productive service to the Lord here in Tanzania.  

     As always, thank you for being teammates in the work here.  Your prayers and support mean more than we can say.

Till all have heard,

Daniel Gaines

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Short Report - May 29

Greetings fellow workers,

     With the preaching students returning home this weekend for summer break, our attention turns fully to campaign season.  We currently are enjoying having Brian Anderson, Brittany Higgins, Anna Byrd, and Kendyll Covington visiting and working here in Arusha with us, while Tom Watkins is here working near the Kenyan border.   As I type, a group of eight campaigners from the Tuscaloosa, AL area should be very close to arriving in Tanzania.  Also, a large group from Hoover, AL will be arriving later in the week.  They will all be joining the efforts at the Njiro Chini congregation.

     Speaking of Njiro Chini, there was standing room only for worship this morning.  Elly Martin had to provide additional chairs from his home to help accommodate the full house.  Please join us in praying for God to provide a good harvest for his reapers.

Enjoy some scenes from the day:

Brittany and Anna B. teach children's class in the foreground, while Anna M. and Kendyll conduct a personal bible study in the background.

Standing by the door with no seats to be found

Brian Anderson and Elly Martin

Daniel Gaines and Rene Bahatti

     I shared with you recently that we had an opportunity to preach a seminar at an area Pentecostal church.  In the aftermath, one of the elders of that church was baptized and has begun attending at N'gordoto.   I'm happy to further report that yesterday his daughter was also baptized.  That makes at least seven members of that church that have responded to the gospel recently.

Final Reports:  If you would like for me to visit with your congregation to give a final report on our time here, then I have dates available in September.  Please contact me if you would like to be included in our schedule.