Sunday, May 25, 2014

What's Happening This Week

John Gaines (or as I call him, Dad) preaches at Ilkuirei and children gather around their new Bible class table

     Campaigner season is getting kicked off in a happy way for the Gaines household.  Last week we told you about our new friends the Evans family and John Strong.  After a great visit they returned safely to Iringa early in the week.  A couple of days later, we were thrilled to welcome my father, John Gaines, to Tanzania.  He is currently the preacher at the Skagit Valley church of Christ in Burlington, Washington.  He'll be hard at work this week teaching a short course on Hermeneutics at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching.  Additionally, he'll be preaching and teaching in some of the area churches and has been accompanying me on Bible studies.  We had a great study with the niece of Matilda (the lady from Njiro Chini who was baptized last week).  Hopefully, this whole family may one day find themselves in the Lord's church.

     This week the mission team will also welcome visiting workers from Cottondale, Alabama and Evansville, Indiana.  I love getting to spend time with mission-minded brethren from different parts of the world.  

     Improvements continue to take place at the Ilkuirei congregation.  You have helped put glass in the windows and create a children's Bible classroom.  This week we were able to add a table for the children's classroom.  This will be a great improvement over coloring on their laps!

     Friday we were pleased to host the weekly missionaries' devotional at our home.  Dad spoke and the other men took turns leading singing.  Our 3 year old son, Josiah, got the courage up to lead a song for the first time.  He led Jesus Loves Me... in English AND Swahili.  It was a proud moment.

       Have a fantastic week!

Devo at the Gaines' house

Bidding farewell to our new friends, the Evans family and John Strong

Sunday, May 18, 2014


     For the last several days, we have greatly enjoyed having John Strong and the Adam Evans family visiting with us.  They are missionaries working in Iringa, Tanzania.  Iringa is about a 14 hour drive from us, which takes 2 days in Africa because you don't want to travel after dark.  Adam taught a short-course on Christian Ethics at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching, while John helped out with some personal Bible studies.  This was a great opportunity to share resources and strategies with each other for better reaching the people of Tanzania with the gospel of Christ.  They are great people and our families became fast friends.  Hopefully, we will get the opportunity to visit together again.

You can read about the Evans family and their work here.  

Daniel and Adam present lessons to the Njiro Nane Nane congregation.
John and Daniel address the Njiro Chini congregation

Two Baptisms Today!

     Following services in Njiro Chini, a sweet, crippled lady named Matilda put on her Lord in baptism.  Meanwhile at the Arusha congregation, a young man named Kevin was also baptized.  John and I along with Godfrey (the preacher at Arusha) studied with Kevin and his family a few days ago.  He is bright and full of eager questions.  We studied together until the sun went down and it was too dark to see.  I am thrilled for these two children of God!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day in Africa

Young Daniel sits on the family Land Cruiser (affectionately nicknamed the Land Bruiser) while Mom looks on. 

     Godly mothers leave a spiritual legacy for their children that is worth far more than any trust-fund inheritance.  I was fortunate to have a godly mother.  She had a love for God and for mission work that has been passed on to me.  The picture above was taken during 3 early childhood years that I spent in the West African nation of Cameroon, where my parents were serving the Lord as missionaries. 

     Mom loved Africa.  Oh, not at first.  She wasn't too happy about leaving her parents behind in Tennessee.  It wasn't her idea, but she went along with it.  However, at some point she came to love it.  She loved it and always wanted to return one day.  Plans were made to do just that, but this time the family would go to East Africa.  Specifically, we were bound for the nation of Tanzania. But alas, it was not to be. Mom discovered that she had cancer and needed to stay in the U.S. to receive treatments.  The years went by and she held out hope that one day she might still get to fulfill those abandoned plans to do mission work in Tanzania.  Unfortunately, it would never happen.  After 9 years, her body could no longer withstand its recurring war with cancer, and she went on to meet her reward.

     Sixteen years later, on this Mother's Day I am sitting in Tanzania, Africa thinking of how much Mom wanted to be here.  How I wish that she could be!  She never made it here in body, but she is certainly present in her influence on me.  Don't misunderstand.  I'm not operating under the impression that I am somehow completing my mother's unfinished business.  This is my mission, not hers.  However, there is very little doubt that I wouldn't be hear without the childhood influence of Mom and Dad.

     I'm thankful that she showed me the things that are truly important in life.  I'm thankful that she showed me how to sacrifice for those important things.  I'm thankful that she showed me how to step out of the comfort zone and do something bold.  

     And now I'm thankful that my children have a godly mother who is teaching them those same lessons.  My sweet wife, Tiffany, is demonstrating daily to our children the importance of serving the Lord.  They can see her example of sacrifice and selflessness, and they will learn from it.  As they see her dealing with the struggles and triumphs of life in a foreign mission field, they are learning priceless lessons that I hope will enrich their lives.  Tiffany is leaving a significant spiritual legacy for our children, and they are greatly blessed to have her.

     To every godly mother out there I want to say keep up the good work.  What you are doing matters far more than you might realize in the midst of the doldrums of daily life.  I hope that you have a very happy Mother's Day!

Tiffany and the kids


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Angels Among Us

What Fear is Hindering You?

    I have had the opportunity to have a few studies with a sweet lady named Angel.  She and her husband live in pretty little spot on the side of Mt. Meru.  Their home is humble, but clean and welcoming.  We sit outside in the shade of the banana trees and study.  Her husband, who is a member of the church, tends to their sweet baby so that she can concentrate on the study.  

     Angel is an eager and receptive student, and things progress nicely.  We come to the issue of baptism.  She can see the Bible's plain teaching on the issue.  She knows that it washes away sins (Acts 22:16) because it would join her with the sacrifice of Jesus (Romans 6).  She knows that it would gain her entrance into Christ (Galatians 3:27) and his body (1 Corinthians 12:13) which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  She understands its importance and the dire consequences of failing to take this seemingly simple step.

     However, there is just one problem.  She has a crippling fear of water.  This isn't that uncommon.  Many Tanzanians are rarely, if ever, submerged in water.  It is far too scarce a commodity for them to waste in swimming pools or even full baths.  This unfamiliarity with the sensation of being immersed, sometime leads to an overwhelming terror of the very idea.  Sadly, at this point she has not been able to overcome this fear and it is keeping her from baptism.  We are continuing to encourage her and praying for God's help in overcoming this hurdle that Satan has placed firmly in her path.

     Her situation makes me wonder about others.  Are there fears that are keeping you from doing what you know that you ought to do?  Are fears keeping you from repenting of sin?  Do fears keep you from sharing your faith?  How is Satan using this potent tool in your life?  Let's remember the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."  

     May the love of God and our fellow man give us the power we need to have the disciple it takes to do what must be done.

Helping a Sister Unaware

     On our way home one day last week, we turned onto our road and saw a young mama and her daughter walking carrying a baby and heavy loads.  Walking is a part of daily life for most people in Tanzania.  There are vans that function as public transportation on the main roads, but once they leave the main roads average people must either hire a piki piki (motorcycle) to carry them or walk. 

     It just so happened on this rare occasion that Tiffany and I didn't have the kids with us so there was some room to spare in our vehicle.  So we offered to give them a lift.  With broken Swahili and hand gestures we were able to figure out which way to go.  

     We passed the neighborhood and kept going. And going.  Eventually, the dirt road faded into more of a trail.  The trail crossed ditches and gullies.  At one point we were actually driving down a dry creek bed.  How far was this poor mama going to have to walk!?  She would have been making this journey in pitch black at this point if she was still walking.

     We finally came to a point where the path was so narrow that the vehicle could proceed no further.  After helping the lady and her children unload their bags, we offered her some biblical materials.  She immediately recognized them and said, "Kanisa la Kristo?" (Church of Christ).  It turns out that she is a member of the church in a nearby village.  Coincidence or providence?  Either way I'm glad that our paths crossed that day.