Saturday, November 21, 2015

Intent to Worship

Top: Children's bible class meets in the shade of the tent.
Bottom:  The after-service greeting line

     For the nearly two years of its existence, the Njiro Chini congregation has met in the home of Elly Martin who has been a very gracious host.  The church has continued steadily, but has longed for a place to call its own, and for the perceived legitimacy that comes from having a distinct location.  The congregation has finally been able to move to a new "temporary" location where they have put up a tent.  And you thought that "tent-meetings" and "tabernacle worship" were things of the past!  

     We are very excited to see how God makes use of this new tool in the work of the church here.  It is an exciting step in the life of our young congregation.  

Commemorating the occasion with a group photo

     I had the opportunity to travel up to Kisumu, Kenya to teach a short-course on Marriage and the Family at our sister school, the Kenya School of Preaching.  One of our graduates from ACSOP began the school just a few years ago.  This was my first visit to the school, and I was very glad to see the ways that the Lord's kingdom is continuing to spread across East Africa.  I found 20 eager students waiting for me, and we enjoyed the week together.  

     We may never know all of the exponential good that comes from the work of preacher training.  This is 2 Timothy 2:2 in action, "The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also."

Students at the Kenya School of Preaching

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Should Your Church Invite Missionaries to Speak?

     There are some congregations that are reluctant to have missionaries speak during their worship services because they fear that attendance will go down for that service.  I admit that I can't relate to that at all.  I've always loved the days when missionaries would come to visit.  We would turn off the lights and look at slideshows while hearing about the Lord's work with people in an exotic land.  It always felt like an exiting change of pace that was greeted with the enthusiasm of a "movie day" at school.

     However, if the attendance is off some places, then why would that be?  Who is indicted by that trend?  I recognize that now days, multimedia sermon presentations are so ubiquitous that the audio/visual presentation of a missionary doesn't have the same novelty that it once did.  In fact, we might sometimes be behind the curve in that area because it's not useful in our daily work. (I hear guys talking about using periscope in ministry and I assume they are submarine chaplains.)

     It might also be the case that people have been exposed to poorly done missions presentations.  Some presentations do have the random feel of flipping through a photo album while being told disjointed stories about the pictures that are happened upon.  I've seen missionaries that seem just as surprised to see what's on the next slide as their audience is.  Missionaries do their works a disservice if they fail to put together a well-organized presentation that thoughtfully and strategically presents the vision and reality of their mission.

     Or perhaps past presentations have been too lengthy.  We missionaries tend to be passionate about our mission.  We have to be.  Otherwise we would have never set out on such a journey.  Our passion might lead us to behave as though hearing about our work is more important than anything else you might have to do with your time.  Many of us also work in cultures that are not nearly as time-sensitive as America.  We become accustomed to taking whatever time is needed, and might forget that our home culture is not quite as forgiving of that.  Or we might just get excited about what we're saying, and lose track of time.  When we far exceed our time allotment, then we run the risk of diminishing the audience for the next guy.  On behalf of my fellow missionaries, we're sorry about that, and we need to work on it.  To my fellow missionaries, hey guys let's work on this.

     Could it also be that the leaders of the local congregation haven't properly emphasized the importance of missions?  Have the members been given the impression that a missions presentation is an event to look forward to, or is it treated as an afterthought - almost a commercial interruption in the regularly scheduled programming?  Consider how you might influence the culture at your congregation to be more mission-minded.

     Allow me now to suggest six reasons why you should invite missionaries to your congregations:

Reasons to Invite Missionaries to Speak to Your Congregation

1. For the Sake of the Children

     Each time I make my rounds on furlough reporting on our work, several children of various ages will come up to me afterwards and express interest in becoming a missionary.  I doubt that all of them will follow up on that desire, but perhaps some will.  At least they will have given some serious consideration to the possibility.  They will think about it because they saw a real-life, flesh and blood human being stand in front of the church and describe the work that they were actually doing.  This wasn't somebody in a book or on TV.  Mission work is something that actual people do.  So maybe they could too.

     The church has always needed missionaries, and it will always need missionaries.  For that to happen, then we're going to need some of our children to grow up seeing that as both a desirable ambition, and a realistic possibility.  If one child from your congregation grows up to be a missionary, then it will be well worth having yielded some time to missionary presentations.

2. For the Sake of a Broader Perspective of the World

     People tend to assume that their own experiences are fairly typical.  This can lead to a narrow-minded view of the world.  Many missionaries work in cultures and places that are unbelievably foreign to a lot of Americans.  Hearing about these people and places can give people a better grasp of their own place in the world.  Spending a little time reflecting on the "less fortunate" can increase a person's gratitude for their own life situations, and put a little perspective on some of those "first-world problems" that cause such aggravation.

     For example, I tend to get very frustrated because we often have to go without electricity for 12 hours a day.  Then I remind myself that 2/3 of Africans don't ever have electricity.  Suddenly, I don't feel quite as deprived.

3. For the Sake of a Broader Perspective of the Kingdom

     The church as described in the Bible is a kingdom that cannot be plotted on a map because it knows no political boarders.  Some Christians need to be reminded that they are citizens of that kingdom first, and of America second.  The church is not an American invention, nor an American institution.

     It is vital that foreign mission works be regularly set before the eyes of the congregation to remind them of the interconnectedness that the body of Christ has.  Each part of the body is important.  When you strike your shin against the coffee table, your hand reaches down to rub the hurt away while the eyes helplessly squeeze shut in sympathetic agony.  Likewise, what happens to Christians across the globe should matter to the local Christian.  Whether he can offer help or just sympathy, he still cares.

4. For the Sake of Motivating Your Members

     No missionary is perfect.  They are flawed individuals, and are not necessarily "better Christians" than anyone else.  However, despite their imperfections, most missionaries that I know are authentic Christians who are doing something bold in the name of Christ.

     Exposing your members to these servants of God and their stories just might motivate some of them to be a little bolder themselves.  Impressed with the needs of the work, they might give more boldly.  Inspired by something being done elsewhere, they might decide to serve their own local church and community more boldly.  Reminded of the importance of evangelism, they might just decide to evangelize their own area more boldly.

     More than once, I've heard members say, "Why can't we do that here?"  Well, you can.  You just need the commitment and dedication to get it done.

5. For the Sake of Being Biblical

     After Paul's first missionary journey, he went back to his "sending congregation" in Antioch.  Acts 14:27 says of this return, "When they had arrived and gathered the church together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." (emphases addedThere we see a biblical example of a church assembly featuring a missions report.  Being the pattern-minded people we are, this provides ample biblical authority for the practice.

     Some seem to view missions presentations as unsuited for a worship service because they're not "real lessons" and must be relegated to a bible class setting or some other gathering outside of the regular worship service.  Now I am very happy to acquiesce to the desires of local leadership in this area, and I find bible class to be a perfectly acceptable time to do a missions presentation.  I only wanted to mention that it is just fine for worship services as well.  The purpose of a missions report is to proclaim what God is doing in the world (i.e. to praise God).  Also it would be almost impossible to give such a report without a real lesson coming through about the work of the church, evangelism, benevolence, discipleship, thankfulness, sacrifice, and yes, giving too.

6. For the Sake of Connecting 

     Having missionaries that you support come to visit your congregation also helps to connect members with that work.  "Oh, that's the guy listed in the bulletin." "Oh, that's the reason this work keeps showing up in the budget report."

     People need to know and feel that they are a part of the works they support.  They need to know what things are made possible when they give sacrificially to their local church.  It inspires confidence in the leadership and in the way they're spending money when members hear good reports about the works they are helping with.  The reports help people to remember that their money is not going down some black hole, but that they are making a difference in the world through their support.


     None of this means that you need to invite every missionary at every furlough.  That's neither practical for the congregation nor the missionaries, depending on the number of invitations and the length of furlough.  Basically, this is just an appeal to you to ensure that world evangelism is being featured prominently in your congregation.  It's good for the local church, and it's good for the world.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Elections, Etc.

     This past week, Tanzania experienced the most closely contested election in it's national history.  The election came and went (relatively) peacefully in our area.  The results were controversial with both candidates claiming victory.  Many Tanzanians are feeling quite upset with the political process.   The situation warrants keeping an eye on, especially in Zanzibar, but for now peace is reigning.  Thank you for the prayers this week.  Please continue to keep the country in those prayers.   

Wednesday Series

     During the months of October and November, I have been asked to do a special series of studies on the books of Acts and Romans at the Arusha church.  Attempting to survey those texts in that time period is proving to be an interesting study.  I'm enjoying it, and I hope the congregation is as well.  I appreciate the invitation.

Evangelism Meeting

    After taking a hiatus due to a packed calendar, the area evangelists resumed their monthly meetings this week.  On these occasions the brethren hold each other accountable for their efforts, and make plans for future collaborations.  It is one of the things that I like most about how the churches here cooperate together.

4th Quarter

     Meanwhile the 4th quarter of the school year continues.  I'm teaching a course on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.  It has been a joy to watch these men grow throughout their first year of study.  By this point they have a good idea of what is expected of them and how the school works.

Spiritual Disciplines

     This week I have the pleasure of kicking off the Spiritual Disciplines Seminar at the Monduli congregation.  This will actually be the first time that I've had the opportunity to visit with the brethren there, so it is an extra-special treat for me.  Our new teammate, Justin Maynard, is coming along also.  I'm training Justin to take my place in the seminar when I go away on furlough.  During that time, he will have the opportunity to take the seminar to Maji ya Chai and Kwa Morambo.  

Furlough Schedule

     Furlough is coming up soon, so if you would like a visit, then please contact me so that I can get you on the schedule.  I'd love to tell you about the great things that God is doing here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

TLC 2015

      This year's Tanzania Leadership Conference was a great success.  Participants came from the United States, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and even Cambodia to be a part of this event.  Speakers focused on how Jesus modeled 21 Laws of Leadership, and how church leaders today can emulate that example.  

Our ladies hard at work handling the registration table.  All attendees received packets with outlines of all the lessons, a song book, an empty notebook for note taking and a few other goodies.

Daniel addresses the TLC assembly

Our brand new teammate, Justin Maynard, jumps right in and does a great job with his first sermon.  We're very happy to have Justin and his family helping us here.

Attendees soak in the spiritual feast.

Daniel addresses the alumni

     With so many alumni present, we took the opportunity to have an alumni meeting and dinner together.  Since its beginning, the Andrew Connally School of Preaching has graduated 120 students into the field, 35 of whom were in attendance at the meeting.  Mike Hite gave a keynote address to the assembly.  Then over dinner we were able to catch up on some of the great work being done across East Africa by our graduates.  It was very encouraging.  

     In other news, the 4th quarter of our school year is now under way.  May God bless our students as they approach the finish line of this year's studies.

Friday, October 2, 2015


We are delighted to be able to welcome some new additions to our mission team in Arusha.  Justin and Anna Maynard, along with her sister Samantha Edwards, have recently arrived to work with us.  Justin and Anna are going to be focused on helping to expand the farming aspect of the work at the school of preaching.  

This is a very important part of the school for two reasons.  First, it helps with the sustainability of the work.  By cutting food costs, and even creating revenue with surplus foods, the school's budget will be that much less dependent on outside support.  Second, the students can learn valuable gardening skills.  While the demand for preachers is high (we can't graduate men fast enough to meet the need), much of this demand is from congregations that can't fully support a full-time preacher.  Being able to garden will help our students to feed their families while they are working as evangelists. 

Additionally, Samantha has agreed to serve as librarian for our school.  She'll have the opportunity to be a great help by providing some badly needed organization to our book collection, implementing a system for maintaining that order, and training a permanent librarian for when she returns to the US.  This will be a tremendous asset for our students. 

You can catch up with the new workers on their blog here.

Pray for them as they get adjusted to their new lives in Africa, and bless their hearts that they now have to put up with me all of the time.  

Juggling Act

With short courses going on and the Tanzanian Leadership Conference around the corner, we have the pleasure of hosting a large number of guests in the coming days.  We're no strangers to dealing with a lot of guests, but usually it is one or two large groups at a time where everyone's schedules are pretty similar.

The current situation is unique in my time here.  We have so many individuals trickling in and out on different itineraries, that we are in the midst of making 10 airport runs over the course of 13 days.   Keep in mind that an airport run, realistically takes half a day for the driver.  On top of transportation logistics, we want to make sure that all of our guests are well cared for and have everything they need.  Almost all of these individual guests also have unique agendas for their visits, requiring personalized attention.

With the unfortunate limitation of only being able to be in one place at a time, there is absolutely no way that I could juggle the current situation alone.  That's why I'm taking the time now to praise our faculty at the school.  CharlesAhimidiweGodfreyMichael, and Augustine along with some others here and there have stepped up and taken on new levels of hosting responsibilities.  They've had Americans into their homes to eat, helped with transportation issues, and generally been absolutely indispensable resources.

I hadn't planned it this way, but necessity forced these increased roles.  In hindsight (if it can be called that from the midst of the situation), this is actually proving to be a valuable growth experience for local leaders, as well as for myself.

So to sum up the message of this report:  Thank God for teammates, both foreign and local.  I pray that He blesses them all.

Prayer Request

Our other teammates and dear friends, Cy and Stephanie Stafford are each facing medical situations.  Your prayers on their behalf would be much appreciated.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Disciplines, Students, and Workers

Gasper translates as Ayubu presents a lesson on spiritual growth

The Spiritual Disciplines seminar that has been traveling around the area has now come to the Njiro Chini congregation.  My "Timothy," Ayubu and I were privileged to bring the introductory lessons.  Over the coming weeks, area evangelists will be visiting Njiro Chini to teach about important spiritual disciplines that will help the members there to grow.  I'm excited to see what will happen for the congregation as they apply these practices.  

Our students are beginning the last week of the 3rd quarter.  I'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers as they prepare for final exams, and finish up their papers and projects.  This quarter I've been teaching the course on Job.  It's been a rich and rewarding study of placing unconditional trust in God.  I hope it has blessed the students as it has blessed me.

Elly hosted a gathering at his home to honor and appreciate the workers at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching.  It was a warm gesture and seemed to be well received by the staff and faculty.  He asked me to give a speech at the gathering.  I gladly took the opportunity to remind the workers of the valuable role that each of them play in the overall work of the school, and the souls that are saved as a result.  I am immensely thankful for the brothers and sisters that work so hard in cooking, cleaning, security, maintenance, gardening, in the office, translating, and other necessary tasks that contribute to the operation of the school.  In whatever capacity you are serving Christ and His church, fill your role to the best of your ability.  

Would you like a visit?  I have openings available in December and early January.  If you would like for me to visit with your congregation to discuss the work here, then contact me so we can get you on the schedule.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Baboons, Fighter Jets, and Mariah Carey

Today I sat on a bucket under a tree located between a small shack and a thirsting garden, and shared the gospel with a man living outside of Christ.  As we sat there discussing the Bible, a troop of baboons looked on from a short distance.  Meanwhile, the voices of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion drifted from a radio in a nearby hut.  Then the entire Tanzanian air force (2 jets) flew overhead in what I am told was a show of military strength meant to impress the voters of the upcoming election. 

It struck me that this was a very bizarre scene of juxtaposed images and sounds.  Then I began to wax philosophical about the situation.  The scene was representative of life in so many ways.  Here are my observations:
  • Our purpose in talking was to focus on God, and to come to an understanding of His will.  This, of course, is also the primary purpose for our very lives on this earth. 
  • Our location between the hut and the garden made me think of the tension that people feel as they search for the balance between home and work.   Yet in the middle of it all we were currently focused on our spirituality.
  • Situated in the shade of a tree, we were attempting to escape the heat of the sun.  Likewise, there is refreshing coolness for the soul to be found in the Word of God.  Also people do go to study the bible to escape the heat… of the next life. 
  • The radio reminded me of the ever-present distraction that entertainment poses.  While wholesome entertainment is not a bad thing, how many times does it distract us from more important or productive things?  A little diversion is good for the heart, but there’s a balance to find.
  • The jets reminded me of the world of politics and current events.   While important, it too can distract us from our true purpose of conforming to a Christ-like image more and more each day.  As we look at politics, we might be tempted to influence them in worldly ways rather than godly ones.  World events may tempt us to rely on governments rather than God.  Just something to consider.
  • But what about the baboons?  What did they contribute to the scene?  Maybe they can just remind us of the people who try to monkey around with us.  That can certainly be a distraction as we’re trying to focus on God.
Well that was just a glimpse into how my mind works.  I hope you found it thought provoking and a little amusing.  I guess the point is that there are always plenty of things vying for our attention.  Let's make sure that God get's it first.

UPDATE: I rejoice to report that they man involved in this study was baptized into Christ the next day!  You can see a video below.  (I am only responsible for the first video.  I have no control over the "related" videos that YouTube chooses to feature at the end.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Renewed and Refreshed

     I had a wonderful trip home, and am extremely grateful to those who made it possible.  I was able to be there for Levi's birthday, and for Josiah's stay in the hospital.  We received wonderful news about Josiah, and we praise God for answered prayers.  I even got to be present for Josiah's first day of preschool.  It's such a blessing to have been able to witness that milestone.

Saying farewell to the family until furlough time

     The timing of the trip made it possible to be present for Polishing the Pulpit.  What a wonderful time of renewal and refreshing!  This was a great opportunity to reconnect with fellow servants of God, and to encourage one another.  The challenging lessons presented were motivating and encouraging.  Our teammates, Cy and Stephanie Stafford, presented several lessons, and helped to highlight the importance of missions.  I'm confident that my work will benefit from my getting to participate in this event.

Scenes from PTP
     When the visit was over, my spirit was refreshed and ready to get back to the field.  Unfortunately, with regularly scheduled furlough coming up in 3 months, it was too expensive to bring the whole family back for such a short time.  So it was necessary to bid them farewell for a season (literally, the season of autumn).

     We did come across a rumor that we were coming home early.  I'd like to put that misunderstanding to rest and assure you that we have not altered our original plans regarding the work.

Enjoying one last bedtime story the night before heading back to Africa

     About 8 hours after arriving at my home in Tanzania I was back in the classroom at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching starting the 3rd quarter with our 1st year students.  This quarter I'm teaching them the book of Job.  One of my favorites!  It's a great reminder that God is in control and is always worthy of our trust.  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

     I was also pleased to welcome a new student from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   He will be finishing his education with us after his previous school in Uganda had to shut down.  ACSOP continues to be an asset to the Lord's church, not only in Tanzania, but to all of East Africa.

Would you like a visit during December or early January?  Contact me so that I can get you on the schedule.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Farming Project

We currently have 3 dairy cows and 2 beef cows.

     As we look toward the future of this great work, we want to do all that we can to increase the sustainability of the work.  We are increasingly handing over more and more responsibilities to the local brethren and actively working to reduce their dependency on the missionaries.  As a part of that, we are also working to cut costs at the school and increase the amount that it can support itself.  

     Towards that end, we are improving and expanding the farming/gardening project at the school. We spent a portion of last week hosting and meeting with some interested parties from the US that are going to help us with this by supplying funding and expertise.  The future in this area is very promising.  

     Expanding our food production will help the school in two ways.  First, it reduces the cost of feeding the students and staff.  Secondly, whatever can be produced above the school's food-needs can be sold to further offset expenses.  In other words, once the operation is in full-swing, it will both sustain itself and contribute to the fiscal health of the school.

     One area of food production is livestock.  Currently, the school has a medium-sized chicken house supporting a little over 100 broilers.  We'd like to drastically expand that to include as many as 1,000 layers and 1,000 broilers.  We're also exploring the possibility of adding pigs to the project.  They would be highly profitable in the market here.  Plus that would give us a place for the prodigal to work until they repent.  (Just kidding!)  We could also marginally increase our cattle stock, but our grounds cannot support more than a few more cows.  

Current chicken house

     The other area of production is garden crops.  This is the most immediate area of focus.  Our guys have been building these raised, drip-irrigation beds.  Netting is placed around crops like tomatoes that are particularly vulnerable to pests.  At this point, we have about 25 of these beds prepared, but we having funding now to go ahead and cover a full acre.

     Another great advantage of this project is the training that it provides to the students.  The Lord's church is growing so rapidly in East Africa, that we can't graduate guys fast enough to keep up with the tremendous demand for trained evangelists.  However, most of these needs are at very small congregations that can't afford to support a man full-time.  As our students learn these gardening methods, they gain a skill that will allow them to feed their families while they are serving at a local congregation.  

    As you can see, these efforts represent a positive step forward in the area of self-sustainability of both the school and the students entering the work force.  Join with me in praying for God's continued blessings on these efforts.

Josiah Update:  He continues to have episodes periodically, and we are anxiously awaiting his next round of testing on August 3.  Thanks to some very kind friends, I'm going to have the opportunity to make a short visit to the US soon.  I'll arrive just in time for Levi's birthday (my youngest son).  I'll be able to be there for Josiah's hospital stay.  As a bonus, I'll have the opportunity to attend Polishing the Pulpit before rushing back to teach my 3rd quarter class at ACSOP.  It will have been a full 2 months since I've seen my wife and kids, so I'm very eager and appreciative of the opportunity to visit.
     By the way, if I wasn't able to get to your congregation on my last furlough, and you would like for me to visit with you next month, then please contact me and I'll be glad to try to work you into the schedule.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Report from Michael Losotwa

I reported to you recently that the Arusha congregation was conducting a campaign.  This was a completely indigenous effort run totally by the local brethren.  I'm very happy to report that it has resulted in four souls putting on Christ through baptism.  The local leadership continues to step up and are growing nicely.  I have great hope for the long-term future of the church here even after the missionaries pull back.  Permanent good is being accomplished through the work here, and I am very proud to be a part of this team.

Now, this week I would like to share with you the monthly report from one of our faculty members of the Andrew Connally School of Preaching:

I would like to send to you my sincere greetings from ACSOP. It’s my pleasure to let you know how things have been going on around here in this other part of the world. For sure we have a lot of things done here that are giving glory to God. On June the 1st the ACSOP was closed for break and every student went home. That was followed with pre and main evangelism campaigns in many congregations in around the Arusha city leading many lost souls to Christ. 
Those campaigns took more than two weeks. Thereafter my companion by name Koimere Ndoosywho is a preacher in Monduli Juu and an ACSOP master’s program student, and I traveled to Kajiado County. This area is located in southern Kenya about 75 kilometers from Nemanga town which is at the border between Tanzania and Kenya. Its dwellers are members of the Maasai tribe. Our main reason of going there was to conduct a Bible seminar for five days. The main theme was “Bring the Church Back to Christ.” 
The existence of the church there has a very disappointing story. According to the old natives of that area it seems that the faithful church of Christ was the first one to introduce Christianity in that area in the early 1980’s. Some missionaries from USA visited there on that time and evangelized almost the whole county and established more than eighteen congregations. Those missionaries worked there up to early 1990’s and their contract was done. 
Seven years later another group of missionaries came to that area with some new teaching with the new name of the church which is “Christianity Community Church.” They came with the teachings that “contextualize the Bible with your community.” They turned the church upside down, introducing a new system of worship including instrumental music in the worship plus a special group of singers to entertain the worshipers in the worship. 
They also dismissed the regular taking of the Lord’s Supper, put women to leadership of the church where the men were present, and ordained one pastor in each congregation. They also ordained one man to be an overseer over all churches in all the area. Surely it’s so disappointing that all the eighteen former congregations were fallen in that apostasy.The encouraging thing is that three years ago there was an older man named Kisakui Oloum who started to reorganize the church, and teach the truth in Leboo village in that area.  That was where we conducted our seminar for five days. Whereby four men out of ten who attended were leaders of that denomination and they admitted that they were on the wrong way and they needed to come back to the truth. 
We encouraged Kisakui Oulum’s son, Nathan, who is an ACSOP first year student, to keep on evangelizing, preaching and strengthening the brethren in that area.   Please let’s remember these fellows in our daily prayers. 
With love from the Andrew Connally School of Preaching,

Losotwa Michael
Dean of Academics, Andrew Connally School of Preaching

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Appreciating Our Team

     Proverbs 3:27 says, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so."  With that in mind, some of the men and women who form the local backbone of the work at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching were honored with an appreciation dinner last week.  We took them to the Arusha Coffee Lodge for a nice dinner, then we presented them with some small gifts to express our gratitude to them.  The work couldn't take place without men and women like this.  Their efforts are critical to the present, as well as to the future of the work.  Join with me in thanking God for them, and praying that He blesses them. 

     The highlight of the evening was a surprise guest appearance by Sean Hochdorf.  (Sean now works with the mission from the US side, but he lived in Tanzania for several years. )  Everyone was delighted to see him.

     Today, I introduced the Spiritual Disciplines seminar to the Manyire congregation.  This was the site of a recent campaign, so it was good to have the chance to check up on them.  I took along Ayubu (Job) with me.  Ayubu is the preacher at the Ilkiurei congregation.  I'm training him to be able to take this set of lessons to other congregations himself.  Next month he should be prepared to start the seminar at Moshi without me.  The ladies of the congregation prepared some delicious rice and stew for us after church, capping off a very enjoyable visit.

Josiah Update:  After his initial EEG, the neurologist has decided to do a 72-hour EEG and a sedated MRI.  These tests are scheduled to begin on August 3.  We appreciate your prayers and support.  We especially want to thank those of you who have sent additional contributions.  We'll keep you informed as information becomes available.


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tanzania Youth Seminar

     This past week about 140 young people from all over Tanzania gathered in Moshi for the Tanzania Youth Seminar.  This was one of the largest turnouts ever for this traveling event.  As you can see from the picture above, the hand shaking line after services this morning was so long that it circled the whole yard and spiraled inwards two-deep.  We also had the opportunity to welcome 6 young people who were baptized during the week.

Is the white guy in the blue shirt wearing different pants in these two pictures???

     This week the Arusha church will conduct a campaign of its own.  There are no visiting foreign campaigners this time.  They will just rely on the efforts of local evangelists, members, and missionaries to reach out to their community.  All in all, it is a good time to be a Christian in northern Tanzania.  Join with us in thanking God for the successful youth event, and petitioning His blessings on the Arusha campaign.  To God be the glory!

     Also, if any of you are interested in having me visit with your congregation at some point this year, then let me know, especially those of you that we didn't get to visit with during our furlough last year.

(By the way, that's actually two different guys in the pics.  I'm in the one on the left, but that's Cy on the right)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Campaign Season

Sunday at Manyire

With 3 groups of campaigners in town, operating campaigns at two different locations, last week was a very busy and rewarding time.  Numerous people have been exposed to the gospel, and several brothers and sisters have been added to the body of Christ.  The campaigners that were working in Njiro Chini head home to Alabama today.  We loved having them here, and we pray for their safe travel.

Today I taught and worshipped at the Manyire congregation along with our remaining campaigners.  Following services, we rejoiced to go down to the river where we witnessed the baptism of a former Pentecostal preacher.  We welcomed him with great joy into the church family at Manyire.  

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Karatu.  There we visited with the local preacher about some needs of the local church.  We also had the chance to visit with two of our students who are home on break.  One of them, Jeremiah, operates a children's home supporting a handful of orphaned children.  They also train impoverished members of the Karatu community in the skills of sewing and weaving, giving them a trade with which to make a living.   

The other student we met with that day, Martin, told us of the grand opening of a new congregation that he was planting in the area.  We discussed some ways that we could help get the congregation off to a good start.  I appreciate so much the caliber of men that come to us for training.  It is always a great pleasure to hear of the good works that they are a part of.  I thought you would enjoy hearing about a couple of them as well.

Left: Jeremiah at the gate of the children's home   Right: Me hanging out with some sweet little orphans

Josiah Update:  Josiah has an appointment to see a neurologist on June 29.  We'll keep you posted as we get more information.  In the meantime, your prayers are very much appreciated during this trying time.  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday at Kioga

     Today I had the pleasure of introducing the Spiritual Disciplines seminar to the brethren at the Kioga congregation.  There was a full house, and the lessons were well received.  Afterward, I enjoyed visiting in the home of one of the local evangelists as we encouraged one another. 

Daniel and Moses in 2010
              Those of you who have followed the work here for a long time might remember the interesting story of how this congregation was established thanks to "Blind-man Moses".  One day two young men showed up at the church in Arusha saying, “Moses sent us down from the mountain to be baptized.”  Sounds very biblical, doesn't it?  Those men were baptized, and one went on to graduate from ACSOP and is now the preacher at the Ilkiurei congregation.  It turns out that there was a brother living on Mt. Meru who had gone blind due to diabetes.  Thus he was unable to make the difficult journey down the mountain alone.  For awhile, the brethren would go and get Moses, but that soon became impractical.  So a church was planted in Blind Man Moses’s 9’x8’ goat shed.  Soon it could no longer hold the growing congregation, and a building had to be built.  Moses has since gone on to receive his reward, but the congregation continues to thrive.  Despite its remote location the Kioga congregation is the second largest in the Arusha area.  

             We're looking forward to a very busy week this week.  There's a large campaign group that arrived a couple of days ago.  They're joining a small group that was already here working in the Njiro Chini area.  Tomorrow evening another group will be arriving to work in the Manyire area.  It is exciting times as there is so much activity and energy being dedicated to the Lord's service.  Keep these efforts in your prayers.

              Josiah Update:  The family has made it safely back to the States, and has gotten the process started of seeing doctors and scheduling tests.  At this point we don't really know any more than that, but we're confident that he's in good hands.  Thank you so much for the countless prayers that are being offered on our family's behalf.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Prayer Request

     Today I have a special prayer request for you.  Our 4-year old son, Josiah, has been having what appear to be a type of seizures.  Our suspicion is that this is not something that would have been caused in any way by living in Africa, but rather a condition present from birth that takes time to make itself manifest.  We have received advice from six doctors - including a family practitioner, 2 pediatricians, a pediatric neurologist, a neurologist, and an anesthesiologist.  They have all advised us that Josiah needs an MRI and EEG.  Neither of which are available here.  Even if they were available, there is nobody in this country that is qualified to read the results.  We have been advised to take Josiah to the US where these evaluations can take place.

     In light of this counsel,  Tiffany and the children will return to the States on June 1.  Meanwhile Daniel will stay in Tanzania carrying on the work for the time being.  Our hope is that tests will prove there is no major problem, and the family will be back in Africa in a matter of weeks.  At this point, we can only take this one step at a time.

     Please pray for Josiah's health, the doctors diagnostic abilities, and that Tiffany and I will handle this situation wisely.  If you would like to make a donation to help defer these unexpected costs, then that would certainly be welcome as well.

     Thank you for your support and encouragement.

Your fellow worker,