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.