Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pastor Damson

While in Mwanza, Tanzania this past February I had the privilege of working closely with 28 year old Damson Maganga, pastor of The Holy Spirit Church of Nyakato.  He had the essential role of translating my teaching from English into Kiswahili for the students.  It is no simple task to know the best words to convey important spiritual concepts into another language and culture both simply and accurately.  Damson and I had many conversations figuring out exactly what words and phrases to use.  His university education was a tremendous help in this process.

I should explain what is involved in obtaining an university degree in a country where the average income is about one dollar a day.  The government run elementary schools theoretically cost each student $15 a year for their education.  But when additional fees for tuition, books, school uniforms, and a desk are added on, families have to pay at least $50 a year per child for their education.  The quality of education at these schools is considered to be quite poor.  Private schools with a higher quality education are available, but at a more costly price.  If a low income family is trying to send several children to school, it is easy to understand why most do not advance very far in school.  It is extremely difficult for these students to have the necessary qualifications to enter and graduate from an university.

Damson came from one of these low income families and applied himself diligently through great difficulties to obtain an university degree.  He could have gone into a well paying career, but chose to become a pastor instead.  It is not easy to live on a pastor's salary in East Africa.  His wife, Theresia, teaches English at an elementary school to supplement their income.  However, the only teaching position she could find is at a school located on an island out in Lake Victoria three hours away by ferry.  The circumstances require her to be gone Monday through Friday each week.  A neighbor girl cares for their one year old twin boys, Daniel and Wilson, when Damson has to be away from them.  They do not like to live this way, but accept it as a part of the sacrifice it takes to serve God in His Church.

I have much to learn from the example of this dear brother about the nature of "sacrificing" for the building up of the Body of Christ.  What have I done in my own life?  Not much really.  We should all be challenged to give of ourselves and our lives wholeheartedly for the sake of the Kingdom of God.  Let us also join with Damson and Theresia in prayer that God would provide a teaching position where she could be home with her family each evening.  Thank you.

May the peace of Christ be with you.
Nathan Dunlap

Pastor Damson in the new church being constructed at Nyakato. 

Damson, Theresia, and their twin boys, Daniel and Wilson. 

The neighbor girl who cares for the twin boys each day. 

Wilson and Daniel

Damson and Theresia with Bishop Kwangu and his wife Mary. 

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