One of our best students, Meshack, has been a faithful attendant to our ministry education classes in Geita, Tanzania for three years in a row. I had the privilege of visiting his church and his family on the second Sunday of my trip this past winter. I thought I would tell you something about that day.
I preached to about 450 people in two services at Christ the King Anglican Church that morning on the story of Namaan the Syrian. The people enjoyed listening to my retelling of the story to fit an East African setting. Then I spoke of the path to seeing God’s power at work in your life as being the same as the path to holiness: humility, obedience, and perseverance. These were the lessons that Namaan had to learn in order to receive his healing. God was first interested in healing Namaan’s soul and developing his character before healing his body. Afterward the church services, when it started to rain, one pastor told me that it was a sign of God’s blessing upon my words, and that it was a much needed message for their church.
I sat around for a couple hours after lunch waiting for the pouring rain to quit, since I would be riding with Pastor Zepheniah on his small motorcycle to visit Meshack’s church. We traveled about five miles out of town, starting out on paved roads, then regular dirt roads, then smaller dirt roads, then onto footpaths, until finally arriving at a small (15’ x 30’) mudbrick church in a very rural village environment. Around 120 people were in attendance that morning and had stayed for several extra hours, hoping I could come speak with them after lunch. Unfortunately, with the rains delaying our arrival, most had eventually given up and gone home.
After sitting around for 45 minutes, making small talk, drinking sodas, and shucking “groundnut” shells onto the dirt floor, about 12 people showed up to hear me “preach”! Now what am I going to say?! What could this white guy from America have to say that could make any difference in their lives? What do I really know of their lives and the challenges they face? So, I shared from Psalms 66:10-12, 16-20; and Colossians 1:11-14. I basically said that life is hard and we have many trials, but God is at work through them to change us into the likeness of Christ. I said that I had no easy words for them and did not want to lead them to any false expectations. We all have to trust God to give us strength to live our lives with endurance and patience. We can have Joy in our hearts, not because of our outward circumstances, but because of what Jesus Christ has done in bringing us out of darkness into His Kingdom of Light.
After the meeting, we rode several miles to Meshack’s home to meet his wife and two young boys (Micah and Moses). They live in a simple four room house – a sitting room, a bedroom, a storage room, and an open air kitchen under a tin roof. Over a snack of hardboiled eggs, salt, and water, he told me of his desire to attend a three year theological seminary in central Tanzania. But, at the cost of $750 a year, it is much too expensive for his construction job wages. Currently he is remaining faithful to his congregation, helping them build a larger church building, and teaching and sharing what knowledge he has gained from attending our classes.
May the peace of Christ be with you,
Visiting with Pastor Zephaniah
Leaving Geita by motorcycle
Riding over small country roads
The church interior
Meshack and myself at their new building
Zephaniah and the new church building
A home next door to the church
A beautiful evening sky on our way home