Scarcely a month has passed and already our time on Kome Island seems remote. The pace of modern life, I guess. I titled my pre-trip blog in April “Here We Go Again!” Well, just like last year, God did it again.
After an exhausting trip, including an eighteen-hour layover in Nairobi, Kenya and a delayed flight out of Nairobi, we once again travelled by bus and ferry to Kome Island. Months earlier, we decided to base the pastors’ conference on the book of Ephesians. The cultural context of New Testament Ephesus and the content of the letter seemed like a good fit for Tanzania. This proved correct.
Most of these dedicated servants of Christ possess none of the resources routinely lining the bookshelves and coming across the computer screen of any pastor in the West. In fact, most have no Bible college training at all! So we focused our attention on helping them better observe, interpret, apply, and preach the Word. A highlight on the final day of the conference was listening as the pastors shared three- to five-minute messages based on some passage or truth from Ephesians. Even though they spoke in untranslated Swahili, we could not mistake their passion about what they had learned over the previous two days.
The village evangelism done by the larger team following the conference reinforced the need for these special times of input into the lives of the pastors. I continue to be blown away by the openness of Tanzanian people to hear and respond to the gospel. We saw thirty-eight people baptized from our village alone! Obviously, someone must tend this “fruit” so that it doesn’t “spoil.” Evangelistic results like what we have experienced the past two years are great. But we desire to see the church in Tanzania grow strong and deep, and for this she needs well-equipped, godly servant leaders. The western church can assist the Tanzanian church in this area. Several pastors asked us to return and offer more conferences. The material they studied will find its way into their teaching over the next several months. Unfortunately, we can’t go more often and “fill up their tool boxes.” However, resources from ABH can help meet this need when we can’t be physically present.
Because of our connection as part of the universal Body of Christ, the Tanzanian church impacts us in necessary ways as well. For one thing, their lack of resources tends to make them more dependent on God through prayer. The Tanzanian church also tends to be a joyful church. We can learn much from them in these ways.
Please pray for lasting fruit from both the pastors’ conference and the village evangelism. Pray for those doing the work, usually without much training and support. And praise God for the great things He has done and will yet do!