Tanzania’s Interesting Border Crossing
Although we all had to sleep in the car the border crossings here went much easier than expected, the vehicle were not even looked at. We prayed a lot for Tanzania’s border crossing beforehand.
We got to ride on a ‘took-took’ to our hosts house, it was great fun. Upon arrival, a very friendly Malawian man greeted us. Then he took our hands and did not leave until we were seated on the couch. They served us food and were very hospitable. Poor Abrie and Daniel suffered dysentry after this.
We packed everything we needed into the bakkie and left the trailer behind. That made things easier. The pastors who would be with us at the conference, held in a rural area in the mountains of Tanzania, all met up here.
Ministry in Tanzania’s Mountains
“As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.” Genesis 17:4-7
The rural town we went to was only a school, a boardinghouse, a church and a few streets in the mountains. Everywhere is bananas and cocoa trees, it’s beautiful. The people are very poor, very generous and very friendly. “Karibo!” (you’re most welcome), was everyone’s first words to us. We had lunch with our hosts, then the men went to the church and Talita and I went to the primary school along with our interpreters, a bishop and the chief.
Creation lessons at School
At the school they greeted us very friendly and we were given the opportunity to teach in different classes. Together with my interpreter we taught about Creation, Fall into sin and Noah and the Ark. The children were very eager to act it out and to answer our questions. It was clear that some of them had not heard it before.
We then walked to their impressive secondary school to ask if we could give a message there. The headmaster was gracious and said it would be no problem. He asked if it would only be for Christians? The interpreter replied: “No, the Good News is for everyone to hear.” On the way back we walked past a pit, I said to my interpreter that it looks perfect to use as Joseph’s pit for acting out the Bible stories; he agreed and said it will be good to share about Joseph.
Our Generous Hosts
Our host has a whole cacao forest behind his house and gave us a ripe cacao. It tasted like a lemony litchi. One afternoon, the chief took us to swim in the river, it was lovely and so refreshing since we “bathed” from a tin basin the previous few days.
We showed the Jesus film twice here, all the surrounding people came. They’re not used to a big screen. Each time Tobie shared a message in between. When the nails got hit into Jesus’ hands, the people cringed and cried out.
After a delicious dinner, our hosts gave us pop drinks which they bought for us as treats. First, to everyone’s shock and then to everyone’s laughter Abrie popped the bottles open, resulting in lids flying all over the place and pastors competing whose drink would pop the loudest.
God used Joseph’s Sufferings for Good
Abrie gave advice on how to share a message with the secondary school. He said Abraham would be good, since there’s a lot of Muslims in the area, it would be good to start on common ground with them. Joseph would be good but also Creation and the Fall into sin since it points out how much we need a Saviour. Daniel said in this case you have two options: – a lot of content but less focused – or only one point but focused. When it’s one point or a story they will understand and remember better.
At the school the headmaster gathered everyone together and talked with them in Swahili. There were a lot of Muslims among the children. My interpreter said the headmaster is saying: “these people came with a message for everyone to hear, it’s not from a specific church or teaching, everyone can hear and you won’t be offended.” Then the headmaster told us that the message must stay neutral. This made us a bit stressed since we thought that won’t be very possible.
They started with beautiful singing, the whole school together and I’m sure I saw many Muslims joining in with the Gospel songs. Then we were introduced and together with my interpreter we opened from Genesis where God made the covenant with Abraham, “and many kings shall come from you”. We skipped to Joseph saying that he was the first King that came from Abraham’s nation. Then we had some of the children acting it out but unfortunately were unable to use the pit since the mics and cords wouldn’t go that far. The application lesson was how God used Joseph’s suffering for good and how it can be the same in our lives. Jesus, the Son of God, suffered on the cross for our good. As we looked over the children I was afraid that this would not be neutral enough; “We either believe that Christ died for our sins, have a relationship with God, and go to Heaven or we deny Christ and go to hell.”
Then the bishop once more took out his teeth (he did it every time before he prayed) and closed for us in prayer.
We split up and handed out tracts to everyone at the different doors; when that was finished a group of Muslims came to us. “Uh oh” I thought, and then the girl gave me hug and said “Thank you for the message, we’ve learned so much”. It was good to hear that. Without God we can’t do anything, and it’s our prayer that He change these children’s hearts so they will be saved!
The Word is our Treasure
Back at the conference it was very encouraging to see two of the pastors were leading the Discovery Bible Study that Abrie and Daniel taught them. They warmly gave thanks for the conference and the oldest person in Lufilyo, a 90 year old man, said this: “the people from here have been blessed, we and the people around us can see that God work in this church because He sent white people to this church and even to show the Jesus film, you must come again”. Daniel answered him with the same message as John 3:30. That we may become less and Christ see to be praised; they do not need us there when the Word of God is their Treasure. They agreed.
Bananas in Abundance
We ran out of bananas so we went to the market and bought some some. Later Tobie and Talita was given a big bundle (black bag full, still green and on the stem). Then just before we left our host pastor gave us a ripe bundle, also still on the stem. Bananas in abundance!
Pastor M from Zambia (Whom we met at this conference) sent photos of an old mural which they are rebuilding into a church along with this message: “We are asking for prayers as we are now trying to teach Discovery Bible study in our Church. For it is very helpful.”