Dear Friends and Family,
May the Peace of Christ be with you.
I am now sitting in a shady spot near our hotel in Mwanza, Tanzania. We had good all flights coming into the country. Monday I flew to New York City where I met up with Fr. Francis, Tuesday we flew to Dubai, Wednesday we flew to Dar Es Salam, and Thursday we flew to Mwanza. This city is located on the southern shores of Lake Victoria.
I am so very grateful for all of those who generously enabled me to come here. This is only my second full day in the country and I am already learning to appreciate our Tanzanian Christian brothers. I have been welcomed here so graciously with great enthusiasm. I am humbled by both your confidence in sending me and in their confidence in receiving me. We serve a marvelous God who arranges our lives according to His plans. I did not plan to be involved in a teaching ministry in Africa, but God had a plan, and you have become a part of that plan. Not all can go, but all can participate. I would not be here without you. I could not do this work without your support. Asante sana! Thank you very much!
Allow me to tell you of the general plans for our trip. Tomorrow morning (Saturday) Bishop Kwangu will be taking Fr. Francis and I to visit in the city of Geita, located about 1.5 hours drive from here. We will be visiting the pastor and church there, along with the students who are gathering there for classes. Fr. Francis will stay there to teach them for the next two weeks. The name of that church is “Christ the King Anglican Church”, the same name as my home church in Kentucky! However, I will be returning to Mwanza to be teaching a group of students here for the next two weeks. The students at Geita have already been taught before by Fr. Francis and he will continue to teach them more. The people gathered in Mwanza are all new, first time students to our ministry. We will be learning together.
Today Bishop Kwangu, Pastor Nestor, Pastor Danson, Fr. Francis, and I met together with the Mwanza students. They have come together from many different towns and churches. At this point there are 21 men and 7 women. They are what is called “evangelists” for their churches. This means that they are leaders in their churches, not called “pastors” because of their present level of ministry education, but they are often serving in a pastoral role in real life. The Bishop says he expects more to be coming in on Monday. Ministry education is very hard for them to get and they are very desiring of the teaching we are able to bring to them. My interpreter has already expressed their desire that many ministry teachers could come to teach in many towns at once. He said, “Next time bring 10 teachers with you! We are many people wanting to learn how to serve God and our churches better.” My interpreter is Pastor Danson, the 28 year old pastor of the Holy Spirit Church of Nyakato.
Today we started right in with teaching the first lesson plans. “The basic beliefs and practices of the Historic Christian Church.” Fr. Francis and I took turns teaching for an hour or so at a time. Each session starts with a song and a prayer, lead by the students. I wish you could hear them sing and pray! Such enthusiasm and fervor! I am not one to get very emotional, but I must confess that hearing them sing and pray to the Lord with such great love and energy brought tears to my eyes. I could tell that they love our Lord Jesus Christ with all of their hearts, all of their souls, all of their minds, and all of their strength. I have much to learn from my African Brothers and Sisters!
The location is Nyakato Bible School on the grounds of The Holy Spirit Church of Nyakato. This is a small Bible School that has not been functioning for some time now and had fallen into some disrepair.
Bishop Kwangu is trying to breathe some new life into this facility, to be used once again for ministry training purposes. It is located in the outskirts of Mwanza in a quiet, rural atmosphere. Many of the students will be staying on the grounds for the next two weeks. I do not know yet if I will be staying with them or at another location nearby. I await the Bishop's decision, he knows what is the best situation. When we are here we follow the Bishop's leading. We are here to assist him in the spiritual growth of his churches. We follow his plans, not ours. We are here to help, not to take charge! Everything we teach and do is submitted to him ahead of time for his approval. This a good way. This is the right way. In this way what we teach is received fully by the students. It is much more effective to teach God's truths by fitting in with their way of doing things. We are here to help.
Yesterday I had some free time and went walking by my self through the outdoor markets near our temporary hotel. I felt completely safe. The sights and sounds are so incredible! I liked it! But best of all was all the friendly people. I had a very enjoyable time trying to chat with people in a little Kiswahili for a couple of hours. Many were interested in me, wanting to know details about my family, and my purpose here. We had some good laughs at my attempts at their language. The common people are very friendly, you would like them too, I'm sure!
This is Fr. Francis' last trip to this place. He is passing the ministry on to me and to you. We have a big job to do for the sake of God's Church here in Tanzania. The Bishop and pastors here are already making plans for me to return next year. This year's students are already making plans for me to teach them more next year. This plan is much bigger than me. This plan is much bigger than you. But is is God's Plan and we will be obedient to what he gives us to do for the sake of His Kingdom. Not by our strength and resources, but by His provision.
I hope to send you a report once a week while I am here. I am using Fr. Francis' computer now and will have to find an internet cafe to send other reports since we will be apart.
Asante Sana, Mungu Awabariki, Thank you very much and God bless you all!
Peace, Nathan Dunlap