I have delayed the writing of this final report to you until I could process the trip in my mind and spirit. I also desired to receive the counsel of our bishop concerning my future involvement with this ministry. There many stories I could share with you of my recent experience in Tanzania. However, I would like to focus on that which is most important. As you know, my purpose was to teach the "evangelists" who are often the leaders of small churches that have no pastor. This ministry education enables them to do the work of the Lord more effectively. My job was not to "change them" or to "fix what they are doing wrong". But, to come along side them as a brother in the Lord to teach, encourage, edify, and build them up in the Most Holy Faith. The students wanted to make sure I expressed their gratitude to all those who made this time of instruction possible.
I did not leave Tanzania with a sense of a job well done or completed. I have much to learn of what it takes to live and communicate in the African culture. My students were gracious with me and my mistakes. I felt as if I had taken the first step in a work that would be a long term investment in the lives of my students. I had eight courses to teach them, but we were able to complete only three of them. My students were eager to continue learning, but I had to say, "My time is up, I have to go home. If it is God's will, then I will return next year to continue where we left off." Their reply was that they would be looking forward to my return, because of their strong desire for more ministry education. It is humbling to be chosen to teach my brothers and sisters in Christ. In the words of a song by John Fischer, "I'm not one who's got it all in place, telling you what you should do. No, I'm just one old hungry beggar telling you where I found food."
We need to look beyond the mystique of "Africa, the Dark Continent" and see that it is rapidly becoming a "Light to the Nations". Christianity is on the decline in the Western cultures, but is alive and growing well in Africa. We like to think we are helping those "poor natives", but we have much to learn from them. Are we willing to be taught by them as well? Are we willing to see that there are perspectives and practices in their culture that would improve our own lives? Are we willing to admit that we Americans do not have all the answers to the world's problems? We need to move beyond the romance of "helping those in poverty" and see that we are One Body, one community of Christian believers working together to move forward in the Kingdom of God.
There is no place in God's kingdom for pride and independence. We must all walk the path of humility and obedience, following in the footsteps of our savior Jesus Christ. He walked this path all the way to the Cross. Can we do anything less than to lay down our lives for the sake of others? Who I am is not important, but only that I am obedient to the call of God for my life. He has chosen me to continue on in this teaching ministry to our African brothers and sisters. Why our Lord should take notice of me, His unworthy servant, I do not know; but I shall fulfill the duties He has given me to do. Sometimes I am confident and sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I know that I cannot do this alone; it will take the help of many people. There are many ways to work together to build up the Body of Christ.
I invite you to continue following this ministry on a new blog that is addressed www.forwardinafrica.com. At this point, my intention is to write two articles or ministry updates each month. I am also open to visiting and sharing with various churches and Christian gatherings about this teaching ministry to Africa. My current goal is to go to East Africa at least once a year. Not all can go, but all can participate in assisting the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to go FORWARD IN AFRICA.
Thank you for allowing me to share these experiences with you. I hope these reports have been an encouragement to you.