Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Report from East Africa--Part 2

Expository Preaching class in Zanzibar

William Ndawula preaching his excellent sermon Husbands' small group at Kilifi, KE mariage conference

The women who prayed for me in Kilifi, KE

Expository Preaching--He "gets it"!

At the expository preaching workshops, I concentrate on analyzing passages of Scripture, and then emphasizing four aspects of the sermon that should flow from the analysis of the passage: (1) the "proposition" (i.e., the one big point of the passage); (2) the organizational sentence (a brief "roadmap" the preacher should give the listeners about where he will be taking them); (3) an issue or problem-based introduction (the issue of people's lives which the passage of Scripture deals with and provides the answer); (4) specific application (how the passage can be applied in people's lives to deal with the issue or problem of life raised in the introduction). All of these concepts generally are new to the African preachers. It generally takes at least two (or ideally three) expository preaching workshops for the students to really "get it." At the workshops, I preach to illustrate what I am talking about, and then a number of the African pastors will preach on the passages we analyzed. The entire group then critiques the sermons. On Zanzibar one of the two African preachers clearly understood all of the concepts, and preached an affirmatively good sermon. Praise the Lord!

Marriage conferences and more

After leaving Zanzibar we traveled to the coastal city of Tanga, TZ for a conference on biblical marriage and parenting. That was followed by another marriage and parenting conference in Kilifi, Kenya. We concluded this trip with a conference on 1 Timothy in Mombasa, KE. I always try to have good African teachers do as many of the marriage teaching units as possible, because there are such strong cultural influences that affect marriage. I don't want to come across as telling the Africans that their marriage relationships must look like Western marriage relationships, because Christian marriages can be expressed differently in the different cultures of the world. (One huge problem with the early missionaries is that they, in effect, equated Christianity with Western culture.) On the other hand, the Bible confronts us in areas where our culture is contrary to God's plan for our lives. Thus, we begin the conferences by looking at what culture says about the relationship and roles of husbands and wives, and then see what the Bible says. Small group discussions among just the women and just the men are always very enlightening and productive, as both groups come up with practical suggestions where they commit to make changes to create better marriages. After I returned home I got an email from my TZ coordinator, Joram Ibrahim, who said, "my marriage is now renewed. We have started a new honey-moon. . . . I believe there are as well many other marriages which are reformed." That is so imprtant, since marriage is spiritual; it is a picture of the relationship betwen Christ and His bride, the church (Eph 5:32).

An interesting day

On the last day of the Kilifi marriage conference I woke up at midnight realizing that I had to get to the (outdoor, pit latrine) bathroom NOW! I don't know if it was something I ate, malaria (as my African friends thought), or some other parasite I had picked up. But that entire day I was very sick. I spent all day in bed (in between my seven trips to the toilet). Ernest Mwilitsa and Tereza Amayo finished the conference for me. I was unable to eat anything. My friends were so concerned. The old Pentecostal bishop at the conference led prayers for my health, and said that what we were doing at the conference was so important that the evil one wanted to disrupt it. About 9:30AM all of the women who worked at the compound where we were staying came into my room to pray for me. This was not a brief "please heal him, Lord" type of prayer--but began with singing, lots of fervent prayer, speaking in tongues, and lasted for about 15 minutes (until I told them that their prayers evidently were working, as I had to make a visit to the toilet). They were very sweet. By the evening I felt well enough to make the 1 1/2 hour ride to Mombasa (praying that I would not throw up or have an "accident"). I made it OK. I was still sick the next day (Sunday), and only able to eat some soft fruit. By Sunday night I felt considerably stronger, and by Monday morning I felt pretty much back to normal, and was able to complete the 1 Timothy conference which began that day without problems.

Despite precautions (I never eat salad or uncooked vegetables in Africa or drink unbottled water) these things can happen. That is why I am grateful for your prayers and, of course, for the prayers of my African friends. I am amazed at how quickly the situation cleared (God uses prayer).

I am now home until August 20. I will be finishing a comprehensive set of notes on Biblical Eschatology, and will be able to begin, if not complete, an important addition to my notes on Biblcal Stewardship. God bless you all.

Report from East Africa--Part 1

Obed Magoko teaching in Arusha, TZ

Obed Magoko (teacher), Dickson Laizer (organizer), Peter Minja (teacher)

Mount Kilimanjaro

Last Friday evening I returned from East Africa (Tanzania and the coast of Kenya). Here is the report I emailed while in Tanzaia:

It is good to be back in Tanzania. This trip is, like all of them, proving to be very interesting. I have had at least 2-3 or more good African teachers with me at the different venues. This is important since it enables me to teach only 1-2 sessions per day and enables the Africans to do the bulk of the teaching. That is good because they teach in Kiswahili, can relate very well to the pastors, and that makes it much easier to facilitate discussion and Q&A. The pastors appreciate that, and it epitomizes what I am trying to accomplish with EPI.

We began in Arusha, then travelled to Boma (outside of Moshi), in the shadow of Mount Kilimanjaro. At the Boma conference one of the teachers was Peter Minja, a Moshi native who has taught with me before. At the end of the conference some of the participants exclaimed, "Is this the same Peter Minja? As a result of your working with EPI your teaching ability has gone way up!"

The Boma conference was held at the Tanzania Assemblies of God Church where we previously had taught Biblical Stewardship. The pastor pointed out how what we had said concerning stewardship of the environment obviously had made a difference: the church grounds were immaculate, the walkways were lined with whitewashed stones, and the church had planted a beautiful garden since we last had been there.

From Boma we took a 10 hour bus ride to Dar es Salaam, where we held two overlapping Stewardship conferences in different parts of the city. Having a good number of African teachers enabled this to happen. At the conclusion of the first conference, we talked of forming an inter-denominational pastors fellowship. There had been no such fellowship before. Although the host bishop did not use the word "miracle," he expressed his amazement that the participants (who included Pentecostals, Mennonites, Anglicans, Lutherans, and others) wanted to create such a fellowship. At the conclusion of the conference they planned to form the initial organizational pastors fellowship committee! Praise God that the pastors "get it" and have begun to apply some of the things we talked about even before they left the conference. Given such commitment, I look forward to returning to Dar, and hearing what else they are doing to apply what we have taught.

I am now on the island of Zanzibar in the middle of doing an Expository Preaching workshop of English speakers. Joram Ibrahim has been meeting with non-English speakers. Tomorrow is preaching day, when I am some of the others will preach and critique the sermons. Sunday morning we leave for the mainland, for a Marriage and Parenting conference in Tanga. I then conclude this trip with two conferences in coastal Kenya.

Thank you for your prayers and support. This work has its challenges, but is bearing good fruit. I hope to see many of you when I return to the States in early July. God bless you, Jonathan