Friday, November 18, 2011

Report from East Africa

Zebras seen from the bus window (Serengeti Park, TZ)
Justus Wafula, JMM, Isabellah Inyele (Webuye, KE)

The "sacred watch" given us in Mwanza, TZ

The following was sent to friends and supporters mid-way through my recent trip to Kenya and Tanzania:

I am in Tanzania right now, although I began this trip in Webuye, western Kenya. We began with Expository preaching, round 2 (round 1 had been held in April). Half the group was Anglicans of the Katakwa Diocese, and half the group was Pentecostals. George Kariuki (KE national coordinator) and Joram Ibrahim (TZ national coordinator) were also present. I was impressed that most of the participants seemed to understand the concepts we were emphasizing (an issue-or-problem-based introduction; 1 main point [proposition]; an organizational sentence; and specific applications). The 3 student sermons reflected this better than had been the case during round 1. Some of the participants also told me that they had been trying to preach more expositorily in their churches, and had noticed a difference in their people's understanding.

Joram and I spent our last night at the home of my friend Bishop Zak Epusi, bishop of Katakwa. He is a good man and his and his wife Caroline's hospitality was much appreciated. Joram and I then took a long bus ride to Musoma, TZ, located on the south-east shore of Lake Victoria. There we were joined by EPI's other TZ national coordinator, Wilbert Seme. This was my first time in Musoma, and the 3 of us taught our foundational course of 1 Timothy to about 60 enthusiastic and appreciative participants. We then did the same course in Mwanza, TZ, located on the south shore of Lake Victoria. The bus ride to Mwanza passed along the periphery of Serengeti national park, where we were able to see wildebeest, zebras, baboons, and large storks from the bus window.

In Mwanza there were lots of questions (which is always a good sign), especially lots of questions concerning polygamy, which is an important issue here. I intend to prepare an addendum to my Marriage & Parenting notes concerning polygamy. I already have some material from Trinity (where I went to school) on the issue, and have received some more information from Theophile Rugubira (of Rwanda). Godfrey Ongiri, the organizer of the Mwanza conference also said that he would email me some material regarding the subject. I will send it to my African coordinators and organizers for their input before adding it to M&P and posting it on the website.

A relatively rare event also occurred in both Musoma and Mwanza. As you know, we do not go to Africa in order to fleece the Africans by taking offerings (although we do charge registration fees to cover the cost of the materials they receive). However, in both Musoma and Mwanza the local organizers spoke at the end of the conferences, and the participants of their own accord gave us offerings to express their appreciation and demonstrate their seriousness in taking our teachings to heart (about 40,000 Tsh [$23.50] in Musoma and 60,000 Tsh [$35.00] in Mwanza). These offerings helped to cover our bus fare. Even more touching, in Mwanza one man (I don't know who, but God does) donated his watch--probably the only watch he had. I have it in my pocket now, but will give it to Godfrey to give to a needy person. I consider it a sacred watch, and feel about it somewhat like David felt about the water that was given to him in 2 Sam 23:16-17.

Things like that are very humbling to me. One never knows the full effects that our teaching may have. Your prayers and support make this all possible.

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