Thursday, September 17, 2015

Sharing From the Heart

A single mother from one of our supporting churches was here this month visiting our teammate, Lisa Newland. Megan and her son Blake came to experience the ministry here in Tanzania. To see what life is like. Little did we know that she would come to have a great impact on our pastors'/leaders'  wives. 

It was kind of a last minute request of mine to invite Megan to give her testimony at the ladies meeting planned for August. I knew she would be there, and I actually moved the date up so she could attend. However, it wasn't until meeting her that I asked her to share what the Lord has done in her life. (Sorry about that Megan! More notice would have been appreciated, I'm sure.) Lisa told me later that Megan had spent many hours preparing for what she was going to say. She prayed and asked the Lord to give her just the right words to speak into these ladies lives. The Lord answered her request in a special way. 

As Megan began to share of her past and how the Lord saved her it moved all of us there. After she finished speaking there was opportunity for the ladies to share themselves. To be honest, I didn't expect them to say much. They rarely do. However, Megan's transparent testimony stirred the hearts of these ladies. One in particular shared her heart, with her face contorting in pained memories and tears threatening to spill, how her mother had died when she was just a little girl and how her father was an alcoholic and on drugs. He beat her until she finally ran away from home. She lived on the streets for a time but eventually went back home. The people in her village thought she had lost her mind and treated her as such. She wanted to go to church but her father wouldn't allow it. She has suffered much and can come across as being very harsh. Hearing her story helped me to better understand her and have more compassion. It also opened the hearts of the others present. I could see it in their faces as some wiped away tears - tears of empathy, and just maybe tears of understanding as they too have suffered. 

It all started with Megan being willing to open up and share from her heart. What if she had thought her life too messy to share with these women? What if she would have smoothed over the rough places and just talked about our loving, heavenly Father? It sure would have made her look better. But it wouldn't have spoken to the dark and messy places these women have lived. Megan's willingness to be transparent allowed these women to feel they weren't the only ones that had a past. It also didn't point us ladies to herself. No, the forgiveness, mercy, grace, and victory all pointed back to God. It reminded all of us that day who our God is and what His Son Jesus did for us. We were reminded of the mighty power of God to save us and transform our lives.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

“A Tale of Two Lives”

Recently  we witnessed the stark contrast between salvation and rejection, between forgiveness and judgment, between life and death. 

Pastor Petro received news that a man in his village had died. He was 30 years old. Several years ago, this man had a successful business and was doing quite well. However, he started to drink, and before long, he was a slave to alcohol. Because of his constant drinking he started to have various health issues including a serious skin disease. About a week before his death, Petro went to talk with him about the Lord. He became belligerent and told Petro that he wanted to have nothing to do with Jesus. That week after taking medication for his skin disease, he got drunk. The combination of the medication and the alcohol led to his death. Petro attended his funeral and was shocked to witness this scene. This man’s family and friends took a bottle of alcohol and poured it all over his dead body and even poured some into his mouth as a send off into eternity - sadly he got exactly what he wanted, an eternity without Jesus. 

During the same week that this drunk man went out into eternity lost, a 90 year old witchdoctor came to Christ. In the ten years we have lived in Tanzania, this is only the second witchdoctor that has gotten saved through the ministry of any of our churches, so, it is a very rare occurrence! This man’s family are members of our church. They have witnessed to him about Christ on many occasions along with many attempts by Pastors Petro and Pelegrino to give him the gospel. He was never interested until recently. He was an old man in poor health, and he knew that his time on earth was coming to an end. Petro received word that the man would like him to come visit. Upon arriving at his home, the witchdoctor immediately informed Petro that he had turned to Christ and believed on Him for salvation. Petro was shocked and stunned even further by what took place next. The witchdoctor was bed-ridden at this point and could not do anything for himself. Since he was now a believer in Christ, he wanted to disassociate himself from all of his sorcery practices. He asked Petro to cut off the fetishes on his head, wrists, and ankles which he had worn to identify himself as a witchdoctor and to ward off evil spirits. To do this on his death bed obviously testified that he was trusting in Jesus now and not witchcraft. This all happened on a Monday. On Saturday Petro received news that this former witchdoctor had died and went to heaven. Petro preached his funeral and was able to share with the community this man’s powerful testimony.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see 
 life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” 
John 3:36

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Audio Bibles

One of Tammy's goals on furlough was to purchase solar powered audio Bibles to bring back to Tanzania. She researched, talked with product reps, ordered samples, and PRAYED. Her heart's desire was to bring back God's Word for those who cannot read, and to increase reader's ability to meditate on God's precious Word.

Since we have been back from our furlough we've been able to give out many audio Bibles. Quite a few of them were passed out at a special 10th Anniversary service in Fumagira. There was much rejoicing as we showed the pastors how to use them.

Before a Sunday service in the village of Kikano we noticed an audio Bible sitting outside in the sun charging. After church a group of ladies went outside to get it and began listening - this after a typical, long service. Tammy asked if this was common and the ladies happily told her they do it every week!

We want to thank every person who contributed towards putting God's Word into the hands of Tanzanians. A special thank you to the the Bible Baptist Church of Palm Harbor, FL  and also the First Baptist Church of Atoka, TN.

Hiding God's Word in Our Hearts

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
Psalm 119:11

Memorizing God's Word is an important spiritual disciple for a Christian. I've been working on memorizing 1 John myself, which hasn't been easy. There are so many things that vie for my time and effort. Psalm 1:2 challenges us to meditate on God's Word day and night. What better way to meditate than through memorization?! 

For the past two months I have been teaching the pastors/leaders' wives about biblical love. I challenged them in April to memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. For those who could memorize it I promised a laminated Subway Art Print of the verses in Swahili. I was thrilled when six ladies quoted the verses! There were a few more who tried, but didn't quite get it. I've given them one more month to earn the desired Subway Art Print. 

What are you currently memorizing? I'd love to read about it in the comments!