Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ethiopia from Claude and Rhonda Houge, missionaries

From Claude and Rhoda Houge, on assignment in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) is made up of almost five million members. Their church is divided into synods, or districts. This was Claude’s first visit to the headquarters of the Central Ethiopian Synod, the largest one. He was also able to see classes in session at Hope of Life Training Center, where there is a two-year program for training evangelists for the church. Their buildings are overcrowded, which is a good problem since that means many people are being trained. But, it is also a challenge for this school.

“Claude had not been to Gambella in western Ethiopia for some time, so he was glad for the opportunity to meet with church leaders there. There are many Sudanese in this area, because of refugee camps, but many are starting to move back to Sudan. Besides discussions with church leaders and EECMY synodical leadership in that area, Claude enjoyed Sunday morning worship with more than 1,000 people. He was also able to give the church 144 Nuer-language Bibles for distribution into areas of Sudan where the church is being planted.

“After returning to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Claude went to Awassa, about five hours south, and visited the leadership at a Tabor congregation. These people are serious about outreach, and the LCMS has helped support Mission Training Centers in this area. They have planted more than 20 churches in an area that is heavily Muslim. Their main church is very large, and they are in the process of building a bigger building (without asking for financial help from our mission).”

Friday, December 12, 2008

By Pastor John D Juhl

Lutherans for Life

Fully Human From Conception

Month 0

At the moment of conception a unique human being begins his or her earthly existence. Only one cell, yet fully human, with a unique set of DNA. This is how our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world.

While His conception was unique from all other humans, Jesus was fully human, beginning as one cell, just like each of us. He found His first earthly home in the safety of Mary’s womb for about nine months. See Matthew 1:18

Month 1

During this first amazing month of human life, Jesus grew to 10,000 times His size at conception. He was totally dependent on His mother just as every other human being at this stage of life. By week three, the Savior’s heart had begun to pump the blood which would one day be shed for the sins of the world.

Matthew 1:20b, 21

Months 2 and 3

Now a fetus (Latin for little one) the rapidly developing body of Jesus has teeth, fingers, toes and a functioning central nervous system. His ears, lips, and tongue can be clearly seen. By eight weeks all body systems are present.

John 1:14 and John 20:26b, 27

Month 4 and 5

Jesus’ brain has begun maturing-a process that will continue until He is about 14 years old. REMs (rapid eye movements) have begun-a sign of dreaming. Fine hair has begun to grow on His head along with eyebrows and eyelashes. Nutrients consumed by His mother, Mary, are passed on to nourish Jesus’ body within an hour or two. Three hundred quarts (75 gallons) of fluid a day are sent through His umbilical cord.

John 4:13, 14 and Luke 2:41, 42, 44

Month 6 and 7

Oil and sweat glands are functioning: these help regulate body temperature. Baby Jesus can now respond to sound. His lungs are fairly well developed. Babies born at this stage of development today are often able to survive.

Luke 1:35-37 and Luke1:46, 47, 50

Month 8

Baby Jesus is developing a layer of fat that will keep Him warm after He is born. In the ninth month He will shift to a head down position, preparing for birth. His lungs are now fully developed and capable of making the transition to breathing air. After birth, Jesus will continue the human growth process for many years to come.

Luke 2:4-5

Month 9

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manager”

Luke 2:10-12

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Piki Piki Preachers

Motorbike Preachers

Pastor Amos Klimba a pastor with multiple congregations in the East of Lake Victoria Diocese is visiting the congregation of Nyamigamba in the Mwanza District of Tanzania . Piki Piki, the Swahili word for motorbike, is the main means of transportation for those pastors fortunate enough to have a Piki Piki.

It is hard for us in the United States to understand the difficulties of travel in other countries because we can easily drive anywhere at any time with one of our family vehicles. However, travel within the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELVD) can be tough at times and extremely tough during the rainy season. The ELVD is spread over a large area of Tanzania located primarily east and south of Lake Victoria. The land area of the diocese is similar in size as the area of the combined states of Tennessee and Arkansas. The size of the area is one travel issue but the other issue is the roads that must be traveled. The ELVD is reaching out to approximately 8 million Sukuma tribes’ people in this area with 40 ordained pastors assisted by a number of evangelists. Approximately 20 % of this population is non- Christian which means there is lots of work to do.

Many of these parish pastors have a home congregation and 8 to 13 sub parishes in the areas adjacent to their home congregations. Serving these sub parishes is very difficult and time consuming. The parish pastor in Barida has a congregation and 11 sub-congregation and the pastor in Sengrema has 10 sub-parishes. Some of the congregations are more than 40 miles away from their home church. It is difficult to serve each parish in normal times but in the rainy season it is almost impossible. An hour commute in the dry season can be a 3 hour trip on motorbike during the rainy season. Just imagine planning for an 8 am worship service in Bariadi and an 11 am service at a church at the other edge of the district. You might arrive at 11 or at 2.

The pastors may travel between these villages by walking, by bicycle or a motorbike. Often the evangelists walk between 20 to 25 miles a day to villages to share the message of Salvation. The travel between villages takes up much of their time.

The Mid-South District LCMS has help to support transportation issues during the last few years but we need to continue to help provide pastors and evangelist with transportation help so they can effectively serve those in their districts. This help includes motorbikes and bicycles and upkeep (money for tires and supplies) to they can keep them running. Think about how your congregation can support the transportation of the Pastors and Evangelists in the ELVD.

Bob Allen

Mid-South District

World Mission Coordinator


Monday, November 17, 2008

I love to tell the story part two

I love to tell the story, ‘Twill be my theme in Glory,

To tell the old, old, story of Jesus and His Love.

Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus Calms the Storm, and the Holy Spirit Descends Like a Dove


After a long, bumpy, dusty, one hour drive from Bariadi we entered Gambosi and were greeted by a group of about 50 children(and 1 very tall evangelist) running toward our vehicle waving tree branches and singing! I can’t remember EVER being greeted like that anywhere!! We got out of the truck and joined them as they led us to our meeting place under a tree on the edge of town. We were given the usual “places” of honor, chairs, and proceeded to introduce ourselves. Behind us there were several men from the village who were not as “happy” to see us as the children were. One man was drunk and they were making unkind remarks as we talked. Pastor Mkaro and the evangelist were a little concerned and tried to get the men to stop. We continued on.

My partner Francie, Mimii our interpreter, and myself gathered the children and we moved to a place apart from the adults to share our message with them. We must have told 5 Bible stories(they loved it) and sang and taught them several songs. It was a little tricky in the beginning because our English was translated into Swahili by Mimii then the Swahili translated into Sukuma by a village boy. You had to use short, simple sentences. Well, who do you think was sitting on a rock behind the group of children? The drunken man who was making lewd comments! Except this time, he was quiet, calm, and listening to the stories we told. Because Gambosi was in an area where much witchcraft was practiced, Pastor Mkaro did not want us to stay after dark for the showing of the Jesus movie. We were taken back to Baradi and Pastor Mkaro stayed with the evangelist.

The next morning at breakfast, Pastor Mkaro told us that the drunken man who caused so much trouble wanted to repent and be baptized. Praise the Lord!!

Mungu awabariki(God bless you)

Nancy Allen

“Let me tell you what he has done for me”

Psalm 66:16

I Love to tell the Story

Let me tell you what He has done for me.” – Psalm 66:16

I Love to Tell the Story

I love to tell the story; ‘tis pleasant to repeat

What seems each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet

I love to tell the story for some have never heard

The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I bring you greetings from our host congregation of Bariadi Lutheran Church in Tanzania and their pastor, Rev. Harold Mikaro. It was a very busy week for our team and the Holy Spirit was present everywhere we went. I have many stories that I’ll be sharing with you in future articles but I wanted to use this month to give some stats about what was accomplished.

We visited the villages of Lyaul, Nyangokola, Ngulyati, Gambosi, and Sanugu. All of these are the sub-congregations of Pastor Mkaro and are ministered to mainly by resident evangelists that were trained by the Diocese.

With the combined team’s donations that we brought with us, we were able to purchase 113 Lutheran Hymnals, 180 Bibles, 167 mosquito nets, $200 each to 4 congregations to put towards roofs for the churches they are building, $200 to the women’s group of Nyangokoloa for various pots, dishes, and cooking rings for food preparation for large groups, $100 for a new tire for Pastor Mkaro’s motorbike, and $70 towards a new bike that was stolen from an evangelist while he was working with us. We baptized over 150 people (I’ll have to get the exact number to you later).

I was able to share so many things(Bible stories, songs, crafts)with the many new friends I made and also learned many things(Sukuma & Masai culture, hospitality, joy in the Lord). We are so much alike and at the same time so different.

Praise and thanksgiving to our God who has done marvelous things!!!!!!!!

Mungu awabariki(God bless you),

Nancy Allen

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pastor Brandt's Robes

KUITWA NI KUTUWA is the Swahili phase that means To be Called is to be Sent. In June a group of eight members of congregations in the Mid-south district Lutheran Church Missouri Synod went on a 10 day mission trip to Tanzania. Only one in the group was a formally called, the rest of us were individuals who felt a desire to visit Tanzania and see how we could help in ministering to the Sukuma Tribe. The Mid-South District has worked in partnership with the East of lake Victoria diocese for the last 3 or 4 years and recently began a Church Plant ministry with a goal to reach 1 million Sukuma tribes people in the next 10 years.

The team was divided into two groups. A medical team that worked with the medical clinic in Mwanza and looked into the AIDS issue in Tanzania. The second group went into the villages and into the home of Sukuma people in the district of Sengerema. We accepted the warm hospitality offered and shared a simple gospel message with those individuals we met. During this short time in Sengerema we baptized 667 men, women and children. We have many stories to tell you about our visit, one of these is about Pastor Brandt’s robes.

Pastor Rudy Brandt served the Lord for sixty years in the ministry of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Although he retired as a full time pastor at Holy Trinity in Bowling Green he continued to serve area congregations as a fill in pastor. He help start up congregations throughout the area, was successful in calling on the sick and shut-ins, and was a great Bible study leader. In fact, he continued to lead these classes until just a few months before he passed away when he became too weak to teach, but he still made sure we had the right material and gave us direction how to proceed without him.

The writer Os Guinness; says” we are called to be before we are called to do and our calling both to be and do is fulfilled only in being called to Christ.”
Although Pastor Brandt took his final call in 2006 to be with the Father his robes and stoles are still serving the Lord in Tanzania. Just before the mission trip left the US, Joyce Brandt, Pastors wife donated them to be used in Tanzania. In the attached photos , Pastor Yohana Nzelu, is shown wearing Pastor Brandt’s robe, Pastor Ernest Ambarang’u, and Ezrom Ng’weshemi are shown with two of the donated stoles. A number of other stoles were given to Bishop Bomani to be given to needy pastors in the East of Lake Victoria Diocese.

Pastor Yohana is a man cut from the same cloth as Pastor Brandt. He shepards the Church in Sengerema but also serves 14 other sub parishes. Each Sunday, he preaches at three churches that are reached via a two-and-a-halfhour motorbike ride over roads we would consider too rough for travel.The smiles on their faces tell the story as they proudly pose for pictures. Upon receiving the stoles,broke into a song of praise about “BaBa,” which means Father.
This gift is an example of a way that we in the Mid-South District can support the church in Tanzania. To accomplish our goal to reach out to 1 million Sukuma people in the next 10 years, we need support. Each gift, large or small, means salvation for a Tanzanian brother or sister.
We can report that there is no apathy in the church in Tanzania. During our time in these villages we saw people eager for the message,asking for Bibles as opposed to material things.Hunger for the Word is strong but it is difficult for
these people to purchase anything but essentials. The typical family income is $1 per day. Bibles in the Sukuma and Swahili language cost $6 each. Motorcycles are $3,000, plus another $1,500 for tires and fuel.
Please pray about what God would have you do to reach these people.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Tale of Two Mission Trips

By John Hall

First allow me to explain who we are. Our group is called Trinity/HOPE and our purpose is to raise funds and administer programs which provide a noon meal for the hungry and malnourished children who attend our schools in Haiti. At the end of the 2007-2008 school year we were providing a daily meal of beans, rice and a sauce to over 8000 children, teachers and cooks in 52 schools and are looking forward to being a blessing to these and others in the coming year. But this article is about two mission trips to Central Plateau which is one of the poorest areas of Haiti; the people there regularly buy and eat dirt cakes just to reduce the hunger pangs. (Picture—Caption—Dirt cakes being prepared for sale in the markets.)

We had attempted to start programs in this area before but for several reasons: funding, commitment of the local leadership, availability of the internet necessary for electronic fund transfers, email communications, etc. had all been factors in not being able to do so. In March of 2007 Alan Honea and I went to this area with one expressed purpose: To determine “once and for all” if we could start programs here, should continue to consider it as a viable area for the future or simply remove it from our list of areas to be considered.

When we arrived at the Lutheran School in Thomassique we found that internet service to the area had been established and the local leadership was now committed. But the real story was the children. We went from school room to school room and observed signs of malnutrition everywhere, children with vacant stares, thin emaciated bodies, rust colored hair and such a lack of energy and hunger that the children often slept or just silently cried. (Picture—Caption—Hungry and hurting children.)

But we also found these poor, improvised children had great faith. They had been told that the schools in the area were being considered for possible feeding programs. If they were to get one in the future that the parents and community would be expected to furnish the kettles, bowls for cooking and serving the food and water and wood for the food’s preparation. We were amazed to see that these children were coming to school carrying sticks of wood.

Alan and I looked at each other and we both thought of Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” We knew these children were going to be fed. We came home and Trinity/HOPE started raising the additional $40,000 needed to feed the four Lutheran Schools in the area. By the time school started, we had raised $21,000, trusted God for the remainder and started feeding the children. God not only blessed us with the funds needed; He provided enough so a fifth school could be added during the school year.

In March of 2008 Frankie Coleman and I returned. What a difference. All signs of malnutrition were gone. In fact the four schools had been a part of a Body Mass Index study by Bunny Pozehl, Ph.D. on our board of directors with some amazing results. At the beginning of the school year 40% of the children 4-6 year old were in the “at risk” percentile. After ten months of school and the daily meal provided by our feeding programs, the number of “at risk” children as determined by BMI had been reduced to approximately 10%. This is an awesome physical impact. (Picture—Caption—Healthy children enjoying their noon meal.)

The spiritual impact is fully as impressive. Our churches and their schools are doing an incredible job of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to their communities in Haiti. And while only 35% of the population in Haiti is Christian, about 90 to 95% of the children in our schools believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior and they tell us that now 60 to 70% of their parents do as well.

This is not only a tale of two trips; it is a story of changed lives. We thank those of you who are already supporters of our work to feed and FEED the children and invite those who are not yet a part to become involved. 100% of all funds we receive go to feed the children. Trinity/HOPE, 2366 Cairo Bend Road, Lebanon, TN.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tanzania Mission Trip 2008

Nine people from the Mid-South District LCMS begin our journey to Tanzania on May 28th arriving as the sun was setting the next night in Arusha. The next day took a short air flight to Mwanza where we were greeted by representatives from the East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELVD). We began our drive to Bariadi on the far eastern side of the diocese arriving at the church long after dark to be greeted by the congregation and choir singing to us. We were directed to a school room to have our first sample of the authentic African food. The women’s ministry prepared our meals over cook fires in the Pastors front yard. It was good and no one went hungry.

Something we were exposed to first hand was the value of the Mission Training Centers (MTC) and the Church Planting Ministry (CPM). The Mid-South Districts helps support 8 current MTC centers and 3 more are on the planning board. Pastor Mkaro conducts MTC training at the Bariadi district for four days once a month for the evangelists working in his area. One such man is Emmanuel Mbjoe and his day is spent walking to the villages to introduce them to the gospel. Most days he walks 15 to 30 miles. He is also the coordinator for CPM in the area. He goes into the villages to find a “Man of Peace’ who is willing to share the Word with family members and do Bible storying. Many of the Sukuma live in family groupings of 3 to 5 homes in close vicinity. The gospel message is then spread to the immediate family members living a little further away until the whole clan hears the gospel message. The effectiveness of the CPM can be readily seen in the village of Sunungu where last year the first person was baptized and this year the church has over 400 members. The “Men of Peace” often become leaders or evangelists and may continue to receive training to become pastors.

Each day Pastor Mkaro took us to another of his 11 sub-parishes where we heard the choir sing and dance. We were able to share the gospel with church members and curious onlookers. In the evenings we were able to sit under the stars with them and watch an outdoor movie. Mobile movies are such an effective tool to sharing the gospel outside the local congregation. Few people we visited have electricity or any of the conveniences we enjoy and few have any transportation at all, including bicycles. This does not seem to hinder the Sukuma, once they hear the gospel they are eager to share with their extended family.

The needs of the congregations include Bibles and hymnals, building supplies, medical care as the nearest hospital is 15 to 20 miles away, bicycles and motorbikes for evangelists. They need generators, DVD players, projector and current DVDs for the movies.

We are planning next year’s mission trip to an island in Lake Victoria, called Ukerewe in early June. This island, the largest in Lake Victoria, about 25 miles north of Mwanza and is 300 square miles in size. Projects include putting roofs on churches and conducting a mini vacation bible schools. Why not join us?

Bob Allen, Director of World Missions, Mid-South District LCMS, 615-672-0923

Monday, September 1, 2008

Notes from Francie's journal-first trip to Africa

6/1/08, Sunday: Wow ~ where do I begin? Today has been a Hugh Experience! Full of amazing worship and Great Hospitality and Enormous Love! I began my day be waking up at 6:15 after sleeping a few hours. We arrived just in time for church that started real close to 7:15 and the service … although I couldn’t believe it … ended around 9:40 am. It was filled with Beautiful music and good preaching. During the service there was a special ceremony to rededicate a lady and her family. She had become a Christian a while ago … but sometime before March began hearing voices telling her she was useless and had no purpose for living so in March she was finally at the point of trying to commit suicide. The pastor began counseling with her and reassured her that God did have a purpose for her being her. If I understood they felt she was actually possessed by an evil spirit and they prayed for it to leave. Today she along with her husband and four children stood before the church and claimed God’s as truth to live in them!

The next part of worship was the time of offering. Let me tell you it was vastly different. First it is at the end of the service and they receive 3 different offerings. The first is an offering of Thanksgiving and the other two are designated offerings for specific ministries. The other difference is that they (the congregation) actually bring their offering to the front. The plate or in this case wooden box isn’t passed through the congregation. They have a special stand that holds the offering boxes … and they place one at a time in and the congregation then line up and file past the box to leave their offering … (not just money – some left fresh eggs, fruit and this Sunday the family that was rededicated to God brought up a goat one of the elders of the church took her up and tied her to the alter rail up front.)

The services end differently here too. Or at least this is how we ended this particular Sunday. After the church service was over the Pastor led the congregation out and there was an auction for all the items that were given during the offering that was not cash. The goat (the big ticket item) was sold along with a bag of oranges to the highest bidder for 45,000 shillings as a gift to the American guest. So we will either have fresh goat meat for supper or maybe will give it to someone in need … just kidding. Seriously if it were a male goat we might have had goat but it was a female and they are too valuable because they produce milk and more offspring’s.

Following the service, auction and fellowship time we had breakfast ~ another good one, by the way. Oh by the way anyone curious Pastor Harold was kind enough to share with the entire congregation that I was single ~ no offers yet but possible interest?!

Something else I forgot while in the 1st service we were part of the service, Pastor Don Schmidt did the preaching and Bob Allen helped also. I was asked to teach the congregation the song “Hallalu”. So with the help of the mission team we did just that.

Soon after breakfast we loaded up the truck and headed out of town to Nyangokolowa to join another congregation who had been patiently waiting on us for close to 3 hours. Amazingly enough they were still there and excited to see us. Just like it was at Lyalu the longer we were there the more people showed up.

Last week the Bariadi church had an attendance of 236 and this congregation at Nyangokolowa had 156. And mind you this congregation doesn’t have a building they meet in their service is simply under a tree in the middle of God’s Creation.

We were blessed to be a part of yet another wonderful service. It also contained beautiful music, proclamation of God’s word and the act of worship through an offering. The special treat today was the confirmation class singing and dancing for us 20 out of 56 in the class shared their gifts with us. Following the special 16 of that class were baptized and even some younger and older not in the class were baptized. We finally ended around 1:30 pm.

After church we were asked to go and see the location for the new church building. They had raised enough money to begin the foundation and start making their own bricks. Someone in the church had donated the land to build on and let me tell you the pictures I have of the view don’t even begin to show the beauty of the view from the new church. While we were there they had a special tree planting ceremony. The local church members were charged with the care of this newly planted tree. It is to be the symbol of our friendship with this congregation. Tom Bolt was given the honor as our oldest member “Babu” (grandfather) to actually place the tree into the ground.

After this short time seeing the progress of the new church building and planting the tree our group was invited to one of the Elders home for lunch. Let me just say IT WAS GREAT! I think this meal is the best we have had so far! (looking back I think it was the BEST all around). We had cooked cabbage with carrots, Chips (“Irish” (European) potatoes {like French fries ~ only better}, Rice cooked with carrots, bananas, some kind of meat (which I chose not to take), and a Cold Drink. Again it was really good!

Following lunch, taking some pictures, good conversation and making new friends we went back to the place we had the church service. There we divided into three groups, adult, children and youth. In each group we shared bible stories, talked about our lives and at least in the children’s group learned some songs. At last our time had come to an end at Nyangokolowa all of us except Bob and Don headed back to town to eat and rest. The others stayed to show another movie to those who gathered after dark. It was still fairly early in the afternoon, so Mimii, Nancy, Susie and I decided to take a walk around town. It wasn’t a large town so we walked through it with little trouble before the sun went down around 7pm. All of the ladies then gathered on the balcony back at the hotel to visit with each other. Finally around 9:30 / 9:45 we were picked up to go have supper with the others who had returned from the movie. We made plans for the next day and decided to start later giving Pastor Harold time to do some of his own church work before leaving with us.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Story of Marge Beam

Marge Beam, 77, is a retired school teacher in central Ohio. In her early years she wanted to be a missionary, and she did spend a few years teaching at a mission school in Hawaii. After that she returned to her home in Ohio and taught in the small Jackson Center Local School.
Seven years ago Ms. Beam went on her first trip to Tanzania, led by Pastor Jan Campbell. The church at Bariadi is a sister church to Marge's church. Their young pastor, Harold Mkaro, took special interest in this elderly visitor from America and called her "Bibi," grandmother. Marge was touched; she had never married, had no children of her own, and suddenly she was not only a missionary, but a grandmother!
Marge has returned to Bariadi each year since 2002. She sometimes stays the maximum 90 days allowed on a tourist visa and lives in the home of Pastor Mkaro, his wife, Jen, and their three-year-old son, GodBless.
The young church Pastor Mkaro serves has great needs. Many orphaned and abandoned children come to Pastor Mkaro for help. Jen never knows how many people are coming to supper; their home is often full of children. They dreamed of opening a nursery school for the community, and with fund-raising help from Ms. Beam, that school is now a reality. But there is a growing need to care for the orphans, whose numbers increase every month. Ms. Beam and the church at Bariadi had a vision, and that visions is slowly becoming reality. The children will be housed, fed, cared for, and educated. Their parents can die in peace, knowing that their children will not wander the streets begging. And isn't that just what our Lord Jesus Christ compels us to do?
Tanzania is located in eastern Africa on the Indian Ocean, and it covers an area roughly twice the size of California. It is home to Mt. Kilimanjaro (the highest point in Africa), Lake Victoria (the second largest lake in the world), and the Great Rift Valley. The city of Mwanza is located on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. The daily temperature in September is in the eighties and nineties with plenty of sun. The two official languages are Swahili and English. Tanzania is a peaceful nation in East Africa.

Note from Bob and Susie: Marge is an inspiration to all of us. Imagine taking your first mission trip at age 70 and returning (often flying there alone) every year and living with Pastor and family. When she said that she helped with fund raising she is being modest. As Bob says a boomer is turning 60 every 10 seconds. We will live longer, are healthier and have more disposable income than previous generations. While there is nothing wrong with retiring and spending your time playing golf.....what could be be better than what Bibi Marge is doing. We are to finish well. Imagine the difference this one retired lady makes in the lives of so many. She is a delight to be around and her enthusiasm is contagious. How lucky so many Tanzanian orphans are to have Bibi Marge. She calls her self an unclaimed blessing. She is a blessing alright and the Tanzania orphans have claimed her. To God be the Glory. Thank you for Bibi Marge.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lyalu and Mr. Nkulukulu

We went to a very poor area of the country and district named Bariadi. I was told that this district was slow in being evangelized because it was out of the way, dry and hot it was avoided by the evangelists. On our first day in the Bariadi district Pastor Harold Mkaro took us to one of his smaller parish Lyalu located about 10 miles from Bariadi. We drove to a small field off the road that was surrounded by a fence of sissel plants. People from the congregation were waiting for us. We found a spot in the shade to conduct our worship service. The choir from Bariadi came out with their generator and keyboard to sing for us. The Tanzanian people love singing and dancing and as people walked down the road stop by to hear the singing and stay for the worship service. Pastor Don Schmidt from Memphis and Pastor Mkaro preached to this small crowd that seemed to grow and grow as the service went along as people heard the music.

Pastor Mkaro pastors the church in Bariadi and has 11 other sub parishes that have started through the work of the church planting ministry and the area evangelist who go into the surrounding areas with Pastor Mkaro After the service we baptized 67 men women and children as well as confirmed the confirmation class.

After the service we divided into 3 groups- children, youth and adults. We shared bible stories and they asked questions about us and America such as do we all ride bikes, do we wash our clothes at the river. They told us that Mr. Nkulukulu had donated a field from his 5 acre farm.

They were proud to show us where they were going to build their new church. The members of the congregation were clearing a spot for the foundation, they had begun making bricks for the walls from the dirt removed from the foundation. The bricks are sun dried, then stacked up in a cube like a kiln and fired. The congregation will do all this work cleaning the spot, breaking rocks for the foundation, making bricks and building the walls. They told us that they did not have money to buy cement for foundation, or wood for the roof trusses or steel sheets for the roof. I gave them some seed money for the cost of the roofing material It will not be enough to finish the job but will get them started.

The field where the church will be located came from one of the parishioners ,Mr. Nkulukulu. He is a spry man 65 to 70 years old. He had a successful farm of approximately 5 acres of land and He was proud to show me all his property.

Over half of his land was plant in sweet potatoes plants which the family can store and eat and he can take some to market to sell for some cash. They also had a small field of corn, they call maize, a small patch of rice, some melons. Papayas. He also had some goats and chickens. He prepared all the ground without any equipment except a with a big hoe.

In the afternoon, they planted a tree near where the church will be built. They called this a planning tree and was planted in memory of our visit to their congregation and in memory donations from Trinity Lutheran church Peoria, Illinois

Later in the evening we used the power of our rented generator to show the DVD story of Jesus from Luke gospel. I think this was the first movie most people had seen and they loved it. These movies are such an effective evangelism tool.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Upcoming Missions Trips

Opportunities for 2009

No Age Limit

TANZANIA (May-June 2009) approximately a 10 day trip exact dates to be determined

  • Evangelism outreach to the villages
  • Vacation Bible School programs for village children
  • Helping local congregations put up rafters and sheet-metal roofs on church buildings


(summer 2009) exact dates and length to be determined

  • Construction help for a new worship facility of a new facility.
  • Help with a VBS program they have not had a VBS since 2006. They have not had enough people to support it. This would be a great event for high school or college kids and some teachers.
  • Help with small group ministry.

Haiti (exact dates and length of trip to be determined.

  • Project Trinity/Hope is 10 year old Christian Feeding Program that reaches out to close to 8000 Haitian Children.

Mission trips are scheduled for March 2009

Vietnam (February 3-19, 2009)

  • Visit LCMS World Mission projects in Cambodia, along with Angkor Wat.
  • worship in a Lutheran "house church" in Saigon
  • travel to the Hanoi area and visit with Ted Englebrecht, pastor in VN for over 12 years, J.P. Cima, vicar in his second year,
  • ESL volunteer teachers to take part in classes they teach.
  • We will also visit a number of project sites of LCMS World Mission in Phu Tho province and experience how God is revealing his love to people who don't know Him.

If interested contact Bob Allen Director of World Missions Mid-South District LCMS 615-672-0923 email or Call Peggy Krohn at the district office 866-373-1343

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bwana Asifiwe or Praise the Lord

“Can you help my baby? He cannot walk.” Wow! What a question. This was asked of my evangelism partner in a small village outside Sengerema, Tanzania. My immediate thoughts were, “What can we do? We’re not doctors! We’re just plain, simple, ordinary people.” Thank goodness these were only my thoughts and did not linger long. As my friend put his hands on the child’s head and prayed for healing and blessing, I realized that there was much I could do. The reason I was in this small village in Tanzania was to share the Gospel message with the Sukuma people. In another village, after we told The Story, after we baptized, and after we explained the need to grow in their new faith by attending church regularly, reading the Bible, and sharing the Good News with others, we were asked another question. “How do I get a Bible so I can read more about Jesus?” Wow, another tough question! This time I thought, “There is much WE can do for the Sukuma people.” The support of our District’s partnership with the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania can provide answers to the above questions plus much more. We can share the hope that is found in the gospel of our Lord and Savior. We can reach out to our fellow Lutheran brothers and sisters and provide the means to obtain Bibles and Lutheran hymnals in Swahili, support parish pastors, support and train village evangelists, assist with church building materials, up-date the audio visual equipment used to share the Message in an outdoor, rural setting. All of the above are being used in the Diocese right now but on a very limited basis. Parishioners and the Tanzania government have given land to build churches, they are making bricks and laying stone floors, evangelists go through the villages preaching and encouraging new Christians in addition to holding full-time jobs, pastors sometimes ride over 2 hours on a bicycle to reach a congregation on a particular Sunday. These, our brothers and sisters in Christ, love their Lord and are not afraid to work and put their faith in action. They just need our prayers, our support, our encouragement, and our love.

Consider being part of this exciting ministry by praying for the un-reached Sukuma people and the East of Lake Victoria Diocese, supporting the District’s Church Planting Movement in Tanzania, or being part of the next mission team. If there are any churches or groups in the District who would like to hear more and see some faces and places, I would be happy to share them with you. I can be reached at:

Tobias and family

Acts 16: 26-33 And suddenly there came a great earthquake, so the foundations of the prison house were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. And when the jailer had been roused out of sleep and seen the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice saying. Do yourself no harm for we are all here. And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. After he had brought them out he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and his entire household.

The thing I will carry with me from our trip to Tanzania is the faith of a man named Tobias. St. Paul tells us in Acts 16 about a Philippian jailer who, in the middle of the night, has Paul into his home and his entire family is baptized. Tobias is a very influential man in a remote area of the village of Buyago. He owns a great spread of farmland and has living in his household a total of 38 people. I went along with Pastor Ezeram and Pastor Earnest to his home to speak with him and his family about Jesus. Only he and a couple others in his house had ever heard the name of Jesus. Tobias was the first to be baptized, as the head of his house. His name before conversion was Ngoshen, and when asked what his Christian name was to be, he proudly stomped his feet, one at a time, and said with great authority, "Tobias!" After he was baptized, he brought his family to me, one at a time, and stood next to them, saying along with me (in Swahili, of course), "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," and he would smile at them, and go get the next member of his family. As this went on, several other members of his household came back to the house, and he rushed to meet them, and brought them to the waters of Holy Baptism.

What great faith God has given this man. What excitement over the great gift of salvation God has given to his family. Tobias is a strong example of Godly character. You can bet that his family, come Sunday morning, will be in church. Not only because he will bring them, but also because he agreed to start a church in his home. I was humbled by his faith, and the grace that God poured out on the great harvest field that is Tanzania, and I will carry with me the story of Tobias and the grace that God has given to his family.

We visited 5 parishes during this mission trip, Buyago located in the southern end of the district is one of the 14 sub parishes in the Sengerema district we visited.. We did not get to visit the areas of 8 sub parishes. You have to wonder how many families are there in Sengerema or in Tanzania who have not heard the message because there is no pastor or evangelist or mission group from the mid-south district to tell the gospel message.

Buyago is an hour drive south and east of Sengerema. How can the word get out to this area without a pastor or evangelist. The East of Lake Victoria diocese (ELVD) needs your financial support to help place a pastor or evangelist in this area. Please consider supporting the ELVD ministry.

God's Blessings,
Josh Hatcher

Friends Forever

This was my first mission trip to Tanzania with the 2008 Mid-South District's mission team. I am a registered nurse and volunteered at the Nyakato Health Centre in Nyakato, a poor suburb of Mwanza, with a pediatrician, Dr. Doug Campbell from Memphis, also on the team. (The Nyakato Heath Center is an outreach arm of the East of Lake Victoria Diocese ELVD)

But one memory I will always carry with me, not from Nyakato, but from the village of Nyangokolwa, where Doug and I joined the rest of the team 120 miles away for two days during the first weekend of our stay. After our church service ended under a large tree in the company of over 100 congregation members, the team was fed nearby with a wonderful meal cooked by six women. After our meal was over, the cooks wanted to have their pictures taken with the team. One woman chose me with whom to have her picture taken. She was full of excitement, and as she gripped my hand and grinned from ear to ear, she repeatedly exclaimed in Sukuma to our interpreter, Mimii, "Friends forever, we are friends forever!" She then led me, along with Mimii, to her neighborhood and absolutely insisted that I come in and see her home. Mimii told her the rest of the team was leaving and that sadly I could not take the time to visit, so she said, "Then let me give you a gift!" She ran inside with the boundless energy of a young child, and emerged gleefully with a large bag of peanuts, packaged in hand-sized bags. Mimii explained to me this was this woman's business, but she wanted me to "take all of the peanuts to America." I was so touched by this act of love, but knew I could not take away her livelihood. This was a large sack full! Mimii then told her this, but she was not dismayed - she then took out the small packages and stuffed as many in my hand as it could hold and told me to "at least take these back to America!" How could I refuse? I took them, and she gave me a bear hug I will never forget. She jumped up and down, held my hand, and happily chattered all the way back to the van. Sad thing was, I never asked her name. I don't know why. But almost every day I think of her, and if I return next year with Mid-South's team to Nyangokolwa for a visit, I will look her up and tell her just how wonderful her peanuts really were. She was such a blessing to me, and I will always remember her.

Laurie Gent is a member of Our Savior Lutheran Church Cabot, AR


How great is to know your sins are forgiven.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear

And grace my soul relieved

How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed

The choir from the local congregation greeted us in song as we drove into the yard of the church elder. they had so much enthusiasm and were so colorful. In this home area were three homes a new home and two older mud huts. We were told that someone wanted to be baptized but they had apparently already went to the school for the service and Baptism. The choir sang to us as we departed. They began running down the road singing.

We drove off in another direction. We went to another little home that was located just off two little cross trails. Just before we began our service we could hear the choir singing. Soon they came into view. They had run the whole way from the last house.

People came from everywhere to this little mud hut. Soon we were complete surrounded by men women and children. (where do they all come from?) We had a baptism service while the choir sang. We baptized many.

The sun was just going down when we drove into the kafundekele school yard. People were everywhere. They had taken the desks out of the school and place them in a square. We introduced ourselves and talked. Pastor yohana asked for those wanting baptism to come forward. We were overwhelmed. There were so many. It was getting dark so we had to have someone with a flashlight, someone holding the bowl with the water and someone from the congregation writing the names of the individuals and someone baptizing.There we two Baptism teams we were completely surrounded people on every side. We could hardly move. One of the ladies who came forward to be baptized by Pastor Josh Hatcher was a tiny lady who was baptized as Rosalea. Roselea was 90 years old and came with some friends who were also quite old.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Water from Kentucky to Tanzania

When we need a drink we just go to the tap. How convenient! What luxury! The water is clean and free of germs. Sometimes this is not good enough for us and we purchase expensive bottled water. We use water softeners and must have the right temperature for our showers.

This is not possible in Tanzania. In most villages the women and children walk for miles to find water for their family. They transport the water for cooking, washing, and drinking. Lack of sanitary water causes many diseases that wipe out families. Just imagine, worrying about your children drinking contaminated water and getting sick. When you see what women go through just to get water to wash their clothes; you are truly impressed with what they go through to show up for church on Sunday clean and in their “Sunday best.” They take great pride in their appearance.

The Sunday school classes at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Bowling Green have dedicated the Sunday school offering every 3rd Sunday to a Tanzanian well project. This is a great project for all age groups to participate in. Not only does it meet a felt need but is a wonderful Christian witness to all Tanzanians. Something so simple for us, yet so critical to them.

Consider a Tanzanian mission project for your Sunday school. The East of Lake Diocese of the Lutheran Church of American has great needs such as, bikes or motorbikes for pastors to travel between congregations, radio and audio visual outreach, and help for educating pastors and evangelists.

With a little effort on our part, we can do much for our brothers and sisters in Tanzania. Please prayerfully consider what you can do for the kingdom in Tanzania.

Whoever drinks this water.......

Whoever drinks of this water that I give shall never thirst, but the water I shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. The woman, said unto him. Sir give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty, or come all the way here to draw

John 4:14

Water remains so critical to Tanzanian families. Many village have no well or sources of clean potable water. A large percentage of the day is spent by women walking 3 to 5 miles to get water for family needs. Often this water is obtained from shallow wells which are easily contaminated. This leads to outbreaks of diarrhea, cholera and other diseases.
Mid-South District congregations partnering with Lutheran World Relief have been generous in raising money for wells for villages. The late Bishop Bomani shared a story that in one village a Muslim village leader attending the dedication of such a well was led to Christ because of the generosity from unknown Christians .

Gift of Encouragement

I have been to Africa four times on mission trips. This year was my second trip to Tanzania. I always wish I had something concrete to offer on these trips such as medical training. I say I am just an all purpose helper with no special talent.

But on each trip something happens to confirm that everyone has a talent that can be used. On this trip, the first village we visited was Lyalu. I am always attracted to the mothers with their young children. Two sisters, Sarah and Esther, seemed to be very attached to me. They wanted to sit near me, touch me, hold my hand and liked it when I held Esther’s baby, Peter, just four months old. They wanted me to go to their home and say a prayer of blessing. Sarah wanted me to come to her house to eat. This shows favor to them and they consider our time spent with them a blessing. I have been told in the past that I have the gift of encouragement. This gift should not be underestimated.

All our communication was through an interpreter but toward the end of our visit, Esther gave me a message through this interpreter. She said that my visit was a gift from God to encourage her to stay true to Christianity and not fall back into the witchcraft. This area is well known for practicing witchcraft and consulting the witchdoctor. Just like when we become Christians, the world and all the influences in it try to suck us back into our sinful habits and ways. These dear ladies were being tempted to abandon the ways of Christ for the traditional beliefs including witch craft. If you think that this pull is not strong, you would be wrong. There is great peer pressure since belonging to a tribe and being accepted is of the utmost importance in this culture. To be separated from the tribe is the worst punishment you can have. I have heard it said that in Africa, evangelism is a mile wide but discipleship is an inch deep. Just as in America, we cannot bring someone to Christ and abandon them at the cross to mature on their own. The hard work of discipleship is necessary.

It is our custom to leave our clothes at the conclusion of our trip as their clothing source is very limited. The following day, Esther and Sarah, walked a long distance to the church service in Bairiada. I think it was to continue to see the American guests. After church I talked to them and told them I wanted some of my clothing to remain with them. I also had two receiving blankets for baby Peter. They were thrilled. Maybe the dresses will be a reminder for them that they have Christian sisters standing with them in prayer. May they continue to stand for Christ and not be lured back into the ways that lead to destruction.