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 rjallen@prodigy.net 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: dname2tn@wmconnect.com

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.

Children are a gift from God

My impression from Tanzania and other African countries was how beautiful their children were and how much they valued their children. You would imagine they would see children as a burden or intrusion on their lives. They don’t! They value child bearing and actually being barren is considered shameful. While there we saw a movie being shown in the villages about a man consulting a witchdoctor about why his wife was barren. The witch doctor put the blame on the wife who then suffered beatings at the hands of her husband. An extreme example maybe but the point is made how much children are valued. Some of the people asked me how many children I had and I replied two. OH SORRY……why just two children?? Well that is all God saw fit to give me, I answered. They were confused! I explained I had trouble getting pregnant with the second one and then their attitude was one of sympathy.

To some western minds, this seems backward but I think of the saying that a child is God’s way of saying ……life goes on. Their children give them hope for the future. They are family oriented and often live in small huts with their families around them. The children seem carefree and happy. They all pitch in and do the work. The children are content to play with anything. I can’t imagine them saying they are bored. Sisters carry their baby brother and sisters on their backs in blanket carriers. I saw one small girl jumping rope with baby sister on her back. When you give them a piece of hard candy, they stand and break it off into slivers to share with the other children in their family. One boy was given a piece of candy and he ran and got his baby sister and carried her back to me to give her one!

As a pro life volunteer in the states, the contrast is stark. One African man who had visited the United States said to me. “In Africa, if we are starving to death we give our last piece of bread to our children. In America, you kill your children in the womb…..why?” I could not explain it.

We who have much in the way of material things need to invest in the future of those who do not. At the same time, we could learn a lot from our African brothers and sisters about the sanctity of human life.