Wednesday, August 6, 2008

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