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 rjallen@prodigy.net