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.