We often read about mission trips taken by others to exotic locations around the world, but this year a group from the Mid –south District got an opportunity to experience something pretty life changing. In May, our group boarded planes from Memphis and Nashville with a final destination of Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. After a short flight to Mwanza, located on the shores of Lake Victoria, and the offices of the East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELVD) of the Lutheran church of Tanzania. After a warm welcome by the officials of the diocese, we loaded the vehicles with Bibles and headed out on our mission adventure. We split the group with some going to the Mwadui area and the other group traveling to the town of Kahama. We were led by a pastor from the ELVD and interpreters.
A typical day started around 7AM at the church where we picked up pastors and evangelists to go with us to the designated village. Most of the villages we visited were located about an hour drive from our base and most of the roads we traveled on were either gravel or dirt but sometimes we followed a path through the bush.
When we reached a village there was always a group to greet us and show us the typical Sukuma hospitality usually with welcoming songs and refreshments. After a short time to visit with the evangelists and elders of the congregation, we started out on foot to the area to evangelize. The team was split into small groups with a pastor to lead us to the individual homes. When we arrived, we announced our arrival by calling out the word " Hodi” and instantly we were welcomed with calls of Karibu. You would see the woman of the home scurrying around to find a place for us to sit under a shade tree in the boma which is the yard around 3-5 homes. The family members would gather around to socialize. They loved to hear our voices and where we came from. We would tell them the gospel message using our flip chart or evangacube through the interpreter. We invited them to join us for the evening service and baptisms. In a few cases some wanted to be baptized immediately.
The afternoon service usually started around 4 or 5 pm with sometimes hundreds of people walking into the area where the worship was to be held, either in a church or under a shade tree. After the service and baptisms. At dark the cinema van would show an outdoor movie of the life of Jesus followed by more baptisms.
In some areas there were no churches within 30 to 40 miles of where we met. Witchcraft and traditional ancestor worship still is practiced. We met people had never heard the name of Jesus.
It was also a blessing to see how people responded to a gospel message and the name of Jesus. On our last trip 804 people were baptized by the two mission teams in a week. The partnership of the ELVD and the Mid South District is bearing much fruit. We are making plans for our trip next year. Pray about joining us.
Bob Allen Peggy Krohn
Mission coordinator Mid-south District office