Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blood related...more than a partnership

Ignas and Sharon

I was a newbie on this mission trip that took me thousands miles away from home to Tanzania, Africa.  I learned so much about myself, a new culture, other missionaries and most importantly how the Holy Spirit works. 

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) Mid-South District has an ongoing partnership with the South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (SELVD ) in Tanzania, Africa.  The definition of a partnership is a relationship between two or more people or organizations that are involved in the same activity.  

This definition does not begin to touch on what I found our partnership to be.   This partnership is what I would call a family.  Some people define a family as blood – related, and as someone who joined a family by adoption; I find the term family to mean so much more than blood-relationship.  I will have to say in this case, our family was blood-related. ....through the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for all of our sins.  Yes, the villagers, evangelists, pastors, deacons and missionaries are all a family now and I am proud to have become a part of this wonderful family.

This new found family of mine consist of the most humble, loving, kind, hospitable people that anyone could be blessed to have in their family.  One of my team members whom I now call my sister, Judy,  said the words that came to her mind about those we met and fell in love with on this trip – they were the Fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-23:

”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.”

Although the people in all the villages we met may not have much and by our standards, hardly anything, they had what we should all strive to have and that is the fruit of the Spirit.  If it was a chair being brought out for us to rest, or a handshake, or a hug, or just a shy but loving smile, these people had pure joy in their hearts. 

They didn’t have a lot of money; big homes; cars; electricity; clean water; phones; or things we think we cannot live without – but they had love, joy, kindness, trust, and a strong sense of family.  I always felt safe and very welcome.  I also felt the Holy Spirit with me and touching those I met.  The Fruit of the Spirit is alive and well in Tanzania.  The apostle Paul in Romans 7:5-6:

“Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”

Most of us are taught since childhood that it is all about love – Mark 12:31:

“‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

  Some of these villagers had never heard of Jesus, but they were living a life full of Christ like virtues.  They had open ears and eyes to learn what we told them, and I saw the Holy Spirit at work every day while I was there. 

Sharon Hyde
Memphis, TN