Recently I had the opportunity to be a part of a mission trip to Tanzania, Africa through my church Christ the King Lutheran. It was an amazing experience to say the least. To be able to go half way around the world and share my faith in Jesus Christ with the people of Tanzania was only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The scripture in the Bible that keeps coming to my mind is Genesis 11:1-9, the Tower of Babel. God confused the language and scattered the people over the face of the earth. For us, this is something that happened a long time ago, and it may be hard for us to relate to, considering all the many different languages and cultural differences of today. But God’s timing is always now and His plan then was the same for us now and always. He knew when they came down to confuse the language and scatter the people that He would send me far away from my home to share the good news of His son Jesus Christ in the Sakuma Villages of Shinyanga, Tanzania. We were blessed to have a team of pastors, deacons, evangelists and village translators to walk with us through the villages and translate the Gospel from English to Swahili to Sakuma. The saving grace of Jesus Christ was translated through the word into the heart of the believer.
” For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Our team went out daily to an area called Salawe. The people were very friendly and humble. Everyday my heart was overjoyed to be in that beautiful country and meeting those beautiful people. On the second day in Salawe, we came to a home where a young mother was sitting on the ground cutting potatoes. She had five little children and was expecting another. She looked tired but was very friendly and welcomed us in her home. As we told her the story of the Gospel, others from the area came to listen and before we left 25 were baptized.
The next day we went to a different area in the same village and the first home we came to there was a young boy about 17 years old and he was very ill. We were welcomed is his home and shared the Gospel with everyone there. Even though the young boy was sick and weak, he listened intently and responded in his Sakuma tongue, ”yes, I want to be baptized”.
The tired young mother and the ill young boy were both baptized into our family. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29 This is the good news of Jesus that was shared with them. The seed of hope in Christ has been planted! Alleluia!
On our last day in Shinyanga, we attended worship services with our new friends and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. My heart was overjoyed again during worship as I was singing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me”, from a Lutheran Hymnal in the language of Swahili and in the continent of Africa. Worshiping with people of another land, language and culture and knowing they share the same faith in the resurrected Christ proves for me of God’s perfect plan of salvation. And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10
The LCMS Mid-south district partnership with the SELVD and our relationship with the people of Tanzania must continue and the work of the Holy Spirit will spread. “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of the mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory.” Colossians 1:27