It is an exciting time here at Calvary Baptist Church. I had the privilege to be in Tanzania for the past couple of weeks, discovering ways our church can be mobilized for the sake of the Gospel. Thank you, church, for your support and prayers as I traveled. I went with a ministry called Living Water which has worked in Tanzania since 2018. Steve Wood and Rebekah Hunnewell work at Living Water, and they organized and led our trip. Our team consisted of Steve, Rebekah, Pastor Neshat from Jordan, Sandy from Lebanon, and myself. In addition, Pastor Vincent, who is Tanzanian and oversees the ministry there, joined us and his niece, Agnes. It was a privilege to be united with my brothers and sisters from all over the world. While we were there, we traveled over 600 miles visiting churches, touring the discipleship center, community outreach, door-to-door ministry, and went on an African safari. It is good to be home, but it was such an incredible experience, and I am excited to go back again. I wanted to report the work we did and the opportunity we will have next year as we bring a team to continue the work in Tanzania.
The Living Water has worked in Tanzania since 2018, and they have partnered with Christ Laborers Church, a nondenominational church, to run a discipleship school called the Potter Center. As they began to work in the villages, they realized people were coming to the Lord, and they did not know anything about the Bible, the church, or the ways of Christ. They saw a need and developed a training center to equip new believers as disciples of Christ. They are currently in their third class, and the previous two classes have become members of local churches, serve in local communities, and some of the graduates have gone further in their studies and are training to be pastors. As pastors are identified, they are sent out to another village with no church to plant a church, serve the village, and do door-to-door evangelism. The Living Water’s goal is to bring the body of Christ together in collaboration to equip disciples to share the Gospel around the globe. They are focused on discipleship and training individuals to share the living water of Jesus with the unreached.
Christ Laborers Church:
Pastor Vincent Komba leads Christ Laborers Church. Since 2018, they have planted 15 churches. Vincent has a heart for discipleship and a desire to equip believers with the right tools to help the body of Christ reach out to more unreached communities with the Gospel. Christ Laborers Church works with the Potter Center to train additional pastors to mobilize them to unreached villages and plant churches. This church served as a home base for us while we were there. There are around 80 members of this church in a community of 10,000 people.
One of the people groups we visited was the Massai. The Massai are semi-nomadic tribal people, and they live by farming and herding cattle and goats. We rode little motorbikes about 40 minutes up a hill to reach their village. What was interesting was as we were riding, all I could see were trees and bushes, and then suddenly, there was this structure. We were greeted by an overwhelming joyous group of about 40 Massai people as they celebrated their guest’s arrival. I asked Vincent where all of these people lived. He told me they live around this structure in their huts, and they come to this place, on top of this hill, to worship and have church services. This was one of the first experiences I have had where we engaged with a newly reached people group. It felt like we were driving in the bush, yet there was a church in the middle of nowhere. This is a group of people who, until a year ago, was unreached and did not have access to the Gospel. But now, there are some believers who love and worship Jesus, and we had church when we arrived. This church gathers every Sunday and Wednesday to have services and every Friday for an all-night prayer service. I am reminded of how vast and wide the love of God is while we are there. In the middle of nowhere, there is a church that loves Jesus, treasures the Word, and makes disciples in their tribe/village. Wow! Praise the Lord.
On another day, we visited a different Massai village in the country’s northwestern part. We were there to encourage the believers, pray for the church members, and dedicate the foundation of where they are planning to build a building where they will gather for church services. While we heard of the Lord’s work and praying, a younger woman asked if we would pray for healing. She was experiencing pain in her abdomen. After we surrounded her to pray, she claimed all of the pain suddenly went away, and she was relieved. Praise the Lord! He is our great physician!
This was a memorable experience because ten different languages were represented in this circle and five unique people groups. We had believers from the United States, Jordan, Lebanon, Tanzania, and Massai speaking English, French, Swahili, Arabic, Massai, and others. What a beautiful picture like we read in Revelation 7:9 of a time where there will be a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. It was marvelous to get a little glimpse of what heaven would be like as we worshipped the Lord together.
While I was there, I had multiple conversations about the spiritual and physical battles Christ Laborers Church, Potter Center, and the neighboring churches are experiencing. Pastor Vincent has had numerous threats and attempts on his life because of his work in the community. Unfortunately, these threats are coming from the “corporate church.” Some denominations are present in Tanzania. Unfortunately, these denominations are as corrupt as the government. 90% of all tithes and offerings are funneled up to the regional and national bishops to line their pockets. The corporate church does not do much in the community of outreach, development, or reaching the lost. The threats started to come when people stopped going to the corporate church, and those individuals were losing funding. Please pray against all physical and spiritual attacks that would seek to stop the work of the ministry.
I had another conversation about how Muslims are on the move in Tanzania to build mosques, start schools, and dig wells. Islam has an ever-growing presence, and the ministry has faced many oppositions. Many men and women have come to faith in Christ through the church and have faced persecution and violence. Women who have turned to Jesus are beaten, shamed, and dishonored by their husbands. There is also a significant presence of witch doctors who harass and bring additional opposition to the work of the ministry. Please pray the roots of the church will hold firm. Also, pray for the clarity of the Gospel message to penetrate the hearts of those who hear. Finally, pray against the spiritual attacks from the enemy.
Lord willing, we will take a team to Tanzania next year, 2023. There are a couple of different ways to participate in this trip. The first would be to teach various lessons in the Potter Center with the discipleship students. The second would be to visit villages, encourage the believers, join them with special projects, and participate in the door-to-door ministry of serving and loving the community. So please begin to pray as the Lord stirs your hearts to go on this trip next year.
While we were there, we got an incredible opportunity to go on a safari. Here are some of those pictures.