I had the opportunity to go on my first mission trip with 12 others from the Mid-South District to Tanzania. This was an evangelism mission trip that took us to remote villages in the South East of Lake Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Tanzania.
The one way trip each day was 2 hours over rough dirt roads in the semi-arid region outside Shinyanga. We used the Evangecube or flip chart to tell the story from creation to redemption through Christ’s death and resurrection. Each group had a pastor and evangelist to translate from English to Swahili and often to the Sukuma language. On this trip, our team of 13 baptized over 1,200 adults and children. Praise God!
Three specific visits stand out in my mind. One was a settlement or boma where mostly young people heard the message and none of them accepted the message and wanted to be baptized. However, an old woman in the group asked to be baptized, taking the Christian name of Maria. Her daughter told us she was over 100 years old! They stopped counting after the year 100! On another visit the father of an extended family gave his permission for anyone in the group to be baptized. At this boma, 28 children and adults were baptized.
I was asked to preach and ended up preaching several times using the interpretation skills of Pastor Philbert Celestin, a seminary trained pastor. I preached in rural villages and at the Cathedral in Shinyanga. At the Cathedral I preached for three services- all with communion. The 6 AM service was one hour and 20 minutes. The 7:30 service was 3 hours long and had over 600 in attendance. The final service was two hours and included 20 baptisms.
The Holy Spirit is truly working in the hearts of the people in Africa. Today Africa has the fastest growing Christian population in the world. See more stories and pictures at http://elct-selvd.org
Pastor Dave Tews
Shepherd of the Hills Horseshoe Bend, AR