October 3, 2019

Africa Mission, September 2019

tims blogA few weeks have passed since Evan Pyle and I returned from Africa, where we ministered both in Tanzania and in Uganda. Thanks be to God for his mercies upon us during our journey, and thanks to all of you who kept us in prayer.

Our travel was problem-free despite its longevity. Six of the 15 days we were gone were spent in airports and on planes. We left New Orleans on Wednesday, 4 September, flying from New Orleans to Boston, Boston to Dubai, Dubai to Kilimanjaro, then arriving in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Friday morning, 6 September. Later that day we were met by Irene Lobara, and together we took the afternoon plane to Mbeya. (Maybe I am getting soft in my old age, but I will no longer even consider enduring the 14-hour bus ride or the 24-hour train ride.) After picking up some groceries, we drove to Matebete Village, arriving there after dark.

When I first stepped foot in Matebete 15 years ago, I felt like I was in another world. Now I am completely at home there, knowing I am surrounded by friends who love the Lord and love me.

The next day, Saturday, was the conclusion of a special gathering led by some visiting Christian Maasai from Kenya. The work being done by ITO (short for Ilaasak Tenebo Oninye, "Workers Together With Him" in the Maa language) is making waves among Maasai Christians near and far, because it is so rare to see Christians working together and tearing down the walls of separation that have been built by the denominations. Truly, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Evan and I gave greetings, but spent most of the day resting up from the trip. Later that afternoon, we went on the first of several tours of the village, this time being driven around by Baba Eliakimu Parakepu Kurupashi in his car! It was amazing to see all the modernization that had occurred over the few years. On our first trip we saw women carrying buckets of riverwater on their heads, then later, boys on bicycles transporting jerry cans of water from the one central pump. Now there are homes with running water and solar power. We even saw a few satellite dishes. A secondary school and a dispensary are being built. But history proves that modernization brings its own set of troubles, and it is no joke that an idle mind is the devil's workshop. The story of the prodigal (wasteful) son is being lived over and over. Thankfully, there are also grown children like Evelyn Kaney, daughter of Paraboy and Monica, who is hard at work to fortify and expand her parents' legacy, and improve conditions for everyone in the village. I kidded her about the "Evelyn-Mart" store in the village, but truthfully I am very impressed by her industry and success.

On Sunday, Evan and I attended services at the Church of Christ pastored by Patrick Kinani who has served as the chairman of ITO since 2012. His messages are like him — solid and without fanfare, and I enjoy them very much. He kept ITO afloat in some very rocky seas, and I am honored to be friends with such a faithful and kind man of God.

From Monday to Wednesday, Evan and I shared the teaching duties. His presentation centered on Colossians 2:10: "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power," and I took them through the epistle of Philippians. I was amazed by the epistle's relevance to their present situation.

Another highlight of our visit was to attend some of the planning meetings for ITO. They are on the cusp of a new era, and so it was time to register with the Tanzanian government, and make solid decisions how ITO would be governed — how the officers would be elected, and for how long they would serve. I think the most important decision that was made was that the candidates for office should have labored in ITO from its start, so that the original vision was not lost. Assigning such a qualification has precedence in the apostles' election to replace Judas.

Acts 1:21-22
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.

This was a short mission to begin with, and the days passed quickly. Special thanks to Irene Lobara for escorting us from Dar es Salaam to Matebete and back, and to her and Paulo Kurupashi for their work interpreting for us. Thanks for Paraboy and Monica for hosting us, and to all our friends in Matebete for your love and faithfulness to Christ.

On Friday, 13 September, Evan and I flew from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, Kenya, to Entebbe, Uganda, where we were picked up by our friend Henry Musana who was our host during our four days in Uganda. Evan taught at the GEM Sanctuary on Friday night and Sunday morning. I presented Philippians there on Saturday in three jam-packed hours. On Sunday, I travelled across town to teach at the Kireka Church of God where I'd taught my Ministers' Training Series in 2013 and 2014. I am always happy to revisit this church because of the relationships I have there. I taught from 2 Timothy 4:12: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Again, the relevance of the Bible to today's world was astounding. I hope they enjoyed the presentation as much as I did!

The audiences in Uganda were much different than those in Tanzania. The Maasai elders are more-or-less in my age group; their task, like mine, is to prepare the next generation of ministers for the battles they will face. In Uganda, most of the audience was in their 20s or early 30s. My role in Uganda is not as a comrade-in-arms but as a mentor.

On Tuesday, we returned to the airport to begin the long journey home. Entebbe to Nairobi to Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro to Dubai to Boston to New Orleans. Six flights and about 46 hours later, we were home.

My heart is filled with gratitude and awe towards the Lord who saved me and called me to his service. Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God," and while this verse speaks primarily of man's eternal judgment, I think it is also true that we fall into God's hands every time we step behind the pulpit. The scariest aspect of teaching at this stage of my journey is that, for the most part, the people who doubt my veracity have gone away, but the ones who remain come expecting to learn. I am more driven than ever to study, study, and study some more to ensure that I serve refreshment from the fountain of living waters. "I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51:3), and I know my absolute best is a far cry from perfection. I often must remind myself that Romans 14:4 speaks to excessive self-criticism as well! "Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth." Somehow I am still allowed to run in this grand race carrying the magnificent torch of God's Holy Word. I am grateful to God and to you who have been so loving in your sacrificial support all these years. Thank you for your prayers for this mission!

And now, please join me in prayer as I prepare for my return trip to Kathmandu, leaving 31 October. I will write more about that next time!

Here is a link to some photos from Tanzania and Uganda.

In the service of His Majesty, the King of kings,
Tim Sullivan

On Sunday, September 22, my home church surprised me with a special celebration of the 20th Anniversary of WTWH. My dear wife Nelly took the lead in organizing this, and doing all the necessary lying to keep me in the dark. Really, it was wonderful. Several testimonials were read, and I am sharing them HERE.