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My Mission to Tanzania and other things

October 7, 2014

tims blog I have been back from my mission in Tanzania for a few weeks now, taking time to recover from the inevitable fatigue and to reflect on the event. Now it is time for my self-imposed "debriefing" in which I assess the successes and failures of the mission.

In truth, to call any part of this mission a failure is wrong. It is better to say that some things did not go off as I planned. At the same time I acknowledge that things worked out for the overall good and to the glory of God.

I was invited to Melela by Pastor Joseph Sepuke of the Calvary Assembly of God church. Pastor Sepuke conducts service in a very large church building that was donated by a group of Christians from Greece. Maasai Christians from several different denominations and nearby villages came to hear me speak. Also joining me was a group from Matebete Village representing Workers Together With Him, Tanzania (ITO).

In the opening days of the mission, I felt a little unsettled. I knew that I had felt a very strong pull to make this trip. But while I was teaching, I did not feel I was making a good connection with my audience. It is not that they were against me, but they were not with me either. Things changed dramatically when I set aside my lesson plan and gave the people from ITO the opportunity to speak.

Several years ago, ITO chairman Patrick Kinani asked me to take a group from Matebete on a special mission to other Maasai villages. Patrick said that if I would accompany the members of ITO on the mission yet give them the main speaking platform, it would demonstrate my solidarity with ITO and boost their reputation. I thought this was a great idea, but knowing my busy schedule and the expense I face each time I make a trip to Africa, it did not seem feasible. On this trip it came to pass. The men and women were all given the chance to speak, and they were all very well received.

The reason that the Maasai love WTWH so much is because it has brought unity to the Maasai Christians. Within the small group who came from Matebete were leaders from the Lutheran church, the Church of Christ, the Assemblies of God, the Baptists, and the Moravians. Again and again I was told how the people of Melela marveled to see people from different churches working together for the Lord.

So what can I say? As far as my own teaching is concerned, this mission wasn't my best showing. But for the ministry of Workers Together With Him, it was a great event. This was 2 Timothy 2:2 on view for all to see: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also."

As for me, I know that I do a much better job teaching in a classroom than in a church. People are habitual creatures and they come to church expecting to hear singing, praising, and preaching. They do not expect to be back in school. Also, when I am a guest speaker at a church, I must walk the fine line of speaking the truth (which usually means confronting error) without saying anything that might diminish the pastor in the eyes of his congregation.

Churches are appropriate venues for worship services and evangelical or revival meetings. But they are not really suitable for the kind of teaching that I do. I have much more freedom when I speak at the ITO Teaching Center in Matebete, a place that is free from any denominational pressure or expectation.

All in all, I think this mission was excellent for the future of my work in Tanzania. I saw the benefit of sending out the people from ITO as emmisaries for our work, but I also realized I should conduct my future classes in Matebete.

Ashe Naleng (many thanks) to Pastor Sepuke and all the people of Melela Village who were so kind to me and the other guests from Matebete. Thanks to Patrick Kinana and my co-workers in WTWH-Tanzania, and to Irene Lobara and George Oripu for their help as my interpreters.

Lansing, Michigan

This coming weekend I will be teaching in Lansing, Michigan. I will be presenting "The Week of Millenniums" as well as a sampling from my other seminars and sermons. I'll be teaching on Friday evening and all day Saturday. If you would like to attend in part or full, please write to Shawnee Vickery for more information.

Mission to Uganda postponed

I have been planning to return to Uganda in November to teach my Ministers' Training Series in the outskirts of Mbale. But as of yesterday I have postponed the mission until sometime next year. I would be lying to say that the Ebola outbreak has had no influence on my decision, but it was not the main factor. As a result of my experience in Melela Village, I need to be sure that the class participants are clear on what is expected of them, and that the venue we choose is suitable for this kind of training. And after four missions to Africa and one to Greece this year, the financial situation of WTWH (and my stamina) is rather depleted. None of these things would matter if I felt certain that a mission at this time was in the will of God, but that is not the case and I feel much better having made the decision to postpone.

I hope you enjoy these photos from Tanzania. Thank you for your prayers.

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

 

 


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