Many of you prayed for us last summer when we made our first ministry trip to Tanzania. We could not have imagined what God would do in our brief three-day stay.
We joined pastor Patroba (from Kenya) who had planted a new church in the area the previous year just in time to find himselkf in the middle of a bloody tribal war.
Here is the report we blogged after returning to Kenya the day after the Tanzania meetings:
KISII (Western), Kenya (July 17, 2010)
We have been traipsing through the bush in Northern Tanzania since last Monday — this is our first evening with internet connectivity.
We are traveling with our ministry team of Richard Cazzell, myself (Doug), Ben Bahati (Director of Global Field Evangelism) and his key teaching pastor Joseph Omondi.
On Tuesday we drove to Tanzania. The border crossing took about an hour. The good news was we got mandatory one-year multi-entry visas—the bad news was they cost $100 each.
While stalled in the no-man’s-land between Kenya & Tanzania, a passing vendor loudly cursed me and commanded me to drop dead from a heart attack. I am delighted to report that his curse found no traction in my soul and I did not drop dead.
We stayed in a small hotel in Tarime, Tanzania and commuted one hour daily into the bush to the Changuge Hills where Pastor Patroba Amolo Waranga has been planting a new church. Our task—or so we thought—was to do three days of church leadership training.
God had assured me before the trip that I would see things I had never seen before. He was good to his promise. Read on…
Day One – Tanzania Conference.
We arrived to discover government officials had co-opted the first day of our meeting for a tribal peace conference. Two area tribes—Luo and Kuria—had had a brief but deadly war last year over cattle rustling. Some 70 people died, homes were burned, people displaced and livestock killed or driven off.
Hostilities had not formally ended. Every effort by the government to get the warring parties to sit down and discuss peace had failed.
Representatives from the warring villages arrived on Wednesday morning. Over 150 packed into a public meeting room. The atmosphere was tense. Policemen with machine guns stood guard at the four corners of the meeting hall.
No one could imagine what was about to happen.
The government officials did an excellent job of walking the participants through the events and aftermath of the war. They pleaded for peace and reconciliation, but the people gave no indication they were buying the appeal.
By late afternoon, the meeting reached its climax. I (Doug) was invited by the meeting moderator to tell the people how they might achieve a lasting peace.
I preached on Ephesians 2, the breaking down of the wall of hatred between Jews and Gentiles by the cross of Christ—the only sure way to individual, domestic and social peace. I spoke of the essential need to forgive as a reflection of God’s forgiveness.
Ben Bahati closed the meeting with a specific invitation to forgive and to be born again as believers in Christ.
We were astonished when about 60 people responded immediately, including the District police commissioner and other tribal leaders. The atmosphere in the meeting changed dramatically.
Day Two – Tanzania Conference.
Our part of the training conference began. Additional attendees from the community made decisions to follow Christ and there was an explosion of joy! The meeting concluded with more than an hour of spontaneous singing and dancing.
We also spent time discussing how the local people—who are extremely poor—might start micro-businesses to support themselves and to provide money for evangelism and church planting. (NOTE: Pastor Patroba with assistance started a bakery which has been very successful and is now supporting him and his family.)
Day Three – Tanzania Conference.
We continued training. Powerful testimonies were given to the amazing work God had done in the people the previous two days. Then we had a time of forgiveness. The meeting was capped with the public reconciliation of an older man and his adult son who had not spoken in 11 years.
Another explosion of joy.
- The church in Changuge was greatly encouraged and energized by the presence and mercy of God.
- About 65-70 people responded to the Gospel and testified to being born again.
- Initial plans were laid to assist the people starting micro-businesses.
- The Kuria people who were saved, approached the Luo pastor and invited him and his church to come into Kuria land to help them establish their first new church.
- We introduced the Transforming Prayer ministry and looked forward to specific prayer training in the months and years ahead.
- The District Commissioner called in the pastor after we left. He credited the church with doing what the governement could not — bring peace to the District. He pledged his support for ongoing church activities and issued an invitation to Richard and me to meet with him when we return.
Thanks to all who are praying for us. Your prayers are effective. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
Back to August, 2011.
That was one of five meetings last summer in East Africa. Each experienced the transforming presence of Jesus.
And we expect no less this August as we followup in Tanzania next week and teach and minister in five other conferences in Kenya during the month.
To say we need ‘prayer cover’ is an understatement. Every situation we are going in is very serious. But every situation has the potential for God to manifest Himself and bring the people to a fresh and better place in relationship with Him and each other.
We are — as always — out on the edge in our abilities and resources as we join the resurrected Christ in doiing the things only He can do.
THANK YOU for your prayers!
We’ll be blogging regularly throughout the trip with the last Jesus Sightings and pictures of what He is doing. So check back regularly and invited interested family and friends to tune in.
Doug Van Devender & Richard Cazzell
(More to come.)