Thursday, March 8, 2012

Last Night in Arusha

Tomorrow evening, after a morning in Kisongo and one last night of teaching at the Bishop’s church (Sayuni (Zion) EAG), I will be boarding a KLM flight and beginning a journey home (via Amsterdam and Detroit).

Today was the final day of the medical clinic at Suye TAG.  Our team saw 192 patients (120 medical and 72 eyes)!  I love the fact that with something as simple as an eye exam and a pair of glasses we are restoring sight to the “blind.”  Even more exciting were the 12 patients who made a decision to receive Jesus Christ as our team ministered to them.   I spent most of my time entertaining kids and I know by heart the phrase:  Yesu ni mchungai mwema (Jesus is the good shepherd)!

This afternoon a portion of our team attended Ezekiel’s funeral in Kisongo.  More than 300 gathered and among the songs sung were “Shall We Gather By the River” and “When They Call the Roll Up Yonder.”  Wayne said he felt like he was back home in Alabama (minus the Kiswahili).

Tonight was the second night of the 3-day seminar and after my teaching 4 young women gave their lives to Christ.  I led them in a sinner’s prayer and then the Bishop and I prayed for their healing.  I love the instructions the Bishop then gave the church to go home with these new believers to let them know that they are now a part of the family of God.  A powerful evening in every way!

Since its my last night in Arusha and I don’t expect to have time to post for a couple of days it’s a good time to reflect upon the week –and three Biblical images come to mind:

First:  We began the week with plans for a clinic and revival at Kisongo.  A storm, a collapsed church and a tragic death changed those plans.  But throughout the week we’ve experienced what Joseph told his brothers in Genesis.  What they had intended for evil (selling him into slavery – and its evil to sell your little brother) God used for good to save His people.  Sunday night we felt as if we were under attack by the evil one (and likely we were) and our plans seemed so uncertain.  Looking back tonight, it is clear that God had everything under control and has used this week to His glory.

Second:  This was my first experience with a medical mission clinic and I was blown away by the healing that took place and by watching the numbers grow each day.  Growing crowds meant that at the end of the day we had to turn people away.  Hundreds of patients were seen this week.  Hundreds more could have been seen but we simply ran out of time and resources.  That’s hard to accept.

The churches I’ve served have blessed me with the chance to experience firsthand the work of mission partners in 8 different countries (Mexico, Ethiopia, Hungary, Romania, Ecuador, Kenya, Mongolia and now Tanzania).  Each trip has opened my eyes to new ways that God is on the move around the world.  And each trip has reminded me that the needs of the world are far greater than our human resources.  There is much that we can and should do.  Americans have so much of the world’s resources and we must distribute those resources to places in need.  But at the end of the story our confidence can never be in our own mission efforts – it must always remain with God.

I’ve been reminded of that truth again this week.  And reminded of the account in Luke 4 of Jesus’ response to the crowds that came for healing.  Although, He stayed up all night laying hands on each one of them, in the morning He left – and there were still people waiting to be healed. 

Today we left Suye and there were still people waiting to be healed but God’s work calls us elsewhere.  And we are confident in His provision for them and for us.

Finally:  My mind has already begun to shift back to Birmingham.  In less than 72 hours the 9:00 Sunday morning service will begin (and I’m not quite ready for that – especially since we will be “springing forward”)!  It’s been an amazing privilege to be part of what God is doing here in Tanzania but there is much work to be done in Birmingham (which is where God has called me).  40% of the population of Birmingham are non-Christians and 28% live in poverty.  There are struggling single moms, children at risk and more needs than we can begin to meet.

I’m reminded of the realization of the 4 lepers in 2 Kings 7 (which will be my primary text for the message tomorrow night).  When they come to recognize God’s deliverance they tell themselves:  We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves.”  So they hurried back to Jerusalem to share the news.

We’ve experienced good news this week and its time we head back to the city to share it with those at home!

But first one more day in Tanzania!

PS – If you ever think US news agencies are a bit biased try listening to Al Jazeera for a week!

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