Report from ACrossMission Chairperson Gord Janzen
It is wonderful to be able to share pictures of the recent trip to the Mara Region of Tanzania with you. I would also like to share some insights gleaned from this trip. It was as impactful and transformational for me as it was for other members of the team.
Pictured above left (and moving clockwise) are: 1) the recently renovated missionary cottage equipped with electricity, outdoor latrine, window glass and mosquito nets – helped by funds provided by the team 2) a typical group of village huts 3) the ACrossMission pastors of Rorya district meeting at Kowak. We heard reports detailing the positive impact of ACrossMission stipends on the Gospel ministry of the Church 4) Swahili Bibles distributed on behalf of ACrossMission donors 5) Preparing for Worship. Songs to gather the Church under the trees; pastor’s robes ready for the service; guitar and keyboard donated and remaining in the Suba region. 6) Presenting Bibles at Shirati.
First, I want to thank everyone who prays for and supports this mission financially. The team is now safe at home; we had no significant mishaps, and we experienced only minor medical upsets. We had a great team, lead by the Spirit, which God blessed with a variety of complementary gifts; these gifts, combined with Christian love produced a strong reflection of Christ at work among us - these included leadership and teaching (Rev. Howard and Cathy Edwards), the photographic and video work of Callum Edwards and Chuck and Claire Dickison, the musical gifts of Adda Edwards and Mikaela Dickison and myself.
We were received with grace and love at the small Anglican diocese headquarters at Kowak - we had instant coffee (Africafe!!), chapati and eggs every morning - we drank tons of bottled water (treated from Lake Victoria) as temps soared to 30-37 degrees C in the daytime with little relief (about 25-30 degrees C) most nights.
Almost every day we went on a Land-cruiser journey over dusty, rough dirt roads to visit outlying rural churches. Most of these parish churches were only partially constructed (if there was any structure at all). We were greeted warmly and shown amazing Christian hospitality by all local congregations. Often we arrived with a guitar, small drum, and battery powered keyboard to join in worship of our God with songs in English and Swahili (Cathy and Adda had done some amazing translations). It was very cool and heart-warming to sing hymns, such as “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus” in Swahili and to praise God in another language with His world wide Church.
We were blessed each day to give and receive encouraging words of faith and personal testimonies. We shared in Communion, Baptized a few babies, and read from and distributed Swahili Bibles. These Bibles were received with such gratitude - many people could not ever have imaged owning their own Bible (the cost of a Bible is approximately equal to 6 months of an average person's earnings). Even in the midst of a drought and poverty we were always offered a small meal of rice, chicken, and beans in the pastor’s home.
We were also privileged to share in a four day youth conference with over 300 youth from northwest Tanzania.
Although there is electrical infrastructure to most villages, most homes cannot afford the cost of this service. In addition, most homes do not have access to running water or proper sanitation. Water must be boiled to make it safe for consumption. We also noted that state run education is available but is mediocre to poor in quality. Health care is sparse and only available to those who can afford it.
It gave me great joy to hand out full Swahili Bibles; many of God's people have been longing for God's Word.
The congregations we visited cannot pay their pastor enough for him and his family to survive. I was able to witness first hand the need and the effectiveness of the ACrossMission missional/stipend model. One pastor thanked us repeatedly for saving his two-year-old daughter's life after she accidentally drank some kerosene - because of the ACrossMission stipend he had the fees needed for the medical care that saved her life. Other pastors expressed overwhelming gratitude for the growth of their ministries. They attributed this growth to the fact that now they can walk their parish area and visit their congregations more frequently. In addition they had time to study God's Word and prepare for Sunday services. Rather than working a part-time job to try to feed their family they could focus on Gospel ministry.
I now have met almost half of the 19 pastors that ACrossMission currently supports. I have a new appreciation for their dedication and resilience in hardship and poverty. These men and their families suffer to bring God’s Word and encouragement to the communities to which they have been assigned by God.
Rev. Howard Edwards (check him out on Facebook as he has posted some videos) will be returning later this year to support the ministries of ACrossMission pastors, deliver more Bibles and investigate additional ACrossMission mission opportunities.
Please remember that over 97 cents of every Canadian dollar donated through ACrossMission goes directly to supported pastors who are truly struggling in Gospel ministries. It gave me great joy and satisfaction to see the huge impact that these stipends can have in building the worldwide Church of Christ. This is a good work, blessed by God and is having an effect beyond anything we could have imagined.
Thank you to all our donors for your vital support of the indigenous Christian pastors struggling to grow the Church in the dry and harsh conditions of East-Africa. Please consider joining the ACrossMission family by providing monthly support to the stipend fund! (click here).
Bwana Asifiwe... God bless you,
Gord Janzen, ACM Board Chair.