OFM has moved to Forward in Africa. CLICK HERE to go to the new website.

Dispatch Four: Mission Station, Emirates Airport, Dubai, Persian Gulf

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The last week in Tanzania was very busy. Fr Francis was teaching at Christ the King Anglican Church, for 16 evangelist pastors in the center of Geita, Tanzania. Brother Nathan was teaching to around 25 evangelist pastors in Mwanza, at Nyakatto Bible College. Fr Francis finished on Friday, Feb 18. Brother Nathan finished on Monday Feb 21.
At the direction of the Archdeacon of Geita, an exam was administered to the students at Christ the King and only those who passed the exam would successfully pass the course. The students worked hard to prepare for the exam. Their efforts were rewarded when all students passed the exam with a grade of “B” or higher. They rejoiced and celebrated.
Bishop Kwangu and his wife Mama Mary, and Brother Nathan traveled to Geita on late Saturday in order to be a part of a graduation liturgy on Sunday. The Bishop celebrated the liturgy and Brother Nathan preached the sermon, a word of encouragement on responding to the love of God and his plan. The congregation applauded the sermon.
Certificates of Achievement were awarded to the students in Geita. The Bishop congratulated each student and awarded the certificates. Later, gifts were give to Fr Francis, Brother Nathan, and to Bishop Fick, Father General of the Missionary Society, who sent Fr Francis and Brother Nathan to teach in Tanzania. The congregation danced in praise of the Lord and everyone stayed for a festive luncheon after the liturgy. After the luncheon, Bishop Kwangu, his wife, Fr Francis, and Brother Nathan returned to Mwanza to complete the teaching there.
On Monday, Brother Nathan completed the teaching at Nyakatto Bible College. The students sang and praised the Lord and celebrated, thanking Brother Nathan. Tuesday, Fr Francis and Brother Nathan had dinner at the Bishop’s residence where Bishop Kwangu thanked all who made the teaching possible, and asked Brother Nathan that teachers come again next year. He especially liked how two teachers made concurrent classes in Mwanza and Geita possible and hoped that concurrent classes would be possible next year.
Then, the long journey home began on Wednesday with a flight from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We are now in Dubai, on the Persian Gulf, awaiting our flight from Dubai to New York City, a flight that takes fourteen hours.
It is very important that all who helped support this trip in prayer and finances know how grateful the people of the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza are to you. It is important that all who helped support this trip in prayer and finances know how this program is working. It is working well.
Three years ago, over forty churches which were led by evangelists held services that were essentially free form services, with readings selected by the pastors. Now, the evangelists vest in a white alb and a cross. They use the readings of the day as assigned in their Anglican Prayerbook. The service takes the form of Morning Prayer and when a priest visits, includes Holy Communion. The sermons are an expression of the readings of the day and the people are taught the basics of the faith, as experienced in the Anglican Church. The ministry and teaching is deeper and more detailed. More churches have been started and more buildings are being constructed. This ministry contributes mightily to the growth of the Gospel, to the growth of Christianity and to the growth of the Anglican Church in Tanzania.
Thank you People of God (Watu wa Mungu) in America for your support of the teaching ministry in Tanzania. We have always worked hard to provide the most ministry for your donated dollars.
As always, we are grateful to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, (Mungu, Baba, Mwana, kwa Roho Mtakatifu).
Asante sana! (thank you very much)
Fr Francis and Brother Nathan Dunlap

Dispatch Three: Feb 17 2011

Mission Station Geita, Christ the King Church
Mission Station, Mwamza, Nyakatto Bible College

Song sung before a class in Mwanza:

Ndiyo Dhamana, Yesu Wangu

Ndiyo dhamana, Yesu wangu, Hunipa furaha za Mbingu;
Mrithi wa wokovu wake Nimezawa kwa Roho yake.

Habari njema, raha yangu, Yesu ndiye Mwokozi wangu,
Habari njema, raha yangu, Yesu ndiye Mwokozi wangu.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saturday night, Fr Francis checked in with Nathan.  Voice answered & Fr Francis responded.  Then he realized that it wasn’t Nathan.  He stopped and said – “let me start over again – Bishop, how may I help you?!”  Bp Kwangu was visiting Nathan and they played a good joke on Fr Francis! They laughed very hard.

Sunday, Feb 13, Nathan preached at the installation of his translator, Rev Danson, as pastor of the local church.  The Bishop presided there and food was shared after the liturgy.  Pastor Danson’s wife teaches at a school on an island in Lake Victoria.  She leaves early Monday morning, takes a three hour ferry to the island, and teaches and stays there until Friday evening, when she returns home.

Pastor Danson is a good translator for Nathan.  He has a church education so he knows the proper Swahili for the ideas and things of church.  He is young and energetic and connects well with Nathan.  They work well together.

Fr Francis was not scheduled to preach that Sunday, but received call early Sunday morning, Pastor Mathias could not be at church for 10 AM service – could Fr Francis lead the service with a lay reader and could he preach – service was morning prayer in Swahili.  Yes, he could.

It was an exciting experience – he was the priest for a congregation of 350-400 people, choir of 50 people who sang and danced and praised God, sent around 75 children out to Sunday School, preached, prayed forgiveness after confession, blessed the offerings, and prayed the blessing at the end of the service.  Preached on Luke 15: 11-35, There was a man who had two sons.  Africanized the story.   They loved it!  Especially when he described the man who raised pigs, who hired the wayward son, as a mzungu (white man)!  Service was good, for them and for him.  The lay reader, one of his students, did most of the Swahili parts, Fr Francis did the priestly things.

After the service, the church takes the food that was donated as part of the tithes and offerings, and auctions it off for money.  Some of the bidding was “for the preacher” meaning that the food would be purchased and then go to the preacher!  Fr Francis got maize (corn), makate (bread), and embe (mango).

The song listed above is  the Swahili version of “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”  Words in Swahili, melody the same as ours.

Sunday afternoon, Fr Francis had to produce Class Attendance certificates for the Geita students group so he went to  his translator’s family’s copy shop, and prepared the certificate for the students – for approval by the pastor.  He used his flash drive on the African computer, and caught a virus on the flash drive!  Ugh!!!  When he returned to his room, the he scanned the flash drive with his anti-virus software from his computer – it killed 27 viruses!!!  He reformatted the flash drive and then did a full scan of his whole computer.  All okay at this stage.

Monday, both Fr Francis and Nathan started the same lesson plan, Fundamentals of Sacred Scripture.

Students in Geita absorbed the material like a sponge does water- challenged at every turn – meeting the challenge at every turn.  They applauded God many times during the first day of classes on Scripture.

Brother Nathan is teaching the same lesson to his students and experiencing the same responses.  A few of his students never made it to class Monday because there was a strike by transportation workers in Mwanza and traffic was snarled through the city.

There is an element to day to day work in teaching for several consecutive weeks.  It is not the exciting work of saving souls at crusades and filling stadiums for worship services, but teaching those who do go evangelize and do teach the people of God and do lead parishes, to do it better.   The work is good.  The legacy is long term.  Improved ministry in Kenya has demonstrated that legacy.  The student who became a bishop in Kenya has demonstrated that legacy.  It will be the same in Tanzania.  In both Mwanza and Geita, there were good teaching days, day after day after day.

Our students are bonding with their teachers.  Mangoes and bananas are finding their way to our desk.  As the teacher arrives in the morning, the students wait to greet them and then carry their bags.  We are called “mwalimu” which means teacher, a very honored title in Tanzania as the first president of the land, Julius Nyerere, was called “mwalimu.”  There are secret conversations about a gift to the teacher.  The Bishop is coming to Geita for a big service on Sunday where the students will be given certificates if they passed the class.

Thursday in Geita, the church was hit with thunderstorms, lightning and torrential sheets of rain, making such a noise on the metal roof that class was stopped for over an hour.  The biggest difficulty occurred when the flock of goats running to escape the storm, poured through the sheltered front door of the church and scattered among the pew benches!  It took us a while to shoo them out of the church! Ah! Life in Africa!

Fr Francis and Brother Nathan are so grateful for the prayers and financial donations which sent us to teach here in Tanzania.  Our students are even more grateful and hope that teachers will come again in the future.

Asante sana!  (thank you very much)

Fr Francis and Brother Nathan Dunlap

Dispatch Two: Mission Station Geita, Tanzania, and Mission Station, Nyakatto Bible College in Mwanza

Song sung before 1st class in Geita:

Bwana Mungu Nashangaa Kabisa

Bwana Mungu Nashangaa Kabisa
Nikitazama kama vilivyo
Nyota, nguru, vitu vingi vyote
Viumbwavyo kwa uwezo wako

Roho yangu na ikuimbie
Jinsi wewe ulivyo Mkuu
Roho yangu na ikuimbie
Jinsi wewe ulivyo Mkuu

Bishop Kwangu and his wife Mary took Fr Francis and Brother Nathan southwest across the bay and through the valleys for around 100 kilometers to the town of Geita, where Fr Francis was to teach for two weeks at Christ the King Anglican Church in the center of the town.  It has been decided that Geita will become a separate diocese in the future and the teaching fosters that goal.

Geita has many churches and few clergy.   Most of the churches are led by evangelists, commissioned to lead the churches and the Sunday services.  They do much more than just preach the Word;  they lead the congregations; they are the pastors.  Most are not formally trained but do the best they can.  In the past, OFM teaching has been highly successful in such areas.

Bishop Kwangu and his wife and Brother Nathan returned to Mwanza to carry on the teaching of the evangelists back there, leaving Fr Francis in Geita.

Fr. Francis teaching his sutdents in the "outside classroom"

The schedule in Geita:  classes every day, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM.  Rest day on Saturday.  Worship at all three services on Sunday, 8 AM, 10 AM and 4 PM, usually preaching or teaching.

Over twenty students were expected, but only thirteen showed up initially.  The second day, three more students arrived and one student was never seen again.  Travel is not easy for the poor people of Tanzania.  They are interesting people.

Students

Who are the students?  All lay people in parish ministry, mostly evangelists, who lead a congregation, and some choir leaders (an important ministry) . Their occupations were interesting:  two miners, three farmers, a fisherman, a tailor, a bicycle taxi driver, a first grade school teacher, two singers, and a business woman.  Ten men and five women.  Ten new students and five who also attended in 2009.  One person attended but did not complete, bible college in Nyakatto where Brother Nathan is teaching, and the rest attained primary grade five or primary grade seven, except for one man who never attended a day of school in his life.  No high school students or graduates.  Very attentive and participative.  They write many notes in their study books.  There are no students who wear glasses.  No one in Nathans class wear glasses either.

We had an exercise to teach each of the commandments.  There was confusion – they used an alternate numbering system than we do.  They all taught.  Their knowledge is colored by prior teachings.  The teacher on the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath taught that you could not do any thing on the Sunday Sabbath that made you sweat.  The class all agreed.  Local churches will be empty this Sunday :)

Fr Francis has missed a day of teaching – sick with stomach distress.  Such ailment is a part of life in Africa.  The treatment – treat it right away – take appropriate medicines quickly – so it does not drag on for days.  Medicines include pink bismuth tablets, Immodium D, and ciproflaxin.  He was down for 36 hours.

Electricity is a problem here in Geita.  We have lost power every day, some days, twice, most times for a long time. We have been without power in Geita for more than half the time.  Mwanza also loses power but not as frequently, and for shorter times, and at different times. We suspect rolling blackouts

Oh, by the way, the song printed above which was sung at the first class is the Swahili rendition of “How Great Thou Art” using Swahili words but the same melody that we know.  Try it out.

Going on at the same time as classes in Geita were other classes at Nyakatto Bible School in Mwanza, taught by Brother Nathan Dunlap.  He taught a large group in the big classroom there, his students numbering around twenty-two.  Nathan was assisted by his interpreter, Pastor Danson, a young energetic priest, recent graduate of St John Seminary in Dodoma.  Years before, Pastor Danson had worked with Fr Francis on his first trip to Mwanza.   After some searching around, Nathan was billeted at St Dominic Catholic Conference Center in Mwanza.  The Conference Center is run by Dominican Sisters under the Catholic Diocese of Mwanza.  What a blessing – hot showers, community  cafeteria, real toilets – not so in Geita!

Nathan with his students in Mwanza

Nathan’s students had many questions about the beliefs, teachings and practices of the Church.  Sometimes, they had learned incorrect things about what the Church taught.  Sometimes they understood things differently even when it was correctly taught.  The combination of lecture and seminar style teaching works well in Africa.  There are blackboards in the classroom, but they are made of a type of slate that requires a wire brush to erase the writing on the board.  OFM uses dry erasable white boards, approximately 18” x 24” to help teach the information.

Nathan responded to a question on applying Scripture to daily life and was surprised when they all stood and applauded when he finished.

Thursday was an intense day of teaching for Fr Francis in Geita.  He finished the teaching on the beliefs, teachings and practices but not before having to visit divorce and remarriage, birth control, and inter-communion.  He hesitated to speak with knowledge and authority because the policies of the Anglican Church of Tanzania were not known to him or the students.  Pastor Mathias came in and helped with his knowledge of the teachings of the Anglican Church of Tanzania.  Evangelical Anglican African theology has some different viewpoints.  It is good that Fr Francis did not speak on those subjects.  Yup!

The lack of electric power was a continuing hindrance to the teaching program in both venues.  The high temperatures were also a continuing problem.  But teaching continued unabated.

Saturday is a day of rest.  Sunday is for worship and fellowship.

We are so grateful to all of you who supported this teaching trip to Africa.  The students are also grateful.  Things are going well and we always pray blessings on our benefactors in class.

Asante sana!  (thank you very much)

Fr Francis and Nathan Dunlap

Tanzania dispatch one

Dispatch One:  Mission Station City of Mwanza, on the shore of Lake Victoria   Feb 03 2011

Our journey to Mwanza.  First,  Dar es Salaam, the city of peace, welcomed two missionary teachers from the MSJ and the MDAS.  The temperature was hot, upper eighties and nineties.  The city was crowded.  The traffic was slow.  But, like Paul in the Mediterranean, we traveled on.  No shipwreck, no chains, no tossing things out of the plane.  Nine thousand miles traveled at 35,000 feet in the air.  Safe arrival in the mega-city of Dar es Salaam, on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

On the journey.  Lines to wait in.  People to watch.  Many languages.  Different styles of dress.  Made friends with some folks from Chile – they did not understand our English and we did not understand their Espanol, but we communicated.  Prayed with some Nigerian Catholics, Ibo Tribe, for safe travel back to their homeland.  They made the sign of the cross in the same way as we do.

Brother Nathan and I, talked much on what and how and why and where and who and what if.  Western, Eastern, Anglican theology, authors, spirituality.  Put away the clothes for the cold weather – short sleeves are the uniform of the day.  Got long sleeved shirt back out again as the planes were  well air conditioned.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Nathan met our taxi driver in Dar es Salaam who has served us for six years, Edison.  Edison and Nathan exchanged contact information for future ministry trips.

 

Flight to Mwanza.  Dar es Salaam was hot. Mwanza was cooler.  It is rainy season – low temperatures in the seventies, maybe even high sixties.  Nathan and I met with diocesan bishop, Rt Rev Boniface Kwangu.  His plan, Nathan teach in Mwanza, at Nyakato Bible School, all new students, teaching lesson plans starting with Course 101.  Fr Francis travel to Geita, several hours away, and teach former students, advanced lesson plans.  Fr Francis will rejoin Nathan on Feb 21 for closing meeting with the bishop and journey back to the USA.

Nathan made arrangements for interpreters, for housing, for financing, and for sustenance.  He learns well.  Bishop Kwangu recognized the future and acted accordingly.

We rested in Dubai.  We rested in Dar es Salaam.  It was good to arrive rested in Mwanza on Thursday because we start teaching on Friday!

So, the work has started.  Teaching simultaneously in two locations.  Your prayers and financial support  has birthed classes in two areas, concurrently.  The OFM ministry grows.  Thank you God.  Thank you God’s people.

Fr Francis Wardega

Br Nathan Dunlap

New Missionary Teacher

Nov 11 2010

Bishop Fick is pleased to announce the appointment of Nathan Dunlap (age 44) as missionary teacher for the Office of Foreign Missions, Missionary Society of St John, Diocese of All Saints.  Nathan will accompany Fr Francis on his next and last teaching trip to the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza in Tanzania, in January, 2011.

Nathan has been a postulant at Christ the King Anglican in Liberty Kentucky for several years.  He has completed his postulancy and will be ordained as a deacon in spring of 2011.  Nathan is married to Julie for twenty years and they have six children.  Their daughter, Anna, has served as a missionary in Haiti.

Nathan earned a B.S. from prestigious Berea College in Kentucky and studied overseas mission work at the Ministers Training Institute in Baker, Louisiana.  He was valedictorian of his graduating class of 40 missionaries.  He has three times served in Russia , once with his wife Julie and two of their children, Anna and Ethan.  In Russia, Nathan served as an assistant pastor, leading several home Bible studies and serving as music minister, at churches in Rezhev and Nelidovo (about 200 miles NW of Moscow) for 13 months.
Commissioning of Nathan Dunlap
Nathan and Julie and family live in Casey County, Kentucky.  In 1999 they purchased fifteen acres of rural land and began to build.  They first built a small guest house where they lived until they completed the main house.   They have developed a little “farmette” with gardens, a milk cow, and some chickens, providing sustenance for their family and neighbors.  That “farmette” will connect with his future African students, most of who have little “shambas” i.e. little farms, to help provide their own  sustenance.  Nathan was also instrumental in designing and physically building the new church building for Christ the King Anglican in Liberty, Kentucky.

To the MSJ mission ministry in Africa, Nathan brings a formal education as a Christian missionary, a lifetime of plain and simple living,  his own experience in the mission field, and a calling from God to do this, along with the support of his family.  We ask your support in prayer and in financial help as he prepares for his first trip to Africa.  Preparing for work in Africa for the first time has a cost – passport, immunizations, clothes and equipment, and initial airline travel.   Donations may be made out to Christ the King Anglican Church,  P O Box 213, Dunnville KY 42528;  please note “Nathan” on the memo line.

2010 – What is the Office of Foreign Missions?

Class Picture

Class Picture Geita Tanzania

OFM is an Anglican ministry that provides ministry education for clergy and church leaders at places in Africa where such education is hard to get. OFM usually goes to the more primitive areas since ministry education is more readily available in the larger cities. OFM serves Anglicans, separated Anglicans, and other churches in Africa. Since the year 2000, OFM and its teacher have worked in Kenya and Tanzania on eight mission trips, all 5-6 weeks each, to provide Anglican ministry education to clergy and church leaders from many tribes and churches. The next mission trip is scheduled for the second half of 2010 and may include Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. Discussions are ongoing.

OFM serves under the authority of Rt Rev Frederick G. Fick, head of the Missionary Society of St John (MSJ). MSJ is a member of the Missionary Diocese of All Saints,  Forward in Faith – North America, and the Anglican Church in North America. An Anglican church lives out the Faith of the ancient catholic (universal) Church, as preserved in the historic Creeds and maintained in the apostolic constitution of Christ’s Church from the beginning.

OFM is a postcolonial ministry. It does not provide huge sums of money to the African churches. It does not train African churches and leaders to be dependent on American money, leadership, and ideas. Instead, it serves under the leadership of African bishops who invite teachers from OFM to come and serve in their diocese. Its legacy in Africa is seen in a better educated clergy and church leadership.

Mission ministry to Africa has suffered because of the struggles of the Anglican Church. Some missions to Africa have been declined by faithful African Anglicans because they were connected to theological positions that the Africans did not support. Making conditions worse, the missions of faithful Anglicans were hampered by lack of funds. Yet, all knew that there was much work to be done.

OFM believes that there is work a plenty for all mission ministries and seeks to carry out the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20; “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world. Amen.”

Kids in Africa

Kids in Africa

OFM encourages all faithful Anglicans to work together and partner together to continue to carry out that Great Commission in Africa.

Christmas Greetings !

Christmas Eve, 2009

Jesus is coming.  Majilio (Advent) is ending.    

It is time to celebrate Kuzaliwa (Christmas).  Let us exalt the Messiah!

Please accept holyday greetings from America.

We pray the blessings of the season upon you and your family.  Please pass my greetings on to others as appropriate.  You are remembered on this day and during this season.

We remember again the prophecies of the Old Testament foretelling the birth of the Messiah.  He came.

Let us also remember the prophecies of the New Testament, foretelling how He will come again, in power and majesty and glory!  He will come again.

May you receive Christmas blessings.

In His service, always

Fr Francis and Patricia Wardega
Missionary Society of St John
Anglican Church in America

Dispatch 6, 17 Dec 2009, Thursday of the 3rd Week of Advent

Well, thanks be to God.  This mission teaching trip is ending and seems to have been a holy success.  Let me begin by responding to some questions.

How do I get home?  I left Geita on the afternoon of Sunday, Dec 13 2009, after the liturgy celebrated by Bishop Boniface Kwangu.  By heavy duty 4-wheel drive SUV, we traveled 100 kilometers to the ferry that crosses a small bay off of Lake Victoria.  The ferry took us to Mwanza, the 2nd largest city in Tanzania.  During this part of the trip, Bishop Kwangu asked many questions, first about the teaching and the students, and then about the Missionary Society and the status of the Anglican Church in America.  Upon arrival in Mwanza, I stayed at St Dominic’s Catholic Conference Center.

On Monday, I visited the office of Precision Airlines, the local air carrier in Tanzania.  My original flight had been cancelled and new flights scheduled.  I had to arrange to fly to Dar es Salaam in order to make my Emirates flight out of Dar. Tuesday, I flew to Dar and stayed overnight at a Lutheran Church hostel next door to Azania Cathedral, the Lutheran Center of Tanzania.  Azania is the ancient Greek name for this area of the East African coast.

Wednesday, I flew to Dubai, on the Persian Gulf.  Thursday I will fly to JFK airport in New York City, clear customs, and catch a Delta flight back to Cleveland, and especially to Patricia. I will arrive Thursday evening.

What do I eat in Tanzania?  I eat everything offered; to not do so would be discourteous.

What is generally offered for breakfast is untoasted white bread (mkate) with margerine & jelly, hard boiled eggs (yai), boiled sweet potato or cassava root (both delicious), and chapati (like pita bread).  I take coffee (kahawa); the Africans take tea (chai), heavily sweetened with raw sugar and lightened with milk.  Not all those selections are served every day but two or three are.  There is no decaf coffee where I go.

Lunch (served 1:00 PM) and dinner (served 8:00 PM) are about the same.  They include a selection from boiled white potatoes (Irish potatoes), or rice (wali) or boiled bananas (ndizi) or ugale (no American name), a pasty bread used for dipping and collecting bits of the other food, in place of forks and spoons.  Assorted greens, beans (like pork & beans – no pork) are usually offered.  And lastly, boiled chicken (kuukuu), or boiled tilapia fish (samaki) still whole with the head, or roasted beef chunks (nyama), one or two selections.  Not much variety but sufficient for sustenance, and usually tasty without being so exotic that it would discourage an American from trying.  I usually drink bottled water (maji); occasionally soft drinks are provided.

How do I take the heat?  After a week or two, I am more accommodated to it, but in many places it is hot.  I sweat – a lot.

Have you seen any lions?  No.  In my trips, I do not come as a tourist.  I travel on donated money, given to support the ministry.  I come, I work, and I leave and return home.

These are personal questions often asked of me.  The more important focus is the students and the legacy of the classes.  We have re-visited people and places where we taught over the last almost ten years to examine what is the legacy.  The legacy of this education is alive and well.

Students from years ago still remember the four qualities of the best pastors – personal holiness and integrity, servant’s heart, leader like Jesus led, and professionalism. They speak of their efforts to live out these values.  I saw prayer books (BCP) we provided years ago, still in use, with well-used bookmarks for liturgy, lectionary, psalms, and morning devotions.

I heard stories of first experiences and continuing experiences of the use of ashes on Ash Wednesday, foot washings on Maundy Thursday (Amri), and processions on Palm Sunday (Mitende).  I heard stories of clergy we trained now being accepted into local Christian ministers associations and becoming valued contributors to the work, thus showing both their new confidence and their new competency.   I heard stories of the old students working hard to receive more education.  I heard stories of new parishes starting, existing parishes growing, and increases in sacramental ministry.

The investment by God and you over the last ten years is continuing to bear great fruit in East Africa.  It is a holy legacy.

The ministry of OFM is to provide ministry education in places where such education is hard to get.  The Gospel command is teach the teachers so that they may teach the saints, the people!

The teaching has been completed for now here in Geita.  Your prayers and donations made a big difference here.  These twenty pastors will change the nature of church in these rural areas.  They will become seed for sowing in God’s kingdom here in Tanzania.  Thank you God.  Thank you people of God.

Your prayers and financial support continue to bear great fruit here in East Africa.   Without you, all this does not happen.  We are grateful for those who supported this trip and we are grateful to the monthly donors who keep this ministry alive.  This ministry, the students in Africa, and the rural church in Africa, all rely on you and all thank you. Without such support from you, this ministry dies.

Asante sana!  (Thank you!)

Fr Francis Wardega MSJ

Mission Station, Emirates Flight 203, Somewhere over Iran

Dispatch 5, 13 Dec 2009 3rd Sunday of Advent

The ministry of OFM is to provide ministry education in places where such education is hard to get.  The teaching has been completed for now here in Geita.  It was hard work for all concerned.  The class members thought that the whole Anglican Church believed, practiced and taught as they did.  They were wrong.  They discovered the need and desire to learn more in order to serve God and His people in the best way possible, now and in the future.  So they wanted to learn.  It was a huge challenge.

Learning was not easy.  The need to translate all instruction into Swahili slowed the process down.  The interpreter was an 18-year-old recent high school graduate whose Swahili vocabulary did not extend into church matters. So many words were a struggle. The students worked so hard at writing down everything that was said, that I often had to tell them put your pens down and listen.  Students with a seventh grade education were learning college level material.

Some things they caught at the first mention.  They understood that Moses himself did not personally write the first five books of the Bible.  They understood that others wrote in the spirit of Moses and God was all the greater for working through many people rather than one.  They spontaneously applauded God when they realized that.  It was a Holy Spirit moment.

They struggled to comprehend that the ministry of the prophet was to announce God’s Word, not to predict the future as they always had been taught.  But they learned that and accepted that.  Thank you Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.

What was hardest for them to comprehend was not really important, the concept of dating events in Scripture, B.C. and A.D.  Their Swahili Bibles listed such dates in a routine manner.  They asked what it meant.  It took me a half hour to repeatedly explain the meaning and I do not think that most understood completely. Why is it that for B.C., the numbers get smaller as the dates get closer to the birth of Jesus and for A.D., the dates get larger as you get farther away from the birth of Jesus? There was no answer to that question.

They finished proudly.  They looked good for the class picture. Note in the picture below how some proudly displayed their Bibles.  Each student was thrilled to receive a copy of the class picture.  Remember that they lived at the church for three weeks, sleeping on mats on the floor, having to cook their own food, and having to clean the church.

On the last class day, one by one, they proudly came forward and received their Certificates of Ministry Education, from the area Anglican coordinator, Fr Mathias.  Guests and other Anglican pastors came.  Speeches were made.  The students will put their certificates in a frame and display them proudly in the sitting room of their huts.

They went home different than they came.  What they knew before had been significantly supplemented.  They went home with a new determination to do the best for God and his people and had faith that they could now do such things better.  They went home with a desire to continue to learn.  They were all pressuring Father Mathias for more training and more education.  The seeds that had been planted and nurtured were now sprouting.  New knowledge, new attitudes, new confidence.

Geita is a place of contrasts – contemporary and ancient.  I saw large Mercedes cargo trucks for the gold mines and followed by donkey carts for firewood.  There was electric power but it failed almost every day, sometimes for several days at a time. There were crowded roads with buses, trucks, and cars, but mostly there were bicycles – even bicycle taxis.  The battle between progress and traditional ways is happening.  For the pastors, they must learn much more in order to serve God and his people of the next 25 years.

Every Sunday in Africa, I preached at the liturgy in a local church.  So the people in several churches here in Africa heard about the Missionary Society of St John, Bishop Fick, and your support of ministry education in Africa.  I assisted Fr Mathias, the pastor.

Your prayers and donations made a big difference here.  These twenty pastors will change the nature of church in these rural areas.  They will become seed for sowing in God’s kingdom here in Tanzania.  Thank you God.  Thank you people of God.  Your prayers and financial support are bearing great fruit here in East Africa.  The teachers of God’s people are being taught.  Without you, all this does not happen.  We are grateful for those who supported this trip and we are grateful to the monthly donors who keep this ministry alive.  This ministry, the students in Africa, and the rural church in Africa, all rely on you and all thank you. Without such support from you, this ministry dies.

Asante sana!  (Thank you!)

Fr Francis Wardega MSJ

Mission Station Geita, Republic of Tanzania

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.