by Ross Sinclair
The team has been back from Tanzania for more than two weeks now. With the return to work and other activities it’s almost impossible to not get drawn back into the fast-paced, busy schedule of the average American. I want to share my reflections on this year’s trip while things are still fresh on my heart and mind.
First of all I consider it a privilege and a blessing to participate in this mission trip. My family was well represented. The Sinclairs have a legacy of faith that we have seen demonstrated in the life of our father and grandfather, “Babu.” I’ve observed my Dad’s servant-leadership for my entire life. His passion for Christ and reaching the lost is something I hope to pass on to my own children and grand children.
The question I get asked the most is, “What did you do in Tanzania?” My mind immediately begins the impossible task of trying to condense 2 weeks worth of sights, sounds, and experiences into a two-minute summary. Here’s my attempt to answer the following question: What did we do?
Our mornings were spent conducting “door-to-door” evangelism visits with the Safwa and the local church members. We went to homes in and near the towns of Mjele and Mjelenge. We even got an opportunity to present the gospel via Bible Storying in the local secondary school. The gospel was presented to people from the Safwa, Songwe, Sukuma, Taturu, and Maasi tribes. The names and locations of those who made decisions for Christ were given to local congregations for follow-up. Some of the new believers even committed to host a new “home church” in the more remote locations. In all, approximately 50-60 people accepted Christ, with even more rededications.
In the afternoons, we trained 25 of the 36 Safwa missionaries who joined us in Mjele. The team is made up of some pastors, but mostly lay people from about 20 congregations in the Mbeya region of Tanzania. Team members have committed to memorizing more than 70 Bible stories and participating in evangelism efforts in the area. We provided an evangelism/discipleship training method based on Luke 10 called the “Church Planting Movement.” As a part of that training, we helped the Safwa develop a strategy for reaching and discipling the 35,000 member Bungu tribe, an unreached people group in western Tanzania. The CPM lessons emphasized the need for discipleship training.
The afternoons also gave an opportunity to conduct doctrinal training for the local congregation in Mjele. Our group taught lessons on the Holy Spirit, but also fielded questions on a wide range of topics including demonic possession and polygamy.
On Sunday, our team conducted Sunday school and preaching at 4 different locations. Each team had a very unique experience. My daughter, Kaylyn, and I went two to three miles outside of Mjele to where the Sukuma and Taturu tribes lived. We thought we were going to a church building in a village, but our vehicle stopped in the middle of the woods where we saw only two houses. As soon as we got out, the Safwa began to sing hymns, and within 15 minutes 35 people had gathered. Everyone sat on the trunk of a downed tree and listened to the lesson and the preaching. There were 10 decisions for Christ that morning, and a new “home church” was born. Pretty exciting stuff!
Forty solar-powered audio players were left for use in Tanzania. Each audio player was loaded with 72 Bible stories and 10 “True Love Waits” lessons recorded in Swahili. The Safwa will distribute them to local congregations in the Mbeya area. A few will be distributed by a Zambian missionary doing outreach with the Sukuma tribe in the Usangu valley. Our translators, all college students with the Tanzanian Fellowship of Evangelical Students based in Dar Es Salaam, received flash drives loaded with these same bible stories. They also received audio players for their evangelism efforts. At $15 each these audio players are a cost-effective tool to present the gospel.
Sure, the trip was a blessing. It was fun and exciting, but was it successful? We may not know the real answer until eternity, but I think the answer is yes. Here’s why.
• People were reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
• The Safwa were excited to implement the principles that were covered in the training.
• The local church and the Safwa were strengthened and encouraged by our teaching and fellowship.
• We were strengthened and encouraged by seeing how God used us in ministry, and by new and renewed relationships with our African brothers and sisters in Christ.
• We provided resources and helped equip the Tanzanians to reach their country for Christ.
Thank you for your prayer support.
Your brother in Christ,