Friday, July 11, 2014

“I have seen myself that most African Christians depend on their pastors or bishops for directions in life rather than their lecturers, politicians and doctors. I think if every pastor and bishop should have spiritual integrity, Africa will shake!” ― Israelmore Ayivor

We know that the above quote is true for Tanzania, and we do not take it lightly.  When we had the Synod meeting in Arusha that joined the Methodist Church in Tanzani with the Tanzania Methodist Church, we tripled the number of churches increasing the membership from 4,000 to in excess of 100,000.  We also doubled the number of bishops from two to four and added a Methodist seminary in Arusha.  In the picture at the right, on the back row is myself, Bishop Wiggins, standing next to Bishop Byamungu, who is next to Bishop Monto, who is next to Dr. Ang, the dean of the seminary in Aursha.  On the bottom row at the extreme right, is the new bishop we consecrated there, who is Bishop Nyangigi in Shinyanga.  We virtually have all four corners of Tanzania covered with bishops, but we are too few.  Because there are just four of us, we are always bathed in a spotlight whatever we do.  We must live as imitators of Christ because the members look to us for direction and must trust our spiritual integrity.  I cannot speak for the others, but for me this is a trust that is almost scary in its importance and difficulty.  I did not seek this position of leadership, but I have it and want to bear it in such a way that my wife and sons will always be proud of my response both to God’s call and to that of the church here in Tanzania.  We will be having another joint Synod meeting this September, but this time it will be here in Bunda which is a first both geographically and historically.  When Karen and I had made the decision to come to Tanzania, we did not pick Bunda as the place for us to stay.  We both thought that we would be living in the much larger town of Musoma, but the church wanted us in Bunda, as it was more centrally located for our churches and pastors, so Bunda it was.  Even though it was not my choice, hindsight says that God knew what He was doing having us here in this small town.  Today, we had a pastor here who wants to add a preschool to his church, so Karen invited his two teachers to come to her Montessori teaching seminar the last week of this month.  We are having the last two of the five preschool teachers coming, and now we will have two new teachers and perhaps Bishop Monto as well.  This means more work for Karen, but it is work for which God has both called her and trained her.  Being available and obedient can be physically draining and intimidating sometimes, but we are both—doing what we can, where we are, with what we have.  Thanks be to God for allowing us to be a part of this explosion of His Kingdom here in Africa.
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