Wednesday, September 10, 2014
“No matter how short or long your journey to your accomplishment is, if you don't begin you can't get there. Beginning is difficult, but unavoidable!” ― Israelmore Ayivor
About this time last year, we had the first joint Synod meeting of the newly formed alliance of the Methodist Church in Tanzania and the Tanzania Methodist Church, two organizations with the same purpose, theology, polity, practices, and heart for the expansion of the Kingdom. We, the Methodist Church in Tanzania (MCT) brought two bishops, 24 churches, 4,000 members, and six pastors with fourteen evangelists. The Tanzania Methodist Church (TCM) brought one bishop, 100 churches, around 30,000 members, many pastors and evangelists, and a fully accredited and operational seminary in Arusha. Since that historic joining, we have had few problems (not none, but the number is small) as we adjust. The TCM has added a second bishop so there are now four of us, and both sides have added churches. Both groups have had to deal with the Methodist Church in Kenya trying to take congregations, buildings, members, and pastors, but have failed or are failing in these attempts. They brought legal charges against both of our groups and lost all six court cases with the Tanzanian government affirming us as the official Methodist Churches in this country. The second historic Synod begins today in Arusha as we iron out the wrinkles and combine to direct and guide the new body in the way that Christ would have us do. We may have to bring some legal action against Tanzanians whose work for the the church in Kenya has cost our churches a few million shillings that would better be used for Bibles and evangelism, but our trust is in the Lord and our cause is just. Bishop Monto and the pastor of the seven-church circuit near Bunda, Pastor Festo came to meet with me prior to their leaving for Arusha and the Synod. Because I seem to throw myself into concrete culverts at inopportune times, I am unable to attend, so we worked out our common course. We will be electing a new General Secretary, as the current one seems to following the call of money and has started unofficial and unsanctioned schools taking much money in the process. He will probably be officially released from his duties and credentials and hopefully Pastor Festo (who has started six churches in the last five years) will be elected to take his place. My wife was part of the discussion, of course, as she is a major part of all this. She surprised me by offering to travel to Arusha or Dar Es Salaam (if the funding for her travel and accommodations are provided) to teach the Montessori method for the preschool teachers around our combined conference. That woman is something else and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I was able to provide travel, food, and spending money for Bishop Monto and Pastor Festo and to arrange a debriefing after they come back next week. It is an exciting time here as the church continues to grow in strength and spirit. Since Bishop Monto has taken the position of the Dean of a college in Tireme and will have a car and driver at his disposal, he will come to Bunda twice a month to preach and meet with pastors. I promised to preach at least once a month on the occasion of his visits. It will be good to be preaching again on a regular basis. God is at work here, and we are blessed to be participants in His mighty work. On another note, all our puppies have been promised, one to the doctor who has taken care of me for years, and all the others to missionary families. The Anglican missionary who came yesterday to look the cute little things (he is getting one of the males) bragged on how well our ministry here has benefitted the church and the people. It was unexpected but well received because we just don’t get many compliments for our work, especially from other missionaries that we respect as much as we do the Anglicans. It was a good day. A God day.