Tuesday, December 9, 2014
“I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ― Charles de Lint
I have always been a radical or maverick within the church because I take the words of Jesus seriously when He told us to love one another and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the prisoners. I worked for that in every church I ever served with varying degrees of success. When I was able to move to Tanzania and devote the rest of my life to the service of others, I was happy to finally be answering what I considered the most important of Jesus’s commandments, as well as becoming an active part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20). It didn’t take me long to discover which churches here in Africa shared my passion for helping others. The Anglican Church is one of the biggest with vocational schools and other outreach ministries, the Catholic Church with schools and hospitals, the AIC with many, many clinics for the poor, the Coptic Christians ministering to AIDS sufferers as well as maintaining an excellent hospital next door to their church. One of the churches that has most impressed me has been the Mennonite Church. I have become a friend of Mennonite Bishop Ndege (see picture at the right) and he has brought his ministers here to our mission for special mediation and motivational retreats. Worldwide, the Mennonite church emphasizes service to others as an important way of expressing one's faith, and that is certainly true here. Bishop Ndege called me a week ago because they are holding a week-long training session in conflict resolution in Mwanza and wanted me to recommend a Methodist (who speaks good English) to attend with all expenses paid. I immediately called Bishop Monto and he was excited to accept the invitation and to attend in early January. I was able to call Bishop Ndege while Bishop Monto was at my house and they talked for quite a while and were both excited about the upcoming experience.
That same night, Monday (yesterday here), a pastor from the Lutheran church came to see if his church here in Bunda could use our mission to hold a three-day training session for fifteen women who will be learning about “diakonia.” Diakonia, is a Christian theological term from Greek that encompasses the call to serve the poor and oppressed. The Lutheran Church here which meets on the grounds of the DDH Hospital is getting very serious about reaching out from within the walls of the church to serve the community of Bunda in its many needs. Of course, we agreed and this will be happening in the next week or so as the dates haven’t been officially set yet. It makes me very happy to know that even if we can’t do it ourselves, we can be instrumental in doing something about conflict resolution and training others to serve others—and to do it by working with other denominations. We have helped Catholics, Anglicans, Coptics, Mennonites, and now Lutherans to expand their ministries in the service of others. This, of course, also includes the United Methodists, Baptists, and Independent churches who have sent mission teams here to do the same. We are proud to be able to help in whatever way we can to make Christ’s commandments to love and care for others a reality. It’s a good thing. It’s a God thing.