Wednesday, July 22, 2015
“I can never resist telling people good news. I mean, why not brighten someone else's life too?” ― Sophie Kinsella
I forgot to tell you that Bishop Monto came by to see me after church on Sunday. He had very good news. Last week, while he was in Mwanza on church business, he was eating at a restaurant when a man came over and introduced himself. He had recognized Bishop Monto from the day Monto had appeared at the High Court of Tanzania to hear the ruling on our case (which was postponed until September 10th). The man turned out to be one of the two justices who compose the High Court of Tanzania, and he sat down to eat with Bishop Monto. During the course of their conversation, the justice said that the Methodist Church in Tanzania had nothing to be worried about from the case that was pending. This was, of course, very good news for Monto to hear. So Monto asked, “Why?” The justice replied that in the first place, it was very rare for the High Court to overturn the rulings of District and Regional Courts and as the Methodist Church in Tanzania had won almost identical suits in those courts, it was highly unlikely to lose in the High Court. Bishop Monto said that that was good to hear. Then the justice apologized for the delay in judgement and assured Monto that it had nothing to do with the case but with backlogs in other courts. Bishop Monto went on to tell the justice of all that we have been doing here at Maisha Na Maji and of the church’s growth and of our alliance with the Tanzania Methodist Church and of our students at the Methodist Seminary in Arusha. The justice was impressed. He sat for a while not speaking and Monto told me he didn’t know what to do and just sat there in silence as well. After a few minutes, the justice looked up and said, “I shouldn’t be saying this, but that Kenyan Methodist Church just makes me mad. Why aren’t they spending the money they are spending on this case building an orphanage or feeding the hungry? They are not the kinds of examples of Christianity we want to see in Tanzania. Bishop Monto, the work your church is doing is the work that Christ wants to see done.” Monto was taken aback but remained calm. He just nodded and said that we had no problem with the other church doing God’s work here, we were only upset when they started suing us and trying to take our property, buildings, and schools. The justice leaned nearer to Monto and told him in a quiet voice that we would soon no longer be bothered by the Kenyan church. He told him that once this decision comes down, the Kenyan Methodist church can no longer bring suits of any kind against our church. He told Monto that he couldn’t guarantee that we would get any of our money back, but he could guarantee that we would no longer have to be paying attorneys and would be free to use our money to buy Bibles and to build schools and to serve God. Bishop Monto paid for the justice’s meal and couldn’t wait to tell me about his conversation. Three days ago, he did just that after preaching in the Bunda church. He told me he was bringing the good news that we were free to keep bringing the Good News to the people of Tanzania. Good News, indeed.