I arrived in Tanzania on November 7th. It's been a busy, fast-paced, and encouraging ten days. I've had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with the Wittenburg Lutheran Seminary students when I first arrived. Since then, I've hit the road almost every day to visit a TZCLC congregation or preaching station. It's been especially encouraging to visit the preaching stations that have been started in the past year by 2021 graduates of the seminary. Three of the 2021 graduates are of Maasai descent and continue to live according to many of the traditions and customs of their tribe.
The Maasai are historically a nomadic and pastoral tribe that roam in search of grasslands and water for their cattle. Oral histories and recent DNA studies tell us that this tribe migrated to the Great Rift Valley of East Africa from the middle east. They are known to be honest, incredibly brave, and hard-working. It is among this tribe that much of the TZCLC Gospel outreach is being done. And the Lord is blessing these efforts.
The Maasai are spread throughout Kenya and much of Tanzania. The TZCLC has opened five preaching stations over the past year. Most of these Maasai preaching stations are located well off the beaten paths. A lot of Gospel outreach is being done in Ruvu and Arusha districts of the TZCLC. The Ruvu district is in the Same' region that is found to the south and east of Arusha. Much of the north and central regions of Tanzania have been in drought conditions for the past several years. Some of the villages we drove through and visited seemed almost deserted because many of those who live there were roaming far from home with their cattle, sheep, and goats in search of grazing land and water. At one village we visited, Gunge, we were told that they considered themselves fortunate that the nearest water source was only about five kilometers away. What that means in practical terms is that they must carry all the water they need for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and watering their animals more than three miles. Most of these villages had several donkeys that are used to carry the water for the village. We passed several donkey trains, with each donkey carrying four plastic containers filled with 10 liters of water each.
There are so many things that I see on these visits that leave me amazed, humbled, and thankful for so many "luxuries," like running water, that I too often take for granted.
Yesterday (11/16), we left the main road at about 9:30 AM and spent the next several hours driving through the rough, bumpy, and very dusty roads of the Ruvu district to visit three preaching stations. We didn't see another paved road until around 3:30 pm. That was six very long and grueling hours of travel, but so very much worth it to see God's hand at work in these fields so very ripe for harvest.
What a privilege to visit and encourage these brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pastor Jeremiah (president of the TZCLC) has only good things to say about the Maasai. He especially appreciates their bravery, work ethic, honesty, loyalty, faithfulness, and independent spirit. He often laughs as he comments that you will never see a Maasai beggar because if a Maasai begs, he would be kicked out of the tribe. He also admires their approach to Scripture. He talks about how they do not argue; they simply want to know what the Bible teaches and if you teach them clearly and simply, they will follow the Scriptures. He says if you show them what the Bible says, they believe it. Praise the Lord!
After spending so much time over the past five years in prayer and discussions and preparation with the leaders of the TZCLC to get the Seminary organized and started and then able to continue functioning through the pandemic, it really has been a special gift from the Lord to be able to witness, first hand, the fruits of these labors! What a privilege to serve the One who is always faithful to His every promise!
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10–11
Enjoy a few videos and pictures from the past few days and pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ among the Maasai.