The last week of June was Missionary Renewal (MR) for the Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) missionaries who are currently in the states for their one year itineration after a four year term in countries around the world.
During this time, anywhere from 800-1,000 missionary families converge on Springfield MO for an intense week of field studies, training, fellowship, encouragement and restoration.
Children attend age appropriate activities that are both fun and challenging and teach them important things about being a missionary.
The goal of MR is to not only train and prepare our missionaries for their next four year term mentally and intellectually, but also spiritually and emotionally.
Since Tim and I are assigned to work with Africa’s Hope here in Springfield, we were fortunate to see dear friends from around the world, especially from Africa. One night, we were privileged to go out to eat with some of the missionaries we partnered in ministry with in Tanzania.
We were excited to hear good news about what is happening across the African continent and especially to hear about what God is doing in Tanzania.
We are part of a network of missionaries who live around the world, including in the states, who are working together to see that the Good News of Jesus is taken to every nation and people group around the world. We have a special bond with those scattered across the African continent. Any accomplishments or successes we have as individual missionaries are shared by all of us because we are a team.
During his recent visit to West Africa, Tim was introduced to one of the pets belonging to one of the staff at the Bible School in Burkina Faso. It wasn’t his favorite experience but we as missionaries do many things that we chalk up to “building relationships”.
We eat food that we probably would never eat given a choice, we go places sometimes that we would normally not venture into and we sometimes have to deal with people that we would not keep company with on a normal basis. We sometimes even take some risks that we would not take except for the purpose of building relationships with our African pastors and leaders.
There are times when we buy things and have them brought out from the states so that it will open a door of opportunity for us to minister to someone.
Attitude is the one of the keys to successful missionary life. We have learned our lessons in winning the lost and building relationships from the Apostle Paul who said, “I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some” I Corinthians 9:22
Tim made his first trip to Burkina Faso in West Africa in April and discovered one of the constants of Africa. Children! Across the continent of Africa, the stats are about the same; about 1/2 the population of any country are children.
Those he found in West Africa are much the same as the children of Tanzania in East Africa where we lived and ministered. They laugh, they play, they are shy with newcomers, they love attention and affection.
Tim met this group of children one day outside the Bible School and enjoyed some interaction with them.
Another thing that is a given with the children, the longer you tarry the larger the group grows!
One of Tim’s objectives for his trip this month to Burkina Faso was to attempt to get the Heidelberg Press in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso up and running. The press was delivered last year and will allow the national church to print all the needed training materials for Burkina Faso as well as do other printing jobs for some other West Africa Bible Schools and National Churches.
After spending time with a qualified tech via Skype, it was determined that some of the circuit boards were damaged and the press could not be repaired on the spot. Tim has brought the damaged boards back to the states with him where they can be repaired and sent back to Burkina Faso to be installed in the press.
This was Tim’s first trip to Burkina Faso and the national church leaders and Bible School staff and faculty were extremely gracious and helpful. We was well taken care of including being provided with a steady stream of bottled water to combat dehydration in the 100+ degree weather there.
Tim is currently in west Africa visiting the countries of Burkina Faso and Togo. His main objective in Burkina Faso is to examine a huge printing press there which they have never used because they have not been able to get it operational. He is bringing some of the parts from the press back to the U.S. for repairs. The parts will then be returned to Burkina Faso at a later date.
This is his first trip back to Africa since our assignment to Africa’s Hope as team leader for Africa Library Services. It is also his first trip to the west African country of Burkina Faso. The people he has met there have been very hospitable to him and the General Superintendent arranged for him to visit two Bible Schools near by while he is there. He was shown the libraries and viewed many of the books and materials that have been sent there by Africa’s Hope thanks to donations from various churches. Without the help of our ministry partners these libraries would not exist and they would not have the necessary books and training materials they need to train pastors and leaders.
Tim was proudly shown their Discovery Series Bible School Curriculum printed in French that they use to teach their Bible School students. The Discovery Series material is printed on the printing equipment at Africa Library services in several languages and sent to our Bible Schools all over Africa. Again, this ministry is made possible through our generous ministry partners across the U.S.
Much has happened since our last communication. I apologize for that and will attempt to catch you up on our lives in 2015 and so far in 2016. I will attempt to do a better job in my blogging in the future.
In early 2015 we began to realize that Joyce’s health would not allow us to complete this 4 year term in Mwanza Tanzania. We returned to Tanzania in February 2014 after Joyce’s bout with breast cancer which resulted in a double mastectomy and chemotherapy.
We began to pray about our next steps and started meeting with our leadership. At the same time we were coming to grips with our need to return to the states we were contacted by Africa’s Hope in Springfield MO. They had been praying and searching for a missionary to head up their Africa Library Services (ALS) office for over a year.
We have worked closely with the Africa’s Hope office on several projects at our Bible School in Mwanza and were thrilled when they offered us the position. We knew God had directed us to our next area of ministry that would also keep us tied to Africa. We began the long process of saying farewell to our friends, pastors and leaders that we have grown to love through our years of ministry in Tanzania. Those were difficult months and many tears were shed before our final departure in September 2015.
Tim has assumed his new role as team leader for Africa Library Services (ALS) and Joyce is finding her place with the Africa Communications office. ALS basically assists our 250+ Bible Schools and Training Centers across the continent of Africa set up libraries and acquire the curriculum they need to train pastors and leaders for ministry.
A spirit filled, well trained pastor/leader is the hope of Africa. They can go into villages and meet people that typical missionaries do not have access to. They can do it in the heart language of the people and in the correct cultural contexts. The Spirit is moving across Africa, churches are springing up and people are getting saved, but there is a critical shortage of pastors.
Our work is vital in fulfilling the Great Commission; people saved and discipled into mature believers.
When not traveling or speaking elsewhere, we attend MICC (Mwanza International Community Church) here in Mwanza. For a number of years the church has met in the conference room at a downtown hotel. The owner just informed them that he was raising their rent to more than double what they have been paying, effective immediately.
While some may view this as an attack of Satan, we choose to believe that this is an opportunity for MICC to practice their faith and trust in God and for God to show himself powerful and able to provide for His people. We know that he is going to open a door and show the church the path He has for them to travel. This situation has not taken God by surprise and he has known about this day since before the church began.
Negative aspects: Land costs have skyrocketed here in Mwanza and properties are snatched up quickly in spite of the high costs. Owners are wanting the money upfront and immediately – the first one with the money gets the property. MICC does not have much “cash on hand”. They have taken their monies and invested in supporting village pastors and helping to build village churches. They cannot last more than a month at their current location.
Positive aspect: God is on our side!
Tim and Pastor Zakayo have been looking at property. These pictures show one of the sites they have looked at. They are not playing “King of the Mountain” or hacking through the dense forest. In Mwanza, there is little flat land. So, it is necessary to climb rocks and boulders and cut back trees and brush sometimes to view a piece of land.