19 June 2009
If you read the blog, you know that I am in East Africa currently. Twenty-four members of our church have traveled here on a vision trip to see what God is doing, minister to our missionaries, and, we trust, grow in Christ and in our commitment to the Great Commission. We actually form two groups of 12 that have split time between Kenya and Tanzania. The group of which I am part was in Kenya first, then came down to Tanzania on Wednesday. Apart from some brief time in Kenya together on last Saturday morning and seeing each other at the airport in Mwanza, TZ on Wednesday afternoon, the two groups have not been together. The other group will return to the States on Monday (DV), and our group will arrive on Tuesday (DV).
As it is usually is when I come over here (this is my 11th trip), it is incredible to see what God is doing to call out a people for His name from among the nations. One of the realities that challenges me most is what sacrifices it takes to pastor a church in these countries (provided you're not being subsidized by a missionary). This afternoon, our group sat down for about 1 1/2 hours with two godly men, Paulo and Samson, who pastor churches that were planted by a missionary from our church. Our folks heard their testimonies and asked questions about life and ministry here. I've had the priviledge of watching these men grow and serve Christ for several years now, but it was great to see our folks have the privilege of meeting them and learning about their work.
Tanzania is a very poor country and it is very difficult for a church to support its pastor. Faithful congregations do their best, but, quite honestly, it isn't enough to cover life. So these men do some farming on the side to grow food for their families. As they explained the basic flow and schedule of their lives, I sat there, once again, with this deep sense of amazement at the dedication God has worked into their hearts. And I was brought low by the amazing kindness of God that allows me to serve Christ without having to make the sacrifices that they do.
Not too long after the meeting, I checked my email and took a quick look at what is happening back on the other side of the world (including the ecclesiastical world). And I thought, I wonder if all of us pastors in the States had to live like these godly, humble brothers, would so much of what gets us riled up even matter to us? I am sure these brothers would love it if there big problems in life consisted of who said what in the latest conference.
As for me, all that nonsense seems like a colossal waste of time compared to what really matters. I'll toss my hat in the ring, I hope, any time the gospel is at stake, but all this fussing about stupid stuff looks, well, really stupid when you get out here. Coram Deo.
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