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Africa Inland Mission
January 18, 2017 3:21 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Cecil was determined to teach the Africans how to play American baseball. When he returned from a furlo he brought with him several bats, balls and some gloves. In all his years of ministry he always had good rapport with the young people and he was sure he could get at least 2 teams organized. After all, two teams were needed in order to play the game. He called for young men to join to form the teams and there was no lack of volunteers.
After a period of explaining things, he set them to their positions and started a game. He pitched, was the coach and umpire – and the source of information on everything as the game progressed.
He first noticed that every pitched ball that the batter swung at and missed just rolled away; the catcher didn’t catch it. Oh, well. That just takes practice (and courage) to be so close behind someone swinging a heavy “club”!
Finally the batter connected. Fly ball! Into the outfield. Again, there was no attempt to catch it as it came but just to pick it up as it rolled on the ground. Oh, well. They will catch on as things progress.
But then he noticed something else. As the batter was running around the bases, the fielder picked up the ball and ran with it in his hand to deliver it to the person on one of the bases, hoping to get there before the batter/runner. The fielder didn’t throw it to the one guarding the base. He had to put it in his hand.
Well, Cecil had fun with these young men for several days but not much improved. He shortly lost interest in teaching baseball – and later his bats, balls and mitts found their way into the auction in Mwanza. After all, dancing and digging to the beat of the drums and playing football (soccer) was their “thing”
Go forward to some of my experience. I was involved in a lot on construction, which included roofing buildings with corrugated iron or aluminum sheets. And often, while trying to juggle the sheets, hammer and nails, my hammer would fall to the ground. The African workers, in response to my request, would pick it up, climb the ladder and put it my hand. Even though I tried to get them to throw it up to me, they climbed the ladder and put it in my hand.
It was then that I realized there was a cultural issue involved. It was considered threatening to throw something at/to someone else. Protocol called for anything to be passed hand-to-hand.
So much for baseball; so much for hammer retrieval! It took a long time for me to convince one of my workers to throw my hammer up to me – and how to throw it – head first. I am sure things have changed a bit by now.

January 7, 2017 5:48 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

What better way to begin the year by remembering faithful African servants of the Lord. The past 2 weeks or so have been a “blur” for Carol and I – hospital stay for her; tied up in the house for me with severe bronchial issues. But, “Remembering” gives encouragement and underlines our Lord’s goodness and faithfulness.
Pastor Jushua – One Persistent in Faithfulness
After a period in ministry, I was given oversight over one of the most densely populated areas of church ministry. There were five pastorates, each with over 30 evangelists and preaching points. My wife and I traveled much to visit the pastors and the churches and in each of the pastoral areas I had innumerable church council meetings.
One of the closest pastoral areas, other than the one on which the mission station was located, was Nguge. And the pastor there was Jushua. He was a soft-spoken, even-tempered man and his input in council meetings was most helpful. And, for some reason, he took me “under his wing”, traveling with him throughout his pastorate and introducing me both to church workers and local chiefs and their advisors. It was always a joy to be with him and his wife.
When Carol and I were assigned to open up the new mission station in Salawe, there was no African pastor available for the district. The closest pastor was infirm and could not assume any additional responsibilities. Jushua volunteered. Not to move out there with us, but to regularly bicycle the 80 miles round-trip from his home to be with us for local church council meetings and special conferences. This he faithfully did, both in the dry season and during the rains, in spite of all the responsibilities he had in his own church district. Faithfulness. Persistence.     Surely his heavenly reward will be great.

December 25, 2016 3:13 am
Published in: Church Ministry

Probably my last post for the year. Merry Christmas to All – may our Lord God bless abundantly as you enter into the New Year. – Maranatha!

Christmas comes early out here. In fact, it comes at least 3 days early as people start coming in from distant “out-churches” to attend the Christmas conference on the mission station. But actually, it started several months before as the local church leadership made plans – who to invite as speaker and where housing would be provided; what local Christian’s “kiwanja” (village, or in some cases, yard) would be host to which church group; firewood gathered; and a myriad of other details such as what each church group needed to bring with them – their food, bedding, etc.
Now the “3-day early” has arrived. An early visit by the church leaders calls me out. “Bring your “bunduki” (gun). We can’t catch the cow”! The station church was providing the meat for everyone and had arranged to purchase one from another village. Only, as they had left early to get it, it had gone berserk – crazed – and no one could get near it. It had l-o-n-g sharp horns (the Africans called them “2 spears”) and it tried to gore anyone who got too close. Maybe I could help.cow-jpg
So out I go, my trusty 30.06 over my shoulder and a box of 180 grain cartridges in my hand. Into my Land Rover we climb and, with them directing, we bounce down the cow paths until we get to the village where “maching’wabili” (2 spears) should be. The villagers informed us that it was out in the bush – “it ran that way”. So now there is nothing to do except try and track it down.
And we did. We found it a distance away, contentedly eating grass. As soon as it saw us it turned our direction and tossed its head angrily – the “spears” intimidating some of the church leaders so much that they took off.
My rifle was loaded and locked – safety on – as the local evangelist and I contemplated our next move. Safety off as we drew closer. The cow eyed us closely but then dipped its head to munch more grass. Maybe it thought that only two people were not a threat.
BANG! One shot in the right place; down it went. Those intrepid others, who had abandoned us when the cow first looked at us, came out of the bushes. The job was done, the cow loaded into my vehicle and off to the station we went. Meat was now assured for the crowds coming in. After all, how could you eat “ugali” (African cornmeal mush) without good meat and gravy?
And my (our) portion? A good long filet, cut from along the backbone of the beast. Besides a good Christmas Conference, we were going to eat well!!

December 21, 2016 8:22 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

Christmas Time – and what better way to remember our Lord’s birth than with evidence of what that means. Enjoy!
He was a man of large stature. As he grew from boyhood he not only grew taller than most but also developed a commanding physique. He could outrun, out jump and overcome all the other young men in community wrestling matches. He was the envy of the other young men, admired by all the young ladies and the pride of his family.
He naturally became the leader of a large dance clan. Sukuma dances were divided up into clans, performed together on wide, open plains and the winner of the dance demonstration was the clan which drew to its side the major part of the audience. His clan was most often the winner.
In order to become “more important”, he decided that he should learn how to read and write. He had seen those foreigners and some Africans reading out of books and felt that if he also knew how to do this it would enhance his stature within his community.
Schools were practically non-existent in those days. Missions operated a few “church schools”, which were run by local evangelists, and that was about the only way one could learn to read and write. He was told that if he went early a certain settlement where there were some Arab traders, there he would find a person who could teach him.
Metusela went to the settlement which was a good distance from home. He was considered a “country bumpkin” and was ridiculed by the Arabs for wanting to learn how to read and write. Because he was so big and strong, they offered to hire him to run their sugar-cane press on the edge of the settlement. He agreed, built himself a little hut to live in and each day was spent driving the oxen which turned the mill press. But he was disappointed. Driving oxen didn’t help him reach his goal.
He persisted asking about it and finally the Arabs told him that there was an older man, employed by them in one of their other shops, who knew how to read and write. This man lived down the road a bit and that if he waited on the path near the big mango tree he would be able to see him as he came to work and ask him how to learn.
The next morning Metusela was by the tree bright and early. He mainly saw some women bringing fish and sweet potatoes to sell at the market and a crippled elderly man hobbling along. He didn’t see anyone who looked like he was “educated” enough to know how to read and write.
Being a good Sukuma man, he greeted everyone coming by. Being a good Sukuma man he didn’t draw out his greetings to the women. Being a good Sukuma man he greeted the men with the customary detail. “Good morning… Are you well… How are things at home… How are your gardens… How are your cattle… etc.” He greeted the old crippled man the same way.
But there was something different with this man. He was carrying what looked like a book. “Do you know how to read?” he asked. “Yes,” the man replied. “Is that a book?” “Yes.” “What kind of book is it?” “It is a Bible, the Word of God.” The crippled man showed him the book which, of course, meant nothing to Metusela.
“Could you teach me how to read and write?” he asked the older man. The crippled man, who really didn’t have much spare time since he worked at the Arab’s shop most of the week, said “If you meet me here at this tree, at sunup each day, I will teach you.” Metusela was overjoyed. He determined to be there each day. Teaching sessions lasted for about an hour after which both Metusela and the crippled man had to leave to get to work on time.
Teaching materials? Just scraps of paper and the Bible as the text book. It was hard work but as time went on Metusela was able to grasp the principles of reading, of vowel sounds and pronunciation using the vowels and consonants. Writing was another thing. He had never even held a pencil before and he literally had to learn from “scratch” how to get the pencil to mark the letters on the scraps of paper.
While he was learning, the message of the text-book started to work on him. Yes, we know it was the Spirit of God who was drawing him and it wasn’t long before he told his teacher, “I believe Jesus died for my sins.” Now, besides being a “reader”, he was a new man in Christ. And, after all, that is why his teacher had agreed to teach him in the first place! His teacher, though crippled and working for the Arabs, was the local church evangelist! Metusela attended that local church gathering, made a public declaration of his faith, enrolled in the catechism classes and when an ordained pastor came to speak at a near-by church conference, was baptized. It was then that he took the name Metusela (Methuselah).metusela-mongo
And an aside – Arab traders did not trust any one with their money. They didn’t even trust banks and usually kept their wealth in a covered hole in the dirt floor of their house or in the bed mattress. And they regularly counted it to make sure it was always there and to determine how much their business was bringing in and increasing their resources.
And another aside – this crippled evangelist, who could read and write, was also good at numbers. And he had been proved to be honest. And, wonder of wonders, the Arab traders entrusted him with keeping their accounts. No, he didn’t keep the money (they still kept it “safe”) but he handled the financial transactions and kept simple but adequate records. They were satisfied; he enjoyed a good reputation and the honor that goes with it.
After several years away, Metusela returned to his home area. No longer were the tribal dances his focus; no longer did he revel in the attention of the young ladies; no longer did the young men have to envy him of that attention and clan stature. Now, in humbleness and with faithfulness, he gave testimony and evidence of the change Christ had done in his life. He witnessed to all; he gathered children together to teach them from the Bible; he started a small school under the trees to teach the basics of reading and writing. In due course a group of people were meeting together to hear God’s Word and a number believed. A church was established; he became the evangelist in charge.
I came to know Metusela in the later days of my ministry in Tanzania. I had been asked by the African church leaders to care for a number of churches in one of the pastoral districts and Metusela’s church was one of them. Whenever I visited he warmly received me. We ate numerous meals of African food together – cornmeal mush, dried fish sauce, chicken and sour milk – and drank untold cups of sweet “chai”, the real African tea! It was there, over several visits, that his story came out. Others who knew him in his younger days added details they knew; all bore witness to the real change God wrought in his life.

CHRISTMAS – the Saviour was born to bring Salvation and New Life!

December 6, 2016 6:42 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

After we were moved from Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya, our days were filled with International Office activities – Carol in finance, I in personnel matters. It’s a good thing I had an excellent secretary (Jean) to try to keep me on track!

As a Sunday or week-end ministry, I was able to help the Africa Inland Church in the work of the Kangemi church. I preached most Sundays and conducted communion service once a month. There was no African pastor at that time for the church and my involvement provided relief for the main Nairobi area church pastor at Ziwani. Often my “Tanzania Swahili” was the topic of much conversation because at that time “Kenya Swahili” was considered much inferior. More fun!

It was a great and joyful experience. There were about 4 local Africans who provided overall leadership and with them we developed plans for a more permanent church building. They prepared both the bread and the cup for the communion services; I just led the service and directed folks minds and thoughts to our Saviour and what was accomplished on the cross of Calvary.

81rumanawa2Forget that the “bread” was often dried crusts of regular bread. Forget that the “cup” was sometimes flat “Fanta” orange soda (because the reddish soda was not available). The Church of God, body of Christ, met together to remember with thankfulness our Lord’s sacrifice and the joy and hope of His return.

MUNGU ASIFIWE! (Swahili-God be praised!)

November 26, 2016 8:01 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

What about laughter in a parked, closed door, Land Rover? That may sound “golden”, BUT:

Our Land Rover was parked under the mango tree in the back yard. The windows were closed thinking it might rain. In fact, it was parked where it usually was overnight. But, this time, the door were unlocked.

My wife happened to go out the back door for something and heard the sound of laughing. Listening closely, she was able to hear the voices of 2 children (boys!!! – unnamed for this record). They were really having a great time.

What were they doing? Well, in the vehicle I kept a tin of hand cleanser for cleaning my hands when repairs had to be done on the engine – or change a tire. And, when the boys got into the car, our ‘docile’ kitty was taken in with them. And, two boys and a cat and a tin of hand cleanser made for an interesting mix to say the least!

Both the boys scooped out the cleanser, liberally applying it to the cat’s body. When the fur was well saturated, they rubbed more making it foam up into suds – and that tickled their fancy and started the laughter.

Found you!! The Land Rover door was opened and their laughter turned to apprehension. They were soundly rebuked, the cat rescued and their fun came to an end.

I now had the bedraggled cat in my hand. It just hung there sopping ‘wet’ and covered in cleanser suds. I knew I couldn’t let it lick itself clean so I got the water hose and hosed it down. It just hung there, as I hosed and rubbed until I got most of the offending cleanser off. Then, my wife gave me a towel which I used to dry its fur as much as possible.

The cat survived and lived a long life. The boys were ‘disciplined’ (don’t ask me how; I don’t remember) – and the loving kitty remained the boy’s (at least for one of them) friend for many days to come. For me, if it saw me pick up a water hose it quickly took off. So much for gratitude!

November 19, 2016 9:19 pm

“Bush-church” visitation was always a joy. When station duties allowed, or when communion was to be held at a church “out there”, we always made a point to visit, especially on Sundays for preaching and fellowship and encouragement. It was also “out there” that we learned much about Sukuma culture and customs.

Always when we visited, we were treated at least to sweet, milky tea, maybe with chapatis or maandazi – or boiled yams, peanuts or cassava root. The Sukuma used to say “one handed tea is poor man’s tea”. In other words, if you didn’t have something to hold in your hands besides the tea cup, you were in a poor man’s house!

On other days, especially on Sundays when a good number of folks attended the church meeting, a good!, full, African meal was served – ugali (mush), rice, ngoko (chicken) or beef – or sheep or goat! -, greens. Delicious! I would go back to Tanzania in a minute (if it didn’t cost so much!) to have one of those great Sukuma meals!

afvilAnd always, just before leaving to return to the mission station, a trip would be made to the kitchen – the “women’s” cooking hut – to thank the ladies who had prepared the meal. Sometimes, just as an expression of thanks, a gift of salt or sugar could be given.

After the meal, Carol and I made our way over to see the ladies who prepared65village the meal. Where we ate was on one side of the village compound; the kitchen hut was on the other side. We walked over, past the ash heap of the nighttime fire, past the cattle pen, skirted a dog sleeping near those ashes and greeted the ladies, thanked them for the great meal and talked a while.

As we turned to go and started walking back, the dog woke up. Thinking there was no problem we kept going. As we went past it, it jumped up with a growl and latched onto Carol’s arm puncturing the skin and drawing blood. The “man of the village”, a church elder, immediately came to her aid, beating off the dog and expressed his concern and regrets for what had happened.

But his next question floored her – and me. Holding on to the dog he asked, “Do you want me to kill it?” Of course not! But custom required that an animal (dog, cat, cow or whatever) that injured a guest should be killed to appease the person for the injury that drew the blood.

We recognized that the dog was surprised by our invading “its territory”; we were persons it didn’t know; we were brazenly walking toward it. It only attacked because of a perceived threat – and we were the threat!

65village2As we drove away to go home, the church elder again voiced his offer. Again we said, “Yaya, gutiho mhayo” (“No, there is no word”). He thanked us, no doubt relieved his guard dog would not be harmed. And for many days after the incident, whenever I saw him, he asked about Carol’s well-being.

And Carol still has a small scar in the crook of her arm!

November 15, 2016 4:26 pm
Published in: Family Life

She finally arrived!

I went to Tanganyika as a single young man and had only dated Carol a few 57capcbtimes before I left the USA in 1956. I has proposed by mail, sent her $$$ to purchase the engagement ring and the president of the Philadelphia Bible Institute put it on her finger. Now, she’s was here.

Where? The Field Council assigned her to the KolaNdoto station, to live with her future in-laws (my parents!!), pending whatever happens. I was 70 miles away at the Kijima station. Application was made to the Field Council to get married – it was APPROVED!

Now for the wedding plans. A date was set and arraignments made. Other 58wedding-4missionaries volunteered to do a lot of the work and were very helpful. She had flown out from the USA bringing her wedding gown (borrowed) with her. I went to a local Asian tailor to get a proper “wedding suit” made up for me.

The day arrived. My chosen best man and I scouted around to try and find flowers – unfortunately the rains were late that year and nothing seemed to have bloomed. We even went together to the local cemetery with the hopes that someone had passed away and maybe we could find flowers on the grave. Nothing!

But the wedding had to go on. The bride carried a white Bible with a sprig of58wedding-2 artificial flowers draped from it. While waiting for the bride to enter the church, which was packed with African Christians, the best man and I (in a back room) looked over a basketball magazine – pretending calm!

It was over. Dr. Bill gave her away; Alan and Zakayo (an African pastor) performed the ceremony; the reception was over; we were ready to leave on the Lake Victoria steamer for our honeymoon.

My Volkswagen was parked out front, ready for the get-away. Some enterprising missionary had jacked up both rear wheels and set them on cement bricks as a trick – but he didn’t know that we had arraigned for someone else to drive us down to the Lake Victoria steamer. More fun!

So we were off. We had a lay-over in Kenya and the British immigration official was a bit concerned about “these missionaries traveling together but with passports that gave different last names”! Of course we hadn’t had time to get them changed (nor did we have a copy of the Wedding Certificate yet!) – the US Consulate was over 500 miles away from where we were married. But he approved visas and stamped both of the passports.

On to Ogada station in Kenya for an overnight. Back to the steamer to continue the trip around the lake – to Entebbe, Uganda, on to Bukoba in Tanzania (Tanganyika then) and on to Mwanza, out to Kahunda to the Kinzers – and on to 58 further years of ministry. Kijima, Salawe, KolaNdoto, Mwanza, Nassa, Mwanza, Nairobi, Bristol (England), Laurel Springs (NJ), Front Royal (VA) and now retirement here in Minneola Florida.

And, without reservation, the children (Beth, Janice, Donna and Mark), sons-65bejadomkknin-law, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and the many friends and coworkers who have been part of our lives. All these have been special BLESSINGS from our God!

AND TODAY IS THE DAY WE REMEMBER AND GIVE HEARTFELT THANKS TO OUR LORD.

November 12, 2016 10:48 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

 

When we moved out to Salawe, there were about four little churches established by evangelists in the area. Because the whole area was surrounded by seasonal swamps, it had been difficult for either missionaries or African pastors to regularly visit those churches. After the Mission decided to establish a mission station in that area, there was much rejoicing that not only was a missionary coming but that there would be general overall guidance for those fledgling churches and church evangelists. My wife and I were the designated missionaries to move to the area.57evangsafari

We had a great time out there in Salawe. Our children spent most of their early life out there and remember those days fondly. In spite of poor or unfinished housing, lack of amenities, distance from town, isolation during the rains when the swamps precluded travel – we all survived, flourished and still think of that as home.

Getting established logistically was a bit difficult at first. Every item – gasoline, kerosene, lumber, cement, nails, food staples – everything! – had to come from town about 75 miles away. And, for about 8 months of the year those swamps were almost impassable.

Besides the busy-ness of the construction of station buildings, the opportunity to visit those small churches was a real joy. Working with some of the evangelists, we scouted out areas where there were no churches and worked with African village leadership to permit a church to be established. Every request we made met with approval. Surely the Lord had gone before us.

Sometimes the planting of those new churches necessitated a move by a Christian family from an established church so that the new church would have good leadership and counsel from the beginning. The Lord our God certainly blessed during the 8 years we were there. From that beginning of only those four little churches and no resident African pastor, when we left xxevangwkrsthere about 8 years later there was a resident African pastor for the area and, if I recall correctly, about a further eight churches started. Sure, some of them still were meeting “under the spreading mango tree”, but these fellowships of believers provided not only Biblical teaching/preaching but also mutual encouragement as Christians lived among others who clung to non-Biblical cultural practices.

I was able to get back to visit the area about 25 years later. The ministry of the Word of God, through His African servants, had greatly increased – there were now at least 36 churches and 6 trained and ordained pastors! Praise God! In spite of difficulties – isolation and famine for two years – the church had grown and many had accepted the Lord as Savior. In fact, when their “first missionary” (me!) visited them on this trip, the main church was crowded out by all the folks who came from each out-church to greet (and see!) this “mzungu” (European) who had come to live among them and had preached to them and encouraged them in their witness.salchurch

Yes, and for me it was a time of reigning in my thoughts. It was easy to bask in the recognition and praise they gave but that was wrong. It was the Lord who not only send our family out to live in the area but also He was the one who “built” His church through the faithful witness of many. To God be the Glory!

November 5, 2016 5:28 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

The day of evangelistic meetings in the villages was over. The team piled into the truck and we went to the home where another church evangelist lived. It was ‘way out there in the bush and as a new missionary I did not know what to expect. We were to spend the night there, leaving in the morning for another outreach into a new area. The local evangelist and his wife received us warmly. I was ushered into a fairly new grass-roofed hut where there was a small table and one chair. I had no idea where the rest of my African teammates ha been taken – but I had an idea! It was still “colonial Africa” and the protocol was that “whites” did not regularly associate with Africans. They did together whatever work they had to do but, when work was over, they separated, going their own way and didn’t mix.

After a long time of sitting there alone, the local evangelist came in, put on the table an unopened tin of sweetened condensed milk and an unopened box of Marie biscuits and immediately left. No utensils. I assumed a kettle of tea was to arrive and, possibly, another chair and occupant. So I sat – and sat – and sat. Nothing and no one came. It soon grew dark. The evangelist returned and saw the tin of condensed milk and the biscuits unopened. And he blew his stack! So out of character for an African, especially an evangelist. He said, “What I brought you wasn’t good enough for a white man. I guess you want some tea!” As I spluttered to answer he stormed out, taking the condensed milk with him and later sent his wife to bring me a pot of tea. That was the extent of supper. I slept that night “under the stars” and mosquito net in the back of the pickup.

In the morning I went back to the evangelist’s hut to greet everyone. He greeted me warmly and welcomed me in to eat a hearty meal with the rest of the team. I said nothing about the events of the preceding evening but learned later that the rest of the African team had heard and had roundly verbally chastised the local evangelist for his actions and expectations. For the rest of our two-week safari the team talked about this and the “ignorant” local evangelist.

In REFLECTION, the encouraging part is that the team highly approved of how I had handled it – I just “rolled”with it; did not mention it or rebuke the evangelist and even ate that morning meal together with all in a real sense of fellowship. Looking back, I say, “Thank you Lord for guarding MY response”. And, I believe my relationship with those team members during 25+ years of ministry with the African church, and also with that local evangelist whom I visited a number of times later, was built on that occurrence. And, again, I say, “Thank you Lord for controlling my tongue and actions”.