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Africa Inland Mission
February 28, 2017 5:54 am
Published in: Family Life

Tanzania had a renown diamond mine, Williamson Diamonds. Its origins as a mining venture was back in the early 1900s. It is reported the Mr. Williamson was at the end of his tether, having prospected all over, and was now “broke”, not even having even sufficient food. He came to one of our mission stations (the hospital station) for physical help and in the process developed a relationship with one of the early missionaries there. That missionary, with compassionate concern, sent him on his way with a large stock of edibles and a bit of money. In short order, Mr. Williamson discovered “mother lode”, a huge pipe of diamond bearing earth, about 20 miles from the mission station.

Over the years, the mine expanded – buildings, crushers, sorting houses, etc. and, of course, mine workers and their residences. Mr. Williamson never forgot the kindness extended to him by that missionary and over the years, as the mine’s success increased, he (and it [the mine]) provided the hospital and station with real assistance. Even during long drought periods, water trucks came almost daily to keep the station’s cisterns replenished. It’s well equipped hospital, with the latest technical equipment and visiting specialists, provided real backup and assistance to the mission hospital. I, myself, was cared for there for torn ligaments in one of my knees. All this, and more, was “free gratis” for what that early missionary did. The mine aircraft provided free transportation both to freight and persons who needed to travel. In fact, Carol and our daughter were granted a trip to Nairobi in Kenya.

Now, what does that have to do with “A Dog Named Lobo”? Because of the value of mined diamonds, security was an ongoing issue. Besides armed guards, Alsatian dogs were used to deter would-be incursions. And, the mine had its own dog-training facilities. After a period of training, the dogs were put through thorough tests and those that passed joined the security detail. Those that failed were sold to Mwadui mine personnel to be used as guard dogs for their homes.

Lobo was one of those who failed. The mine employee who purchased it was later leaving the country and needed to find it a new home. She brought it over to the mission station once when I was there and, somehow, she knew that I had “fawned” over it and the dog and I seemed to have developed a real bond.

Some time later I received a message that the lady wanted to give me her dog. She was leaving shortly and wanted it to have a good home – and remembered my contact with it (and her) earlier. Of course we were overjoyed. Of we went in our Land Rover, bumping down the 70+ miles to the hospital station, ready to pick up “our new dog”. And we did!

It was a lovely and friendly dog, even with all that “security training” it had received. Maybe its friendliness is what caused it to fail the training. Anyway, it was now ours. And, extremely loyal. It kept watch over our house and family for years until we had to leave on furlough (oops! Home Assignment) and we had to give it to someone else.

And, a case-in-point re: its early training as security dog. African men usually walked around with a spear, a long walking-stick or a panga (machete) carried over their shoulder. Even when they came to visit our home on the station, many came carrying those things. If they came with those thing over their shoulder, dog would run at them barking and showing its teeth, holding the person at bay until I came to that person’s “rescue”. It never attacked anyone – just held them until I came. They couldn’t even retreat without the dog following them!

BUT, if those persons came holding their spear, stick or panga down in their arm, not over the shoulder, the dog paid no attention. Oh, of course it saw them but not as a threat. Folks coming to our house soon learned to leave their “shilanga” (weapons) at home or to remove them from over their shoulder as they came near. We figured that the dog’s former security training made it see a weapon over the shoulder as a threat and, if held down in the extended arm, as a non-threat.

Funny thing – when we had to find a new home for it when we were leaving I had any number of Africans in town who wanted it! They saw its value in protection. It sure kept the hyenas away!

February 18, 2017 1:26 am
Published in: Ministry Life

Out in Salawe, before we got our own “chicken run” and coop, we were hard pressed to find eggs to eat. The waSukuma usually brought eggs to sell that had been abandoned by the setting hen – and you know those eggs were “ripe” and floated when tested in water.

About 50 miles away, on one of our 0ther mission stations, the resident missionary saved “good” eggs for us. I usually dropped by to pick them up to take home when I went the 70+ miles to town for supplies. They were always well packed, wrapped in newspaper so they wouldn’t break on the rough roads we traveled.

This time, my safari to town was on my Matchless motorcycle. On my way home I stopped by for any eggs saved for us. There was a tin box full with the wrapped eggs and I tied the box onto the motorcycle carrier. Off I went, down the bumpy road, across the rough mbugas (seasonal cotton-soil swamps), through the forest and on home about 30+ miles away. All arrived safe and sound — or, rather, I did.

What I didn’t realize was that anything carried on the carrier over the back fender of the motorcycle at least doubles any road vibrations and bumps. And the eggs were back there! When I arrived home I opened the tin box to take out the eggs – they were well scrambled! And, well mixed with pieces of news paper! What a mess – and waste!

Needless to say, we survived an “egg famine” until my next trip to town. And I learned that if any other trips were on the Matchless, I had to carry a neck/shoulder bag to put the eggs in. Better yet, since we had radio contact with that other station, I was able to let them know when my trip would be by Land Rover, my trusty vehicle! Carried on the front seat ensured they arrive home safely.

February 11, 2017 5:58 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

Sunday Communion Services were rotated among the out churches (bush churches). Folks from surrounding churches would gather for the worship/Bible teaching meeting after which the Communion Service would be held. And, after that, the whole crowd met together, divided into groups, for a meal. And, as one of the visiting pastors, I was included in a meal together with the other church leadership. And, being one of the “bageni ba lina” (guests with a name [honor]), usually a good Sukuma meal would be served.
This one Sunday the service was held at a church in a very remote area. There had been drought for a couple of years and most people living in that area had difficulty obtaining basic food essentials. For this special Sunday, though, the Christians had collected enough for the church crowd.
As we sat in the dim interior of the local evangelist’s hut, the food for us was brought in. The ugali (cornmeal mush) was there. The bowl containing the meat and gravy was there. The procedure was to take a piece of mush and, after molding it with your fingers into a small ‘bowl-like’ portion, dip it into the gravy and eat it.
To me, there seemed to be something floating on top of the gravy – something that looked like real short pieces of fine grass. Since it was dark I could not really make out what it was. But, by swishing the piece of ugali through it, I was able to dip my ugali into the real tasty gravy.
One of the church leaders fished out a hunk of meat. He was sitting close to me and I could see what it was! I was a longish strip of meat but with the skin still attached, hairs and all. He first folded it in half, skin and hair inward, and popped it into his mouth. I think he just ‘sucked’ on it for a while and then swallowed it whole! When he saw that I was not eating the meat he showed me how to do it. Now I knew what was floating on top of the gravy. Hairs!!!
The African pastor who was with me was appalled. He knew what it was (beef neck meat with the skin still attached!) and objected strongly to “poor man’s meat” being served to “bageni ba lina” (guests with a name [honor]). He proceeded to voice his displeasure and rebuke the evangelist but the other church leaders who were there were able to tone things down and give explanation for the reason for the “poor man’s” meal.
I continued to eat – mostly the cornmeal mush and what gravy I could get as hairlessly as possible. I ate little of the meat even though I had been shown how to do it – “fold it, hair inwards, and don’t chew. Just swallow”.
And the copious quantities of sweet “chai” (tea) that came later helped clear any lingering hairs in my throat. My stomach? That’s another matter. But I am still alive and well many years after that incident.
And, may I add, in all my years of bush-church meetings and the meals that followed, I only ran into this situation once. But I still remember it – and didn’t ever use this story in deputation meetings!

February 3, 2017 7:05 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

During my days of construction in Salawe – classrooms, teacher’s houses, church, mission residence, ancillary buildings, etc. – water was very hard to come by. When we first started the work, we used a tractor and trailer to haul water in 50 gallon drums from a pond about 7 miles away. We were making our own cement bricks which needed water not only for the initial molding, but for curing them over a period of about 5-7 days (depending on the weather!). So, the tractor and the “water men” were kept busy going back and forth from the pond.
Later, we found water a bit closer. Down the road from the mission station we found water seeping out of a section of laterite rock. With a bit of work, we were able to break away some of the laterite to create a basin from which we could collect water to fill the 50 gallon drums.
My Land Rover pickup would hold 3 or 4 drums in the back. With workmen, we made our way back and forth. By this time most of the bricks had been made and cured so we were able to keep up with a 2 or 3 times a day trips. The men selected by me enjoyed the trips – I believe mainly because it took them away from the more arduous work!
Once, we went down right after a rain shower. Near the water hole, the road took a hard right turn. The rain had been light but had penetrated the sand to the clay base and, as I took the turn, the Land Rover went into a skid and the grass on the side of the road abruptly stopped the skid.
The workmen in the back were safe. They held onto the body of the vehicle so were in no real danger. EXCEPT one. He decided to hold onto one of the empty water drums. The skid tossed the drum out of the vehicle – and he didn’t have the presence of mind to let go of the drum so he followed it out.
What a hoot and holler from the other workmen! Fortunately the “tossed out” man wasn’t hurt but the incident provided the others with a real occasion for mirth. When we got back to the job with the water, they (of course) told the other men – we had about 40 at that time – and they all had a good laugh at the poor man’s expense.
Just in case, I gave him 2 days off and a jar of good-smelling pain cream (liniment) in case he needed it. I am sure he used the cream liberally even if he didn’t need it! The smell was the reward, I am sure!

January 24, 2017 4:31 am
Published in: Uncategorized

Petro wasn’t a very distinguished man – I mean distinguished in the sense of being from an important tribal family or having connections in the tribe. His background was just as a farmer; he took his family away from a settled area and went to “cut down the forest” – to clear land where he could have a larger farm, plant crops and provide well for his family.
The area where he settled was far distant from regular church fellowships. He and his wife were believers and early on he determined that wherever he settled he would start a church and try to teach God’s Word to others who were in that same area. The family moved out across the swamps, to fertile land on the other side and there he went to work. He grew cotton, rice and maize (corn). He was never rich but was able to send his children through secondary school and see them well established
Soon a church was established. Several families regularly attended and a number accepted the Lord as Saviour. As more and more families moved into the area, and children needed regular education, he got the African church to build a primary school close to where he had his church.
It was to that same general area that Carol and I were sent by the Mission to open up a new mission station. Though where the station was finally located was on “this” side of the wide swamp, Petro faithfully came over, rain or shine, to help me in general church administration and leadership. When his old dilapidated bicycle finally broke down, we were able to help him get a new one which he used for all his church activities. He often accompanied me in evangelistic outreach.
We were moved to Kenya and an African pastor was sent by the church to care for that area. Petro continued to be one of the main leaders in ministry matters. His family had grown up. He even now had grandchildren. Then I heard he had applied to go to Bible College. To sit in classes with men much younger than him! To perform in studies which normally required one have a secondary school education! And Petro had only studied through the 4th grade!
But he triumphed. Though Greek and Hebrew studies were not forced on him, he was able to graduate. The church, as it does to almost all graduates, assigned him a ministry post – back home where he had begun a church many years before. In spite of advancing years and increasing physical difficulties, he faithfully kept ministering. The church grew and became stronger.
The Lord recently took him home. I am sure there was a “Well done, good and faithful servant” welcome for him.

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!)