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Africa Inland Mission
March 20, 2017 9:09 pm
Published in: Church Ministry

The pastor for the district had been very ill (actually, bedridden) for a long time. He was unable to perform even the pastoral responsibilities of chairing the church councils or to conduct the Lord’s Supper. The African church leaders had no one to replace or assist him in any church functions. Even the preaching in the main church was mostly done by one of the elders.
At that time, I had been appointed the Mission’s Field Director (later called Field Secretary) and our family had been moved to Mwanza which was the central town for all Field activities. I remodeled the former bookshop to make it into a Central Church Office and had been given a room in that building for Mission office matters. There I cared for much of the legal matters regarding the Mission in Tanzania and matters relating to missionary personnel.
Having now moved into “administration”, my involvement in direct church matters was very sporadic. Yes, I did quite a bit of preaching in various churches but that was at their invitation and without actual continuing responsibility. Yes, I was invited to “sit in” on church council meetings and give input but actual leadership responsibilities fell to the African pastors of the areas.
The leading pastor of the African church asked me if I would be willing to be appointed pastor of that sick pastor’s area. By road, it was about 50 miles from our home in town and my actual presence there would be limited. But, because of the pressing need, the church leadership felt sure I would be able to help the church “out there”.
 And, me? It didn’t take me long to agree. After all, our previous 20+ years in ministry had been mainly in direct church work. Administration was not my forte, but it had to be done and I had been chosen. So, in anticipation, I agreed. The leading church pastor went out with me, introduced me as their interim pastor and committed the ministry to the Lord.
And I had a ball. The pastoral area had, I believe, about 17 small out-churches and it was a joy to visit most them. Rain or shine, mud or dust, floods or ruts – for over 2 years my trusty vehicle took me to all those places. It was a joy to share God’s Word with them in each place, to encourage the evangelists and church leaders and – of course! – to fellowship around those good African meals that were served. Baptisms, the Lord’s Supper, church councils, opening a couple new churches, assignment of new evangelists – all part of ministry. It was further fulfillment for that which the Lord had taken us to Tanzania.
Fast forward – 20+ years later. I heard there was a Tanzanian student at Columbia University in South Carolina. When I finally got the phone number, I called. As I explained who I was the student, on the other end, excitedly broke into the conversation and said, “I know who you are. You came to my village church in Usamao and preached.” He was now here in the USA studying Bible theology and has now gone back to minister in church life out there. Praise the Lord

March 13, 2017 3:37 pm
Published in: Ministry Life

One of the oldest mission stations in Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika; formerly German East Africa) was Kijima. That station was first occupied in the early 1900s, about 1910. As a result, buried in all the accumulated clutter, there were a lot of old things from former missionaries who had lived there and left them behind when they moved. And, would you believe it, there were at least 5 old Model T engines – well rusted after lying outside for so many years.
Enter “me” – Rusty Baker – in 1956. When I first arrived out there as a missionary, I was assigned to reside with my parents who were on that station and to get busy with “language learning”. After they were moved to another station, I lived there alone until Carol became my wife. I had seen those old engines sitting around and, just for kicks, tried to work on them – but they were well seized up and many essential parts were missing.
Geography now! Between the mission station and the main road was a river and wide seasonal swamp. The rains between November and April made the swamp mostly impassable; the river often had quite a bit of water in it, even on into the early part of the dry season. Getting out by vehicle entailed getting across that swamp section, down into the river and up out on the other side. Once you got out of the river it was smooth sailing the 5 miles further to the main road.
The complication to the whole equation was getting down into the river, across the bottom of the river and up the other side. It was all black clay and very slippery when wet. It was hard to get  enough traction to make it all the way up the other bank and often several attempts had to be made.
Enter “me” – Rusty Baker! Over the years resident missionaries had put up with all the difficulties and I decided to make “improvements”. I carried rock down to line the bed of the river. For the deeper spots, I decided to use those old, rusted, no-good Model T engines. Into the river I dumped the engines. Around and over the engines I distributed rocks of varying sizes. Now the river wasn’t as much a problem. Even after a rain, with the rocks/engines on the river bed, one could get enough speed to get up the bank on the other side with little trouble. No more major problems – at least until the whole swamp flooded again and kept you from getting even to the river!
As I basked in my glory, one of the older missionary men who had lived previously lived on the station came to visit. He stayed for a day or so and, as he was getting ready to leave, asked where “his” Model T engines were. He wanted them. And I was chagrined. I had to tell him what I had done with them. I told him where they were and said if he really wanted them he could go and dig them out. (No. I didn’t offer to retrieve them.)
I guess it wasn’t that much of an issue with him. Maybe he just “kept it in” until he drove away to go home. Anyway, I found out later that what he really wanted were the magnets in the clutch assemblies that the old Model T’s had. What he wanted them for I have no idea!
But I guess I have to keep in mind that abandoned “stuff” still has an owner. I just need to find them!!

March 7, 2017 6:01 am
Published in: Ministry Life

Talk about diet! Sour milk and boiled dried fish was not my choice but relationships in African homes often called for “fellowship” around a meal.

First, descriptions. Milk came from the cow into usually a wooden “chanji” (vessel). And, being of wood, it was hard to clean properly and milk from a “chanji” wasted no time before turning sour. And, the longer it stayed in the “chanji” the more lumpy and sour it got. But that wasn’t a problem for them. That was the way they liked it!!    BUT ME? NOT!!

Now, for the fish. Tilapia was caught by nets in Lake Victoria. Because there was no refrigeration, and the best market for fish was ‘way beyond the lake shores, the fish had to be dried to make it marketable after lengthy (days) transport, usually by bicycle.

To dry it, the fish was split open and usually set out on the ground in the hot sun. Drying properly took several day; if a day was cloudy is slowed down the drying and often gave the fish an “unripe” smell – to say nothing of taste! Sometimes, the fish was dried on a platform over a fire and that made the drying faster. But, in the process that added a smokey taste to the odiforous (sp?) dried fish.
And, here I was after a long morning of roofing a primary school, on into mid-afternoon, ready for a break and a good meal. The head teacher invited me to his house, the wife brought in the meal – ugali, sour milk and boiled dried fish!
I survived – though I swallowed with reluctance. And the sweet milky tea she brought in to close the meal took most of the taste out of my mouth.

But the problem was that what I had swallowed seemed to stay with me for several days and I was sure others could tell what I had eaten!

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.