Saturday, May 7, 2022
It's Saturday evening and Jay and I are in Lodwar, but I promised to share more about our time in Tanzania so I thought I'd share a few stories we ran across. And the first of those is the story of Olomo, a former powerful sorcerer, and one of the first Tanzanian pastors Jay and I met when we arrived at the church. (Pastor Olomo is in the middle here).
Olomo was feared and respected not only in Tanzania, but also across the border in Kenya. People would preface their statements or claims of fact by saying, "Olomo said..." His word was considered absolute truth because he was such a powerful witchdoctor. But in 2008, Olomo came to Christ after a lifetime in the occult and now pastors a church. Upon meeting him, you would never suspect his history of involvement with sorcery, and his smile lights up the room!
Another remarkable story was the conversion of Johannan, pictured above with Jay and I and his daughter Jackie. Jackie, who was the head cook for our conference, told Frank, our Logistics Director about how her father came to Christ. Jackie was converted at an early age as her parents sent their kids to Sunday School but never attended themselves. Her dad is a leading man in the area and before he came to Christ would describe himself as a very traditional Maasai man, steeped in the traditions and rituals of his culture. Jackie said their homelife was not a very happy one, since in Maasai tradition, the man looks after himself and his herds before he looks after his family. Very often, due to his position in the community, he would be away with the other men, leaving his family to shift for themselves. When Jackie was in secondary school, she hit on a plan to lure her father to church. She told him she needed him to walk with her to the church to keep her safe from the boys who might bother her. He agreed but refused to go inside. But that was fine with Jackie. After a time, she asked him, as a favor to her, if he would come inside the church. He agreed but said that he wouldn't listen. But that was fine with Jackie. However, after a period of coming with her into the church and not listening, Jackie found that he was more often gone and didn't know where he was. He was not meeting with the other Maasai elders or community leaders, so she followed him one evening and found that he ended up in the church, where she saw him kneeling and praying. But Jackie never said anything to him until one day his friends came calling and Johannan asked Jackie to tell them he was not in. This happened several times until Jackie begged him to tell them the truth of his conversion. His friends scoffed at this and told him soon he would be back to his old ways. In the meantime, his wife had seen a significant change in his behavior and one day she called a family meeting. There she confronted her husband saying that things had changed around the house and she wanted whoever prayed for him to pray for her too. She received Christ that day and since then, Jackie said that things have never been the same around their house as the whole family came to Christ. We were priviledged to give him his first bible.
As we were waiting for our first session to begin on Monday, we had some time to engage the locals who were curious about these visitors.
One of those was a young herdsman named Ntumama. As he talked at first with John Kamau, our Media Director for this trip, it became evident that he wanted to know about Jesus. So John asked Stephen to speak with Ntumama in his own language, so Stephen (extreme left in the picture) shared the gospel with him.
At the conclusion, Ntumama prayed to receive Christ on the spot; and the next day we gave him a bible outside his home.
We ran into a bit of trouble with the Tanzanian Immigration authorities along the way. We had submitted all the necessary paperwork ahead of time, however the people to whom we entrusted the documents failed to follow through, so we were visited at our hotel by two officers from Immigration who insisted we come with them to their office (two hours away) to get our passports stamped, or give them $250. It turns out these guys were not sent by their supervisor who had earlier given us permission to come to Tanzania, but were working an angle to get some money. We did give them $100 with a promise to contact their supervisor and square things up before we left on Wednesday, and they left (after three hours of negotiations). But on Wednesday, we were surprised by the supervisor herself coming to the church to stamp our visas. We were surprised because we expected to have to travel to her office to get our documents verified. Top officials never come to you, you always go to them in Tanzania. It turned out that she was a Christian, and the daughter of a pastor herself and wanted to see in person what we were doing. She was extremely pleased by what she heard and saw and invited us to come again anytime. In fact, she invited herself to our upcoming conference in Lodwar in August!
Thank you all who have been praying for our time here! Everything came together at just the right time for us in every respect. We had been concerned about the several river crossings we had to make to travel to Tanzania as it had been raining heavily prior to our conference in Megwara, and at the beginning. But as the week went on, the rains stopped and the rivers went down and all the crossings were made without incident. I'm convinced your prayers were effective! The picture below is one of those crossings.
I thought I'd leave you with a few random shots of our time in Maiorwa. Here is Jay as he contemplates...something.
Worshipping in Maiorwa
Breakfast with the team
This little guy is holding his sucker and a little gift from Judah Young, of Summit Christian Fellowship. Judah came up to me before I left and wanted to know if the kids in Africa would like some of the toy vegetable people he made. I told him they would love those and he sent several with me. In fact they treasured these little vegie people and called them 'Mtoto' or 'children' and carried them everywhere.