1,000 shillings = 50 cents

1,000 shillings = 50 cents

Moses is starting to learn about money and is fascinated by American money. He says it looks ‘so cool’. He wants to take it to the local duka ‘small shop’ and buy soda and snacks, and as we explain that’s not how it works and proceed to detangle or muddle the world for him (given your perspective), it lends itself to a moment of personal incongruity. Out of the mouth of babes – so many simple questions necessitating parental ducking and diving. Our conversation takes a left turn, and then another left and Moses is back at his original conclusion that American money is better because it can go farther and he only wants American money. As we try to walk him back, I realize the moment is getting away from us as we try our best to persuade him that Tanzanian shillings are significant; they are valuable. Whew. The mental gymnastics of trying to teach an economic exercise that runs counter to the deduction of an 6-year old. 

Our point was different doesn’t mean better or worse. The shillings we carry around reflect the value the world has placed on an economy – that’s it. We are here alongside our neighbors and we see how hard people work for 2,000 shillings. We see the human cost. They pull 4-wheeled wheelbarrows piled high with construction materials. They break rocks (BREAK ROCKS!) for 12 hours a day. They spend all day sweeping sand off the roads as cars zoom by bellowing it up and passing it off to the wind to juggle. And we see how far 1,000 shillings can go. It can buy a local meal of ugali, 10 20-liter buckets of water, 2 sodas, or bus fare around town. It’s amazing how far it can stretch. I appreciate that I can give 1,000 shillings to someone and it means something. Try giving an American 50 cents.

The proper conversation requires a philosophical shift towards inequality – that ugly word whose effects reverberate even louder. And that discussion is unpalatable enough for us adults, thus better left hidden in the basement for a later date for a little boy. A higher per capita GDP does not mean God blessed one nation more than the next because it was more faithful (hello prosperity gospel). Money doesn’t value people, and more money only means you’re more prosperous in material things.  Every person has intrinsic value derived from being formed in the image of God by God, and even as the world powers shuffle countries and their citizens into socioeconomic and geopolitical queues, we cannot let ourselves be coddled into regionalists. We, human beings, have the tendency to unconsciously believe that our place of origin or residence brings us additional value that other people lack. But, bring it down to your eye level. Think of the Asian-you, Latino-you, African-you; look ‘em in the eye and see the you of another land. All the potential, all the capability, all the talent – stultified by a country code; hauling 100 kg bags of maize for 5,000 shillings a day. What will you do for 5,000 shillings ($2.50) a day? Different doesn’t mean better or worse. Don’t be deceived by your USD; the African-you works just as hard, but just lives closer to the ground, and somedays I promise, it feels like heaven is just a little bit closer to us here as the sun beats down on the backs of the people as they toil to put food on the table. And His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:23)

Sometimes it gets to be too much, a lot everything but no love.

Sometimes it gets to be too much, a lot everything but no love.

Sometimes it gets to be too much, a lot everything but no love.

Is it possible to live justly? Sometimes things work culturally in one context, things are sensible and agreed upon, but across country lines and oceans and cultures things break down. It often feels like justice and religion cannot coexist. You must give into one at the forfeiture of part or all of the other. In theory it seems these should be married. In application, there’s not enough space, not enough grace, not enough faith. Someone, something will get carried away and we like to prepare ourselves against that. We all want to be just on our own grounds – the terms and conditions taught to us through the time machine of history. But history herself has a fuzzy memory sometimes. She circles and underlines somethings while footnoting others. And depending on who she is, your history and my history is probably different. History, as I see it now, will it be the history the next generation is conditioned with? Where’s the justice in that?

Me. American. African American. Here. Tanzania. Biracial children. Colonialism. Imperialism. I know just my presence is a reminder of injustices suffered, it’s been said in passing here and there but more so I see it in the stares. I’ve learned that it’s easy, abashedly so, to talk about forgiveness when you have yet to empathize with the pain in someone’s eyes, the visible scars on their body, and the unseen trauma their hearts. And because of the track marks of injustice, this is a stumbling block the size of a boulder in pursuit of reconciliation and ultimate justice. Because in asking forgiveness there is acknowledgement of a wrong, and mustn’t that wrong be righted for justice to be fulfilled.

Is justice situationally dependent, locationally contingent, culturally defined or is just the utterance of this supposition an injustice to the trafficked children, pimped out women, and the lowest castes the world around? Is justice bound – as I yank it back, am I decreasing the justice of another group? 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -MLK

If MLK’s words are universally true, the screams for social justice in America are heard transatlantically and affect the child brides of Africa. The fight pushes across borders; different strands of the same thick, heavy rope of justice. We should all care. There is some overarching judge, tying us together and holding us accountable. 

I think back to a day of evangelism earlier this year, where I blended in and no one aside from the pastor and few others knew I wasn’t Tanzanian, and the conversation veered to one about different Gods. And one of the young men spoke up in defiance and said, “Your God is only good to you.”  In essence, the Sovereign God, Jehovah is only good to believers because we believe so; to everyone else He is absent, unhelpful, unjust. Even my wholehearted attempt at righteousness was seen as an injustice by another. These situations and the processing of them is constant struggle cross culturally. Sometimes I cower and try to settle on neutrality as not to offend anyone, but the character of God is unchanged. People will refuse the Gospel, refuse God, but it doesn’t change the cornerstone on which justice is built. 

We, humankind, even our best laid, well intended plans have effects on other people which weren’t considered during conception. Our application of justice was flawed from the start, which is why as each generation experiences it’s awakening, we must look up to the One that reigns from the heavens to guide us as we continue to fight for justice for all.

Take a few minutes to read about Nehemiah’s Justice. Nehemiah 5:1-19.

1520 Unreached is Now Reaching North Africa!!!

1520 Unreached is Now Reaching North Africa!!!

North Africa has presented many opportunities for so many people throughout history: trade, tourism, expansion of ideas and empires, and even the birth of new ones. Today, one crucial opportunity still remains for the church of God. Join 1520, aligned with Paul’s ambition 2,000 years ago, to see the gospel of Christ reach and take root among the Arab people groups stretched across the southern Mediterranean coast. Pray, Give, Go with 1520 Unreached in North Africa.

The Sweetest Grace

The Sweetest Grace

Think about the person you used to be, could have been, should have been. History written before you were even formed in the womb. Spiritual powers at work as you learned to crawl, took your first steps. People praying over you from thousands of miles away. The moment(s) that changed your life. You were chosen – years in the making, before your existential crisis, before you came of age, before you knew what you were doing. 

Tanzania is a visual reminder of the sweetest grace in my life. I could have been, should have been that girl in her white and blue, tattered, and a tad bit discolored school uniform, walking hours to and from school everyday.  That girl who fetches the water, washes her clothes, cooks, and tends to her siblings, all before settling down to start her homework hunched over the flickering, fading light of a kerosene lamp as night envelopes day. 

The sweetest grace is like that embrace you feel when you  close your eyes tightly and consider where you would be apart from God’s plan on your life. The journey that brought you to your knees at the cross – the come-ups, letdowns, overlooks, and breakthroughs. Think about Joseph – despised by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused, and thrown in prison; then rising up to become a prominent leader in Egypt. And Rahab? A forgotten, talked down upon harlot that helped save the lives of two men, and God forgave her sins. A pastor once explained to me, “Grace is giving us what we do not deserve and mercy is not giving us the punishment we do deserve.”

I am the child of Nigerian immigrants; birthed on foreign soil, to blessings and opportunities that I do not deserve. I could have been born in Nigeria; I should have been born in Nigeria, but the sweetest grace had already been breathed upon my life.  As I look into the eyes of little girls I see, forcing them to look me in the eyes, I see the bittersweet reminder of my sweetest grace. It gives me a feeling of joy and a selfish feeling of relief. Little girls in third world environments are the most vulnerable of us all – preyed upon, exploited, abused, and overlooked. The innocence still in their eyes, a reflection of the hope still in their hearts beckons me and stirs me to my point of inflection – the point where God covered me with the sweetest grace. I pray every one of these little girls will know the supernatural embrace of God; the sweetest grace upon their lives. My sweetest grace weaves a thread through every little girl I see and reminds me I had nothing to do with it. And grace, His grace, is all the sweeter because of this.

Grace isn’t earned or bought. I didn’t deserve to be born in America.  I don’t deserve anything, and that’s one of the hardest truths to hear in the West where standards of entitlement have muddied the waters and distorted the truth of God’s word. You nor me deserve any more grace than the next person based on who we are or aren’t. Because if that’s the case, these little girls deserve every good thing in the world.

I pray each of us recognizes God’s work in our lives, even before we “knew” what was going on – how He’s molded us and continues to prepare us to inherit the kingdom. May your sweetest grace be a reminder of the unfairness of life, and the mercy and goodness of God.

A Moment of Hesitation

A Moment of Hesitation

Sometimes I hesitate to ask. I restrain my hope. I close my eyes to pray a prayer of dire need and request divine intervention and I pause. I hold my breath and look around at the staggering reality I’ve stepped in and I just stand there, asking why, mind wandering, belief in man crushed. How naive am I? It’s like that picture you’ve seen a thousand times and breaks your heart. 1001, 1002…at some point your heart breaks and something else inside goes. It’s not my faith, but something else. I fancy it is the equivalent of a child like belief in Never Never Land.

I hesitate to ask. I just think, what if God isn’t that good to me / for me this time. Why should he be? I feel like I pray the same prayer for a different person every day. Today I am bringing them food. Tomorrow, send someone else. Today she has come faith, tomorrow let the roots of her faith go deeper and don’t let her husband beat her. I restrain my hope because I want, I NEED a miracle every day. God, don’t let me come back and hear the same story. We need a breakthrough, NOW. And in those moments, in the midst of the noise of my head, the vastness and grandeur of His creation comes into mind. All of creation across the continents and oceans and villages and islands. I can’t even speculate, muster an ounce of umpf to understand the majesty of God.

I have seen miracles with my own eyes. The most drunken, high, lost of souls come to Christ. Transformed. And yet, I still restrain my hope. God isn’t my genie, I don’t have just three wishes. I don’t have any wishes!  God has does infinitely more for me and before me, and will do so after me than I know. And it isn’t even for me, it is for His Glory, the interworking which which I am just human to know.

Maybe that’s why I feel so convicted when I hesitate to ask, restraining my hope for the next day or the last. It’s hard to admit I’ve felt defeated for moments, days, weeks; that at times I grow weary in trying. But, I am as predictable as the next one in line, unproudly bad to the bone. There is only one way to redemption, one hope for this show. Retrieval from the trenches, my heart rewoven to the soul, through one perfect redeemer, still reigning, alive and whole. Thankful for all the examples of His blessings, mercy, goodness and grace by His beauty which abounds in every earthly space.

Dreams of a Father

Dreams of a Father

Mapinduzi is a young man who works for us. In the past 6 months, he has gotten married and had a son. His son was born while we were stateside and he sent us a picture announcing his birth – the birth of Mapinduzi II, and as I stared at the new soul set before my eyes my heart fluttered and I wondered what he would be. One of the indescribable parts of having children is figuring out what they will be, dreaming of all they can be. They can be anything they set their mind to…right? Can he – Mapinduzi II be anything he sets his mind to?

I struggle with the idea that the world has decided for him. The life-affecting factors of poverty, location, educational attainment of his parents, and societal norms are defining factors that have already spoken on his behalf. The deck is stacked against his favor. He will receive a subpar education, limiting his ability to compete, he will only see what is set before his eyes to the village limits, instead of being mobilized to think and reach farther.

My instinctual reaction is anger fuelled by my desire for retribution and rebellion. Now, my struggle to hope in man-made designs isn’t errant. My fault is tolerating for a moment the idea that there is no hope for Mapinduzi II to fill in that gap. My Father said,  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

There are thousands of babies born into achievement-limiting conditions just like Mapinduzi II. The mental fortitude, resilience, and stubbornness required to ascend and rise up, dignity intact, is astounding and impressive and possible, and no one gets there by themselves. We as a people, as the body of Christ spurred to action, fill in all the gaps we can with hope – the same as our Father does for us.

Africa, beauty and the beast, one stunning juxtaposition. The beast is the the history, the institutions, and the people that have churned together for years to create the modern-day landscape. The beauty is the people, the impacted and affected who rise up to do the unexpected, unbelievable, and furthest thing imaginable; the people who face tremendous odds and surmount them.

Africa, beauty and the beast – breathtaking, scandalous, mystifying – all in one staggering picture. It’s why you stare at every picture you see of a beautiful African child against the harsh backdrop of an sub-Saharan African country as the magnifying glass of poverty distorts and amplifies.

I asked Mapinduzi does he dream of what his son can be, he replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know what he will be. I don’t know what he can be.” Well Mapinduzi, he can be anything he sets his mind to, let’s prepare him for all the possibilities and it starts with a foundation firmly rooted in faith in our Lord and Savior.

Homecoming

Homecoming

Wow, if feels great to be home! All the sights, sounds, tastes, and feelings are so much more poignant. Absence makes you appreciate the simple things, the inconvenient byproducts of development, the systems and processes, the diversity. This past year, the AP and various news wires in Tanzania made it seem like America was being burned to the ground from the inside out. To my delight, this was not the case as I was greeted with familiar, customer service-extending, smiling faces in the Boston airport.

Growing up, my father always said, “You are lucky to be born here in America.” After running out of the airport into my parents’ arms, my father repeated this aphorism to me yet again and after 31 years of life, 2 of those years living on mission in Tanzania, I am finally able to grasp the wisdom and blessing in it. The land of opportunity, the land of the free, the land of stalwart institutions, the land where women’s rights is such a thing.

I am beyond blessed and thankful for our opportunity to live, serve, and grow the body of Christ in Tanzania. It has changed my life. It has rocked my world.  It taught me how to look at the complete picture and respect it, showing sensitivity to the light and dark hues. I’ve discovered that being thankful for pain or discomfort is such a hard concept to grasp because we live in a world that has convinced us that the pursuit of happiness and comfort is our unalienable right. Even in Tanzania, this is what we want religion to confirm. What people want to hear and what they need to hear are two very different things. I want to hear I’m fundamentally good, fundamentally in control, and fundamentally on the right track. What we need to hear is an accurate diagnosis of our condition – we need to see the complete picture. An instrumental part of that picture is seeing God’s work throughout this world; seeing the Gospel in vivid, intercultural color.

I thought the things I would miss most about the red, white, and blue were all the comforts and conveniences, and while those are very attractive, I missed relationships the most. Facebook gives you this false sense of involvement and “being there” while at the same time making you feel like you’re being left behind! Returning home, I find that the authentic relationships are still there, intact, and most haven’t changed. It turns out I didn’t sacrifice relationships. I enhanced and defined them.

All the first-world things you can do without. Believe me, you can! Because all the somethings we hold on to, the things we imagine are keeping us alive, are the very things that are killing us. I encourage everyone to go – GO see the complete picture of the Gospel, across oceans and borders. And when you get there and have those moments when you feel as if God is killing you, accept that He is. But he’s killing you to make you alive. Behold, says Jesus, the old has passed away. The new has come.

How Romantic?…

How Romantic?…

We have met all sorts of people in Tanzania: bikers passing through on their trek across the globe, couples traveling through every country in Africa in a zebra colored SUV, and many other expatriates here for various reasons. Recently, I met a gregarious fellow from Holland named Martijn. We exchanged stories and then he asked me, “So you and your husband did the whole romantic sounding thing, sold it all and moved to Africa?” And I laughed, replied yes, and then started to tear up.

That does sound romantic doesn’t it? The trouble is – I have never thought to stamp that word on our undertaking. The process wasn’t romantic and Africa isn’t romantic. It just makes for quite an idyllic start of a bold, new chapter.

Can’t deny it though, when we started down this road, I thought I could change the world, and try as I might, I have learned in one whole African year that I am unable to manufacture outcomes the way I thought I could. Live long enough, lose enough, see enough suffering, and this youthful idealism fades; and it dims especially fast when you live in a land that’s foreign and in contrast to your own. It leaves behind the ugly truth that we live in a broken world as broken people.

I’ve heard it said that one of God’s jobs is to destroy the idols in our lives. Unfortunately for us, our main idol is ourselves. And for all the tears, screams, cries, frustrations, despair, and static of this year, I am completely grateful. I’m grateful for the way God has wrecked my idealism and invincibility complex, and replaced it with a realism about the extent of His love and grace, which is much bigger than I had ever imagined. We all need profound events for recalibration. Indeed, the smaller I get, the smaller life makes me, the easier it is to see the grandeur of grace. God is infinitely more PRESENT than I ever thought.

We aren’t backpacking around the world; we’re not safaring through Africa. These “romantic” flings are fun and short-lived. God’s love is unchanging, forever, and life changing for all of us.  In this season of Advent, remember with God it’s a lifelong commitment of romance. You may not like the process at times and every season probably won’t be as pretty as this Holiday season, but the Lord always comes through with the perfect present in hand.

Thank you for Jesus and the gift of salvation through him.

Happily Ever After 

Happily Ever After 

Happily Ever After 

I love romantic comedies! The handsome, perfect guy gets the girl and they live happily ever after… right? Although, “happy” is fleeting and the “ever after” is what we’re actually left with, we still love to fantasize about it and we try to pursue it. We, for the most part, want the family, the job, the house, the car…the “good” life.


 

I want “happily ever after” for the people we minister to here in Tanzania. But the oft-portrayed American version or even an abridged version of our “happily ever after” isn’t possible for 95% of people here. Most men and women in the villages do not have the freedom or luxury to date, to romantically idealize their mate and marry the person they’re madly in love with. Moreover, most young people do not have the privilege of choosing the career they desire. They are relegated to farming, selling goods in the streets, or what ever occupation is available at the time. So as you can probably guess, the house, the car, annual awesome vacation, are pretty farfetched ideas.

I find myself constantly battling my desires to “fix” every thing, bandage the scrapes, and make everything better. Oh, my western insensibilities!  My “happily ever after” doesn’t translate and that’s a good, no, a great thing, because my expectations are earthly and tangible and will always fall short because I’m human. I, subconsciously, unfairly put my burdens of expectations on the people here. 
 
And whenever these moments claw their way into my mind and stand in opposition to my current cultural socializations, I give up. I fall to my knees, close my eyes, outstretch my arms and remember there is only one, ultimate, heavenly measure – my Father in Heaven, who loves me and freed me from these burdens when I accepted his grace and precious gift of renewed, reinvigorated life through His Son. As I delight in Him and re-orient my eyes through His love, I smile upon my neighbors, friends, the all the villagers of Tanzania. 

 

Their “happily every after” and mine is eternity with Christ.

PRAY FOR RAHIM!

This month, we journeyed the mountainside of Morogoro again to love on the albino population of Mkuyuni. We took 20 albino people from this village to see a local dermatologist in Morogoro. Every albino received a skin checkup (AMEN!) and we also heard some disturbing news. Two weeks prior to our visit, a 75-year old albino man who lives in Mkuyuni was attacked in the night and his hand was cut off at the request of a local witch doctor. His name is Rahim and I ask each of you to keep him in your prayers as he learns to live with his disability. We are exploring options to help him and pray that God will lead us in the best course of action.

GO TANZANIA 2017 NEWS LETTER

GO TANZANIA 2017 NEWS LETTER

Download the full news letter here! Testimonies

Don Myer

A Lesson we taught each believer is found in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”. We emphasized that very Christian is an Ambassador and every home is an Embassy for the Kingdom of God. On our second day in this home, the 80 year old Christian widow invited 22 of her neighbors and friends to hear the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ. We were able to love on these dear people and share with them the life changing reality offered in Jesus Christ. I was so encouraged in how simple faith in Christ was for the Tanzanians to grasp and live out in their neighborhood. They crowded in this place of worship to hear the gospel and have their needs prayed for in Jesus name!

Dan Nance

This family touched my heart:

Day 1, I came upon the young lady with the white headband and the Babu and Bebe on the ground. I shared the Gospel with them and the grandparents came to Christ. The young lady did not, but she was heavy with fear and sadness. Seems she cannot have children, and in this culture, that is not good for a young married woman. She cried as I laid hands on her and as I prayed for God to heal her and grant her a child. Her mother is the lady with the red hat, and was not there Day 1, but was out working in the fields. After she came home, she came looking for us in the village, because she wanted Jesus….but we had already left!

Day 2, we went back with Chrissy in tow because I wanted her to pray over the young lady. The mom was there and her eyes lit up big time when she saw us. I shared the Gospel and she came to Christ right then and there. I told the young lady that even though she could not have children..yet… that she was beautiful in the eyes of God, that she is worthy and valuable and that He loves her.

Kristine Sinisi

I’m not the type of person to throw myself into an unfamiliar situation especially with people I don’t know.  But I did it.  This Jersey girl joined a bunch of Texans in Africa to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the unreached people of Tanzania.  This was a life changing moment that I’ll never forget.

As we went through the week, I realized that if I want to follow Jesus and love people well, I must do so at the expense of my own comfort.  I embraced the awkward, out of place, not-knowing-what-to say moments by stepping out of my own discomfort and into love.  I saw people instead of their differences, and saw God more than I ever have before.  I feel so alive and I’m thankful that I was able to see this part of the world and love and encourage the people that live there.  I’m more grateful for what God has blessed me with – friends, family, health, to name a few.  Thank you for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to serving with you all again!

Kaitlin Sinisi

For above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8. On our last night in the village, we had a crusade. We set up a stage, blasted music, and danced around. We walked through the market to invite the locals to join us in the celebration. I found myself surrounded by a swarm of beautiful children, fighting to hold my hands. I gave them each one finger, 10 kids on 10 fingers, and I have never felt so much love. It reminded me of Jesus and how much He loves and cares for us. He marvels at us, even though we are broken sinful people. He loves us deeply, more than I can understand, and His greatest act of love (dying on the cross and rising again) covers all our sins. I got to experience a glimpse of the joy and love that awaits for us in Heaven, all through the smiles of little children in Tanzania. I realized how big our God is, how He speaks Swahili, and He loves His children. He loves His children in Tanzania as much as He loves His children in America. God knows no boundaries. We got to share the truth about Jesus Christ to a group of people who had never heard His story. It was indescribable how much light it brought to their eyes. I could see the hope and the desperation for a Savior. Our mission was to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with His children who had never heard, so that they might know and repent and believe. We got to share with them the joy of loving Jesus, through our dancing and singing and teaching. Yesu ni mwema. Jesus is good.

Kristin Talyor

When reflecting on the last 2 weeks in Africa, there are so many things to love, remember, and cherish forever. Sharing the gospel with people who had never heard the name of Jesus. Discipling natives and new believers, showing them how to study the Bible. Sharing testimonies with albino women and realizing our similarities outweigh our differences. The list goes on and on. But if I had to pick 1 moment to be my favorite, one that will keep me going until I can return, it would have to be the way we worshipped together. Dancing our hearts away, singing and shouting in all different languages, all to worship the one true God. It was absolutely beautiful.

Man, isn’t heaven going to be fun?

Matt Reeves

The Tanzanian culture is very welcoming and we experienced this every day. But on one particular day my translators and I came across a group of brick makers. Because work was slow and they were just hanging around, they immediately invited us in. After a couple of games of checkers, all of these guys got to hear the Gospel and decided to accept Christ! Not only did we have a great time (even though I lost every game) but with God we were able to bring the life changing reality of Jesus Christ to these good men!

Chrissy Speranza

At the beginning of the trip, I thought I would have a hard time and would want to leave. Little did I know, I was beyond wrong. We arrive to the compound we were staying and as soon as we walked out many people greeted us with hugs and broken Hellos. We spent the Saturday we arrived and the Sunday after learning Swahili, going to church and visiting markets. Monday through Friday were the days that changed so many people’s lives. During the week, we went to the villages that had never heard the name of Jesus. We had to get Government permission to even be there to tell people about the Son of God. Dan Nance and I were partners and went to these huts together to tell people about the savior. We met with many people during this time but there was one family that impacted me in ways I didn’t know were possible. This woman was very shut off towards us and did not talk to us at all. Dan knew something was wrong so he asked if there was anything we could pray for her about and came to find she cannot have children. Living in a Muslim culture while being a woman who cannot have children is a very big deal. That is one of the soul purposes of women in this culture. We prayed with her and she was still shut off. We continued to visit families, make relationships, and play with the village children but this woman would not open up to us. I became down and sad but knew God was doing amazing things. By the second to last day we were in the villages I took my translator and sat with her while she was cooking. I have never seen anyone laugh so hard in my life. She had finally opened up to us and we had many conversations about small unimportant things and huge life things. I realized in this moment that I needed to be her friend. Someone to be there for her. She needed someone to have fun with. I was so focused on bringing people to Jesus that I stopped thinking about building relationships with these amazing people who deserve a friend more than someone telling them something they have never heard before. God taught me that he is the same in America, Africa, and all over the world. God taught me that his people are his people. God taught me that I love his people and want to teach globally. God taught me a lot this trip but he showed me how faithful he is to his people and how important it is to tell people about his son Jesus.

Elisha Franklin

This was my first mission trip. I was very excited and nervous. When we finally went out in the villages I was concerned that when I shared the gospel no one would understand the message I was trying to convey. Then, I remembered that when Christ is lifted up He will draw all men also Chris always reassured me that I was doing fine and encouraged me to do more on my own. As a result, I became more confident and comfortable in my ability to minister.  I was able to connect, minister, and bring multiple Maasai Women to Christ and one of them was baptized! I saw firsthand that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. It was a rewarding experience!

Lily Mowry

On our second full day that we were in Mlandizi, all of the women went with Didi to a village to see what it was like to be a woman in that village. While we were there, a few little kids peaked their head around the corner to look at us where we were sitting. They kept giggling and talking about us so I got up and peaked my head around the corner and they all freaked out because they didn’t expect it. The kids threw me a ball and we ended up throwing the ball around and dancing together. It was so amazing to love on those kids even though they had no idea who I was. When it was time for us to leave, they kept asking if we were coming back tomorrow. Unfortunately, we were not so we said goodbye to each other and they gave us hugs and waved as we were driving away. God’s love was definitely being reflected onto those kids through us.

Chris Chilton

For four days, I shared the Gospel in the simplest way I could. The most absurd thing happened. People responded.

Witnessing more individuals accept Christ as Lord and Savior in a week span than in all my life previous stole my breathe away. Yet             never have I felt more fulfilled. We were able to take part in the Great Commission from Christ to “… make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

However, the village leaders were afraid losing power over people. They instructed the villagers not speak to speak with us. Men and women who had proclaimed Christ the day before hid from view when we returned to their homes.

On the final day, we went to gather those who wished to be baptized. All but one refused. Despite being alone, one woman of the Maasai wished to publicly declare her faith because of the one who was alone for her.