I woke up early to a thunderstorm and the Muslim call to prayer. I stayed in bed and watched a video on my iPad that I had made of the family on a past trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk called “Wonder Wheel”. Our kids are growing so fast. I’m so thankful for photos and video to remember these years. It won’t be long before we’re packing their cars for college. Stop me one day and I’ll show it to you. You might not shed a tear like I did, but I’m sure you’ll think it’s cute.
After breakfast we headed out to the church and was greeted with singing and a message on “The Sin that Leads to Death” by one of the brothers.
Right away we had the following questions:
Q: If a Christian is crying while they are praying is it the Holy Spirit within them that is crying?
Q: Someone asked the same question again about baptizing in only one of the “names” instead of all three. I tried to explain that Jesus didn’t say to baptize in the “names” of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but to baptize in their “name.” I talked about the issue of praying “in Jesus’s name” and how that Jesus was not giving us a magic formula that obligates God to grant every selfish request that we make. To pray in Jesus’ name doesn’t mean we have to end our prayers with, “in Jesus’ name, Amen.” It mean that we pray according to how Jesus would want us to pray–pray according to his will and purpose in the situation. I explained that it was the same with baptism. To “baptize in the name” means according the their will and plan.
Q: When does a believer receive the Holy Spirit? We held this question off until our study.
After chai, we jumped into the study of the Holy Spirit. As I began to teach on the Holy Spirit, a dove flew in to the church and landed in front Joseph and me. We all stopped and laughed at the irony of it all and then someone asked, “Could that be the Holy Spirit”?
After a few hours on the person and work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, the life of Christ, in the book of Acts, and in the early Church, I turned it over to John who taught about the present and future work of the Holy Spirit.
People often ask about the food we eat in Africa. Here it is:
Here is the “Kitchen” where the ladies are preparing the food:
There were many questions about tongues and each time I urged them to ask, “What does the Bible say”? Questions of drinking wine and it’s abuses came up. In many ways, the Church in Tanzania is wrestling with the issues that the Church in America wrestled with last century: What about alcohol? What about movies, etc…?
Just before lunch the entire group attended a funeral of a neighbor lady who had died the day before giving birth. It’s hard to describe the wailing and mourning that goes on in an African funeral. Western funerals are quiet and subdued. We rarely appreciate outbursts of painful wailing. The Pastor spoke on Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That’s the same passage I spoke about in Bob Ray’s funeral last week. The funeral service ended with a terrible downpour and we ran back to the church for our lunch.
Lunch has been rice and beans but today we were treated to “ugali’. If you’ve never had it you don’t know what you’re missing. It’a kind of thick mashed root (like a potato) that is served on your plate in a ball. You use you’re fingers to tear off pieces and dip it in the juice of the meat that accompanies it. Yes, you eat with your hands.
Amazingly enough, we were able to look at the study of Angels, Satan, and Demons in two hours-complete with a myriad questions!
Here are a few of the questions that came up:
Q: What do you do with demon possession? Everyone of these Pastors has experienced a person in their community that was possessed by a demon. That’s typical in Africa. I turned the question back to them and ask them what they do. One Pastor responded, “I look for the door!” We all laughed, but he went on to explain that the demon came in through a “door” in the person’s life. If we could find that door we could make sure it doesn’t happen again. Fair enough!
Dinner took us to the same place we’ve eaten the last three nights. It’s the only thing we can find in town that’s open at night. This is the second largest town in Tanzania and we can’t find more than one restaurant for a meal.
On our trek through Mwanza looking for a meal I spotted a young man following us. As we waited to cross the street I mentioned to John that we had a pick-pocket on our tail. John had seen him too, so I just turned around and stared at him. He didn’t know what to do and wouldn’t make eye contact with me. We just crossed the street and he left us.
After making it back to our hostel I was able to wash some clothes in the sink for the next few days. I’m tired tonight. It was a long day of teaching. I’m so glad that John is with me. He’s doing an excellent job and is a natural at this (plus he knows able to use his Swahili).