Images by Phil... and June
Our Village Visits... 2008

There are many villages in the mountains around Morogoro, Tanzania. During a 3½ month short-term mission there with my wife June, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit several of them.

On three of the village visits I was afforded the delightful experience of holding a seminar and speaking (through an Interpreter) with many in the Christian community.At one place I also had the opportunity to speak with a very gracious group of village Elders of another faith.

Edson Kamanya and I became close friends during our time in Tanzania.He is also a Tanzanian national who has been with the East Africa Branch of Pioneer Bible Translators since their move to Morogoro. Edson is now the Director of the Scripture Impact Team of the East Africa Branch of PBT.

On one of the village visits, the trip up the mountain road was rather harrowing at times. Edson, Jim Farmer and I spent a few "anxious" hours plowing through deep mud and ruts that had transformed an otherwise pleasant drive into a white knuckle event! However, Jim's driving skills bested the roads and we made the trip just fine... although it was well after dark when we finally arrived at our guest house.

In his capacity as Director, Edson makes regular visits to the out-lying villages and has
become a well known and respected friend to many residents in the village communities.

With one of the village Elders he knew from previous visits, Edson had arranged for us to hold a workshop for him and his fellow Elders.

They graciously allowed us to show "The Jesus Film" and to distribute copies of the New Testaments books of Mark and Luke written in their heart language.

What made that event so significant, was they had never before seen their own language in writing! It was a deeply moving experience for everyone present.We can only imagine the long-term impact this will have on these precious people.

Until PBT Missionaries, Brad and Tammie Harvey undertook the monumental task of learning the language, preparing an alphabet, then producing a written version of it, the original language spoken here had never existed in written form.

It was truly an amazing experience to witness the impact as these men and women began reading in their heart language for the first time in their lives!

As the meeting with the Elders drew to a close, each of them in turn, expressed their thanks and appreciation for bringing such a meeting to them.

The last one to speak was the Elder who had originally worked with Edson to set up this meeting.He expressed how they felt that this should not be the last time we meet together like this. Then he said a most amazing thing...he asked if we could find a way to help them with a literacy program. for their people!

Althought he coldn't have known it at the time, his request was the Lord's answer to one of our prayers!

Each day of our Seminar, Jim Farmer, Edson and I held prayer time for anyone desiring prayer... Prayer was a good way to get to know many of the villagers on a more personal basis.Learning of the struggles they face in daily life is very sobering... and it certainly moves one to be deeply appreciative of even the small blessings we in the West tend to take for granted.

I was very impressed by the depth of their commitment and dedication to reaching out others with the love of Christ. They were humble and hungry for spiritual food. These are the two most essential elements needed in the human condition for spiritual growth.God pours out His grace to the humble heart... and His promise is that when we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him!There were no half-hearted seekers here!
We came to village after village, finding precious souls who were hungry for the love of their Creator. The joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control is available only through His Spirit. The fruit of His Spirit seemed to be the core need among these precious souls.In other words, their need is the same as all the rest of us!

What a joy it was to witness so many being set free by the power of God's Love through His Holy Word... We could see the joy rise as the awesome power of His fearless love, found it's home deep in their hearts.

I pray that the images of those faces will remain vivid in our memory until that great meeting when we see them again in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ... Home togeter at last!