Dear ITEM Partner,
What day is it? Where am I? Where am I going next? Is this the Twilight Zone? (I know, that last question dates me!) haha! But that is a little the way I feel but in reality, things are right on track and at each stop, God’s mission is being accomplished!
I have finished my second stop on my aggressive agenda. Yesterday, Tuesday, I arrived in Tanzania about 11:30am, cleared immigration and customs an hour later. Checked into my hotel. Met with ITEM leadership in Tanzania over lunch. Then moved on to meet with the ITEM team. We finished all of that by 7pm and it was back to the hotel. I am now back at the Mwanza, Tanzania airport preparing to return to Kenya and to Rwanda tomorrow. (See? I do know where I am and where I’m going next.)
ITEM in Tanzania has a long history. After conducting our original seminar in 2005 and 2006, in 2007 several pastors who had been trained removed themselves from their denomination looking for more freedom to “just preach the Bible, not the denomination catechism.”
We started preparing a team of potential trainers and ITEM Associate, Dr Henry Johnson (PA), took a hands-on approach and started teaching and mentoring the team.
About two years ago a couple of the team members took money that was not theirs and this put the ministry here into a bit of turmoil. Henry worked with the team. The men were removed because of a perceived lack of repentance. And since then there has been a lot of finger pointing and threatened law suits. So, my objective was to get things here back on track. And by God’s grace, I feel confident that we were successful.
Pastor Joseph Marwa, ITEM Coordinator for many years, went to the US for further study several years ago and came back to start a Bible school.
This has been a major focus of his and has been another reason that ITEM’s ministry here has been slowed. So, yesterday we agreed to put some of the ITEM administration into the hands of fellow pastor James Johannes, who subbed for Joseph when Joseph was in the US. James, himself, followed Joseph to the US to further his education as well.
So, things seem to be back on track here in Tanzania.
CHALLENGES BEING FACED
I asked the men what their major challenges were. James said, “Prosperity gospel preachers with loud speakers that can be heard on Sunday for blocks while the smaller churches without speakers can barely conduct their own services.” He went on to explain that what makes thee false teachers so popular is the promises they make to the people concerning, health and material wealth.
Elias mentioned “syncretism,” the blending of some Christianity and witchcraft. Because the masses are not educated in their resources in Christ, they still run to witchdoctors seeking remedies.
As I talked with Silas, and Samuel the answers were similar. False teaching is rampant and dominant. Believers need to know who they are in Christ and what they ALREADY possess because they belong to him. And pastors are the ones to teach them BUT pastors don’t know either. They need to be taught. Then they need to be taught to teach these truths to their church members.
Lucas stressed the difficulty of taking care of the needs of the church and providing for his family as well. Unfortunately, too many here don’t see the need to support their pastor financially through the church’s offering so pastors are forced to find jobs. Lucas is just one of many many in the same situation.
ITEM’S PASSION IS FOR THE 90%
Studies show that 90% of those pastoring evangelical churches in the world will NEVER….. let me repeat….. NEVER be able to attend a Bible school. Bible schools are a necessity. I am grateful that I have degrees and have been allowed to teach at a Master’s level. BUT the 90% will never get to a school to earn even a diploma. THAT is why ITEM is so critical. WHEN YOU THINK ITEM, THINK “THE 90%.”
How about you? DONATE TODAY to help meet the training needs of the 90%!
Please pray for the two last meetings on my schedule. Friday I will meet with the teams from Burundi and Rwanda. We will be covering many of the same basics and continuing to look to the future. Then early next week I’ll finish the trip meeting with the teams from Kenya and Uganda with the same agenda. Pray that needs will surface and God’s wisdom and remedy will be received. Thanks!
Pictures have been added to the album. Many are there without captions so you can’t know if there is more to the picture than just the picture. In many cases there are. I’d invite you to CLICK OVER to the picture album, go back a couple of days and look at the captions. For instance, today my carry on luggage sent me a message. “Read” about it in the picture album.
By His grace,