We returned to Chimala for the start of the new school year. I traveled with Howell Ferguson as we prepared to interview the new students and get the school off to a good start. The first two days were for orientation. The faculty had prepared well and the opening chapel was filled with beautiful Swahili and English songs, fervent prayers and pious hopes as we began the New Year. The interviews of the new students came after an address of student support and encouragement by Bill Stenson, the Chimala administrator. He reminded us of the importance of the work of the Bible Institute in the overall work of the mission.
The backgrounds of the new students was inspiring and encouraging concerning the future of the church here in East Africa. Jon from Dar es Salaam has already been preaching for four years. He wanted to prepare himself further so “lots of people could be saved.” Kamsona was from Sumbawanga and heard of a church that taught the truth. After finding the church of Christ and being baptized he became determined to save people from false teachers. George has been a Christian for only a year. He was sent by the congregation at Tukuyo because they need a trained preacher to help.
Eric is only 20 years old but has been a Christian for four years. His reason for coming to the Chimala Bible Institute is to be able to preach to young people like himself. John Julius is from the capital of Tanzania, Dodoma. He saw the need to strengthen the congregation where he is attending and is determined to do something about it. Frankie who is a product of the Chimala School of Preaching is over the Bible correspondence courses for the mission, but Frankie wants to do more. He is now enrolled in the Bachelors program as a first year student.
Micah gave the graduate address for the Swahili program at graduation this November. He is back also enrolled in the Bachelors program because he wants to do more. Nelson retired after teaching Primary school in Dodoma. He has seven children which he is still supporting in school. He also wants to do more. He has come to school so he can be involved in “church planting” in the capital city. At the Chimala secondary school, Shadrack is the teacher of Social studies, but he wants to do more, so now he is enrolled in the bachelor’s program at CBI.
We were encouraged this morning in chapel when Howell Ferguson encouraged the student body to “keep first things first,” based on Matthew 6:33. Tomorrow morning classes’ start and our fervent hope is that we continue to keep first things first in preparing the dedicated and sacrificing students to better prepare themselves to “do more” in spreading the borders of the kingdom.
The week of classes at the Chimala Bible Institute started off well. We had a few students come in late as problems arose in their lives. One student showed up today with a special history. Those of us who work on and love the Chimala Mission are aware of the “old mission” up on the mountain. This is where the original missionaries worked buying the buildings from the Germans who left it after WWI. After years of work it was abandoned. Today the buildings and original church is in ruins. There are a few Christians left at Kitekelo, a small village on the mountain side. One of the grandfathers of the original Christians on the mountain has been studying with his grandson for the last six months. His name is Aminadamu Nsemwa. This young man showed up today with a letter from the few church members left. It requested that we baptize the young man who, after studying with Joshua, our Dean of Students, was determined he was ready. The letter also requested that we enroll him in school so that he would one day return to the mountain and teach the gospel.
We then met with Aminadamu and with Joseph, the head of our Swahili program and Boaz, one of our instructors. After conferring with them they invited the man to immediately be baptized into Christ…We all piled into the “ole” Land Cruiser and drove to the pond at the back of the mission. Boaz climbed into the murky water with Joseph using a stick to wipe the lily pads and other vegetation away. While this was going on Joshua was preaching to the young man and, satisfied he knew what he needed to do, he took his “good confession.” He gingerly climbed down the slippery bank and Boaz baptized him. As they both climbed out of the water Joshua continued teaching the new brother in Christ reminding him he was now a “new creature in Christ” Joseph then lead us all in a heartfelt pray and we went on our way rejoicing. Boaz has requested that this weekend he take his “piki piki” (motor cycle) up to the mountain and report and preach to the few scattered Christians, but not only are our teachers and evangelists “telling it on the mountain,” but also in the planes and cities.
Peter is planning on using our students to evangelize in Mbeya. Joshua has been working in Ihanda where the church had died out. They now have baptized five new Christians and that small church has sent one of their own to school here to be able to come back and teach. Joseph, after the WBS “gospel chariot” went to Ntapisi this summer, has been working with that congregation. All of our teachers preached there and over 25 have been baptized. Again, one of their own has now come to school at CBI.
Seth Ferguson is here from Tennessee and has already been involved in evangelism. He taught with Ezekiel at the secondary school the Bible class today and last night at the mission church to a packed house of over 200 young people, preached a powerful sermon on the “Hope of the Gospel.” Howell Ferguson, our BVBID co-coordinator is here teach and evangelizing. He will present a program tomorrow to the faculty of having outreach seminars. We are all excited about Howell’s leadership and encouragement. So continue to remember the work in your prayers as we are telling the gospel story not only on the mountain, but everywhere.
Garry L. Hill
BVBID Extension Coordinator