QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “For salt to be effective it must get out of its container and into the world of hurting, dying, suffering, sinning people. There is no impact without contact.” ---Joseph Aldrich
That’s exactly the word I thought of as three new Christian brothers (Asifiwe, Job and Obadiah) were introduced to the Kisongo congregation along with two unfaithful brothers (David and Timothy who are also biological brothers). These last two spoke to the congregation confessing their sins, asking forgiveness and desiring to be accepted again as members of Christ’s body. I wish you could have heard the sincerity in their voices and heard their words. Chris, Beth and Steven Akin, plus friend, Kevin Flowers, have made such an IMPACT in only 6 days! Their efforts resulted in the above mentioned baptisms and restorations. The 5 people named were studied with multiple times (normally on consecutive days) and many other studies are still ongoing. Chris, Beth, Steven and Kevin are EACH averaging anywhere from three to five studies per day, studying everyday with some of the same people until they no longer want to study or are baptized. Yet, not one person being studied with has requested that the study be terminated. Follow-up studies with the new Christians are planned, plus they can attend the New Converts’ Class taught every Sunday morning by Jimmy. Because of the foundation laid and, since these new Christians and the two restored have either relatives and/or friends who are faithful members, the chances of their continued faithfulness are good.
Approximately fifty studies were conducted (by the Akin/Flowers group) and many studies were with more than one person at a time (neighbors and other family members will often sit in to listen also). To read more details “straight from the horse’s mouth,” please scroll down after our report to read the Akins’ report. The Akin family (Chris, Beth, Steven, Garret and Olivia) and Kevin Flowers (all from the Union Grove Congregation, Cleveland, TN) arrived in Tanzania early last Sunday. They “hit the ground running” Monday morning with everyone going in different directions to conduct Bible studies. To say we are happy to have some of our family here (Beth is Jimmy’s youngest sister) is an understatement! The Akin family are in Tanzania now due in part to four young cousins (Garret, Olivia, Heather and Candace) “getting the ball rolling” when they began saving money after hearing their mother (and aunt) say, “The only thing preventing us from going is the money!” Never under estimate the determination of young people (it only takes a spark to get a fire going.)
We are certainly appreciative of Kevin Flowers who has joined them on this trip. Kevin, a graduate of both the Northwest Florida School of Biblical Studies and Freed-Hardeman University (Bible major), has an enthusiasm and zeal worth imitating and has a great sense of humor that puts people at ease. Although he stated that he preferred conducting “one-on-one” studies over preaching or teaching to a crowd, he delivered a powerful sermon on “The Judgment Day” last Thursday at mid-week Bible class. The Akins and Kevin are “rooted and grounded in the truth,” love teaching others and don’t mind sacrificing (going without lunch, teaching while sick [Chris], walking to studies, etc) in order to share the Good News of Christ. However, none of this comes as a surprise to us…it’s exactly what we expected and exactly why the Akin family and Kevin had no trouble fund-raising for this trip.
Speaking of the Union Grove congregation above, last October they donated money for several boxes of Swahili Bibles (many put to use this past week). How can one learn the Scriptures and continue to grow in the faith if they do not own a Bible? Thanks, Union Grove, for loving the Tanzanian people.
Steven Akin taught an excellent lesson Sunday morning entitled “God’s Love” in a combined Bible class of men and women. This 18-year-old has a great foundation in God’s Word, and the confidence, poise and ability to deliver a well-organized lesson AND teach through a translator. Steven preaches on a regular basis in the states and, if we do say so ourselves, we are very pleased with not only his ability, but (most of all) his character and integrity. Steven’s father, Chris, laid down basic Bible principles in his sermon “What is Marriage?” (the first lesson of the Marriage Seminar being held this week). American politicians could have learned something!
Throughout the week (Monday through Saturday 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm) he will continue to reveal and remind us of God’s Word on the many aspects of this holy union, urging couples to improve their marital relationship through obeying the commands of our Creator and the institutor of marriage. For some lessons, the men and women will be separated and Beth will teach the women. The Seminar will last through the following Sunday (totaling 8 straight days of biblical instruction) and, I’m convinced, will result in stronger and more committed families and therefore a stronger church.
The morning Bible class attendance appeared to be the largest witnessed in these past 8 years. Of course, even more people showed up for worship. Due to the 138 people Stuart counted, benches were brought from the classrooms and chairs were borrowed from the school. Several visitors were there for the first time (more potential Bible studies) perhaps because the Marriage Seminar was advertised in the community by posting and handing out flyers and by personal invitations. Single people are welcomed and have been encouraged to attend also. It would be easier to report on the work if we wrote DAILY instead of weekly…there is so much going on and interesting personal stories to tell (yes, Trina has established a blog for this purpose but has yet to write the first word!). While waiting in the van for Kevin to finish a study today, Trina met a young lady (15 years old) who told her she was our guards’ neighbor. After further discussion and giving her a ride home (it was getting dark), she said she would like a Bible study. One of the greatest problems here is “the harvest truly is plenteous but the laborers are few.” (Matt. 9:37). After returning home, Kevin set up a study with Edward (about 20 years old), one of our part-time guards whose parents obeyed the Gospel last year. Edward, employed about 5 months ago, has been attending some services and seemed happy to be asked to study tomorrow morning.
Another “problem” we have had through the years is the conversions of our Sunday guards. Once converted, another honest, non-Christian must be found to replace them for Sunday morning (no evening services here)! Under no circumstances do we want any guard to believe that their obeying the Gospel is necessary for continued employment so we always ask visitors, other missionaries, or Tanzanian Christians to study with them.
Yesterday (Saturday), the translators for Beth and Steven needed a day off (to spend time with their families, prepare for Sunday, etc), so that morning the Gee and Akin clans, along with other church members, cleaned up the church building (washing walls, floors and chairs) slashed weeds, cut shrubbery, and picked up trash outside in preparation for the Marriage Seminar. Anita Hochdorf did a nice job decorating some walls and a reception table. Kevin had studies to conduct Saturday morning but was able to join the rest of us and spend the afternoon at a place called the “Snake Park” only 15 minutes away. During our tour of the “Maasai Museum” our guide told us more interesting facts about this very distinct and famous (some have termed it “barbaric”) African tribe. It is especially thrilling when a Maasai is converted. Steven and Kevin took some marvelous pictures while there! (Chris spent the entire day, Saturday, conducting Bible studies.)
In her quiet little voice 11-year-old Olivia Akin asked (concerning the traffic), “IS IT ALWAYS LIKE THIS? Unfortunately we had to report, “It’s normally worse.” Driving in the traffic here is similar to being in a video game or an obstacle course (trying to dodge bicycles, wooden carts, people walking / crossing the street, motorcycles whizzing past you on both sides one to two feet (or less) away from your vehicle, small mini-vans used as taxi’s, stalled vehicles or simply large trucks too big to pull completely off the road).
Many times while writing this report, we feel like we are “tooting our own horn” concerning the activities, teaching, etc. Granted, this past week the successes we had were due to the efforts of our visitors and their translators, and we PREFER and enjoy reporting on all their deeds and good works. However, the other side of the coin is that you, as our supporters, desire to know what is happening over here, what we are doing and deserve to be informed so you can decide if this is a work in which you want to be involved.
Speaking of family earlier, we are most fortunate that both sides of our extended family make it easy for us to work in Tanzania (about 10,000 miles away from them). Our families have always been very supportive and encouraging, putting the spread of the Gospel above their emotions and above the natural desire to want family close. They miss us…especially their grandchildren (and nieces and nephews) and miss out on sharing holidays, birthdays, celebrations and just normal everyday life. However, they have never made us feel guilty but pray for us daily, support us financially, knowing that ONE day, if we all remain faithful to Christ, that we will be together forever, for one eternal day, never to be separated again. Of course, we also miss them very much but have been blessed beyond measure to have had the privilege of teaching God’s Word to a people needing hope. We have been strengthened ourselves and have grown spiritually. Trina is a better teacher today than she was 10 years ago because she had so much opportunity to teach and gain more experience.
Please scroll down to read the Akins’ report (the numbers are different from above because they wrote their report on Friday) and, to learn about the Ladies’ Seminar in Mto wa Mbu (Mosquito River) conducted this past Saturday, upcoming plans for the campaigns, and visitors coming over. With hearts full of gratitude, we thank you for doing your part in telling a lost world about the Savior.
In Christian Love, The Jimmy Gee family
This is quite a different world. The People are lovely. They want to know how you are doing and they want to care for you. Some children have gone down the street greeting us and saying, GOD bless you. People freely greet you, and if you are in their home they want to feed you. They are hospitable, and have a very great respect for the elderly and visitors. But, above all this, they respect GOD's word. They have told us that we are to base our lives on the Bible, and it is our authority.
For Israel (my interpreter and fellow Christian), most we have studied with have realized that there is error in their thinking. They have asked us to come and help them learn the Bible. As I said, 'this is quite a different world', we are not in America. We have had 10 studies with 16 total in those studies. Some are the same persons, but different days. And two brothers were added to CHRIST, Asifiwe and Job.
For Paulina (Beth's interpreter and fellow Christian), they have had 8 studies with 15 ladies total in those studies. All Beth's studies, the ladies have answered all the questions correctly, with only one exception.
For Ahimidiwe (Steven's interpreter and fellow Christian), they have had 12 studies with 22 total in those studies.
For Fabian (Kevin's interpreter and fellow Christian), they have had 10 studies with 16 total in those studies. And one brother was added to CHRIST, Obadiah.
Brethren, in less than a week, that is 40 studies with 69 total persons in those studies (Some are the same persons, but on different days), plus we have three new brothers in CHRIST. The angels in heaven rejoice, let us rejoice with them. To GOD be the glory. This letter is not to toot the workers horns, but to declare, "The fields are white ready to harvest, pray to the LORD to send workers into the field." There are so many that are hungry for the gospel, and so few to teach them. One man told us that the Lutheran church was the first one there, and that they had taught them error so long. So he wanted to know where the truth was, he was baptized. Brethren, let us prepare our hearts and go, or send others with our financial support. Thank you for your support; this is a thrill of a life time.
May GOD bless,
In Christian love,
Kevin, and the Akin's