Beginning 2012 with Chimala
(Please note: This month’s report will be the last mailed edition until the end of March. Please contact me if you wish to receive this report by email. Thanks!)
Yes, I’m saying it again: Another year has flown by so quickly! I just bought another “At-A-Glance” yearly planner to pin on my office wall. I’ll roll-up the 2011 planner and store it with the rest of the old laminated calendars (I keep them for records, etc. – I know, I’m just sentimental).
The beginning of 2012, however, will be a little different; for the first time since I’ve been working with the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver (BVBID) foreign extension preacher-training program, my plans are to go to Chimala for the beginning of the new school year of the Chimala Bible Institute (CBI). 2011 was the first year since 2000, when Mary and I and our three kids moved to Arusha, that I failed to make at least one trip to Tanzania. This time there were circumstances—one of which was we moved—that prevented me from going to Tanzania in 2011; so I’ve decided to give Chimala the first part of the New Year. While it will be the dead of winter here in the states, it will be the middle of Tanzania’s summer.
Our plans are to leave the States the 12th of January and return the 13th of March. Mary will be with me on this trip as she has in most of my recent visits to both Tanzania and Ukraine. Having her with me is a great encouragement and help to me especially for the longer two- or three-month trips that I make overseas. Some people might be wondering, “How do you justify the expense of both of you making these trips?” My response is, “Mary’s my wife.” End of discussion. But I can also add that Mary is a first-rate missionary in her own right: she teaches ladies’ classes, children’s classes, designs her own teaching materials, assists me with administrative duties and records, and does all the other duties that help make places overseas seem more like home. Only if home circumstances or lack of funds otherwise prohibit, I encourage her to go with me on these mission efforts.
Also traveling with us to Tanzania in January will be a good friend of ours from Troutville, VA: Jan Tate. Jan and her husband, Joe have been great friends of ours and loyal supporters of us as missionaries since 2000. Jan is a Medical Technologist in microbiology and plans to work in the Chimala Mission Hospital as well as participate in evangelism as time permits during her two-week stay. Although I have made multiple pleas over the past several years for people to visit Chimala, Jan will be the first supporter to accompany us on an actual trip to Tanzania.
Since it is usually more economical to travel in groups to Chimala from Dar es Salaam, there will be a few other people making this same journey to Chimala. Besides Jan, Mary and me, Bill and Cyndi Stinson, Chimala stateside coordinator, will be taking the same flights from Newark, N.J. to Dar. Garry Hill will also be headed for the same destination but on a different air carrier. However, all six of us will arrive in Dar about the same time, and will be making the long road trip together thereby dividing travel expenses. Lord willing, we should arrive at Chimala sometime late Saturday afternoon (14th).
Orientation and the first classes at CBI begin the week of January 16th. I haven’t received the final numbers yet, but estimates indicate that we will probably have our largest total number of students since CBI’s beginning in 2005. In the recent past, a number of our students came from Malawi; however, now most of the recruiting is being done in Tanzania.
Classes I am scheduled to teach will include Acts and Job during the first quarter; and during the short courses I will be teaching 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and Christian Ethics. In addition to these duties, the evangelism program has been reorganized providing our students with more opportunities to conduct Bible studies in the Chimala and nearby surrounding villages. Each Friday, we will have an opportunity to assist our students in presenting the gospel to people from house-to-house. They will have opportunities weekly to put into practice what they have been learning in the classroom. And, of course, we will have opportunities on Sundays and Wednesdays to visit and preach at local churches.
Let me take this opportunity to say “thank you” to everyone—churches and individuals—who make these extension schools possible. God has blessed the Chimala Mission for many years. Many souls have been saved and blessed due to the dedication of so many people. You are a blessing! --Howell
Where God Guides God Provides
I never cease to be amazed at the timeliness and power of God. One of the patterns I have seen in the work of recruiting and maintaining missions funding and resources is the tendency to lose and gain supporters toward the end of the year. This is naturally to be expected as church attendance primarily defines the direction and extent of church budgets. Elders or church leaders do their best to anticipate the future based upon a number of mostly-local social and economic factors and trends.
The lesson I am in a constant state of learning is that where God guides God provides. As a mere man, however, observing and trying to manage a semblance of financial stability in mission work is like watching a Chinese Ping-Pong match. What appears to me sometimes as fast and furious, cutting, and on the edge is completely and calmly in control before the countenance of God.
One more time, God through His church has prevented another near-financial collapse of one of His Bear Valley extension schools—the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine (BVBIU). We now welcome several new supporters to the extension program, some of them monthly supporters and others one-time supporters. I owe a great debt of gratitude to many good and faithful fellow-preachers who have agreed to intercede in behalf of the extension program. In one correspondence to a preacher in a small church who said his congregation was too small to assist in mission work, I kindly reminded him, “Never underestimate your brethren”. I have found that most churches want to help and will help if they truly understand the nature and value of a particular mission effort.
Yes, whenever we are faithfully adhering to His divine and revealed Word, we will find that God is guiding. Our faith/my faith sometimes becomes a little unsettled when man-made institutions all around us are shaking and in danger of collapsing and God’s works appear at times to be reeling in the same manner. Like you, part of me is flesh and bones and susceptible to the social and economic news of our times. I understand that God sends the sunshine and the rain on the just and on the unjust. Being Christians and conducting Christian endeavors does not guarantee us protection against insolvency. But what God does guarantee us is the ability to overcome and fulfill His will in spite of the crashes and burnings around us through Christ Jesus who overcame every obstacle including death!
God is not glorified when you and I easily maintain control of all things in our lives. He is glorified when—against all odds and when all my efforts just don’t seem to be enough—God brings fruit in the midst of uncertainty (Phil. 4:19). --Howell