Back Home to the USA
Having been home from Tanzania now for a little over three weeks, Mary and I are just about back to normal again. As usual, I had a mountain of responsibilities that were awaiting my return. After working my way through most of them, there are only a few backlogged tasks remaining—like cleaning out the gutters. But having not yet bought that 24-ft extension ladder to reach the highest sections, the gutters will just have to wait until the next payday.
There were also two lectureship manuscripts due almost as soon as we returned. One is for The First Annual Hispanic-American Ministers & Church Leaders Workshop of West Tennessee on April 26-28 at the North Jackson Church of Christ. The theme of the lessons is on the book of Revelation. I just finished the manuscript for the second lectureship, although I still am making some corrections. This one is for the 2012 Bear Valley Lectures on Sept. 20-23 in Denver. The theme of the lectureship is “What’s Right With The Church?” I’m looking forward to hearing and participating in both of these good lectureships.
Also following our return trip from Tanzania, there has been a fair amount of correspondences from some of our fellow-laborers at Chimala. All of my CBI students completed their course assignments and exams with passing grades. Many of them received A’s! And the evangelism program we started back in February with four teams seems to have taken off with a lot of potential. After counting up the numbers from Ezekiel’s weekly reports, there have already been 24 baptisms and 22 restorations in the nearby churches with which the teams have been allowed to work! And what is so encouraging about these numbers is that these baptisms and restorations are the result of the work being done by our local staff and students—there are no Americans involved. That is exactly on-track with what we are trying to do—teach them to teach their own people (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2).
So, these are no mere numbers; they represent a program that is working successfully to save souls. We thank God and give Him glory for the Tanzanians’ success. Here are some examples of the kind of correspondences I receive from Ezekiel:
“Peter Kamatula…went to Mbeya at airport church of Christ, he had a bible studies with three families. From these families three people were baptized. Brother Peter is planning to continue bible classes with these new converts as well as the church at large.”
“Boaz Kasiba…went to Matamba with 6 students (Kitekelo) he had several bible classes and 4 baptisms the church there still needs some help in spiritual growth.”
“Lubange (He is a preacher) we sent him to Mwakaleli in Tukuyu, the preacher of this congregation passed away in January. So Lubange had a seminar with this congregation and they had also invited some non christians, brother Lubange preached to them and as the result they had 4 baptisms!”
“Ezekiel Harrison…went to Chimala “A” with 4 students they had a seminar with the church and after the church services they went to a door to door preaching. Results: Two restorations, and 3 new bible classes.”
“Menard Swila…went to Chosi ‘A’ He worshiped with the church there, and after worship there was one lady who decided to receive Jesus, therefore she was baptised. Menard went to worship with this congregation because the preacher of that congregation named Lai Mkwama was sick, suffering from malaria but now he is doing good.”
As I hope you can see, these guys are serious about evangelism in Tanzania. They do not see it as an option, but as the heart and core of what it means to be a New Testament Christian. And one more thing I believe needs to be expressed: it is no more convenient for the Tanzanians to seek after lost souls than for anyone else. They have obstacles, family matters, responsibilities, sicknesses and hardships to distract them as we all do. There is much we all could learn from their commitment and dedication. --Howell
Ukraine on the Horizon
Already my attention has turned to an upcoming trip planned for the city of Gorlovka, home of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine (BVBIU). For the last two springs I worked in Ukraine for three months; this particular visit, however, I will not be spending as much time there to accomplish what I need to do. The last week of class will be May 21-25 with this year’s graduation date scheduled Saturday, May 26th. Afterwards, Gary Fallis plans to teach for two weeks to our graduate students.
Local Gorlovka news crew interviewing Andrew Zhuravlev during an evangelistic campaign.
One of the things I hope to do on this trip is to go to some of the churches that I have never visited before to help spread the word about BVBIU. A couple of the places I hope to visit are Odessa and Ivano-Frankovsk. My continued conviction is that BVBIU is an absolute necessity for the stability of biblically sound training of preachers and teachers in the country of Ukraine. That was the original purpose of the program; and as long as I continue to have any say about it, that will always be its purpose.
Another consideration in this trip is to assist in the purchase of property for the Krasnoarmeysk congregation. Several members from the Mt. Juliet, TN congregation have plans to travel to Ukraine in June in hopes of getting this process started. Part of their plans is to make a visit to Gorlovka, and I would like to give them a tour of the BVBIU school facilities. I appreciate the love the Mt. Juliet congregation has demonstrated for the people of Ukraine over the years and pray that I can be of some help to them. The tentative date for this Ukraine trip is May 18 – June 11.
Before I conclude this short section on the work in Ukraine, I want to remind you that while the Lord’s work in Eastern Europe is often slow and difficult, God’s word continues to effectively work in the hearts of good and honest people. The preacher for the Central congregation, Andrew Zhuravlev was given the unique opportunity through mass media to tell the city of Gorlovka about the church of Christ. Also, the work done in Slavyansk by the perseverance and dedication of BVBIU instructor, Albert Bagarsarian and 2011 graduate, Stas Kuropyatnikov recently brought two precious souls to Christ. Never underestimate the power of the gospel to accomplish God’s purpose. --Howell