The ACSOP Story, Master's Classes, Farming And Preaching....

In 1998, the Kensington Woods church in Hattiesburg, MS launched a twenty-year plan, with Cy Stafford as the Coordinator, to build strong churches in Arusha and Moshi, major cities of northern Tanzania. Only two congregations remained from the original work of Andrew Connally and others—Arusha and Usa River. The philosophy was to convert the lost and equip Christians by three primary methods: (1) “Safari for Souls,” an annual evangelistic campaign, (2) Bible literature, and (3) Schools. Bible Schools were established in Arusha and Moshi to equip all Christians and to teach those who were not Christians. On March 15, 2003 the first class of nine graduated from the Andrew Connally School of Preaching. 

Northern Tanzania has proven to be a fruitful field for the gospel. Two examples reflect this. Stephanie, Cy Stafford’s wife, was present when several African women said to her: “Tell the teacher to give us more. We want to learn.” Stephanie then remarked: “What a pleasant surprise–people who were more interested in learning the word than watching the hands of the clock.” Phil Donaldson, a campaigner from Grandview, TX said, “I’m really having to get used to this. People here actually want to study the Bible.” 

The Safari for Souls evangelistic works, com- posed principally of native Christians supplemented by American brethren, sowed a lot of seed. In 2004, 600,000 Bible tracts and 10,000 correspondence courses were distributed resulting in 77 baptisms. This was followed in 2005 with 1,000,000 tracts and 200 baptisms. Jimmy Gee, ACSOP instructor, was a driver delivering workers to Zone Six. One day as he left the church building, a policeman motioned for him to pull over. Jimmy said, “I stopped and pulled out my license. However, he came up to the window and held his hand out...not for the license but for a tract.” 

American Christians who have participated in the evangelism of northern Tanzania have reaped more than they have sown. Many tell how they returned to their home congregations more energized and spiritually motivated. Seeing many people “hungering and thirsting after righteousness” reminds us there are people at home who have a spiritual vacuum though they may not recognize it. Johnny Ramsey, a former coworker, said, “We often care more for the souls of others than they care for their own souls.” 

Cy Stafford reminds us that the work of missionaries is not to Westernize but to Christianize. Christianity is indeed cross-cultural. Guilt is as real to Americans in gated communities as to Africans in a one-room hut. Jesus’ atoning blood will forgive the sin of the affluent as well as the impoverished. 

The principles of conversion and true worship translate into life in Africa as in America. Immersion in water, the obedience of a trusting faith in Jesus, which results in forgiveness of sins by the grace of God is the same in America and in Africa. Both in Africa and America the worshipper on the first day of the week gives of his little or his lot and praises God with the fruit of his lips, singing with grace in his heart to the Lord. This is the unity and universal application of the message and principles of Christ.

Master’s Class
During the last four years, I have taught in the Arusha Master’s Program in January. This is the summer, but unlike every other hot location in Africa, the 4000 ft. elevation of the Kilimanjaro plane is very comfortable. This year was different, however, in that rain came every day during a normal dry season. But it is God’s rain, so they are glad to get it. 

Nine men comprise the class. While two will graduate a the end of 2016, four others will begin in the August class. Those four will be from Kenya. Historically, ACSOP has had a good enrollment from Kenya, even though a fine Bear Valley Extension began there in 2012. 

Though I have taught Church Planting and Christian Education many times, this was the most immediately gratifying. I don’t know that I taught the best, but the students really added to these practical courses by their input and questions. 

Their assignments reflect the nature and purpose of the class—planting and maturing churches through Christian education. Jesus said in John 6:44-46 “they shall all be taught of God.” Also, after we have sown the seed through teaching and watered by encouragement and example, God is the One who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:6-8). 

We serve a God who will not fail us. He will keep us in His love. The apostle Paul says even “if we do not believe, he abides faithful; he cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). We only need to be workers in the Word (2 Tim. 2:14-15). This is the message to these students. 

Farming and Preaching
I met Justin and Anna Maynard, a very exciting couple, who have been in Arusha only three months. Though married only six years, they are very mature Christians. The are both good Bible teachers; however, their primary reason for moving to Arusha, is to help develop a garden-farm on the property of the Andrew School of Preaching. Before Cy Stafford became ill, he envisioned this as a way to reduce the expenses of the school. 

This goal is being realized. Along with some African help, Justin is growing all kinds of vegetables, utilizing the technology of drip irrigation. Garden products including potatoes, corn, carrots, onions, greens are harvested regularly. Justin says they already have a bean crop to feed the students for months. They are planting double raised beds, with plenty of natural fertilizer. Much of this is done the old fashioned way—by hand. They do have a tractor break up the larger plots for corn and grain. In addition, the Maynard’s now have four milk cows as well as laying hens and meat hens. 

Justin said they contribute 150 chickens a month for the school, dressed and ready to cook. Of course, they provide all the milk and eggs the school needs. Virtually all the staples of the African diet are provided—vegetables, corn and grain. The one thing they cannot supply is rice because of the manner in which it must be grown. In only three months this garden-farm enterprise has reduced the cost of the school by approximately $1,000 a month. That is phenomenal in such a short time. 

This is definitely a team effort. Anna is as busy as Justin, doing what she can on the farm. Each of them was up as I was eating breakfast, going to care for the goats—two of their own personal animals. (One of the goats got away once during class-time, giving us an agricultural interruption). 

The Maynard’s committed one year when they came to Arusha, but seeing the need and success of their efforts and that of others, they have decided to commit for another three years. Justin has plans to eventually have 1,000 laying hens along with greater acreage in the garden field. With his expertise in building, Justin has built the cow barn, goat house, chicken house, and the nests for the laying hens. With my carpentry skill, I could only stare in amazement. 

The bonus is they are actively involved in teaching. Anna goes once a week to the Arusha Bible School where Bible materials are made available for area congregations. She also is teaching at the Kisonga congregation on the ACSOP property. Justin has been preaching in area churches. He and I went to White Rose, a congregation in Arusha Sunday. In addition, Justin is already meeting with the ACSOP native leadership along with Daniel Gaines, American missionary. I attended four or five meetings while I was there, having an interest and history in ACSOP, virtually from the beginning. 

Justin and Anna will be traveling back to the USA sometime this year to raise their salary and working funds for the next three years. They are already proving their value. The laborer is worthy of his hire. 

I can HIGHLY recommend this young couple, with years of experience packed into twenty-something bodies. I have not met anyone in a long time I have quickly developed a love for and confidence in. I know my knowledge of them is obviously new, but many others vouch for their industry, capability and maturity. Help this young couple that they may help the School and the Lord’s cause in northern Tanzania. The Maynard email: 

Cy Stafford
Many of you may know of the serious illness of Cy. He is being treated for a serious form of leukemia in Birmingham, AL. 

The doctors were extremely grim about his recovery a couple of weeks ago. However, he has made some improvement since that time. Doctors are currently trying to diagnose and treat a bleeding in his colon. After this, they can begin or return to his cancer treatment. 

He remains very ill, but we are thankful for a better prognosis. He is loved across the world, especially by brethren in Tanzania, Continue to remember him in your prayers, his family and the many Christians in Arusha, TZ where he has labored for fifteen years. “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Ja. 5:16) 

Gary Fallis

Posted on February 28, 2016 .