Bwana Asifiwe! Praise the Lord!
Elena and I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful lakeside city of Mwanza in April!
Mwanza is located in the northwestern part of Tanzania, right next to Lake Victoria. Unfortunately the lake water is too salty to drink, but it is an important food source for the city. Lake Victoria is famous for being a source of Nile Perch…. and also for being infested with crocodiles and hippos! We definitely didn’t go swimming, but the sites were beautiful! There are also amazing rock formations in Mwanza.
As the week progressed, we saw the trainees grow in confidence. The participants were leaders from the AICT church who had traveled from different parts of Tanzania for this training.
Our team was incredible! We numbered ten members: five women and five men, five African and five American. We represented four countries: the USA, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda.
During this week, Elena and I also got to meet with several missionary families that we had met during ECHO East Africa’s Symposium in Arusha in February 2019. The missionaries that we met during this week are doing a wonderful job of integrating faith into their development work. Elena and I were both extremely encouraged and inspired by these wonderful people who are labouring in and around Mwanza.
After the trip to Mwanza, Elena returned to Arusha and I (Savannah) continued on with the USA team to Nairobi, Kenya. In Nairobi we were hosted by Parklands Baptist Church. After a couple of days fellowshipping with the church in the capitol, we journeyed west to the county of East Pokot. Our host for this trip was Christian Impact Mission (CIM). CIM has been working in East Pokot for many years, planting churches, supporting schools, and conducting trainings. Pokot is an area that is crippled by drought and lack of development. The Pokot tribe is often at war with their neighbours, and the people feel very marginalised and overlooked by the people of Kenya. Our trip was meant to encourage, inspire, challenge, and assure Pokot that they are loved.
We spent one night camping out in this area. Because of the conflict, the villagers came to sleep around us as our protection. As we visited brand new churches, schools, and farms, we encouraged the people and assured them that we would continue to pray for rain. The drought in this area is very bad.
The church in Pokot is growing and joyful! When we arrived we were greeted by singing and dancing. The peoples’ faces shone brightly, and they thanked CIM again and again for coming and bringing church to Pokot. We met several people who had journeyed great distances to come and ask for churches in their areas. Two men we met had just come 56km (about 35 miles) to ask CIM to plant a church in their village. Another woman had walked 14 km ( about 9 miles) to ask for a church as well. The Gospel is spreading like wildfire!
But the God’s Kingdom is not preaching alone. The work in Pokot is holistic: planting churches along with assisting schools and conducting agriculture trainings. I was privileged to conduct two short seed-saving trainings. The community members and I looked at God’s amazing creation of all types of plants and seeds in Genesis 1:11-13, and we discussed how saving our own seeds decreases dependency, increases food security and nutrition, and preserves cultural heritage. Because we are made in God’s image, we ought to use our God-given abilities to steward the earth that we have.
As part of the trip, we also distributed food, seeds, and hygiene kits to the community as an offer of love and support. We pray that in the coming years, the community will be strengthened to the point that they no longer need help from outsiders. My prayer is that these villages will become “Cities on a Hill,” centres of growth and strength that will inspire the communities around them.