Back to Africa
I’m going back to Africa.
I had the remarkable privilege to lead two mission trips to Tanzania in the summers of 2009 and 2010. My good friend, Scott Ward, served as an IMB missionary in Tanzania for three years and was the first person to connect me to what God is doing among the people group known as the Pare (pronounced “par-ay”). During the three years that Scott lived in Tanzania with his family, he worked with the Pare people through an indigenous pastor named Fanuel Kiroka. Fanuel is one of the most remarkable brothers I have ever met. He knows multiple languages, is trained theologically, and had prayed for over 20 years that God would send someone to help him reach his people who live in the remote Pare Mountains of Tanzania.
Then God sent Scott Ward. And through a series of divine leadings, I made my own trip to Tanzania. During those years, I was able to witness (from a distance and up close) the explosion of a church planting movement in the Pare. Pastor Fanuel began to seed multiple preaching points throughout the mountain region and to place in each one a pastor who Fanuel had personally discipled.
I had the distinct honor of preaching in two of these churches and doing numerous evangelical presentations as we hiked the mountains, going from one mud-brick home to another. We prayed for the sick and demon possessed (yes, I said demon-possessed), and even interacted with the local witch doctor. We saw people saved and baptized. These were two amazing mission experiences that have fundamentally shaped my theology as a pastor and missionary.
I remember when I flew away from Tanzania in 2010 that I might never go back.
It was just a feeling I had. After going two years in a row I just knew that God was saying, “It’s time to go to some other places now.” And so I have. Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, plus several North American cities, all focusing on Great Commission expansion.
But now I am going back. God has opened the door. Through the Cross Church School of Ministry, of which I am co-founder and president, we will be taking a group of seven (including myself) back to the Pare Mountains of Tanzania and back to Pastor Fanuel. What a joy it was to reconnect with him via text messaging, if you can believe that. What a thrill it was to tell him I was going to be able to return and for him to embrace us with enthusiasm. And so next week we are off.
I would covet your prayers. Each of my last two trips were unique, one from another. And while on one level I know what to expect, I also know this trip will be wholly its own.
I invite you to come along for the journey. I will be attempting (if cell phone service allows) to upload Twitter updates…and maybe a few pics as well.