Rowse’s News – 15 June 2019
- Please thank the Lord for safe travel from Singida to Bariadi and then to Musoma, on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria. On the way, I visited a bush Bible school run by the son of a bishop friend of mine with the African Inland Church (T) – that’s a Baptist denomination set up by Africa Inland Mission (A.I.M). Now a door has opened there for a seminar later in the year with their students.
- My first task in Musoma was to administer a booster-injection to some old friends, the central church of AICT at Nyasho, in Musoma. Most needed the injection, but still, I found them incredibly teachable – as were the folk at a smaller AICT church in the afternoon. Please pray for them all that they pass it on.
- The next job was a seminar at the Lutheran Bible college at Kiabakari, south of Musoma. Thankfully it was a marvellous time. The students were very open and by the end, most seem to have got the message. Although “faith alone” is fundamental to Lutheranism, it was news to most of them. Sadly some of my dear fellow-missionaries are so insistent that salvation is losable that, in practice, they end up teaching something that must be hard for people to distinguish from salvation by works, since although you don’t lose your salvation by sinning, grave acts of sin can mean that you have ceased to believe and so you have lost your salvation anyway! However, the delightful Norwegian and Danish missionaries there were very tolerant – and very kind, sharing their special Norwegian day with me. In the end, they gave me enough slack to expose the students to passages like John 6:35-44 (and that should speak for itself now that I am gone).I am especially thankful for some Danish Lutheran Mission friends in Dar who arranged the printing of the new edition of the workbook I had been working on. It was a beautifully done, at a really good price, and delivered in good time, waiting for me when I got to Kiabakari..
- After that, it was back to Musoma again for a very full weekend with twenty Anglican ‘evangelists’ – pastors’ assistants. Yet again, the gospel was absolute news to them. Although the bulk of them gladly gave in to what they now saw in the Scriptures, at least one of them considered such teaching to be dangerous. They say that if you teach that you are still saved even if you die before repenting of some sin, that means repentance is not important. Sadly a report from someone, along these lines, has got to the bishop, and he has sent me a strong, cautionary email in advance of the big seminar beginning Monday, June 17-19! Please pray about this. Some others I have since quizzed are very surprised that anyone should have come away from the seminar with such ideas, and it is surprising that the bishop should have been so quick to jump to conclusions, when he has a doctorate in theology and should have some awareness of how the enemies of “faith alone” routinely resort to the charge of antinomianism. We had spent a great amount of time on how the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts God’s love for us, and that is what brings real repentance. I had explained to them that mere punishment-avoiding ‘repentance’ was not the same as godly sorrow for sin, but more like self-preservation. Please pray for these evangelists, firstly, that they will follow through and complete the workbook – they all got the revised workbook and so they should now know how to use it to teach others in small groups.
- The next stop was the Bunda Bible College (BBC – Anglican). What was really encouraging here was the answers from the third-year students whom I had taught on my last visit two years ago – including my old adversary, Stephen, who some time back had given me quite some grief in Sumbawanga. Again, most of them seemed onside by the end, but a small group are still struggling, trying to work out how this new teaching fits with what they see as their future role as ‘priests’. Of course, it doesn’t fit at all..
- After Bunda, I had a lovely week with a small group of folk from the Anglican cathedral in Shinyanga. The bishop is a delightful, godly man (Godfrey) – although an earlier bishop had introduced Anglo-catholic practices which work against clear communication of justification by faith alone. He was a disciple of that old saintly saint, Bp Gresford Chitemo, of Morogoro. It really helped that the Diocesan Secretary, Stanley, was crystal clear on “faith alone”. Pray they’ll all pass it on..
- I’m thankful for safety while driving long distances, all the way to Muleba and Bukoba on the NE of Lake Victoria near the Ugandan border. (Pray that the Ebola virus stays out of Uganda – a couple of Ugandans have just died, north of this border and close to the Congo). I had to have the driver’s door window replaced, and while waiting for that it meant driving in the rain with a plastic sheet beating my ears, and having to totally empty the car each night. I am getting a new speedo cable today, hopefully. My own engine, just below my rib cage, was giving me a lot of pain there for a while – probably from not drinking enough water in this hot climate – but, thankfully again, I’m right back to normal, under strict instructions from Dr Kay!.
I had a very interesting time up there in the NW. I tried a different approach. Instead of one longer meeting with pastors only, we gathered with pastors and people in different areas (or ‘deaneries’), for one-day meetings. On the first Sunday, a Mxslxm came to church with his Christian wife. I had no idea there would be a Mxslxm present, and said nothing of what I usually say to such people. However, he was deeply touched by the news of the loving hand of God as Father always remaining on his child’s shoulder – in spite of sin – because of the punishing Christ got (which has paid for that hand to be there and to stay there always!), and he has now announced that he is a Christian.People were amazingly teachable everywhere, except in the big church in Bukoba where the pastor was a little confused. In another church well into the bush, bordering the Kagera area, an earlier, not-so-wise bishop had welcomed a pastor thrown out by the Lutherans for odd activities such as distributing bottles of ‘blessed’ salt water (the latest craze here). As I taught, you could see the eyes turning to the big man to see what he was making of it all. He very soon politely registered his disapproval. However, in spite of him, God’s words were doing their work with many of these uneducated bush people, not least one man who had recently left Xslxm. At one point the pastor bellowed out repeatedly, at a million decibels, “Can a person sin and then go to heaven?” The ex-Mxslxm replied simply “Yes: ssshhh — ssshhh”, as he drew a cross in the air with one finger.” The crowd erupted. The pastor immediately reacted as if he had agreed with utter delight and jumped up and down several times like a hyper-fit SAS airman. I suspect he saw which way the wind was blowing, and thought it prudent to appear to go with the flow. The Lord knows, of course. At least he has now heard the gospel, and so please pray for him – and all of them.
- The programme with Biharamulo Anglican Diocese had to be put off for another time. Money that the bishop was banking on from a friend didn’t come – and the amount he was wanting for a seminar for just 20 pastors I thought was far too much, and so I didn’t bite. But it turns out I had taught their diocesan Secretary, Stanley, many years ago and he is clearly onside – and now armed with the workbook.
- However, the days set aside for that seminar were very soon ‘spoken for’. A Moravian pastor in Shinyanga, who had got very excited after the Moravian pastors’ seminar in Nzega, arranged a three-day seminar for folk from different denominations in the town. We had a great time, finishing last Thursday. One lady who turned up on the last day only was clearly angry but seemed to soften up a little before the end. Most of the others were firmly on the side of the gospel well before the end. They now – about 27 of them – all have the workbooks. The local African Inland Church bishop wants a seminar for his 120 or so pastors on a later visit, and the Lutheran assistant to the bishop wants their evangelists taught. So please pray that this will all come about. Arranging everything is always quite a nightmare, and so always a big prayer point.
The icing on the cake was a totally unplanned time with Baptist pastors from a huge area around Shinyanga, who just happened to be in town for their own meeting. I don’t know quite how, but in 10 minutes, even those who had given ‘worksy’ responses seemed to be onside – and they want more.
- Now – after more safe travel – I am back in Musoma right across on the opposite side of the lake near Kenya. Tomorrow, I am preaching at three morning services in the Anglican cathedral here, and folk will be invited to return at 3 pm (for 4.30 pm!) with their questions. Please pray about that.
THEN COMES THE BIG ONE! We are supposed to have 380 delegates (all the pastors of the Anglican Diocese of Mara, their wives, and a host of Mothers’ union women). That number may well get considerably ‘trimmed’. This is Bishop George’s mob. So it is particularly sensitive and incredibly strategic. It is a marvellous opportunity. It is also Daudi territory – and, for the life of me, I still cannot tell you for sure if he has been taking me and others for a ride, or if he has been badly slandered. I have been doing some discrete hunting around, and whatever the truth, there have been some serious accusations floating around that appear to have been taken on board without personally following up with the people involved. Since Daudi is so clear on grace, the tarnishing of his reputation is food for the enemies of grace who say, “Just look and see where this teaching leads you!” Pray for him.
Secondly, in the lead-up to the election of the bishop, and since then, some very, very nasty things were said by people not happy about the choice. George, who had not even put his name forward, has responded by repaying good for evil. But it is all very sensitive. Please pray that they will all come away clear on the gospel, not least for the sake of their own personal salvation, but also for their person-to-person evangelism, and that there will be a great harvest of the fruit of the Spirit as the word spreads to churches, and that this will bring real love and repentance, unity in the truth, and growth.
The big point of prayer is that pragmatism will not rule and that the desperate desire for peace and unity for its own sake will not shut down or cloud the clear communication and acceptance of the gospel. Pray that, this Monday to Wednesday, I will control myself, my mind and my tongue. Pray that I will react graciously if they reject the truth or cut me back on time.
- Then comes the final journey, back to Dar es Salaam and then home via UAE, where airports are under threat from rebels in Yemen.
- On the home front, please pray especially for Kay’s sister, Lindsay, whose long-lasting infection and a marathon of suffering appears to be reaching an awful climax with a brain infection. It must be excruciatingly awful for poor Ken, her ever-faithful husband.
Thank you! Thank you!
John – with lots of love from Kay.