Thank you for your continued backing. Firstly, a big “Thank you” point: Timothy is fine, with no repeats of those seizures!
Coronavirus and Return to Africa
As the newest coronavirus threat to different countries has been growing I have delayed booking my ticket to return this month as planned (it would have been this coming week). What has most concerned me is the deafening silence from Tanzania and a lot of Africa. Do pray about this. In the space of barely a week, the number of African countries affected jumped from 2 to 33 but with still no news of any case from Tanzania. The main conference I had planned—for later this month, in fact—was for 250 evangelists and then 150 pastors, which, now, is not a good idea! It seems irresponsible not to do everything possible—and as early as possible—to reduce the opportunities for exposure, rather than rely on the capacity of third-world health systems to cope.
Here in Australia, the message is clear: apart from washing hands, etc., we are being told that the responsible thing to be doing is increasing “social distancing”, to improve the chances of the rate of infections peaking earlier, while health services can still cope. Some churches are now asking older folk not to come. But … we know Who is in control. Could God be in control when we cannot meet? For sure! In terms of Revelation, great evil can happen as King Jesus opens the seals on his scroll.
So right now, I don’t know when I will get back to Africa: please be praying. I do have a pile of work to do on teaching material so that when my health or Kay’s or other issues means that I cannot go back, the materials can keep on doing the work. Please pray right now for those 250 evangelists I mentioned. They are Lutherans from a vast area around Iringa, about 5-6 hours north of Mbeya, my base. They should be working through the teaching book (the latest revision in Swahili) in small groups in their churches. Please pray about that: pray especially for Pastor Chaula, who is organizing it all. And please simply pray that the Lord will mercifully halt the spread of this virus.
Please also pray for the Anglicans I have been teaching in the far south of TZ, near Lake Nyasa and the border with Mozambique. It is amazing that this Anglo-catholic bishop even invited me there, and then let me loose all over his diocese for more than six weeks. That was a marvellous time. Pray for a few very “catholic” Anglican “priests” who are strongly bound to traditions such as offering “masses” for the dead, but also pray for those who are now refusing to keep up that practice—although, it appears to be a good money-spinner!—and thank God for them. They will be in a difficult position now.
Praise God Always
Please pray, and thank God for, people like dear old Olga, from a town outside Mbinga. She is the wife of a frail, old minister. I asked her and others to compare their love for their enemies with that of Jesus (his prayer for those who crucified him). Then, when I asked where they thought they might go if they died now (while coming short on love), she replied (in Swahili), “It’s scary!” But by the end of our time there, she was saying, “Now the fear has gone.”
That eastern shore of the lake is a desperately poor and hot part of the country. Malnutrition – esp. child-malnutrition – is a huge problem. Please pray for a British lady, J., who has been battling for many years to get a project moving to help fishermen get their catch to a bigger market. Her patience and resilience, and trust in the Lord are an inspiration, as doors close in her face again and again. Keep praying also for my good friend, A., in the west, who is another such inspiration to the rest of us. Give thanks that he has just got his work and residence permit renewed.
Thank you for all your praying. Do thank the Lord for safe driving. On this last trip south, I was on some awfully lonely roads and would have been in serious trouble if the car had played up. At one point, in Songea, just as we were about to head off on a long journey to just such an area, someone noticed a patch of oil under the front end of the Landrover. There was a HUGE crack in the casing around the front diff. Thankfully, some local “fundis” (“pronounced, “foondies” – mechanics? – you never quite know: the term is not always complimentary!) lowered the whole front end of the car, took the casing to be welded up, and put everything back together again, under a tree, and in a day!
The bishop has since invited me back. Again, I am amazed. I had half-expected to get a phone call any time putting me on the mat. But it’s the opposite. So what do I do now?
Please be praying,
John – with love from Kay.