by Karen Lewis
After an eventful time of fundraising Chris and I, along with 10 others, packed our suitcases and headed for East Africa. We set off from July 23 to August 6, 2013.
The team’s aim was to help in an evangelistic campaign in the rural town of Kiseke, near Mwanza in Tanzania. Tents were set up outside for the people to sit under in preparation for the three day campaign which consisted of music and the sharing of a biblical message, followed by a drama to help illustrate and bring to life the gospel message. The team was also involved in praying for the needs of the people.
Part of the work involved children and youth ministries and some of the youth work included the giving of training on HIV/AIDS awareness to the African young people. In East Africa there is a lot of misunderstanding about the disease and it is spread very quickly due to lack of knowledge on how to prevent it.
Participating in the area of children’s ministries along with other team members, I shared a biblical story using the visual aid of The Wordless Book, which is the presentation of the gospel using colors. Following the story, to help them remember, we had the children participate in a bracelet craft. I also shared the biblical story of Daniel and the Lions’ Den. Other biblical stories were told throughout our time there by fellow team members. I also really loved the time spent playing games with the children, as they loved this as well and I believe it helped form a bond. It was great fun all round.
The National language in Tanzania is Swahili. When the team did presentations we would be working with an interpreter, so we would say a sentence or two in English and then wait for the translation into the Swahili language.
During this time 76 people came to Christ; 17 were children who made genuine professions of faith.
There is so much to love and learn about Africa. What amazes me most is that generally the people are content with what they have in comparison to Western Countries. They are happy for the help and they work well with what they have. Africa to me is a heartwarming place to be. You can’t help but love the people and hopefully bring back a little something from Africa which will remain in your heart forever.
During the campaign, one lady called Rosemary–who was the daughter of a witchdoctor–and demon possessed–came forward for prayer at the end of the service. During prayer the demons in Rosemary started to manifest, resulting in several leaders carrying her to a separate building for further prayer so there would be no distraction for others in the prayer line. Rosemary had accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior during the campaign, and the demons were not happy.
African people are more open to the spiritual. They probably have been surrounded by it all their life and are susceptible to manifesting openly. Demons just react in a person, where as in comparison to western countries the enemy works in more subtle ways. After much prayer Rosemary was set free from the hold that the demons had over her.
The Church of the Nazarene in Kiseke, Tanzania, continues to help and encourage Rosemary after the team had left for England, as they do with all new Christians. During our time there Rosemary was baptized in Lake Victoria and continues to serve the Lord. As they say in Swahili, “Bwana asifiwe,” which means Praise the Lord! Rosemary has since changed her name to “Peace”.
After our time in Kiseke, the team traveled by bus to Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout our many bus journeys we experienced mobile disco music, followed by the witnessing of a drug bust which happened at a police check. On another bus, a medicine man stood up asking for an hour of our time to share with everybody his insights into herbal medicine. He spoke in Swahili and in English.
At one point, I had a local merchant woman who was trying to earn money at one of the markets, step on the bus during a “hole in the ground” restroom break. As my husband Chris stepped off the bus for a short time, the merchant woman had set up shop in his seat selling peanuts.
When the team arrived in Nairobi after an eventful time in Tanzania, they held a leadership seminar for pastors in the district. On the last Sunday before we left for home, different team members shared with different churches, one man came to Christ and many were blessed.
Several of the team visited the Kibera slums and were taken aback by the poverty there. The government still charges the people to live there and they don’t even have clean drinking water. There was a mountain stack of trash all piled up, layer upon layer, and what came as a shock to some team members was that there were people lying amongst it. Other team members visited the Mathare slums, where conditions were very much the same.
Once back home, I remembered lots of things that I loved about Africa, for example the sense of community and hospitality and the way they made African tea, which I was surprised to discover that was almost identical to the way I would drink it back home in the UK. Also the off road Indiana Jones safari-style bus journey with the windows open, the air on the face and blowing through the hair, humming the theme-tune to Indiana Jones and hearing laughter on the bus all round…they are all happy memories of Africa.
I really believe God has his hand in everything. On our arrival at the Nairobi airport waiting for our flight to take us back home, we discovered that a lot of the flights were cancelled due to a lack of fuel, but thankfully ours wasn’t, although our connection was cancelled in Brussels.
When the team finally arrived back in the UK, we later found out that there was a huge fire in the Nairobi airport approximately 28 hours after we left. We were glad that the team was not stranded there and made it safely home.
Bwana asifiwe! (Praise the Lord)