January 2012 East Africa Visitation Trip Report
“And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them” – Mark 16:20
In Badagari, Nigeria, a new church standing on the border between Benin and Nigeria welcomed me and pastors from three
other countries. Some of these pastors came from churches with traditions and songs vastly diverse from our typical Lutheran heritage. Here traditions were shared while unity was preserved. As the words of F. Pieper reminded this group, “The unity of the church consists in it’s holding fast to the Word of Christ and its division consists in departing from that word.” Unity was sought and maintained in truth while all other diversity was a source of joy.
In Ethiopia, Pastor Ohlmann and I had a short layover. We were there barely long enough to sleep and enjoy a fresh brewed cup of Ethiopian coffee.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a land of extreme poverty and strife. In the north, dwindling remnants of their last bitter civil strife continue to flutter. How sad it is that this same trouble should have found a place within the church. Yet, despite our ugliest sins the Lord brings His life. Here where once we were hindered by familial fights the Lord sends out His servants. Muzukuza and the ELCC are reaching out through five districts and 31 called servants as far away as Kinshasa. Yumba and the CCLC are exploring new areas to the south, even crossing the border into Zambia. Here in Kitwe eight congregations eagerly desire instruction, asking as did the Ethiopian, “How can I [understand], unless someone guides me?”
Further south in Lusaka, Zambia, we are greatly encouraged to find that those whom we have trained are not content to receive and sit, but being filled with Christ are compelled to go and give. Ibrahim, who has worked closely with Pastor Nathanael Mayhew in Tanzania, took the initiative and traveled to a distant and foreign land to bring the Gospel to these people. Far from home and family Ibrahim teaches a handful of prospective future pastors, wanders in destitute villages giving short devotions from house to house, and visits the sick at AIDS hospitals bringing those who mourn with sadness the comfort of release. “ . . . and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Continuing south we stopped briefly at Mosi-oa-Tunya, that is, “the Smoke that Thunders” and saw the raw power of Victoria Falls where each second 100,000 cubic feet of water pour over the cliff and send mist and spray 1,300 feet into the air. Yet, even this awesome sight cannot compare to the power encountered further south in Bulwayo, Zimbabwe. Here a group of 15 young men by the power of the Holy Spirit without Lutheran pastors or Bible schools recognized the truth of Scripture and reached out, seeking to learn and grow in that understanding. Although Pastor Todd Ohlmann and I only had two days to spend with these young men, Pastor Mark Gullerud has been corresponding with them for the last year with materials, guidance, and encouragement.
– Missionary Matthew Ude