I, (Al), finally have a few moments to share my thoughts about our trip. We were so thankful to the Lord that He helped us maintain a good attitude at the London airport after flying all night and then standing in line with thousands of other stranded passengers. Thank you for praying for us as we travel.
We had a great time in Prague with our CZ missionaries. On Saturday I was able to speak to them from I Thess. 2 on continuing to give yourself in ministry even when it is personally painful. It was good for us to get to know them better and to see their hearts for ministry. On Sunday I preached at the Vlassim church south of Prague. I did not know what to preach on since I had no idea what was going on in the church. The Lord led me to preach on unity as taught in John 17: 20-24. It turned out to be a perfect fit for what they needed. The missionary with us said he could see the pastor getting more and more excited about what he was learning as he translated for me. Afterward they immediately asked me to come back and do more teaching on that subject as they want to gather several area churches and seek to develop a better working relationship together.
On Monday, we flew on to Nairobi by way of London. We stayed in a guest house that was quite nice for our first taste of Africa. The traffic rules in Nairobi were interesting to say the least. We had a wonderful time with the brothers and sisters gathered there for training. Rwanda is a beautiful land with beautiful people, so many smiles. The pastors we began with were leaders, like district superintendents in the Free Church and were eager to learn. We soon found out however that they were at a much more basic level than we expected. Only five pastors in the Rwanda EFC have formal degrees and many have only a primary education. They are good and godly men but we will have to start our training at a foundational level. I am going to be working on developing a basic Bible study course that fits their abilities. We also plan to do some training in chronological story telling through the Bible, as soon as I get a good grasp of the concepts myself. I think this will be especially effective in helping them train their people to share Christ with others and also in helping them learn theology.
On Friday we traveled north to where the volcano area of Rwanda. They were just like you imagine but without smoke or lava. It was incredibly beautiful. We drove about three hours on pavement, although we had to constantly slow down to avoid huge potholes, and then about an hour on a dirt, rather a rock, road. What a ride! We visited an EFC school for kids. The primary kids swarmed us when we arrived. I had about 50 to 100 crowded around me all saying “Good Morning”, about the only English they knew, even though it was well into the afternoon. A few started feeling my arms which are hairy, unlike anything they had ever seen before. The whole group erupted in almost a frenzy of joy and laughter. It was a very emotional moment for me seeing their openness and enthusiasm to experience my differentness. I could not help wishing I could share something much more significant and joyful with them, the joy of knowing Christ. Later we met with a group of country pastors gathered in a simple church with no lights or coverings on the windows. We enjoyed worshipping with them even though we could not understand anything they said. They also are so eager to learn and so passionate about serving Christ. It struck me that hearing about people, kids or pastors in Africa, as you are now, is way different than meeting them in person. To get to know these dear brothers even a little bit fires up my passion to make a difference in their lives by teaching them how to study and teach, and apply the Word. We left Rwanda with a commitment to return as soon as we are able.
We came to Dar es Salaam on Saturday and then toured various ministries here after church on Sunday. We were so impressed with the devotion, skill and perseverance of our workers here. We continue to be thankful for the wonderful partners we have. I have been able to reconnect with several leaders from various African countries and to meet several more. We are grateful for the the opportunities that are unfolding for us to return to partner with them in training their pastors. Thank you so much for your role in helping us in this significant work.