Shoulder to Shoulder, All Are Truly Transformed
Posted: August 04, 2016
verb to make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance,
or character of. synonyms: change, alter, convert, metamorphose, transfigure, transmute, mutate.
By Kirsten Levorson, Tanzania Partnership Coordinator
You might say that the whole purpose behind our Tanzania partnership with Tungamalenga and Makifu Parishes is to transform lives. We say that we are working shoulder to shoulder for the Gospel of Christ through ministries of evangelism, education, healthcare, and economic development.
And it would be easy to identify ways that lives in Tanzania have been changed, altered, and transformed through these ministries. More people believe in Jesus because we support evangelism through construction of chapels, educating lay evangelists and pastors, and providing bicycles and motorbikes so that the evangelists and pastors can do their work more efficiently. More people are living healthy lives because of our gifts of medicines, mosquito nets, and the construction of a new ward at the local clinic. More people can feed their families and use their God given gifts because we support economic development and education.
But the Tanzanians are not the only ones transformed by this partnership. During the recent visit of Pastor Paulo Masinga and Evangelist George Kioniani, I repeatedly heard stories and testimonials of people here in Minnesota who have experienced life and perspective changes because of this Bega Kwa Bega partnership.
We look at our own lives through a different lens. When we travel to Tanzania, we see that Americans take a lot for granted. When we host guests, we have a renewed sense of awe and gratitude for many of those things. Schools, homes, transportation, food, clothing, water, electricity, technology, things – we have them in abundance. But do we have appreciation?
We learn to value relationships over accomplishments. In Tanzania we see that spending time with the person in front of us is more valued than checking off every item on our daily to-do list. We see a village that stops everything to mourn and comfort when a member of the community dies. We watch our friends greet one another warmly every time they meet. You would never pass through the market averting your eyes as we often do in crowded public areas.
We learn that we can give so much more. Every Tanzanian worship service has at least two offerings. The first is an offering to support the regular expenses of the congregation, and the second, to support a particular need like a new chapel roof or help for a particular family in need. When we see widows giving a second offering, we dig deep and realize that it is possible for us too to give more than we think we can.
We listen to calls from God that may take us places we never dreamed we would go. Every individual traveler has a story. One was called to seminary after his trip. Another changed her college major. Another couple started a nonprofit organization to support medical ministry. Another went from being a once a month worshipper to one of the most faithful weekly worshipping members of our congregation. Countless others have come home, shared their stories with friends and families, raised money to support this ministry, and given hours of service to this partnership and to other ministries.
Most of us involved in this ministry begin as ambassadors from one congregation to another, and we become evangelists, lifting up the good news of all that God is doing among us. What a transformation!
Do you want to experience this kind of transformation in your life? Consider taking the July 2017 Tanzania Journey. An information meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm in the Chapel. Information is also at the Welcome Center. Applications are due October 15, 2016.