2012 Vision Trip To Tanzania
June 20 – July 5, 2012
38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” John 7:38
You may have heard that Prince of Peace is beginning to expand our global outreach by developing ministry partnerships with Lutheran Christians in Tanzania. I am excited that Jack and Elaine Zimmer have signed on to be the first participants from Prince of Peace (along with our family) in the Vision Trip to Tanzania that I will be leading this June 20-July 5. Ten travelers will head out on a life changing adventure to east Africa.
I want to address one simple question…WHY?
For those who may not be inclined to read the entire article below, let me put it in a nutshell: It is one thing to hear that the vast majority of people in the impoverished country of Tanzania must live on about $1 a day. It is quite another to know some of those people personally, to share a meal with a family who may not eat tomorrow, to become friends, to stand in their village and hear about their child who was taken by malaria and in the next sentence about their vision of creating a trade school at their church to bring hope to the whole village.
By visiting our Lutheran brothers and sisters in Tanzania, we begin to gain an understanding of what life is like for our friends there, to see it with our own eyes, to worship in thatched-roofed churches, visit villages, hospitals, schools, and homes. We learn about the role of the church in the lives of the people. Worshiping together in their churches, we recognize that we truly are part of the same community of faith in Christ. We also experience the breathtaking beauty of their land and the wildlife it supports out on the vast Serengeti plains and deep in the Ngorongoro Crater.
We do not travel to Tanzania as missionaries. We do not step off the plane and set about building a church or a school as we may do on more service focused trips. Our Tanzanian friends know how to build. In fact, the members of the congregations built many of the churches in Tanzania from the ground up. We go to learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray and worship with them, to bring encouragement, support and love while humbly accepting their gracious African hospitality.
As we travel together, meet and talk with people, develop personal friendships, and see with our own eyes how others live and struggle to survive, all the while keeping the faith, our travelers will say over and over again, “I just had no idea!” Of course, you see the pictures and read the statistics, but actually knowing these people, and having them as friends, that’s very different.
Is It Good Stewardship?
Even though participants in our Vision Trips to Tanzania cover their own costs for the trip, often giving up vacations to make the journey, the question still arises: is this good stewardship? Would it not be better to take the cost of a Vision Trip and direct it to world hunger or some other global ministry? As a direct result of participating in one of the Tanzania Vision Trips I have led in the past decade, people have responded with profound generosity. Here is a sampling of what has been accomplished so far:
- We have provided the funds to help renovate Kikoro primary school, which serves 350 poor students and support for Kimangaro Lutheran church nearby.
- We have also been blessed to raise the funds to help build the Saint Matthew’s Home for AIDS orphans and provide for its ongoing operation.
- We have helped Nkweshoo Lutheran church establish a trade school and to put a wooden ceiling in the church.
- We helped Agape Lutheran Jr. Seminary dig a new well to provide fresh water to hundreds of students and villagers.
- The Africa Fund at Prince of Peace is now providing the funding to complete the construction of a new school, which will train social workers to provide long-term care and support to orphaned children placed with extended families after leaving the orphanage.
- We have provided scholarships to help young people become pastors and to attend school at every level.
This is only a tiny sampling of the ways individuals have been motivated to make a difference as the result of traveling with me to Tanzania. Would these things have been accomplished without people having the first hand experience of traveling to Tanzania? Maybe, but I doubt it.
In my former congregation, and in other congregations that have participated in these trips, lives have been changed. In learning to know fellow Lutherans who struggle daily just to survive, we discover that survival is first and foremost a matter of faith in the God who provides what we need. We learn that we, who are wealthy in the world, have been given these blessings by God as a trust, an inheritance, to be shared with those in need. We learn that this is God’s plan; this is how God intends the world to work! And we learn that we need these wonderful friends as much or more than they need us. That is stewardship. That is incarnational mission.
One does not have to travel all the way to East Africa to find such teachers. They are close by, in the inner cities, on the reservations, in the Appalachian Mountains, just across the border in Mexico, yes, even right here in Brooklyn Park. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” I would never have believed that this living water could flow so freely in a place as impoverished as Tanzania. It does, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
You will be hearing more about this exciting new global ministry of Prince of Peace. God bless you as you consider the possibility of supporting this new outreach to Tanzania by participating in a Vision Trip or by contributing to the Africa Fund at Prince of Peace.
Your partner in ministry,