Walking to the market with God

February 24, 2015 in Mark, Bible, Church, Front, Tanzania, Theology

Having moved around quite a bit over the past few years, we have had the privilege of hearing many different church leaders in three countries and two (three if you count American) languages, reading parts of the Bible and teaching what it may mean. While we have certainly heard some excellent teachers making fine points about various parts of the Bible, when I think back over all the sermons I have heard (and taught) in the past few years, I struggle to think of any “fact” or “teaching” that has really impacted my life. And I really have to try hard to remember any “application” from any of those sermons. OK, maybe I have a bad memory, and I’m sure I have dozed off in church too many times, as all male Woodwards are prone to do from time to time.

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“Jesus should have been arrested for destroying their business!”

February 16, 2013 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Church, Front, Mission, Swahili, Tanzania

Our team leader, Richard, and I were driving around Sumbawanga town this afternoon, trying to meet up with regional bishops and church leaders to update them on the progress of writing down the Bende and Pimbwe languages in preparation for Bible translation to start. Arriving at the house of the FPCT (Free Pentecostal Church in Tanzania) Pastor, we were told that he was at a meeting of Sumbawanga church leaders at the EAGT (Evangelical Assemblies of God in Tanzania) church.

Sure enough, when we arrived at the large EAGT church we found not just this pastor, but about 20 leaders from churches across the town. We were grateful for the opportunity to update these pastors on the work that our team has been conducting with the Bende and Pimbwe communities over the past few months, and our hope of seeing Bible translation started soon.

After giving this update, Richard asked the pastors if they had any questions. Read the rest of this entry →

“It’s like the people in the churches are waking up”

May 17, 2012 in Wycliffe, Mark, Africa, Bible translation, Church, Front, Language, Mission, Tanzania

In addition to serving language communities by helping them to develop and write their languages, our hope and prayer is that as we work with the church to start to translate parts of the Bible into these languages that people will read these Scriptures and be transformed through doing so. Along these lines it was encouraging to hear a report recently from Mbeya Region, to the southeast of Katavi, where newly translated portions of Scripture in the Malila language are impacting the Malila community.

Eddie has quoted another colleague, John Macaulay, who reports that

A few weeks ago, the Malila translators returned from a village where they had done some review on Luke 13-24 with the community. I asked them about the results of the review, and as we were talking, they began telling me about a couple of pastors who said that there have lately been some changes happening in their churches. When I asked the translators to explain, one of them said, “The pastors have started to use the translated Bible portions in their services, and people are very excited about it. It turns out that a lot of people who thought they understood the Bible in Swahili are now realizing they don’t. They’re hearing it in Malila and getting it for the first time.

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Reading the Bible with the Tanzanian Church: Grace and Works

May 3, 2012 in Mark, Africa, Bible, Church, Front, Mission, Tanzania, Theology

I had a fascinating conversation with a Tanzanian friend the other day about God’s grace (giving us good things that are not earned by our good deeds), and our working hard to follow him and live a good life. The conversation started as we discussed a western missionary who believes that many Tanzanians have not understood the fullness and extent of God’s grace, and so who preaches about God’s completely unearned gift of salvation at every opportunity.

While my friend believes that God’s grace is completely free and unearned, he was concerned that the missionary has not completely grasped the cultural paradigm in which he is working. Many uneducated people go to church in order to hear the pastor tell them exactly what they must do to please God. Emphasising too strongly that God’s grace is not linked to our good deeds will result in people feeling they can do whatever they like, ultimately going against the major thrust of Scripture which is to live good lives that honour and obey God. Read the rest of this entry →

Easter Weekend

April 8, 2012 in Life, Front, Laura

This year Easter is different for us. For one, it may be the first Easter I’ve cooked (by myself). We decided to have our main Easter meal on Saturday because we knew we’d be busy on Sunday. In this part of Tanzania the main meats are cow, goat and chicken – and I opted for beef seeing as I’ve not yet had the chance to prepare goat, and I don’t have a chicken handy to slaughter… Because the meat here is often tough, I have been marinating cubes of beef in apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. After doing that for a few hours I brown the meat and add it to a covered casserol with peeled potatoes, carrots and a couple quartered onions. Spiced with rosemary and salt, after a couple hours in the oven, it was ready to eat. Still getting used to our oven here, and next time I will be sure to add a little more liquid as it was a tiny bit dry. It was good overall, and we had leftovers for Easter, which is just what I wanted! Read the rest of this entry →