A Red Letter Day

Today was a truly rrrrrred letter day as the church in Singida witnessed the completion of our first church building on our own church plot. This was in the village of Matongo, in Ikungi District. All the ZGACT pastors from Singida were there to thank God for this wonderful doing.

One final check…

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… And bye bye little church

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To The Far Blue Mountains!

A new church opens in the village of Kiegea in Mpwapwa District, Dodoma Region.

The gospel was incredibly well-received by members of this new church. The pastor, an elderly servant of God, said, “Ever since I was born-again many years ago, I have never heard ‘Jesus Christ, and him crucified!'”

Oh, wow!!

[The road leading to the mountainous region where the church in Kiegea is situated]

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[The members, and the pastor of the church at Kiegea]

Judging Righteously

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Jn. 7:24

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. Jn. 8:15

These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Jews of His day.

The Bible tells us that Moses had an Ethiopian woman.

“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.” (Num. 12:1)

She must have been a black woman because Ethiopians are black. But, of course, scholars might have found evidence to the contrary. Scholars are wonderful people, they discover great things. I have not had the time to find out whether they have something to say about the skin color of this woman. For the sake of the possibility of someone out there having discovered something different, I will not press the point that she was black. Suffice it to say that she was not a Jew. She was different; and this fact came to the notice of Miriam and Aaron.

Do you know who Miriam and Aaron were? The Bible states that  Miriam was a prophetess (Ex. 15:20). Miriam also is she whose song is written in the Bible (Ex. 15:21). Do you know what it means for one’s words (let alone an entire song) to be written in the Bible?

As for Aaron, he was the greatest of God’s high priests who ever lived. The Bible is simply smitten with him and his ministry.

Miriam and Aaron are among the greatest people that ever graced the Bible. They were great people with God.

And yet… these two rose up against the servant of God, Moses, on account of his wife. I wonder how these two arrived at having a problem with this woman (you will find the answer below).

But, pray, how often do you think such things happen today? At my age I have met many people of different races, and I can attest to the fact that many light-skinned people (Caucasians, Chinese, Arabs, Indians) have a problem with black people. Some simply cannot accept black people. They consider a black man to be beneath them.

I had always wondered at the stories that I had heard about racism… until I visited a certain country which is not black. One day, as I was walking across a school courtyard in that country, I saw students pointing and exclaiming loudly, “Africain, Africain!” I could feel their gaze on me.

It was not that I was the only African in that country. But I was different. I had just arrived in from darkest Africa, and this fact was clearly noticeable.

This was my first – and only – experience of direct racism; and it was strangely surreal.

Indirectly, though, racism is as prevalent as the sun. You can feel it in many subtle – and not-so-subtle – forms.

But to be racist does not mean only looking down on people. Even looking up to people is racism. It means we are differentiating.  To the extent that we are capable of making differences among us, therefore, each one of us is racist.

Scientists, however, have proven that we cannot blame Miriam, Aaron, nor ourselves for this undesirable situation. They have discovered that deep within us there are certain genetic factors at play that we simply cannot control. In fact, these factors control us. The genetic pull within us is just too strong. This is what causes us to judge people as we do.

It is God who created these genes. But then sin came and distorted everything. But thank God He is greater than sin! Through His death on the cross, Jesus vanquished sin and all its works, including distorted genes. And now, God demands that, once we accept Jesus into our lives, we are to cast off these kinds of genetic attitudes, for we are no longer under genetic control, but we are under the rulership of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the ruler of all creation.

For this reason, therefore, we are not to judge

“according to the appearance”.

Nor

“after the flesh”.

But, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can judge differently. We can judge

“righteous judgment”.

What does it mean to judge righteous judgment?

It means you do not judge by what you see on the outside. On the contrary, you judge according to someone’s heart. You judge people by their hearts.

And what, moreover, does it mean to judge people by their hearts?

The heart of man is where sin lives. Here, therefore, Jesus was saying simply, “Judge a man by whether he has sinned or not.” Simple and clear. That ought to be the way we, as the Church, judge people. We are not to judge people in any other way.

When we were young children, I used to overhear the father of one of my friends say, “The white man is the child of God.”

That stuck with me. But I have come to discover that, in spite of all his conquests in the natural, when it comes to matters of the heart the white man is as culpable to sin as the next man.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” (Rom. 3:23)

We judge people by so many things. But God judges us in only one regard: whether we have sinned or not. God’s enemy is sin, not a man’s skin color. Or his level of education.

The Apostle Paul asks,

“For who maketh thee to differ from another?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

As the Church of Jesus Christ, would we be willing to judge people according to the Word of God? Or are we going to look at people’s skin color, their education levels, their cars and houses and money…

But we are to live according to God’s Word. We are to tell people who sin, “Hey, God doesn’t like that.”

And we are to encourage those who are running the race well, regardless of how different they may be from us in the natural.

[Whom shall I fear?]

The Distinctiveness Of The Church – Part 2

In Romans 3:27 the Bible says:

“Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

I was in a burial recently. The man who had died was the regional bishop of one of the biggest Pentecostal churches in our country. He had under him all the churches in roughly one third of the country.

The burial ceremony was attended by a big government delegation, so illustrious was the man. But it was the bishops who came in their hordes. They literally covered the meeting. They were so many that I lost count as each was called up to the podium to be introduced to the massive crowd. And, in recognition of the position they held in church, each bishop was given the opportunity to address the meeting. The head bishop of that church organization was also there.

I had never been in such a meeting before. The introductions took more than three hours! But it was what was done by these bishops that truly amazed me. As each one stood and made their speech, they would turn around and address the head bishop who, together with the bishops, was seated on the podium facing the crowds. In fact, the bishops called him “Father Bishop”! And everything they said was directed at him. In other words, they were talking to the head bishop, not to the people.

When it came the turn of the head man himself to speak, he took the opportunity to remind the faithful (flock) of his position by telling them that it was he who represented them before the country’s president.

That is how the church is run today. But the early church, as we saw in the first part, was run differently. Then, nothing superseded the church body. Not even the leaders, be they bishops, pastors or deacons.

Had Paul been in this burial meeting, and had he had the opportunity to address the meeting, guess what? Paul would have addressed the people facing him. He would not have addressed the head bishop seated behind him. He would have addressed the saints. He would have said, “Saints”, or “Beloved” instead of “Bishop”.

Anyways, back to the scripture we started with.

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”

Probably the thing that man loves above anything else is boasting. Man loves praise! If you say something good about them, men will give you “even to the half of my kingdom” (Mk. 6:23)!

But that is the spirit of this world. It has absolutely no place in the church. Unfortunately, today, men (and women) in the church love praise. They love to be called all the big names. They love being noticed, credited, accredited, applauded, respected, saluted, and everything in between. You cannot write a letter to a church and just address the “saints” or “faithful” like the Apostle Paul did. If you do not address the letter to the pastor, it will be thrown into the fire. Why? Simply because the pastor wants to be recognized! He wants to be noticed for who he is.

But – glory be to God! – the church is not about men; and the Apostle Paul by the wisdom and courage that was given to him made that emphatically clear in the epistles. On the contrary, the church is all about Christ and His bride, the church. And Paul stamped the mark of distinctiveness upon the church. In a wedding, men do not waste their attention on the best man. All the attention is on the bride and bridegroom.

John the Baptist told the Jews, when they enquired about him. They asked him, “Who are you? Are you the Christ?” To which he replied,

“28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John made it clear what the big prize was: it was the bride! John, the fore-runner to Jesus Christ called himself only “the friend of the bridegroom”. Then he said,

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

There is no place in the church for all the titles and self-serving positions that men have given to themselves in the church. Today, men in church are greater than Jesus Himself! But John said,

“There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” (Mk. 1:7)

The Ministry Gifts

The church (as a body) is the singular most important thing with Christ. The church is the singular entity that Christ loves with all His heart. That is why He has given her the five-fold and other ministries. The ministries that Christ has put in the church are for serving the church, Christ’s Bride. Notice they are gifts. They are ministry gifts to the church. In fact, the Bible declares that Christ has put upon us His engagement ring.

“13 … in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Col. 1:13-14)

These ministry gifts have been given by Christ to prepare His Bride, the church, for Christ, who is the Bridegroom. They have been given to perfect her (Ephesians chapter 4). They are not garlands for men to wear around their necks. The gifts and callings of God are not for men to serve their egos with!

It is all about the church. It is all about every saint, every believer in Jesus, every “faithful”. Each one is equal in the eyes of God. No man or woman is bigger than the other.

The Leaders

So what about the carriers of the ministry gifts and church leaders in general? Who are they?

If John the Baptist considered himself not worthy to stoop and unlatch the shoes of Jesus, how much less so the new covenant servants of Jesus? These are simply men who have been entrusted with the responsibility to raise the church. They are servants. When Jesus was describing the role of the church leader, He told His disciples,

“… whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant”. (Mat. 20:26-27)

That is the spirit that ought to be in the church. Church is the place where every child of God ought to feel valued equally, their social, financial or any status notwithstanding. At any rate, the church is a Body. We all have bodies. At no one time have we ever felt that any part of our bodies was more important than the other.

[A tranquil beach in Mwanza City]

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The Distinctiveness Of The Church – Part 1

The Apostle Paul called himself “an ambassador in bonds” of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:20). What a profound statement! A man in bonds. A bondservant.

A bondservant is a person who cannot do his own will. Not that he does not have a will; but he surrenders it. He no longer does his own will now. On the contrary, he does the will of another, his master. The Apostle Paul fit this description perfectly. He did the will of the One whom he served, Jesus Christ, perfectly. That was why God gave him so much revelation. Paul could reveal things that we in our widest search could never dream of uncovering.

Paul was so faithful to Him who called him that he revealed things that we would never otherwise have known had it not been for his faithfulness as a bondservant. He revealed the deepest secrets of God. What we are about to learn today is without a doubt one of the most profound revelations that could ever grace the church’s sight. This revelation could only be revealed by one who was as faithful as Paul was.

Our lesson today is about the magnitude of the church.

Did you ever notice that Paul never wrote to a particular person in his epistles to the churches? In every epistle that he wrote, Paul wrote to the church as a whole. It is only to the Philippian church that he added,

“with the bishops and deacons” (Phil. 1:1)

In fact, let us take time to read exactly how Paul addressed his letters to the churches.

To the Romans: “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:7)

To the Corinthians: “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s” (1 Cor. 1:1-2).

To the Galatians: “Paul… And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:1-2)

To the Ephesians: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 1:1)

To the Philippians: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Phil. 1:1)

To the Colossians: “Paul… To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse” (Col. 1:1-2)

And to the Thessalonians: “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 The. 1:1)

Wow! What an astounding revelation! We shall be expounding on this later, but, for now…

No “Apostle So-and-so”, or “Pastor So-and-so”; nor even “Deacon So-and-so”! Nothing of the sort. Just plain, simple “To the church”; and “To the saints”.

Is that not truly telling? I believe it is.

[In a remote homestead in the village recently, I met and befriended Jessica]

The Antiochians – Again! (Part 1)

25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:

26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Acts 11:25-26

Let us read that last line once again.

“And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

Now, please don’t tell me, “Oh, Mwita, you just wrote on this a few days ago.”

Actually, I am surprised we do not talk much on this particular scripture. No. On the contrary, this scripture needs to be turned into a mantra that every believer should be chanting every minute of their lives.

The disciples were called Christians. Oh. I cannot imagine the price that these believers in Antioch paid to be called so. When I see the defeat in the church today, I just cannot imagine what kind of people these believers were. Once again, I salute them.

Today, Christianity is, to a large degree, just a label, for there is everything in church except victory over sin and over the flesh. There is very little victory in church over these things. But there is so much of everything else: knowledge, signs and wonders, high class sermons, music. The church today is very much like the Corinthian church was in Paul’s day, for Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:4-7 writes them:

“4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

The Corinthians had all the wonderful things listed here but they lacked the singular thing that would make then Christians. They lacked the cross in their lives. They had lost the revelation to deny themselves and living a life of daily crucifying their flesh. And therefore the Apostle Paul told them pointblank,

“1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ… 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3)

You could not possibly call such people Christians, for a Christian is one who reflects the character of Christ in their lives.

But, in Peter 2:21-23 we read of the example that Christ left us.

“21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”

What exactly is verse 23 trying to tell us?

It is telling us that Jesus did not do anything to defend Himself. On the contrary, He allowed His flesh to be crucified.

The word “reviled” means “insulted”. When people insult us, it hurts. Our gut reaction therefore is to insult back; or, at the very least, answer back. We want to hit back!

But Jesus stood still and let the wave of insults ride out its full strength on Him. He did the same with all the other sufferings that were meted out on Him.

And the Bible says that this was the example that He left us. This is one of the most difficult things for us to do, our religious exterior notwithstanding.

The believers at Antioch portrayed this same resilience in the face of the opposition against their faith.

But they did more than that. They lived the life of Christ to the full. Verse 22 says of Jesus:

“Who did no sin”.

This means that Jesus lived a perfectly holy life. He did not give in to the unclean lusts of the flesh but, on the contrary, He crucified them.

The believers at Antioch depicted this same sacrificial character of Christ in their lives. They saw the believers sacrificing their bodies. And all who saw them saw Christ revealed in them. And they said of them, “There are of Christ. These be Christians.”

In our second part we shall see what it was that the Antiochian believers proved to be such a testimony of the life of Christ in them.

[“And be ye kind one to another…” Eph. 4:32]

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Dar es Salaam Youth Camp 2018

Normally, youth camps are feisty affairs with a myriad of events including outdoor games and different other activities. But this year’s annual ZGACT youth conference was molded on an entirely different format: it was unofficially labeled a “Word tsunami”. Everything else was put aside and the youth were inundated with the Word of God.

The youth camps were held in 12 different locations all over the country. I, together with Brother Boni from Mwanza, were scheduled to minister at the Dar es Salaam camp.

And so it was that, by the grace of God, for five days we engaged the Dar es Salaam youth in the Word and in prayer. The young people left the conference thoroughly refreshed in their spirits, and ready to face new challenges in the Spirit.

Here, below, in pictures.

  • The small auditorium was packed to capacity
  • The greatest praise and worship team ever!
  • With our host, Joshua Goodluck
  • My co-worker, Brother Boni
  • Some of the young people shared their testimonies
  • There was great fellowship all around
  • After the conference, an early morning trolling of the beach…
  • … And we encountered some fishermen hauling in their catch
  • Finally, at the bus terminal ready to travel back home