A Preacher And The Village – Part 2

This portion of this post ought to have followed the first one quickly; but I got caught up in a new assignment the same day that I posted the first part. Five weeks ago, we started a new fellowship in a neighboring district and on that day I and two of my elders traveled there to see the brethren. But before I go on I need to make something known to my readers.

What the readers and those who follow this blog do not know is that the idea of a blog is simply alien to the people that I live and work with here. I often tell them that I write articles that are read all over the world, and the most enthusiastic gesture that I have ever received is a shrug of the shoulder. Such a thing is alien and therefore completely irrelevant to them. So therefore, although the blog is important to my ministry, yet the people here have very little idea or interest in it. But I have to acknowledge and respect their position since my work on the ground here takes precedence over this blog.

And so today I am back home and I can finish what I began writing two days ago. I was to tell you about a tale that I heard in one of the villages.

It began with the sad passing away of a small child in the regional government hospital. The parents and relatives quickly made arrangements to take the body back to the village for burial. It is not acceptable to transport dead bodies by bus, so they had to consider an alternative method of transporting it. On the other hand, they did not have enough money to hire a truck that they could have used for a hearse. So they arranged for one of the child’s uncles to transport the body by bicycle while the rest rode the bus. They bought a box, carefully arranged the body inside – and the uncle took off.

The uncle pedaled the bike until he had passed three or four villages, and it was at this stage that he felt a strong thirst. Unfortunately, his thirst was not the kind that is sated with plain water. His was the strong kind of thirst. He needed something stronger than water. And so, notwithstanding the urgency of the mission that he was on, the man laid over at the fourth village and entered a certain tavern.

Being on local territory, the man did not think twice about parking his bicycle outside the tavern. Once inside, he quickly downed a few drinks and prepared to leave. The solemn task of his niece’s funeral was firmly tucked in the back of his mind.

Unfortunately, someone was watching this man and immediately he entered the tavern, this other man stole his bicycle and took off on it. This second man was a professional thief who preyed on unsuspecting travelers. He had done this many times. He quickly pedaled the bicycle until he reached a certain village where he entered into one of the houses. Upon his arrival, he was eagerly welcomed by the lady of the house. Once inside, the man directed the woman to take the bicycle into an inner room. The woman did as she was ordered. She then untied the heavy ‘parcel’ that was on the back seat and put it on her bed without opening it and hurried back into the sitting room to converse with her man.

Meanwhile, with time, curiosity got the better of the woman’s children, who were playing outside. After a while they stopped playing and they made their way through a back door into their mother’s bedroom. There they found the gift “uncle” had brought their mother. They wanted to see what their “uncle” had brought this time. Whenever he came home, “uncle” always had a gift for their mother, and sometimes for them.

One of the children pulled back the covering on the top – and that was when all hell broke loose!!

With screams and shrieks the likes of which had never been heard in that village before, the children came pummeling out of their mother’s bedroom and before the mother could do anything, they were all over her and some even under her clothes. They held her tight and she could not move. And they were all pointing towards the bedroom and screaming, “Mommy! The box!”

The man and woman looked at each other in bewilderment and finally the woman managed to get up and rush into her bedroom. The minute she saw what was inside the open box on her bed – a small child’s head, with eyes closed – she let out a scream that would have recorded on the Richter scale. She shot out of the room and bumped into the man, who was following close behind.

Squealing unintelligibly, she in turn held onto the man.

The man walked past her and looked into the box. By that time, neighbors who heard the screams had rushed up to the house…

Meanwhile, back at the village where he stole the bicycle, a search party had organized itself and it was hot on the thief’s trail. It was not hard for them to follow the fresh tire marks that the thief had left behind. A party of five bicyclists was dispatched to go after the thief.

At the exact moment that the epic commotion was going on inside the woman’s house, the search party arrived at the village. And just as the thief was getting out of the house and trying to explain something to the people gathered outside, the men comprising the search party closed in on him and he was promptly arrested.

Thus ended the long, dark career of this professional thief.

The news of this ‘blockbuster’ incident had spread like wildfire, and when the uncle finally delivered the dead child’s body to his village to be buried, he found the entire village waiting for him. But it was not the sort of welcome he would have desired. His relatives and the villagers descended on him like a ton of bricks. He was severely reprimanded for failing to honor the dead child and the entire community.

He was fined two cows and three goats as punishment. One cow was eaten at the funeral and the rest were given to his brother.

Thus ended the long career also of this professional drunkard.

[Evangelizing in the village]


A Preacher And The Village – Part 1

I just came back from visiting one of our churches in the village. Whenever I go to the village, I go prepared for anything. Not wanting to be a burden to my brethren in the village, I carry everything that I need. In the old days of the charismatic gospel, preachers were taught to expect to be ministered to by their hosts in everything. Not anymore. When the gospel of the cross came into our church, it threw that bossy attitude out.

The only thing I do not carry when I go to the village is food. I never carry any kind of food. I desire to share what the villagers have. In the first place, I love the indigenous cuisine. It is not wide in variety; much of the time it is just maize or millet meal with indigenous greens. But there is also milk and honey, two delicacies that are close to my heart (or, more appropriately, my stomach).

The other reason why I don’t carry food to the villages is because I do not want to bring up the image that I am special species of human being. Even if I am not absolutely ecstatic about the food that my hosts sometimes put before me, yet the Bible says that the Kingdom of God is not food and drink. With me, it is more important to mesh in with my brethren in the Lord than to cater to my refined tastes. The Bible says that was what Moses did (Heb. 11:24-26).

I go prepared for everything and anything. Sometimes I sleep on a mat because there is no mattress. One thing I have never found in the village is a pillow. But for me that is no problem; I use my Giorgio Armani coat for a pillow. (That coat was given to me by a friend and I often wonder how he would feel if he knew the uses that I put it to. That’s the same coat you will find me wearing back in town. Whenever I am invited to a wedding or any other high-class functions, I take the coat to the drycleaners; and no one at those parties has a clue that the coat that I am wearing is the same one that I use for a pillow in the villages. I can attest to the fact that Giorgio Armani are the best in the world. I have used (and misused) this coat for years, and it still looks brand new!)

And then there are the snakes, bugs, bats, rats, ants… I remember I once slept in this man’s house, and unfortunately the man had built his house right on top of a ‘safari’ ant colony. It was raining, and the ants came up at night and encircled me. The whole room was filled with them, right up to the roof! The modus operandi of these fellows is that once they have besieged an enemy and covered him from head to toe, they initiate a signal at which they begin biting all at once. And their bite is extremely toxic and painful. But I woke up, asked the hosts for some fire and fought them off – after which I went right back to sleep. For the next two days, the same thing happened; but for me, rather than it being an inconvenience, it was an adventure.

My first encounter with bedbugs, however, left me wondering whether I was ready to continue with this ‘apostolic’ job. Bedbugs are my worst nightmare, and my body began twitching uncontrollably the minute I realized that I was going to sleep in that bed. But that was some years back. Today it is a completely different story. I am used to every kind of situation. Nowadays, if I am woken up by a bedbug biting or crawling over my body, I just swat it away and go back to sleep. Much of the time, though, I am blissfully unaware of their presence since the minute I hit the sack I pass out, never to return till morning.

In the villages, we walk, at times tens of kilometres in a day. Homesteads are far and apart, and there is virtually no form of transport save for the occasional motorcycle taxi which we hardly ever take since we cannot afford it. The village folks are used to walking and the longest distance you can walk hardly fazes them. But for we townsfolk, by the time you arrive back home you are in a near-vegetative state.

But, despite these hardships, the village is the place where I love to be. It is the place I enjoy life to the extreme. The fresh air, the beautiful scenery, the open sky are things I cannot resist. Memories of childhood adventures in the semi-wild environment and the hint of danger at every turn… The freedom and the thrill that a stint in the village affords me is priceless. Here, I have not a care in the world.

But village life has taught me many valuable lessons too. One of those lessons relates to the love of God. The soil in central Tanzania is particularly hard to farm and the people live a hard and thrifty life. But God has given these people many provisions by which to live, things that you cannot notice if you are just passing by.  They have honey, they have milk; and they have indigenous vegetables and fruits. The “mpama”, which grows only in central Tanzania, is the sweetest fruit I have ever tasted.

And then, of course, there is the local lore – stories of long ago. I have learned, for example, that the Nyaturu people, among whom I work, are migrants from Ethiopia. Indeed, their language is distinctly different from the Bantu dialects of their neighbors.

There are all kinds of ‘incidents’ in the villages. A while back, I heard one that left me speechless…

[Your bed and mattress, all in one]



I have been AWOL! That means I left this blog without saying so much as a goodbye. Again! And that was almost two weeks ago. For this reason I feel extremely indebted to ask my faithful readers’ forgiveness. You have been extremely kind to me. These days, though, much of the time I travel without my laptop, which ends any writing plans I might have – until I get back home.

But, that aside, I have been to the most awesome place ever. For one, it is the hottest spot on earth; or, to be fair, certainly the hottest place I have ever been to. Here, the sun comes up earlier than normal and, by 8 a.m. the walls are already hot to the touch. By mid-day, when the sun is supposedly hottest, you are already toast. Everything is white and you cannot see clearly. If someone is coming towards you, say, a hundred meters or so away, they seem to be floating on air. Much like the preacher whose video has been circulating on the net, if you’ve had the misfortune of seeing it.

You would think things couldn’t get worse. But late afternoon, evening and the entire night brings even hotter tidings, and you go to sleep simply out of fatigue.

The town is called Kishapu. It is a small place in the municipality of Shinyanga. It is dirt poor. And it is far from any form of civilization.

But there are God’s people here and this was the reason we chose to host our regional ZGACT ladies’ conference here. Our regional churches comprise those in Shinyanga and Singida. We had ladies from both these regions attending.

We also had an outdoor crusade, which was held late in the evenings. The preachers were Majura and Boni Mkami, both renowned evangelists within our church. Pastor Eli Mpule was the key speaker at the ladies’ meetings, together with the women leaders.

At night, Evangelist Mwakitalu showed Christian films to large crowds.

The conference and crusade ran for a whole week. Far from what you might be thinking, what made Kishapu interesting was not the heat; rather, it was the presence of God. God’s presence was incredibly powerful in these meetings. God was at work, saving and healing people’s bodies and hearts. I, for one, was so blessed I did not want the meetings to end in spite of the unbearable heat.

Every day, during the crusades, people gave their lives to Christ and many souls were added to the Kingdom of God. And the ladies’ meetings were so full of the presence and anointing of God. The teachings were solid teachings meant to bring God’s people to maturity in the Spirit. The key to spiritual maturity? Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow Christ. It was a message meant, not just for women, but for every man and every young person also.

The resident pastor, Pamfile, had also invited the local pastors, many of whom attended the outdoor meetings for every one of the seven days that the meetings ran. On the last day, we had a get-together dinner with these wonderful men of God and their wives, where Pastor Mpule had the opportunity to introduce the gospel of the cross to these great men of God. It was poignant to see such men declaring they had never heard such words in their lives! And humbly pointing to the deep divisions that existed in their midst. It was the first time ever for them to come together. Some were even not on talking terms with each other!

Kishapu was the place we ALL ought to have been!!

Below, in pictures.

  1. The ladies’ conference was powerful and edifying. Pastor Eli and Mrs. Boni ministering the gospel of the cross

2. The outdoor meetings were packed to capacityImage21184

3. And the praise and worship team was simply awesome

4. Many pastors from neighboring churches came to share in the blessingsImage21199

5. The incredibly gifted man of God, Boni, prepares to go to ministerImage21070

6. Every day, souls came forward to receive JesusImage21044

7. All the pastors who attended were at hand to minister to the sick and needyImage21119

8. Sometimes the meetings went way deep into the nightImage21154

9. Only God knows what could have been going in the heart of this little boyImage21113

10. “Let the little children come to me.” Appropriately enough, the children heard the gospel while seated on Jesus’s donkey cartImage20992

11. In the evenings, it was time to watch Evangelist Mwakitalu’s awe-inspiring filmsImage21061

12. The only way to escape Kishapu’s sizzling heat was to stay buried inside the church building… or six feet under

The Call Of God – Part 1

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called… Rom. 8:30

The lady seated in front of me picked up her ringing phone and spoke into it.

“Asalaam aleykum!” she said.

At the other end of the line I heard another female voice faintly echoing the same greeting.

The lady seated with me was one of our church members and I was intrigued to know whom she was addressing in the standard Islamic greeting.

After a few minutes of conversing, I was surprised to see her handing the phone to me.

“It’s Mama Zulfa, she wants to greet you”, she said.

“Oh”, I said in astonishment. Mama Zulfa was a secret disciple in one of our churches. She was married to an Arab Muslim. We rarely talked, even on phone. But it was I, rather than her, who feared the most. She was an intrepid soul, and she came from a family of equally fearless people. Her sister had also converted, even though she was also married to a Muslim. And both her two children were also believers, albeit secret ones.

But the journey leading to this state of affairs had began a long time ago. It had began with the call of God upon a little girl’s heart. A long time ago, when she was just a little girl, Mama Zulfa’s family lived across the street from a pastor’s house. It so happened that this pastor, his wife and two daughters would always come out onto the verandah of their house at a particular time of the day and loudly sing Christian hymns.

The girl was entranced by this spectacle. But it was the songs that captivated her most. A deep longing grabbed at her heart whenever she heard the pastor and his wife singing the Christian songs. It reached a point where, whenever they came out to sing, she would be there, waiting. She recalls that her worst nightmare was when any member of her family would call out to her at such a moment! At those times she was lost in a different world altogether.

Because her family was Muslim and the pastor’s Christian, the two families did not interact in any way. But one day, she was all alone at home when the pastor’s family came out to sing. As they were winding up and preparing to go back inside, she could bear it no more. Without thinking, she burst out from the house, dashed across the street and hurled herself into the pastor’s wife’s arms.

“Please don’t leave me!” The cry came from the depths of her heart. “I am one of you!”

Shocked and unable to comprehend what was happening, the pastor’s wife quickly opened the door and let the distraught girl in. And there, inside the pastor’s house, the young girl heard the gospel and hurriedly gave her life to Christ.

But that was as far as the honeymoon would go. She was never to step inside that house again for, soon afterwards, the pastor and his family left the neighborhood and moved elsewhere.

Time moved on and it came time for the girl to get married, and she got married in the traditional Muslim fashion. But the call of God never left her heart. A Hand stronger than any force held her firm in her faith. But she would not dishonor her husband by joining any church. But one day she crossed paths with one of our pastors and that was how I would find myself talking on the phone to this incredible woman of faith.

By the time Mama Zulfa joined us, she had secretly preached the gospel to nearly half her family members! After she joined with us, she preached the gospel to her sister-in-law (the one seated in front of me), who also gave her life to Christ.

Now we have a thriving underground church who would never have known the wonder of salvation were it not for the call of God upon a little girl’s life.

But this story just has no ending. In a strange twist of events, Mama Zulfa would meet again with the pastor who led her to salvation…


The Need For Sound Doctrine – Part 1

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Tim. 4:1-5

What a charge Timothy had! And yet it is today, more than ever, that this charge needs to be carried out to the maximum, despite the dangers that accompany its execution. Dangers, yes, for Paul here tells Timothy that, once he set out to implement this charge he would “…endure afflictions”.

There was a time when I used to wonder at the present-day phenomenon of the mega-church. These are single churches with mass congregations of ten, twenty, or thirty thousand people. It is in most of these churches that the “pop” gospels of prosperity and other doctrines made up by man are preached. In these churches also is where you find a form of hype and sensationalism which would turn the world green with envy.

I used to wonder about these things, just as King David also wondered at how God could allow evil men to prosper (Ps. 73:16).

I used to wonder… until I read 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Mark the “they” in this scripture. “They” are God’s people and with this particular group of people lies the whole problem of the church. Not all, certainly, but the majority. With God’s people lies the problem of the church. That’s incongruous, to say the least.

Notice there is “sound doctrine”, or “truth”; and there are “fables”. A time would come, Paul told Timothy, when God’s people would not endure sound doctrine. You don’t endure good things; you endure bad or difficult situations. Apparently, therefore, sound doctrine is not good for the flesh. Paul’s reference to sound doctrine here is to the gospel of the cross. He was saying a time would come when people would not endure pain. They would not endure the hard choices that the cross offers. Instead, they would choose the broad and easy road of the flesh.

That’s hardly surprising today, with the feel-good gospels that are being preached in most churches today. That is why people are flocking to these churches. The sad fact, however, is that the people who go to church to hear feel-good sermons are not spiritual people; they are worldly-minded people.

If there was one person who should have had a mega-church here on earth, it was our Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that He had such a large following that, at one time he fed five thousand men, apart from the women and children. That means that the number of people who followed Jesus were in the tens of thousands. But these people were not the church.

On the day that Jesus decided to start His church, He turned to these same people and to spoke them these words:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (Jn. 6:53)

At this, His followers scattered like flies. They could not endure His hard words. Only 12 remained – the apostles. And they, too, hang on by a thread! (v. 67)

So, when Jesus was here on earth He had 12 members in His church! And we know that one of them was a devil. That left only eleven.

If things were so difficult in Jesus’ time, how can we possibly think that things are any different – or easier – today? The Bible expressly says that in the last days, the noose will get tighter. How can a man possibly claim to be breathing easier when the noose is getting tighter?

Today, we are living in times like the nation of Israel’s during Elijah’s time. At that time, the nation of Israel had forsaken God and they were worshipping pagan gods.

The nation of Israel is a type of the church. Now, we don’t want to make Elijah’s mistake and declare that there is no church in the world today. Even at the worst of times, God always has a remnant. And so it is even today. God has, within today’s apostate church,

“seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” (1 Ki. 19:18)

And yet, you realize, seven thousand in a nation as big as Israel was is a very small number. The number was so small that Elijah had no idea these people existed!

Now, more than ever, true ministers of God ought to heed Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:

1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine…

5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

[Children play in a drain. They have absolutely no idea the danger they are in if flood waters came crashing through]


“Whom He foreknew… He also called”.

My friend, Frank Lanthier, shared with me a moving testimony: In 1976, I had been saved for only a few months when I was involved in an accident which required me to be admitted to hospital. I was working as a structural steel welder, and one day I was working on a factory building when I slipped and fell 40 feet to the concrete floor. I was rushed to hospital with a severely injured back, and there I lay for some three months.

At the hospital I spent much of my time reading the Bible, and praying. Some time afterwards,  another, much older man was admitted into the same room that I was in. I soon noticed that this man would always look intently at me whenever I was reading my Bible; but, strangely enough, whenever I looked up the man would turn his head and look away. In my enthusiasm I tried to share the Word of God with him, but the man clearly indicated to me he did not want to hear anything that I had to say on that topic.

Three weeks after this man had been brought in, the doctors determined that I needed to have surgery to remove two of my lower back discs. On the night before I was to be operated on, I was praying at night, and the Holy Spirit came so strongly upon me, clearly impressing on me that I should share the gospel with my elderly neighbor. I knew it was the Lord, and I knew I just had to obey that Voice.

Early the next morning, I was reading my Bible and contesting strongly whether I should witness again to my defiant neighbor, when I felt his gaze once again intently on my back. When I turned to look at him this time he did not turn his head away. I looked straight at this man and asked him whether he had ever contemplated giving his life to Jesus, to which he replied, no. I then asked him if he would like to accept the Lord into his life. With his gaze still fixed on me the man said clearly: “Yes.”

Surprised, I was about to say something when all of a sudden I saw my pastor entering the room. (I always wonder about this moment, and the Lord’s timing. I probably would not have known what to say next).

I excitedly told my pastor about the talk we had just had with my neighbor. My pastor said, “Tell him about your salvation experience!” With great enthusiasm, I narrated to the man how I had met the Lord and the change he had brought into my life. The man looked quietly at me. After I had finished, my pastor led him into receiving Jesus into his heart.

A few hours later, the nurses came to prepare me for my operation, and soon I was wheeled away into the theatre. The operation went successfully.

Two days later, I was recuperating in a room on another floor of the hospital, and I felt this intense desire to know about my neighbor whom we had led to the Lord. One of the nurses, who also was saved, volunteered to go check on him.

She came back a few moments later and told me: “That man you prayed for died one hour after you went in for your operation!”

The next Sunday, I am in church when this strange man comes up to me and hugs me with great emotion; and suddenly I am surrounded by a group of people whom I had never seen, all visibly moved. I am wondering what it is all about; and the man, with tears in his eyes, blurts out: “That man you were with at the hospital, the man that you led to the Lord in the hospital, was my father-in-law. We tried to tell him about the gospel for many years, but he always ridiculed us and scoffed at the gospel. We have been praying for him for twenty five years that he would give his life to Jesus! How can we ever thank you…!” 

The Reality of Rejection and Persecution.

Recently, I was visiting with our good Canadian friends Carol and Frank in the city of Mwanza, a beautiful city situated on the shores of Lake Vctoria. At the same time that I was with them I was also translating an article by Brother Miki Hardy entitled “Fame, or Rejection and Persecution”, to be published in our local weekly Swahili newspaper, ‘Msemakweli’ (translated: The Speaker of Truth).

Whilst in Mwanza, I decided to go visit my parents who live in Musoma, a town some 200 km to the north. But I also had another, far more important reason, for visiting Musoma. There was a lady there whom the Lord had been impressing on my heart to go preach the gospel to for a very long time. I had known this lady for the 16 years that I lived in this town. She had a sewing machine which she operated right in front of the main bus terminal, and every day I passed by I would see her busy at her work.

I did not know her in any intimate manner. But Musoma is a pretty small town, and there were other things about her life that I knew, and I knew she needed the Lord.

After I moved to Dar es Salaam some four years ago, the Lord kept pressing me about this lady. In August 2012 my wife and I visited Musoma for a few brief days and, although the thought of visiting this lady did cross my mind, I had more ‘important’ things to do, so I never did go… Back in Dar es Salaam, my disobedience would torment me day and night.

This time round I knew I had to obey that Voice… I had to preach the Good News to this precious lady. So, the very next day after I arrived in Musoma, I boarded a town bus and headed for the bus terminal, my heart beating with excitement because I knew I was answering the call of God. My heart yearned deeply for this lady; and I just knew the Lord wanted to save her. As our bus made its way into the bus terminal, my eyes were already searching for the spot which I knew so well, and my heart beat with joy and excitement as I spotted her, still at her station, working steadily at her sewing machine. I said a quiet prayer of thanks to the Lord.

I alighted and purposefully walked up to her. At such times of heightened excitement I have a problem talking coherently, but I composed myself, and stood right in front of her. I knew I had a mission to accomplish.

I said, “Good morning, my dear lady”, to which she replied, “Good morning.”

“I would like to talk to you, please”, I said.

“Speak on”, she replied. She was a tough woman, that much I knew about her.

There were two other ladies standing by.

“I’d like to talk to you aside”, I said, at which she slowly stood up and led me to an empty shop verandah a few feet away. We stood there, just the two of us. Dozens of people were passing by, and many others in the waiting buses watched us. I would have loved to take her to a nearby café and buy us a drink and slowly introduce my subject; but that opportunity did not seem to present itself.

I decided to take the bull by the horns, and began: “Madam, you may not know me; but I have known you since 1993 when I first came to this town.” Of course, she would know me. I was just feeling my way about, although I knew exactly what I wanted to tell her.


“Well, madam, I have some Good News which I would like to share with you”, I finally broke through.

“Talk on”, she said rather brusquely.

“I feel in my heart that God has sent me to tell you that He loves you and He wants you to be reconciled to Him, and the only way to be reconciled to God is through believing on His Son Jesus Christ.” I made it as short and clear as possible.

Under normal circumstances, whenever I feel the Lord leading me to speak to someone, I know the outcome will be positive; God will have prepared that person. Somehow naively, I had approached this new assignment armed with that same expectation. I never anticipated a nasty shake-up like the one I was about to get.

“Well, I have already been baptized”, she said; “and as far as I am concerned, I believe on Jesus.”

I knew what she meant. She was telling me that she belonged to a certain sect which believes that all you need to do in order to get to Heaven is to be baptized. But I knew she needed the Lord in a lot better way, so I pressed on.

“Madam, faith in Jesus is not just so you can have a religion, but it is about God Himself coming to live in you and giving you a new life. Are you saved?” I spoke to her in short, clear sentences, willing myself and desperately desiring to put the message through to her.  As I talked on, I began to get worked up, and I was just about to make the coup de grace – asking her to surrender her life – when she stopped me cold in my tracks….

“Now, if you have nothing better to tell me than this salvation stuff”, she interrupted with great deliberateness, “I have business to do. I already told you I have been baptized, and that’s enough for me. I don’t see anything more in what you are telling me. Goodbye.” Abruptly, she turned and walked back to her sewing machine, leaving me standing there, stunned. My mouth was still working, though, and I found myself speaking into the air: “Well, madam, forgive me, but I felt I just had to tell you about the Good News of Jesus Christ.”

I felt like the whole town was watching me as this tough woman humiliated me. I could feel all the eyes of the passersby and passengers boring into me. I felt a fleeting sense of embarrassment; but I was immediately reminded that I at last had paid a debt long overdue, and I felt peace in my heart. With measured steps I walked away from the bus terminal and went back home.

Later in the day as I was mulling over this event I recalled Brother Miki’s article that I had just finished translating (I had not even yet sent it to the publisher). In one part of his message he says: “This message will bring persecution from those outside. As the Early Church, we too preach the Gospel to people of many religions and traditions and it’s normal that it brings persecution from those outside, because we preach Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour… That’s what the Bible says; we will be opposed from those outside because of the message that we bring to the world.”

Further along he asserts: “If the Church is alive, preaching this message, and reaching out to others, it’s normal that it will come up against persecution. A church that is alive and preaching the right message is always going to be persecuted… We cannot expect people to speak well of us. We cannot expect the world to pat us on the back and say, ‘Well done!’ They will reject us, speak against us, and oppose and persecute the Church. Rejection and persecution are to be expected when the Gospel is being preached.”

As I thought over these words, I wondered whether it was just coincidence that I had been reading a message of persecution and then had immediately undergone the self-same experience (though shamefully so low-scale!)

 A few days later Pastor Amas and I went back to Mwanza to join up with Carol and Frank. The couple came to pick us up in town and took us to the rented apartment where they have been living for the last one month. No sooner had we sat down when Frank drew his i-pad and read us a paragraph from an article he had been reading; and the keyword was: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake.”

I immediately asked him what that Scripture was and he replied, “Matthew 10:22.”

I was astounded. We had had no time at all to even talk about anything, and the first word that this man of God spoke was the very same word of persecution that I had read about and experienced so recently. I quietly knew that the Lord was confirming something. In these last days, we are going to be persecuted for the Gospel.

And I could not help feeling sad and angry at what is happening in the Church today. Today’s is a Church that is so lax all it can think about are the blessings. Preachers daily work out new principles and techniques for Christians to claim their “blessings” from God. As far as the majority of Christians today are concerned, they are in it for the good life – physically, materially, financially.

But really, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is more about suffering than being “blessed”. Indeed, true blessings are only those that are attached to suffering for the Gospel’s sake.

The Church has to wake up to the reality of our calling.