Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The heros of Tanzania

I flew into JFK yesterday at 7:50 am and as soon as I hit the ground people began to ask me about the trip. It's odd talking about it right now; I have so many things to talk about and at the same time I'm desperately trying to understand what happened to me along the way. Oswald Chambers would say I became a "holy experiment"...
"there is actually only one thing you can dedicate to God, and that is your right to yourself (See Romans 12:1). If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment our of you-and His experiments always succeed". (My Utmost for His Highest, June 13th).
I'll be writing about the trip for the next however long it takes but I have to start by giving God the glory of all things and to tell the story of Asher, the holy experiment. Asher is an Evangelist with my diocese in Tabora, Tanzania. Evangelists are laypersons (men and women) who are called by God to enter into a community and plant a church. They receive no money from the diocese and live off the what they can grow and earn. When they rains don't come, they are very hungry. When the crops do well, they are full. At all times they love the Lord with a steadfast love that cannot be moved.
Asher is the evangelist in the village of Mwakashndye, Tanzania. When the Dr. at our clinic asked the evangelists if they would work with her to bring the clinic to the poor who could not access health care, Asher jumped at the chance. It takes 2 1/2 hours to get to his village from the clinic, up to 6 hours during the rainy season. He and others made a "road" out of a "track" (single-track bike track for you Americans) so that the clinic truck could make it out instead of having to pack all the gear on the back of bikes.
The clinic arrives every two weeks and Asher is there to serve his people.
He sits on a wooden crate that is sideways, behind a wooden table in the shade of the main mud-brick house that the clinic runs out of. He takes the meager money that the sick bring to pay for the drugs that are heavily subsidized by the clinic. None of the money that he sees pass before him will go to him. He is a selfless man, he is a holy experiment.
The others kid him often (in love) that he has no teeth and has to eat only soft food during the morning communal breakfast that is the meal for us that day. We laugh and I share with him that he will have glorious "Resurrection teeth" with whick he can eat aged beef at the feasting table with Christ. As the day ends I search Asher out and ask him how his church is doing. He tells me that there are around 50 people who attend each Sunday. How many in your village I ask...about 50 he tells me.
Asher gets it. He has given all that he had and has allowed the Lord to make a holy experiment out of him. I am so grateful for this man and his faith, for his love for his people and for the blood of Jesus that saved him. If you ever come with me to Tabora, I will introduce him to you. If that never happens, look for him at the Banqueting Table, he'll be the one with the biggest smile, sharing his aged beef with all those around him.
In His Mercy