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Steve and Barb Sherman, GMI missionaries in Mwanza, Tanzania, recently sent out an email update and it was so full of good information that we had to share it with all of you. While this isn’t in the same format, it includes the same information and photos.

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Greetings from Mwanza Tanzania. Thank you to all of you who have prayed for and supported us. Barb and I made the trek north (about 22 hours) back in October. We got straight into the ministry and still have not been able to get completely unpacked and moved into our new home.

Since arriving in Mwanza in October, Steve has preached almost every Sunday. We have 3 church plants and one established church. We lack trained leaders so Pastor Methodi Mwendapole and Steve take turns rotating in the four churches. Steve is pictured here at the Nyashimba church last Sunday.

Below the article is a picture of the Nyashimba congregation. They have some pretty lively choirs. Because of the dirt floor they kick up a lot of dust when their choirs start dancing.

Pictured below is the home of our host family where we ate lunch at the Nyashimba church.To the right are the ladies washing dishes after our meal and at the bottom is the beautiful setting we ate in. You would be surprised how comfortable it is eating outside under a mango tree with a light breeze even in the 90 degree weather.

The majority of our time is spent at the Nyangulugulu city church plant. Pictured below is Pastor Methodi, who is a Tanzanian missionary that we work with, teaching the Wednesday evening Bible Study this week. We are averaging about 60 men, women, and children on Sundays.

Barb and Methodi’s wife take turns teaching the kids Sunday School, Junior Church, and also the Women’s Bible Study on Tuesdays. Believe it or not we are in church 12-15 hours a week with each of our 5 meetings lasting 2-3 hours.

Steve had the privilege of leading a man and his wife to the Lord yesterday at the Nyangulugulu church. Their names are Benadi and Zainabu. They have three children—Peter, Margaret, and Leah. Please pray for this family as they have never attended any kind of church before and are the epitome of the phrase “babes in Christ.”

Leah took an immediate liking to Steve. She began to cry when Steve left the building. Later when he came back she came up to the front of the church where Steve was waiting to preach, sat on his lap, and promptly fell asleep.

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to help us build a ministry center here in the Nyangulugulu area of the city of Mwanza. The building is now complete with an office, a large classroom, and two smaller multi-purpose rooms. This is where we will run our Bible School, teach seminars, and operate our correspondence school from. It is also our head office for the Mwanza region.

For now the Nyangulugulu congregation meets in the ministry center. Later, after we have grown some, we hope to build a church to the left of the ministry center that uses the fence walls as two sides of the church.

This week we are continuing to work on the fence around our compound. With the current money we have we should be able to finish about 80% of the fence.

Keep praying! Pray for our new congregations that they continue to grow in Christ. Pray as we develop leaders to work in these churches. Pray for our missionary team in Mwanza (Mwendapoles, Shermans, and Capraris who are in the States for medical treatment). Pray as we plan for further development.

In Christ,
Steve and Barb Sherman

Nyashimba congregation

Barb teaching Sunday School

We ate lunch under the Mango tree

Pastor Methodi teaching the Wednesday evening Bible Study

 

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A walk into the village of Kapenta was a common occurrence growing up in the Rukwa Valley. Most of the time it was to visit our friends who lived there, and doing this happened more often as I entered my high school years. This was because my local friends started getting married around the age of 16 and they no longer had the freedom to come to our house to hang out and “play” like they did from the time we lived there until they got married. One of my dearest friends, Esther (now Mama Mishak), was someone I especially enjoyed visiting. We could sit and talk or walk to her garden outside the village until it was almost dark and then say goodnight before the sunset so I could safely make it back to my house.

On one particular walk to Esther’s house I saw a lady carrying a 5-gallon bucket of water on her head with a young child tied to her back with a cloth (the normal way to carry a baby). We greeted each other and then went our separate ways. I didn’t think anything of it, because that’s as normal a sight as seeing a mailbox at the end of a driveway in the USA. What I had missed was the witchdoctor who had passed just before I came to the path and whom this lady was following.

Upon arriving at Esther’s house and after some casual conversation, she asked if I had seen the lady being led up the mountain by the village witchdoctor. I said I had seen the lady and Esther went on to explain what was going on. This story is heartbreaking but as you read the following think of the bondage of fear these people live in. Satan has a stronghold in every culture that needs to be brought to light, and one of those in Tanzania is fear. Fear and the bondage of darkness causes so much heartache. The light of Christ is so beautiful in contrast to these things but when the darkness seems strong, the heartache runs deep.

You see, this woman was about to take part in a ritual led by the witchdoctor, in fear of disobeying him and in fear for her child’s life. Her young boy was very sick, running a high fever among other things. Normal “dawa” (medicine) wasn’t working, so she went and surrendered herself to the ways of the witchdoctor. They were now on their way to a special site on top of a local, worshipped mountain where, Esther explained to me, the mother would have to collect sticks and they would make a fire from those sticks. They would then boil “special” water and poor this hot water over the child to wash the sickness from the child’s body. When the deed was done, the mom would have to leave the mountain without looking back. If she looked back or ever returned to that spot, she was told and believed, the sickness would return to her child and possibly take his life. My heart ached and I wished there was some way I could have stopped what I knew was happening as it was being explained to me.

The sun began to set and I said my goodbyes to Esther for the day. At the same time that she walked me to the path from her house the mother was returning down the mountain with a screaming little baby re-tied to her back and her child in worse condition than before. Oh, my heart cried inside. Why does she believe these lies? Why does she do these things?

Lies and darkness and sin. That is why. In many places throughout that culture witchcraft is a real and serious issue that many live in bondage to and in fear of daily. It is just one area where the missionaries fight a spiritual battle in their daily work. I tell you this in order to raise the awareness of the need for prayer in these cultures and lands where our missionaries are serving. Pray for the spiritual battles that are fought every day. Pray for the people affected so intimately and painfully with this darkness, shame, pain, and fear. For in Christ there is light and freedom and joy and he came that we might have life and have it to the full.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’” John 8:12.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” Galatians 5:1.

Zach and Erin“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12.

This post was written by Erin Kemper, GMI’s Director of Social Media, who spent many of her growing up years in Tanzania as part of a missionary family. She is married to Zach Kemper who was also raised in Tanzania.

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Frosty and Cathy wrote this earlier today: “The trip begins! Getting ready to board the flight to Chicago – the first leg of the journey. Good to have prayer this morning with the GMI staff and then at the airport with Craig and Pat Apel and Don TenHoeve. Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support.”

Frosty and Cathy Hansen left for Bolivia today! Please pray as they have said their goodbyes to friends and family and are traveling all the way to Bolivia. Please also pray for adjustments to their new life and ministry as it begins in Bolivia. We are excited for the wonderful things God has in store!

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As many of you know, several of GMI’s Tanzania missionaries have been on the move recently and it is hard to keep track of exactly where they are. Of course, you can always reach them by email which is the most reliable mode of communication at this time or you can send a card or letter c/o Grace Ministries International, PO Box 9405, Grand Rapids, MI 49509. We will make sure it gets to them in their monthly mail packet.

TED AND KIM RABENOLD: Ted and Kim are hard at work in the Rukwa Valley of Tanzania. We received an exciting email update of their work this morning which you can read HERE.

BROOK SEEKINS: Brook is currently in Ohio spending time with her parents and getting some rest. She would love to hear from you!

JOHN AND NAOMI CAPRARI: John and Naomi can be found in Grand Rapids, MI, where they are awaiting the birth of their baby in a couple of months. It was advised that they be near a doctor and hospital when they were having some complications and South Africa was not an option for them due to visa issues.

STEVE AND BARB SHERMAN: Steve and Barb continue their ministries in Mwanza, Tanzania. They would love to hear from you via email. It is always an encouragement to hear from people back in the States.

CORY AND KIM HODGSON: Cory and Kim and their three children are currently in Portland, OR, where they are spending time with family and just adjusting to life in the U.S. That back and forth transition always takes a bit of time.

MIKE AND LYNN CARAWAY: After spending time with their daughter and son-in-law in Dubai, Mike and Lynn, along with Luka, just recently arrived in the States. They continue to work with Grace Community Development & Education (GCDE) from a distance.

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Photo credit: welllebanon.org

Since the beginning of 2016 there has been a lot of activity and many changes in the GMI missionary family. People marry, babies are born, children move away, and life keeps moving forward. Have you ever been in one of those conversations with someone and you assume they are as up to date as you are and things go into a downward spiral of confusion? Been there, done that?

Well, we are going to update you on some of the happenings in the last 13 plus months of some of our missionaries’ lives:

HARRY AND KAYLAH ALICEA: Harry and Kaylah are expecting their 2nd child in just a couple of months. Their family is growing!

CHUCK AND JOY BEFUS: Chuck and Joy’s big family is getting bigger. Last month Erin married Arturo in Costa Rica and they are also expecting the addition of two grandbabies this year! Autumn is also planning a wedding for July which will add another son-in-law.

JERRY AND SANDI BOMERS: Jerry, Sandi, and their two children raised their support and arrived in Paraguay where they are excited to be serving the Lord alongside the Gularts.

JOHN AND NAOMI CAPRARI: John and Naomi went to Tanzania, had some difficulty with the pregnancy and went to South Africa for medical care. While in South Africa they ran into visa problems which wouldn’t allow them to stay until the birth of the baby, so they are now back in Grand Rapids, MI where there are excellent doctors for Naomi and excellent neonatologists should the baby decided to come early.

BRETT AND DEBBY CHAPMAN: Brett and Debby had twin boys, Ethan and Asher, on 1/26/16 and I don’t think life has slowed down for them since! They have battled some illness in their family during this last year.

FROSTY AND CATHY HANSEN: They have raised their support and are headed for Bolivia on March 6. I believe that is the quickest I have ever seen anyone raise their support!

APRIL LORENZ: April is raising her support and ideally would like to have her support in by June so she can leave for Puerto Rico early this summer. She is also engaged to be married

ERIC AND MERCY MANGO: They are anxiously awaiting the birth of baby #3 who is due in just a few months.

DAN AND MARY SUE REED: They have been working hard down in Bolivia but in the last year and a half both have lost their fathers.

TOM AND MICHELLE SANCHEZ: Tom and Michelle will be spending several months working with the national leaders in Zambia before opening the new field of Burundi, but they have to raise their financial support first.

STEVE AND BARB SHERMAN: Steve and Barb have moved to Mwanza, Tanzania, to begin new ministry there. They must settle in a new home and get used to working with a new group of people and get settled in a new church.

KENNEDY AND SOFIA SIMTOWE: Kennedy and Sofia are expanding their ministries into Mozambique in 2017.

TALO AND PATTY VERGARA: Talo married Patty in July 2016. She was a newscaster on a local Christian radio station but had wanted to be a missionary. He is finishing his commitment to CIMA International and waiting on the Lord to show them where He would have them go for future ministry.

BILL AND SUE VINTON: Bill and Sue are in the U.S. and will be in the Boston area on February 15, one day before their daughter Rachel and her husband Andrew are due to have their first baby. This will be Bill and Sue’s first grandbaby so they are pretty excited!

 

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