Day 6 – Wed. March 1 Lectures; visiting church

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Today began much like the previous day, with breakfast in the MCC and then devotions at the college. I preached on Jesus washing the disciples feet, and my lecture was on Zinzendorf. I only got through half of the slides. I tend to get carried away with Zinzendorf. And, naturally, the audience was amused by some of the pictures of Moravian worship – especially the Kiss of Peace and prostration. I told the story of August 13, which I’m sure they heard before. And I showed them the picture of the Prottens who were the first Africans to be Protestant missionaries to Africa. When I talked about Zinzendorf’s belief that missionaries should learn and respect the culture of the people someone made a connection between him and modern African theology. Again, the question time was very vigorous, and by the end I was soaked with sweat. Again we had lunch at the MCC with more discussion.

After my siesta, we visited the CHAKI congregation, which is the mother church for Sumbawanga. They are constructing a new church that can hold over a thousand members even though the congregation is smaller than that. It reminded me of the story of building Central in Bethlehem. We walked around the campus of the church, which has extensive vegetable gardens. Then we went up to the office where I met with many of the elders.

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I heard a report from the pastor that include their many needs. And I brought greetings. Peter had taught me to say Our Lamb has Conquered, Let Us Follow Him in Swahili and the people were pleased at my attempt. It is a frequent refrain used by Tanzanian Moravians. We discussed some of the same things as I had at the other church. They were surprised that even as the Moravian Church in America is declining in membership and facing financial difficulties, American Moravians still contribute to missions. I tried not to promise them anything, but when I gave a token gift of money, the women let out a ululation. That is one of the most delightful and surprising traditions in Tanzania. It is only women who do it. I asked them to repeat it so I could film it. It is dangerous, though. There is something about being praised in this way that makes you think you deserve it.

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I was also given gifts. The Jerusalem congregation gave me a white cloth with the Moravian seal on it, and the Chaki congregation gave me a beautiful African shirt. When I was at the provincial offices I had been measured, so I knew a shirt was coming, but I was not prepared for how perfectly it would fit or how beautiful it would be. They told me the gifts were to remind me of them and to encourage me to be their partner in the future and to tell others about their needs. I was embarrassed that my gift would not even buy a shirt like that in the US, but the Chairman explained to the elders that I had spent lots of money coming to Sumbawanga and would need money for my return trip. Again we ate together. Rice and chicken!

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