In this series, those involved with CLC foreign missions profile one aspect of our overseas endeavors.
On November 19, 2023, a graduation ceremony was held at Wittenberg Lutheran Theological Seminary in Arusha, Tanzania. Four men received their diplomas for completing the one-year course in Evangelism. One student, Philippo Molel, will return to his home in the Maasai village of Mbyuni to be a pastoral assistant. The other three are Eubank Elijah, Jasper Musakali, and Godfrey Mzoo, who will be returning to our three-year seminary program in January. Highlights from the graduation service can be seen at www.tinyurl.com/witt-grad23.
An “evangelist” is an announcer of the good news about Jesus. We are thankful to God that we are able to graduate men from our Wittenberg Seminary who are prepared to do just that—to announce the news about Jesus that is truly good and truly saving. The goal of our graduates will be to follow Jesus’ direction from Luke 24:47 that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.” This message is what true evangelism is all about.
The so-called “Prosperity Gospel” is prevalent in this part of the world. These peddlers of prosperity say that God promises to grant good health and riches in this life, but only to those who have a strong enough faith. The tragedy is that this becomes bad news during times of want and sickness, which creep up on every one of us sooner or later. There is no lasting comfort in this news.
There are also many “signs and wonders” churches here. The news from these miracle-men is that outward signs such as faith healing and speaking in nonsensical “tongues” provide the proof that a person is a Spirit-filled and holy child of God. This becomes bad news for the honest person who continues to see the ugly effects of sin in his heart in spite of the showy pseudo-miracles on display. There is no real comfort in this news, either.
Real evangelism focuses on the real Jesus—the one Who was crucified and raised to life again on our behalf. He is the one Who freely gives His forgiving grace to those who know that they are abject sinners. He doesn’t reserve His blessing for those who are worthy of health and prosperity. He didn’t come to favor those who can prove their holy status with supposed miracles. Instead, Jesus came and died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) in order to raise them up to faith and life. This lasting treasure comes through simple trust in His completed work for us. This is the great good news that Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach. It is also the same Gospel message that is going forth in the Tanzanian Church of the Lutheran Confession (TCLC) in a variety of ways:
• In God’s outpouring of grace in holy Baptism for eleven children at the Maasai village of Mbyuni on November 5, 2023, and at the baptism and confirmation of Miriam on November 12 at Ambureni;
• In the ongoing training of pastoral candidates in the new school year at Wittenberg Seminary, which is set to begin in January of 2024;
• In the TCLC pastoral conference in Moshi, Tanzania scheduled for January 23-25 for mutual instruction and encouragement in God’s Word;
• In the visitation to our sister churches in Kenya by Missionary Naumann, Pastor Jeremia Issangya, and Kinship representative Ted Quade in late January and early February 2024;
• In the ongoing preaching and teaching of God’s Word in twenty-seven TCLC congregations, which serve about 1,200 souls;
• In outreach events being planned for remote villages, to bring the genuine good news about Jesus to those who do not yet know it.
Our little church body, the CLC, has a multitude of open doors to evangelize; that is, to proclaim in many parts of the world the good news about Christ crucified. By ourselves, we can’t reach ALL the world to preach the Gospel to EVERY creature. But then, neither could the original apostles hope to do so. They were to have an initial, leading role in God’s plan for His Gospel. We are thankful to be at least a small part of the Lord’s plan as well. Through His Word, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, He continues to lead people, by faith in Christ crucified, to eternal life. May He continue to bless our feeble efforts in Tanzania, in Kenya, and in all the other fields before us!
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16 ESV)