"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, Your God reigns." (Isaiah 52:7)
May found me in Tanzania with fellow communications colleagues from the LCMS International Center, Erik Lunsford and Kevin Armbrust. Erik is the photojournalist and Kevin is the editor for all publications for the LCMS. Working with my colleagues helps to strengthen my role as communications specialist for the Africa region, a role which I still find challenging. On this trip we took photos, visited congregations and interviewed pastors and deaconesses from the Lutheran Church in East Africa (LCEA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania - South East of Lake Victoria Diocese (ELCT-SELVD) in Shinyanga and the ELCT-Mbulu Diocese in Mbulu.
Trips like this help to deepen relationships, teach us about our Lutheran identity and support and encourage each other as we walk together in sharing the Gospel. During the interviews we heard how our brothers and sisters came to know Christ, and about their joys and challenges in their vocations as pastors and deaconesses. These faithful warriors of the cross stand firm in the knowledge of Christ as they proclaim the beautiful message of salvation with many.
In June I served alongside a Mercy Medical Team in the village of Kahe. Teams such as this bring people together from varying vocations and cultures. This American team joined local Tanzanian medical providers and missionaries to give a glimpse of the beautiful message of loving our neighbor and being the hands, heart and feet of God. All who came to the clinic heard the message of God’s love for them and they received treatment for their ailments.
During all of the MMTs that I have been blessed to serve with, something amazing always happens. Towards the end of the week an 18 month old with severe malnutrition was brought in by his mother. There was immediate concern for this child and within minutes, the local medical providers were making phone calls to get this child the care he needed. Pastor Mlay, of the LCEA spent time with the mother to find out more about the situation. She asked that her son be baptized.
The week ended with the baptism of this dear little one. After an opening prayer to start the day, Pastor Mlay invited the community to bear witness to the baptism. It was heartwarming to see how many people filled the room in support of this mother and child. Pastor Agakhan, another of the LCEA’s pastors, gave a beautiful explanation of what baptism means. This precious child IS now part of the family of Christ. He was given the baptismal name of Mark. There are many amazing moments on the mission field and this one will remain etched in my heart. What a beautiful message of love this American and Tanzanian team gave through their words and actions.