It all began with my initial trip to Tanzania two years ago. At the close of a pastors’ conference in Moshi, I gave a few English copies of The Great Gospel Deception to some of the pastors who could read English. One I gave to an elderly Assemblies of God pastor who had for twenty-six years been the General Superintendent for all of Tanzania. There was probably no Christian leader more respected in the country, as the Tanzanian Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant body in Tanzania. (They had given him the title of “bishop” because the title “General Superintendent” was used by the head of the Tanzanian police, and they didn’t want that association.)
When I returned last January to teach at two more pastors’ conferences, the bishop requested to see me. He said he had read my book. He said he had never read anything like it, and it had really touched him, and he wished it could be translated into Swahili and distributed to all the pastors in his country. (There are over 100 different tribal languages spoken in Tanzania, but just about everyone speaks Swahili.) So I agreed to his proposal purely by faith, wondering if I wasn’t crazy. But the Lord ultimately provided the funds, and 5,000 copies were printed in November.
That brings us to the present time. This January in Tanzania, less than two weeks ago, that same respected bishop testified at our first of five pastors’ conferences: “Brothers, when you read this book, you will see how far we have strayed from the righteousness of God.” He then went on to speak of his own repentance regarding a common practice among Tanzanian pastors and gently admonished them to follow his example. That set the stage for all five of our one-day pastors’ conferences in different parts of Tanzania, attended by at least 900 pastors. At almost every conference, other major Christian leaders gave similar public testimonies and endorsements. God poured out His grace each time as I taught. (The Tanzanian women whoop in a distinct vibrato when they like what they’re hearing, and we had some pretty good whooping from them!) All 5,000 copies of The Great Gospel Deception are now being (or soon will be) distributed to Swahili-speaking pastors. Judging from the fruit so far, their lives and ministries will be significantly touched. For this we thank God.
Other good news: As I traveled over 2,200 miles on Tanzanian roads, the Muslim driver of the van we rented started reading a copy of the Swahili version of The Great Gospel Deception and became a believer in Jesus! One of the last days I was with him he told me that he had stayed up until 1:00AM the previous night reading the Bible! That sure is a good sign. He also told me that he doesn’t want to be just a Christian on Sundays—he wants to be a preacher and lead others to follow Jesus. That is another good sign!
So many good things happened while I was in Tanzania that I hesitate to share them because you might think I’m boasting or out of my mind. I do praise God that the Swahili translation of The Disciple-Making Minister is almost completed and even more doors have opened now for its distribution to pastors in other East African nations. Next January, a conference of key Christian leaders (bishop types), from not only Tanzania but also Zambia and Malawi, is already in the works. You and God make this all possible, and I thank you and Him.
Introducing Orphan’s Tear
By God’s grace, we’ve been blessed to significantly help a number of Christian orphanages in Myanmar last year, and I’ve recently been compelled to do something even more significant for Third World orphans. So “Orphan’s Tear“ has just been born. We are seeking compassionate people who will sponsor one precious orphan for $15 a month in order to increase the quality of his or her life. These children are all little followers of Jesus, and they need our love. They live in orphanages that are struggling to meet their needs. My oldest daughter, Charity, has just designed an Orphan’s Tear website that has lots of info as well as photos of 380 orphans from Myanmar and Tanzania (many of whose parents died of AIDS). You can check it out at Orphan’s Tear.
My February international trip is to Lagos, Nigeria, where I’ve been invited once again to speak at an annual leadership conference attended by about 1,000 West African pastors. This is a tremendous opportunity for major impact in West Africa. One out of five Africans is Nigerian. This year we will be giving copies of The Great Gospel Deception and Bernie Koerselman’s book Saving Faith to every pastor who has not yet received them. I’ve ministered all over Nigeria to pastors during the past six years, and I know that Nigerian churches desperately need the message of discipleship and Christ’s Lordship. Nigeria’s so-called revival of the past decade has been more of a revival of false teaching.
Our greatest need, as it always seems, is for our general operating expenses. We have been blessed with lots of special gifts for special projects like tsunami relief, but the cost of administrating those gifts is taken from the general fund. Shepherd Serve now has two fulltime employees. We really need your help!
Our most pressing need for special project funds is for the first printing of the English version of The Disciple-Making Minister—over 700 pages—and scheduled to go to press at the end of this month. A gift of $3.23 will make it possible for us to print one copy if we print 3,000 copies total. One copy will equip one pastor to equip one congregation for service.
Every blessing to you in Christ the Lord,