A few weeks ago, our team here in Tanzania took some big steps forward!
Tanzania is a relatively new field for Ethnos 360, and because of that, our teammates have been diligently laying the groundwork for the last 6+ years so that one day church planting can begin among least reached people groups here. It has been a long road which has included learning Swahili, the national language of Tanzania, establishing relationships with individuals and local churches that already exists here, and building up the personnel that are needed to make this huge task of church planting a reality. On top of that, a lot of survey work has been done to narrow down the people groups which God would have us work in. None of these things are easy. All of these things take time!
Part of the process of language and culture learning here in Tanzania is being placed in a host family and a host church. The purpose of this time is to learn from our Tanzanian brothers and sisters. To learn how to function in our host culture. To learn how to serve the body of believers here. And to grow into a person who can become relevant here in Tanzania.
A year and a half ago our teammates, Neil and Rachelle, along with their little boy, Micah, were placed in their host church, Tegeta Baptist Church. They have walked a hard, yet incredible road, and in the process they are becoming who God wants them to be so that they would be useful servants here in Tanzania. Their home was right in the thick of life here in Tanzania. They were surrounded by people, shops, lots of noise and lack of privacy. From what they have said, it took some time to adjust to, but it was because of where God placed them that they were able to push forward in their language and culture study. They have had to learn to let go of their identity as individuals and find their true identity in who God says they are. Chandler and I have truly enjoyed getting to know this family over our last 5 months here in Tanzania. They are honest and real. They love the people here and you can see it in the relationships they have with those around them.
Neil and Rachelle are nearing the end of their language and culture study and the next step in the process is moving into, what Ethnos 360 likes to call, Staging. Staging is the last step before moving into a least reached people group to officially begin church planting. During staging a family or individual will move to a city or town close to a people group or groups that we are considering working in. This allows time to learn more about the people, what the needs are and to become involved in a local body of believers, if able.
Two Sundays ago Tegeta Baptist hosted a Send Off for Neil and Rachelle, and what an honor it was to be there. It was beautiful to watch a local body of believers take ownership of this missionary family and be a part of sending them out to serve here in Tanzania. Many missionaries experience this in their home country, but how neat that our missionaries also have the opportunity to be sent by the local church here!
The day involved lots of singing, preaching, praying, acknowledging this special family, and eating too! What a joyful celebration!
I sat there with tears in my eyes as I saw God’s people working together to see His Great Commission accomplished.
So what does this mean for our team now? This means we are one step closer to church planting. Is there still a long road a head? Yes! Is there still a lot of work to be done? Yes! Please be praying for wisdom and guidance as we continue exploring the people groups that still remain without the Gospel and narrowing down where we should first begin our work. Please also be praying for Neil, Rachelle and Micah as they will be moving about 14 hours away in the next month or two. They have lots of transitions ahead.
Thanks for walking this journey with us and for celebrating what God is doing!
Together Making Him Known,
Jamie (for the Sharpes)