The first place we visited was the congregation of the former treasurer of the LCEA (the church body that we have had so much trouble with and with whom we recently severed fellowship). The treasurer was falsely accused and arrested for stealing from the church. The bishop of the LCEA is taking this man and others to court on a variety of charges in an attempt to make financial gains. It is a sad affair! While this dispute goes on in the courts the seminary building sits vacant. This very nice building was purchased with CLC funding and remodeled by CLC Mission Helpers. Our mission offerings had paid for its up-keep and the salaries of the professors for the past several years. Now, rather than being placed in the service of our Savior's kingdom, its ownership has been disputed in the courts as the LCEA bishop has tried to mortgage the building for his own personal gain. The judge has given the local congregation in Himo special permission to use the building for Sunday worship services. This is a very good indicator that when this is all settled in the courts, the local congregation and those who have remained faithful to the Word will retain ownership of the building and hopefully the seminary and kindergarten will be able to re-open soon. The building is very nice with two large class rooms, five dormitory rooms, a kitchen, and professor offices. It also has one other class room that was being used as a kindergarten for upwards of 50 children. What a shame that greed and pride have brought this important work of the Kingdom to a halt. Special arrangements have been requested and approved by the judge in the case for me to give testimony in court on September 1st concerning CLC involvement in the funding and support of this seminary since its inception back in 2002. While we certainly don't desire any of this and recognize that such issues among Christians ought not be settled in court, none of this was asked for and as false charges were brought, these men are in court simply defending themselves against the false accusations leveled against them. While this trial is to determine the guilt or innocence of these men concerning the charges of stealing from the church, in the end, if these men are found innocent of the charges, this will also settle the question of ownership of the seminary building. From all indications, we will retain ownership of the building and we should be able to get it up and running again soon. We pray that the Lord's will be done.
We also had the opportunity to visit the home of the original members of the LCEA who came out of the very liberal Lutheran church body in Tanzania that supports the ordination and marriage of homosexuals among many other un-Scriptural doctrines. They took this bold step knowing the persecution they would face as the district headquarters for this church body are literally, right behind their home. It was a joyous reunion as we were welcomed into their home. They were so very glad to see Pastor Mayhew, whom they have worked with for the past three years as our part-time visiting missionary to East Africa. This small band of Christians have had a had a very difficult past couple of years as their congregation has been torn apart by the turmoil brought on by the greed, ego, and pride of their former leaders. They have had fellow Christians falsely accused and even arrested and imprisoned. As we arrived at their home, we were met with the shrill shrieks of African joy from the women and hardy handshakes and hugs from the men. While I have never met these people before, you could instantly sense the common bond that we share. They were so appreciative that we have stood by them and offered assistance in their stand for the truth as we strive together to serve our Savior. One of the older elders of the congregation asked if he could say a few words to us. It was quite touching as he struggled to control his emotion while telling us of the congregations struggles and of their love for the Lord and their commitment to the truth of God's word in spite of the apparent set backs and tribulation of the past couple of years. What a joy to fellowship with these brothers and sisters in Christ.
The day was cloudy from beginning to end and we didn't think we would be able to see Mt. Kilimanjaro. But on our return trip to Arusha in the late afternoon the clouds began to disperse a bit and the peak began to show itself. It is quite a beautiful site. Pastor Malyi explained that the word Kilimanjaro is an ancient word that means difficult journey. It was named for the journey that the priests would make to the top of this mountain as they took young virgin men and women to the peak to sacrifice them to their gods. Pastor Malyi expressed thanks to the Lord that Christianity had been brought to Tanzania by the Germans and that such practices no longer take place.
We are taking a day of rest in Arusha today (Saturday) because Pastor Jeremiah's niece went to be with the Lord this week and today is the funeral. Please remember Pastor Jeremiah and his family in your prayers as they mourn the loss of their loved one.
We get up early tomorrow (Sunday, 8/29) and plan to be on the road by 6:30 am as we head to Tanga for another pastoral training seminar and congregational visits.
Don't forget to check out Pastor Mayhew's blog at: http://lutheranmissions.org/eastafricavisitation2009/