Tuesday, April 06, 2010

LIVING WELL Monthly Letter, April, 2010

Spring-like weather lured us into thinking about warm and pleasant days. But when Spring officially arrived, winter howled back to remind us of an unbelievable year. Hopefully, we have ended our relationship with the 2010 winter season.

Spring signals time to plan for our summer mission to Africa. We are returning to Tanzania. We will teach in a new location, Morogoro. We will also meet with pastors and wives whom we taught last year in Dar es Salaam. Joining us on the Living Well team this year are Megan and Rhett O’Briant who taught with us in Zambia two years ago. June 9-21 are the dates of our 6th trip to east Africa.

We felt compelled to return to the same country as last year. After teaching and training there for a month, we built a closer bond with the people than ever before. Our desire is to teach a new group of pastors/wives in Morogoro and to bring additional training and encouragement to those we taught last year. Tanzania stays heavy on our hearts for many reasons but at the forefront is their spiritual battle with the dominate Muslim faith. They risk their security and faith to plant churches in predominately Muslim neighborhoods. 

Our mission is to teach pastors/wives in the area of Biblical marriage/family and train them in building marriage ministries in their churches. 

Why do we teach/train instead of evangelizing, digging wells, or doing a medical mission? All of these kind of missions and others are noble and have merit. But we have found that:
  • Africa has been highly evangelized now and the Christian church is established in all east African countries. “World wide Christianity has become increasingly African....There are now more practicing Christians in Africa than on any other continent, and by the second decade of the new millennium, Africa will overtake Europe as the continent with the greatest number of people who identify themselves as Christians, whether or not they practice their faith.” (Neil Lettinga, PhD) We believe that it is up to the Africans to reach their own people; our role now is to train them.
  • Clean, accessible drinking water is one of the foremost physical needs of Africans. Clean water will satisfy one of their physical needs, but will not meet their spiritual and eternal needs. We know that people with abundant supplies of water can still live decadent, empty lives. As Jesus said “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
  • Physical diseases and disabilities abound in Africa; they have great needs for treatment. However, their treatment is temporary. They will still have the same difficulties next year.

We are not trying to say these missions are not good or needed but we believe that God has called us to a different work, one which will equip the African church to thrive and reach their culture. The African pastors that we train do not have the opportunity for a formal education. We partner with an African ministry, Africa Leadership and Reconciliation Ministry (ALARM) who is permanently located in the area and have an ongoing relationship with the pastors and training in different aspects of ministry.

Why do we train on marriage and family? Why not discipleship, the spiritual disciplines, etc.? Our experience and expertise is in marriage ministry, having worked in that area over 20 years. We have found a great disconnect between an African pastor’s role in ministry and his role in the family. His family is usually treated as unimportant compared to his ministry in the church. We believe that a truly transformed life will be most evident to the culture in their family life. That factor is why God said that marriage is a picture of Christ and the church.

Thank you for your love, support, and prayers.
Our love in Christ,
Donna and Ed Edwards