Monday, June 29, 2015

Just a quick note to let everyone know about the tentative visitation plans for Team Tanzania.  Our team includes Pastor Nathanael Mayhew, Raven Haight, Sam Naumann, Jessica Schreyer, and Jess Schaller.

June 30 - Arrive Kilimanjaro Airport 8:00pm - drive to Arusha
July 1 - Meet with pastors in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 2 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 3 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 4 - Arusha Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 5 - Church in Arusha area / travel to Moshi in afternoon
July 6 - TCLC Conference in Moshi all day
July 7 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 8 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 9 - Moshi Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 10 - Travel to Makanya / meet with pastors in evening
July 11 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 12 - Church in Makanya / congregational seminar and VBS with children in the afternoon
July 13 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / VBS at a congregation in evening
July 14 - Makanya Pastoral training in morning / return to Moshi in the afternoon
July 15 - Return to Kilimanjaro airport in evening for return trip home

Thank you all for your prayers for a successful visitation.  May Christ's name be glorified in all that is said and done!

In Christ,

Nathanael Mayhew

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Wednesday - November 13, 2013

Over the last two days I have been in Makanya where the CLCT General Pastoral Conference has been held.  Prior to this pastors from both Kenya and Tanzania have met together (with men from Zambia, Uganda, and the Congo also joining).  This year, because of the division of the work in East Africa (Mike Gurath is serving Uganda and Kenya and I am working in Tanzania), we had to reorganize our Pastoral Conference and re-elect leaders to serve our conference in the coming years.  Our studies focused again on the Augsburg Confession and Articles 3 (The person and work of Christ) and 4 (Justification).  It was a very rewarding conference and many of the men again expressed their joy and appreciation for the CLC hosting and leading the Conference.

The men of the CLCT General Pastoral Conference

An interesting comment was made last night as we all gathered around the “goat feast” for the evening meal last night.  One pastor said: “We like it when you come alone.  We feel closer to you when you are here alone.”  I had never really thought about that before.  Have I, when I have come with others, given the impression that I don’t want to be around my African brethren, or that I would rather spend time with my American comrade(s)?  This year was different, and I did become closer to several of the men that I spent extra time with.

The "goat feast" on Wednesday night.  Before (left) and after (right).  Sidiki roasts the goat (below).

I didn’t want to believe that it was true, but in reality there probably was some truth there.  I’ve noticed when I’m on the bus or walking down the street that I feel that I have a connection with someone who has light skin like me.  I’m at times more inclined to start a conversation with a person who looks like me, than someone who has dark skin.  But do you know what is so ironic?  Just because a person has lighter skin doesn’t make them any more like me than someone with dark skin!  Sometimes I can’t even communicate with them, because they speak a different language (Italian, French, Dutch are among the ones I have met).  Even if you can communicate with them you usually find out that your ideologies are completely different.  This may also be true of many Africans, but the point is that it is not the color of our skin that makes us similar or different.  I have come to realize (again) that I have much more in common with my African brethren than I do with the average “mzungu” (Swahili for “white person”), both here and back in the United States.

 It just goes to show: “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover!”

We all need that reminder from time to time.  No matter what the color of our skin, we all look at the outside for commonalities first.  But this is really the least important of all.  What valuable relationships have you missed out on because you too judged the book by it’s cover?

I have a lot in common with these men even if our skin color is different.  And I have enjoyed getting to know them better this year.

The pastors of the conference visit during the morning break on Thursday.  

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29). 

The things we take for granted

Tuesday - November 12, 2013

In all the other years that I’ve been traveling to Africa, I’ve always had some company.  Russ Schmitt has traveled with me every year since the first year I came in 2007.  I’ve also traveled with Missionary David Koenig, Larry and Loren Hansen, my brother Stephen, as well as two different Mission Board Chairmans (Bruce Naumann and Todd Ohlmann).  I’ve always had someone there to assist with the work, from preaching and teaching to running basic errands.  This year is different.  Very different.  I knew before I came that this year was going to be more difficult being here alone.  I always pack my schedule as full as I possibly can, because I have so little time here.  There is very little downtime.  This year I have been exhausted.  In past years I’ve taken for granted the assistance that others have provided.  Now I appreciate it because it isn’t there.

It’s simply amazing the things we take for granted, isn’t it?  And it is a shame that we don’t come to appreciate it until it is no longer there or is taken away.  One more evidence of our old sinful nature....

There are many benefits to spending several weeks in Africa.  One of those benefits is that you begin to see all the things you have been taking for granted.  I’d like to share some of those with you today.  Maybe you have come to take these blessings for granted too.  And hopefully, because of this post you won’t have to travel to Africa to appreciate the things, both large and small, that we in the United States have been blessed with.  Here is a brief list of examples:  

1.  Bug repellent
This was a 6" centipede that found it's way into my room in Makanya.  I thought it was a snake when I first saw it! 

2.  Silverware
This was my meal one night at a restaurant in Moshi.  It was roasted meat and "chips."  It was good but I had to eat it with my fingers.

3.  Public road system  
This was a dirt road we traveled by motorcycle over 18 miles to visit one of the congregations in the Makanya area.  The local pastor makes this trip several times a week. 

4.  A washer and dryer
Yes, I do my own laundry... in a bucket... and then hang it out to dry wherever I can find room.

5.  Air conditioning

It has been hot and humid in Tanzania this year, which is somewhat unusual for this time of year.  But this is the only solution for the heat here....

 6.  Drinking water
I grew up in Nebraska which has some of the best tap water in the world (Eau Claire, Wisconsin isn't bad either), but you don't want to drink water out of the tap here unless you want to get very sick.  

7.  Public Transportation
Think your city's public transportation is bad?  Try Africa!  It works, but it sure isn't comfortable.  It is not unusual to get on a bus that has been overbooked.  There are people sitting in the aisles, doubling up on seats and even standing for miles upon miles!

8.  Toilets
Ah... who could take toilets for granted?  Try a squat pot for a while and you'll have a new appreciation for the throne!

9.  Your family
As hard as it is to believe, we even take our families for granted.  When was the last time you gave your son or daughter a hug and told them that you love them?  Don't wait any longer - do it today! 

10.  Your spouse
It is a very sad thing, but probably the one thing we take for granted the most is one of the greatest gifts God has given us in our spouse.  A helper, companion, and friend, there is no greater earthly blessing than your spouse.  Don't take him or her for granted!  

*  Receiving Honarable mention, but without any pictures were:

Garbage Collection - garbage here is collected at the end of the day be property owner, swept into a pile in the street and then set on fire in the evening.

Consistent power - The power here continues to be a problem.  Business owners who want to keep customers own generators for when the power goes out.  In fact, as I write this post the power is out in Moshi and I am working under lights powered by a generator!

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!  For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:8-9).

Sin at the Bus stop

Monday - November 11, 2013

Today I journeyed south from the picturesque slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro to the flat, arid and hot land of Makanya.  It was quite a change.  Since our General Pastoral Conference starts in Makanya tomorrow, Pastors Malyi and Leoli were traveling with me.  We made the one and a half hour drive from Marangu to Moshi by taxi, where we caught a bus for the four and a half hour remainder of the journey to Makanya.

There was a major change in temperature and scenery between Marangu (above) and Makanya (below)!

We did get rain one day in Makanya (and even a rainbow) but it was still miserable hot!

From time to time I could catch a glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the distance behind us, but it soon fell out of view as we journeyed south. Traveling by bus in Africa is quite an experience.  At every stop, sellers from local shops stream to the bus, holding up their wares to weary travelers in the bus windows hoping to make a sale.  Cold water and soda, peanuts and biscuits, oranges and bananas are all offered for sale by the vendors below.  Even flashlights, reading glasses and sunglasses, watches and handkerchiefs can be found.  But it is the tenacity of these vendors that continues to strike me.  Generally all the sellers are polite and fair.  They rush to the bus and usually complete an easy and pleasant transaction.

A lone vendor with commodities perched on his head, looking for a sale beside a stopped bus in Moshi.

But there is at least one bad apple in every bunch.  One vendor cheats an unsuspecting customer.  A customer grabs something from a proffered box by the window as the bus is leaving the station...   The examples go on and on.

This isn’t the way it is supposed to be.  This isn't the way God created us.  We should be able to trust our neighbor, but many times we find that we can’t.  They lie, cheat, steal, vandalize and harm others.  We don’t like it when people take advantage of us, speak badly about us, steal from us, or hurt us in any way.  You should see some of the arguments that I have witnessed.  I don’t understand everything that is being said, but I can tell when someone feels they have been cheated in a transaction, no matter what language they speak!

The sad thing is that you and I aren’t any different.  We often do the same thing.  We take advantage of our employer and even steal from the company we work for.  Have you ever played some game on the computer at work when you should have been finishing up some project that the boss was waiting for?  We may do this often and think nothing of it. “It’s not like I’m embezzling money or something” we think.  But that is only an excuse for our thievery.  It is thievery of our time which our employer is paying us for.  

Many people don’t like the laws of God, but they are good and they are wise.  God gave them to protect us from one another, because we are sinful.  As fallen human beings we do what we shouldn’t do (all of us!), and we need God’s reminder of what is good and what is not.  Can you even imagine what this world would be like if God hadn’t given His laws to protect us?

And thanks be to Jesus that He has carried our guilt and our sin to the cross where He took the punishment we deserved upon Himself to set us free from our debt of sin and to reconcile us with God!                 

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; 
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; 
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;  
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; 
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.  
More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; 
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.  
Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.  
Who can understand his errors? 
Cleanse me from secret faults.” 
~  Psalm 19:7-12 (NKJV) ~ 

In His service,


Monday, November 18, 2013

A man named Ed

Sunday - November 10, 2013

"Let me tell you of a story ‘bout a man named – Ed."


He is a very interesting character.  To look at him, you would have thought he came from Jamaica.  He speaks very good English, without a hint of a Carribean accent.  In fact he speaks several languages as well as a number of dialects.  He was born in Tanzania, but lived in Kenya for many years, and even spent time teaching art and carving in Canada for some time.  He easy going and has a good sense of humor.  He has a dog (somewhat unusual in Africa) and named his dog “Simba” (“lion” in Swahili).  He has the longest hair I have ever seen.  He has a love and concern for children, especially those who have no parents.  He is a member of Pastor Malyi’s church in Marangu.  But all of this fails to truly describe my new rafiki (Swahili for “friend”), Edward.
Me and my friend Edward

Most important of all, Edward has a love for His Savior Jesus Christ.  It was this love that motivated Edward years ago to donate part of his land to the Lord’s work.  He wanted a church to be built, it little by little, it was.  But Edward has bigger plans.  The church only takes up a part of the land he has given.  He also wants his land to host a school - not just any school, but a school for orphans!

“This isn’t my land,” he said.  “It’s God’s.  He has just loaned it to me while I’m here.”  The least Edward can do is give part of it back to the Lord for the work of His kingdom.  And so he has.

The church in Marangu currently teaches preschool classes in the existing church, but the building is a temporary wooden structure and is in poor shape.  They have been working to gather materials to replace the existing structure with a new brick building that would serve as a start to the new church and school complex.  They have been gathering materials for over a year now, but they are still far short of what is necessary to begin construction.  The cost of the remaining materials is only about $3,000, but that is almost 5,000,000 in Tazania Shillings.  There is no way that the congregation will be able to gather the money and supplies needed to complete the construction and have the school ready by the beginning of school in January.  Most likely it will have to wait until January 2015.

The congregation at Marangu in front of their existing church building.

Their hope was to start with a Kindergarten, and then add a new classroom each year as those students progressed, adding a new group of Kindergartners from the orphans in the community.  In nine years the buildings would be completed, but the value what would be inestimable!

Edward is a wonderful man who has let the light of His Savior shine though his own love for those who are without parents.  May the light of our Savior shine as brightly in us!

In Christ,


“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What is Truth?

Saturday - November 9, 2013

It’s Saturday.  Our seminar finished yesterday and I visited a congregation in the area in the afternoon. Today Pastor Malyi scheduled me to meet with his congregation and lead an “Bible Study” for his congregation.  This wasn’t just for adults.  It wasn’t just for children.  It was for the whole congregation!  The church wasn’t full, but I was excited to see how many of the members had come to church on a Saturday afternoon.  Especially on a market day!

I decided to teach a lesson on angels.  I like to ask a lot of questions when I am here.  When we read a passage, I ask, “What do we learn from this passage?”  I can tell them what the passage means, but I want them to study it for themselves.  I want them to look into the depth of God’s Word and find the riches which are to be found there.  Sometimes we make this same mistake in our witnessing to others.  When we have the opportunity to witness to others, we can tell them what the Bible teaches, or we can help lead them to find the answer they are seeking on their own.  Don’t you think that the second is the better approach in most cases?

 Pastor Jackson Leoli and his congregation in Marangu which I visited Friday afternoon.

Teaching isn’t so much about reciting or referencing a list of facts as it is about giving others the tools to discover the truth on their own.  This is one of the greatest problems in education today, both secular and religious.  This is part of the reason there is so much debate about what “truth” really is.  Everyone has their own version because we aren’t being taught HOW to find the truth; we are just told this is what “truth” is (even if it isn’t truth at all).

The same also applies in our witnessing to others.  Witnessing shouldn’t be about reciting or referencing a list of passages that prove a certain Biblical Truth.  It should be about giving people the tools they need to read and understand God’s Word.  We need to consider our approach with those around us.  Paul says that God desires “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).  This is the work of God through His Word, not our work.  The Holy Spirit leads us to a knowledge of truth though the study of His Word.

Beautiful Mt. Kilimanjaro rising above the clouds in the distance.

In our study of angels, it was amazing to me (once again!) how much we could learn about God, His character, His work, and much more -- just from one small verse!  Yet, isn’t that the way God is?  He reveals Himself to us slowly, a little bit at a time, just as the details of the promised Savior were revealed little by little throughout the history of the Old Testament, from Adam and Eve forward.  Maybe He does this to keep us from being overwhelmed.  No matter the reason, we see that there is much to be learned and comprehended in the treasure trove which is God’s precious Word.  Even the smallest of gems should not be taken for granted.  Even they are of greater value than we can comprehend!

Thanks be to God!    

Jesus said: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.   Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:14-18).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The most powerful tool

Friday - November 8, 2013

Marangu is a beautiful place.  It sits on the southeastern foothills of majestic Mt. Kilimajaro, and is blessed with fertile ground and much rain.  The days here have been very nice.  It has rained consistently at night, and is cool in the morning, but the days have been very comfortable.  I have needed a coat in the morning, but by mid-day it is too warm for it and I am ready for short sleeves.  The air is damp, and there is no ventilation in my room, so everything in my room has a damp feel to it.  A good dehumidifier could take care of that no problem, but, alas, none is available....

Yesterday morning we began a two-day seminar in Marangu for the Moshi District.  The men who came from a distance stayed here at the Banana Jungle last night, and I noticed that none of them chose the hut-like rooms that I had chosen....  They all opted to stay in the little houses, instead of the huts.  No appreciation for a little originality I guess!

One of the little houses that all the other pastors chose to stay in.

It was a good conference.  I covered the same two articles that I had discussed in Arusha with these men. There were excellent questions and edifying discussions.  At the end of the conference today, several of the men expressed their thankfulness for the material presented and the time taken to organize the seminar.  This is the first time that such a seminar has been hosted in Marangu, and it was requested that this be done every year while I am here.

 The pastors who met at the Banana Jungle Lodge for our seminar.

I had to move from my hut today.  It had a few problems.  The glass was missing in one of the windows in the bathroom.  The water heater had a slow leak.  The cold water handle on the shower wouldn’t budge.  I biggest problem was the shower.  I couldn’t take a shower without getting scalded without fixing the cold water handle.  I didn’t want to bother anyone, and I have some experience fixing things, so I set to work on the handle.  The problem was that I didn’t have any tools.  Not one.  I wrestled with it, but it was no use.  If only I had my tool box from home, I thought.  I could fix this.  Finally I had to give up and call in reinforcements.  No problem they said.  They would take care of it.  One person came to fix it, then another.  Finally, they were picking up my things and moving me to a different hut.  It couldn’t be fixed - not with the tools that were our disposal, anyway.

The same is true with the spiritual problem of sin.  We try to fix our problem with all kinds of remedies.  We try to cover it up, excuse it, or compare actions with the actions of others, instead of with God’s perfect will.  We try to make up for these failures with more “good works” or seek atonement for them by making things right with those we have wronged.  But none of these “solutions” fix the problem.  There is only one solution to the problem of sin – Christ.  And Christ is revealed to us in His Word.

My new "home" because of the problem that couldn't be fixed...

I don’t fix people.  I don’t solve their problems.  I simply bring them the Word, the most powerful tool of all, and the only tool for the job.  The Holy Spirit does the rest.

Work in Africa has many challenges: language, culture, distance, and time available all pose major hurdles to the work here.  It is all the more rewarding then when I have the privilege to work with people who hunger for the Word.  They are eager to grow and learn more about the God who has created them and redeemed them from their sin through the cross.  They long to possess the most powerful tool of all, the only One that can fix their problem of sin.  

As a teacher of the Bible, I have confidence that my teaching is not in vain, because I am using the most powerful tool in the world - the very Word of God.  The Word that God used to call this world into existence in the beginning is the same Word that God uses still today to create new hearts in those who are dead in trespasses and sins and without hope in this world.  This second creation is no less of a miracle than the first!  But we often doubt its power because we don’t always see a visible change from spiritual death to spiritual life.  We don’t always see the spiritual growth in those around us as we would a full blooming flower burst forth from a simple bud.  And yet it does.  The Word of God is at work creating and sustaining faith on the inside through the hearing of the Word!

Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:6-11). 

Thank God for that same miracle in us!

In His service,