Friends and family,
As many of you know I have recently returned from an 11 week trip to the Hadzabe bushmen of Tanzania. God did some amazing things, many came to Christ, some were healed, and disciples of Jesus were born, equipped, and sent. The following is one of my favorite stories from the trip.
Ounoas, an elder Hadzabe (ha-d-za-be) man and our surrogate grandfather, had come to our camp, as he did every night, to share a meal. Miriamu our Kindiga translator, Raymond our Swahili translator, Charlie and I greet him, “See-Fe-A-Ko Mootana?” (Good evening, how are you?”). He replies the same, meaning he is well. The meal we share is nothing more than rice and some soup, but we look forward to it and so does Ounoas. It is nice to share a meal with our little family, especially after the difficult week we have had. The preceding week had been one of the most excruciatingly difficult weeks of the trip and at every turn it seemed like we encountered a trial of some kind. These ranged from sickness, to spiritual oppression, to car trouble, and the list goes on; it had been a hard week. It had been so difficult that I found myself wondering if we had really accomplished anything.
But God was still at work and acting. In fact in a movement of the Holy Spirit Charlie decides to throw in one more lesson for the day. Each day we had been teaching Ounoas, along with 3 other disciples in the region, one of the twenty one Bible stories that we translated into the Kindiga language. Usually we left it at only one or two lessons per day, so people did not feel overwhelmed. But Charlie is inspired as he looks up into the amazingly beautiful night sky, and he begins to teach. Ounoas listens as Charlie teaches about God’s covenant with Abraham—how his decedents would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Charlie tells Ounoas that we are all, even the Hadzabe, part of this ancient promise when we decide to follow Jesus. Charlie finishes speaking and Ounoas is moved and suggests that we should pray and worship God.
We congregate together and pray. Then Ounoas begins to sing “Sha-a-atita hapana chana yesu…” “I have decided to follow Jesus” a song that we worked with Miriamu to translate into the Kindiga language. We sing together. In my heart I’m going through the motions, feeling discouraged and a little bit sick. But then I look over and see Ounoas raise his hands above his head worshiping God. Immediately I am convicted of my own pity party, but at the same time I am also filled with joy to see Ounoas praising the living God. You see when we arrived Ounoas told us the he worshiped the sun, but now he was worshiping Jesus!
At that moment all was well with my soul. All of the troubles, all of the challenges, all of the missing home, it was all worth it to see this man, this Hadzabe man, this bush man, worshiping God with his whole heart. It was all worth it.
Ounoas is one of the movement makers, one of the kingdom laborers who we felt God wanted us to equip. Along with Ounoas there are three others in Gitamilanda, and several others in Sunegu, another prominent Hadzabe village. We spent days and weeks, teaching these people the Gospel, and sending them to spread the news to all who would listen, specifically other Hadzabe. And God has sparked a movement. Even while we were still in the bush we saw that those who we had poured so much time and effort into had begun to teach others.
One of the greatest things God did was call Miriamu, our friend and Kindiga translator to himself. She not only decided to follow Jesus whole heartedly, but has caught the vision to reach the Hadzabe with the good news of Jesus. In fact we heard from Miriamu soon after we left, she told us that she has spent hours teaching a local Hadza village all of the Bible stories. She has also equipped a neighbor of hers, who is a Hadzabe Christian, to reach out to another distant village. Disciples are making Disciples and the Hadzabe Church is growing!
The discipleship movement has surly begun!