Praying for restoration — and rain
NAMANGA, Tanzania— Denominational doctrine and drought. Those were concerns expressed…
LONGIDO, Tanzania — I’ve traveled to Africa more than a dozen times and enjoyed a grand total of one safari. That adventure occurred in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, amid a drought in 2006.
We saw one water buffalo.
So you can imagine my delight when, driving back from a meeting with preachers at the Kenyan border, we spotted a family of giraffes on the side of the road.
Related: Praying for restoration — and rain
Our driver, Agustine Saimon, pulled over, and I fired away with my Sony a6400. Soon I had a nice collection of wildlife photos — set against the backdrop of … well, not the majestic Serengeti so much as what appeared to be a truck weigh station.
@christianchronicle Discount safari! Erik Tryggestad spotted these giraffes on the way back to Arusha, Tanzania, after a meeting with preachers near the Kenyan border. #giraffes #safari #roadsidesafari #discountsafari #christianchronicle #tanzania #wildlife #giraffe ♬ Korona Basi – Tanzania Icons
As we started to leave, two guys in uniforms motioned for us to pull over again. “Oh, no,” I thought. “That was a high-security government building, and I’ve gotten us all in trouble.” This has happened before. One day I’ll share the story of the band director from Goodpasture Christian School in Tennessee who almost got us arrested in Nigeria.
These guys didn’t seem mad, though. They were pointing back to the truck stop and talking to Agustine, who shook his head and said only one word I recognized, “telephoto.”
We pulled away again. Steven Hill, the other American in the Land Cruiser, asked what that was about.
“Those guys said we could pull into the weigh station to get a better picture,” I said, “but Agustine told them we were good because I’ve got a zoom lens.”
Shadrack Lemuta, a Kenyan sitting next to me in the back seat, got wide-eyed. “You speak Swahili?” he asked, most likely wondering why he’d spent the past four hours translating for me.
I just grinned. “Context, my man. Context.”
I really enjoyed being with these guys, who picked me up at Neema Village in Arusha and took me with them to the dusty border town of Namanga to have lunch with a group of rural Kenyan preachers.
It was my first in-person meeting with Steven, even though he lives a scant 90 miles away from me in Lawton, Okla., where he preaches for the Sullivan Village Church of Christ. Years ago he began working with Ralph Williams, supporting and visiting the Kenyan preachers.
Their work expanded into Tanzania. Ralph can’t make the trips anymore, so Steven carries on the visits. (This Ralph, by the way, is not related to the Ralph Williams who works with the Monduli Juu Church of Christ in Tanzania, which I also visited.)
Agustine works for the Andrew Connelly School of Preaching in Arusha, where Shadrack is finishing up a degree. I toured the campus with Michael Fortson of Neema Village. Shadrack’s class was studying the book of James, so he and classmate Aloyce Sollo Mollel took the opportunity to ask me what I thought about elders anointing the sick with oil (James 5:14). Should elders still do that?
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I did my best to dance around an answer, not knowing anything about the African cultural context, but they wouldn’t let me off the hook. Thankfully, their Tanzanian professor stepped in and gave a much better answer than I could.
I joked with Michael about those “punk kids” who cornered me in their Bible class, only to end up sitting next to Shadrack in the Land Cruiser the next day. And when I visited Monduli Juu, guess who was preaching? Yep, Aloyce. I couldn’t shake those guys!
I wish them well as they bring Living Water to their thirsty land. I pray for rain and for great awakenings in Kenya, in Tanzania and among all the peoples of East Africa.
I love telling their stories and photographing their wildlife. So far I’ve seen roadside zebras in Kenya and giraffes in Tanzania. Next up, elephants at an eatery in Botswana? Lions at a latrine in Angola?
Actually, hard pass on that last one.
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ERIK TRYGGESTAD is president and CEO of The Christian Chronicle. Contact [email protected], and follow him on Twitter @eriktryggestad.
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