10 – 22 July 2012
Neil Martin and Stephen Gachengo arrive on Tuesday 10th July, together with Sam and Peter, for a series of meetings with the churches in Mwanza, Musoma and Mugumu, the Lake Region of Tanzania.
Neil is so looking forward to seeing brothers and sisters that he hasn’t seen for many years. The 400km trip from Nairobi to Musoma is worth every minute, just to get to see the churches and what the Lord is doing there. They have a full programme ahead of them, with visits to churches in Mwanza, Musoma and Mugumu. After an overnight stop in Musoma, they set off for Mwanza where the meetings are starting.
Neil and Stephen arrive in Mwanza, known as the rocky city. They are warmly greeted by the elders; Elias, Lazaro, Amas and Boniface who are overjoyed to see them. They’re all looking forward to spending time with their brothers and strengthening precious relationships.
The first meeting starts at 16:30 on Tuesday. A sister from the Mwanza church leads us in a wonderful time of worship and we feel the presence of the Lord. Stephen stands up to address the church, “we are here to remind you that the message of the cross is the only way!” He reads 1 Timothy 4:15-16, where Paul, who had a special heart for the church, instructed Timothy to take heed and to continue in sound doctrine, because it would save him and all those who hear. Stephen encourages the church to embrace the gospel and to continue on the road, being examples for others.
Neil then welcomes everyone to the meeting, saying that it has been almost 10 years since he last visited Tanzania. He expresses his joy at being here and his facial expression shows exactly what was in his heart – he is so blessed to be back on African soil and to witness brothers and sisters persevering in the Lord.
He then shares from Ephesians 4:1-3; he explains how the work of God needs to be taking place in us, so that we are able to walk worthy of Him. He emphasises being aware of things that can hinder us, and shares on his experience in America. It was there that the Lord started to work deeply in his life, exposing his pride. The Lord exposed the state of his heart, when he was forced to find employment as a casual labourer, with a boss much younger than him. He thought he was a man called to the ministry but he found himself in a place where the Lord was able to show him his pride and to deal with him. It was a difficult time, but God worked in his heart and brought humility.
Neil’s testimony challenges the church who listen intently to every word. We are encouraged to examine our hearts. Neil continues to share about pride in his marriage, how it was a challenge for him to take up his cross daily and deny himself. He has seen how the Lord has worked in his life as today he is able to humble himself and repent to his wife. This doesn’t mean just to say “sorry” and buy her chocolate or flowers, but that she sees the life of Christ being formed in him…“the Lord needs to deal with our pride so that we become humble.”
He continues to share about pride in our service for God and reads from Galatians 6:3, Romans 12:31, Thessalonians 2:5-6. He speaks again about the time when the Lord exposed his pride; he thought he was well and he didn’t see his need of his fellow brothers and their anointings. He describes it as being swept away by a current – you can’t feel it when you’re there, but you’re slowly drifting. At this time in his life he was at a conference in Mauritius where Miki confronted him in front of 3000 people, telling him that he could no longer feel his heart. He was broken and as he humbled himself he could see the pride he’d had in his service for God. He’d disconnect from his relationship with the other elders and was in a dangerous a place, thinking that he didn’t need the other ministries and team work. He speaks about how he sees Stephen’s heart is always open for the different brothers to come and invest. Neil tells us that he needs each one of us, and that we should all feel that the door is open and that we would be welcomed in South Africa so that we can build stronger relationships.
The church has been deeply challenged by Neil’s personal testimony and his desire to allow the Lord to work in him. The presence of the Lord is tangible. Neil closes the meeting by praying for all the men of God, himself included, to be united in the Spirit for the great work that the Lord has prepared for them. What a wonderful and powerful start to what God has for us!