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Into All The World: Visit to Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

Robert Armstrong, Newtownabbey

Arriving at the airport, Robert was met by the elders of the assembly, Emmanuel and Wilbert. It was arranged by the assembly that Robert would be teaching each week he was there. On the first Lord’s Day the subject was the life of Peter, and from then on it was Peter’s first letter consecutively with meetings on Saturday afternoon and each Lord’s Day. The Lord’s Day would begin as normal with singing for half an hour and then the Lord’s Supper with teaching afterwards. This was followed by a meal together and another session of teaching, after which we went to Wilbert’s house for a gospel meeting to which his neighbours were invited.

The journey to Wilbert’s house involved driving through a number of rivers, a route that would be impassable in the wet season. There the meetings were held outside using the Two Roads and Two Destinies chart fastened to one of his walls. On the first day, the water was switched on in that area at the same time as the meeting, so everyone was toting buckets to replenish supplies and thus we got fewer than expected. However, the three who attended showed good interest in what was being said. Over the following weeks a number of neighbours came regularly and asked questioned about what they heard. On the final afternoon, just before the meeting started, one asked, "Why are you not inviting us forward to receive Jesus?". Being aware of the vast number of false professions produced by this in Tanzania we decided that day that Emmanuel and Robert would tell how they got saved - neither of them "came forward" in any meeting. From the questions asked we felt that some were close to salvation, but we left without hearing of any profession of faith.

Emmanuel has started to teach Bible each Tuesday in a school near his home where his wife Anne is a teacher. He has been given time off work and takes a motorcycle taxi there and back. Robert was able to attend for the first two weeks to give help. This is a major commitment for Emmanuel and also an excellent opportunity to present the gospel to those who have never really heard it before. Please pray that Emmanuel will be able to keep up this commitment, and pray, too, for his safety on the roads as he travels to and from the school.

The good seed was also sown in the streets, with about 5,000 tracts given out and opportunity given to speak with shopkeepers and some students at Dar-es-Salaam University College of Education (DUCE). The tract used is entitled, "Je Dhambi ni Jambo Zito?" ("Is sin serious?"), and contains 3 questions from the book Ultimate Questions which we translated some years ago and had been given permission to use in tract form. When we first tracted in the city 14 years ago refusals were rare, now we find that it is as high as 20%, mostly among younger, more affluent people.

One student with whom Robert spoke at DUCE came to some of the assembly meetings and asked lots of questions about how we meet. We gave him some literature on the New Testament church and we hope he will continue to attend. Over the years a number have expressed interest in the teaching, but not having a suitable building has proved to be a problem. Robert met with Emmanuel and Wilbert to discuss the assembly and the future in the Lord’s will. As well as the need for a suitable meeting place they discussed the production of a new tract in Swahili with the title, "What is Tanzania’s greatest problem?". There are a number of books which have been translated into Swahili and the elders are keen that we finish this work and have them printed.

As many in the city now have access to the internet, the elders would like to set up a simple website for the assembly explaining who we are and what we believe. (The two things most frequently said to Robert when tracting were, "What is the name of your church?" and, "Give me money!"). The simple New Testament pattern that the believers in Dar-es-Salaam follow is so far removed from anything else there that it is almost impossible to give a short answer on the street. We feel a leaflet explaining why we do not have any denominational name and what we believe, with a reference to the website, would be helpful for the assembly in their witness.

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