A TIMO team leader working among a Muslim people group in the Tanzanian hills shares an item for prayer and praise.
As part of the TIMO programme, our team was encouraged to launch a development project. Our village leadership most keenly felt the need to improve the educational level of our local secondary school. Hill Country High ranked 89th out of 90 secondary schools in our region of Tanzania. Out of 35 seniors who sat for exams, not one qualified for post-secondary education. Our team could see the need, but none of us were professional teachers. What could we do?
On the day we were researching this need, a couple of team members and I joined a study group of first-year biology students. They were two weeks into their course without a teacher, sitting in a circle and trying to read in English the introduction page of their textbook. Almost all our team were university graduates including an ICU nurse and a professional chemist, and even though we weren’t trained teachers, we gave it a try.
After our team taught four subjects the next academic year, the Headmaster came to thank me. His school had gone from the bottom of the region to 14th, and the regional government agreed to send qualified Tanzanian teachers to replace our team. God used our team of learners to connect with our village. And losing our teaching jobs freed us up to meet an even more important need…
The right time
We spent our first year among the Hill people learning their language, our second year filling the gaps in their secondary school, but in our third year we were supposed to start telling the stories of Jesus in the mother tongue of the Hills! We wondered how well that would be accepted in a 99.9% Muslim village.
After two years of learning and sharing, our team only had one real disciple, a man who had come to Jesus for deliverance from alcoholism. He changed his Muslim name to Isaiah, and as our Tanzanian teammates discipled him, he brought one of his former drinking buddies to Christ.
This second deliverance made big waves in our village, though we didn’t know it until one day when our team were in our open-air classroom learning the wild man story from Mark 5. My teammate Amanda had just amazed us all with a fluent rendition of this story in our new language, when suddenly three local men interrupted our class. It was Isaiah with his drinking buddy and that man’s brother-in-law. Isaiah explained the emergency, “I know that Jesus saves alcoholics like me and him; but this brother here wants to know if Jesus can deal with really dark stuff—can Jesus get rid of a demon spirit?”
I just about fell out of my chair. I told him, “You have got to hear the story of Jesus and the wild man.” So, Amanda told the story again. And again. And then and there in our open-air classroom Isaiah’s friend of a friend met Jesus.