Simon & Sue French have been working among the Datooga in Tanzania since 2005. They tell us how a lack of both water and a baptismal pit wasn’t enough to stop the first ever baptisms from taking place in the Datooga village of Mohedagew!
After serving in Tanzania for more than ten years we continue to be inspired and encouraged with how people here adapt to their surroundings and manage to achieve things which to us look difficult, or even impossible.
The most recent example of this happened earlier this month when Evangelist Stefano called to invite us to attend the baptisms of some new believers in his area. We were wondering how there could be full emersion baptisms at a church in an area where there is no baptismal pit and there has only been one day of rain (albeit recently) in the last 10 months.
As far as we know, these were the first baptisms to be held in Mohedagew. As well as being a challenging area physically due to a lack of water, Mohedagew has proven to be a difficult area spiritually. The local people are friendly but also very reluctant to accept the good news into their lives, preferring to retain their traditional beliefs.
We arrived a day before the ceremony to find a plan in place. This included a baptism pit, which had been hand-dug by Stefano using spades and hoes. He was assisted by two local men, one of whom was the young Datooga man who has been helping with the Chronological Bible storying project and was himself a baptism candidate. The next day, work started at around 6.30am, whilst it was still cool. One group of people went to a ‘lambo’ about a kilometre away to fill water containers. (A ‘lambo’ is a man-made pond which the Datooga dig to trap runoff water when it rains on the nearby hills). Other people lined the baptism pit with a tarpaulin and emptied the water containers into it, which we ferried over in our car. After four or five trips we had enough water, and Pastor Paulo was able to conduct the first of the baptisms.
The work of Stefano and his wife, along with that of an AIM missionary family who had previously worked in the area for seven years, helped pave the way for these people to make the decision to be baptised. In total, nine people, most if not all of whom were Datooga, were baptised. Included in their number were two adults and one teenage girl from the immediate area. Please pray that all who were baptised will stand firm and grow in their faith. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do in Mohedagew in 2017.