Steve and Ruth Lancaster

Sent from Corsham Baptist Church, Wiltshire

Steve and Ruth work for the Africa Inland Church’s Institute of Bible & Ministry (IBM) in Tanzania. Steve is Unit Leader for Tanzania East. They live in the bustling market town of Morogoro, at the base of the Uluguru mountain range, about 120 miles inland from Dar es Salaam.

A trip to Africa in 1984 first set in motion the desire in Steve to serve there. Further frequent visits over the years saw that desire grow, and towards the end of an 18-month trip in Zambia, Steve began to sense a call to be involved in discipleship in Africa. He began preparing for this by attending All Nations Christian College and working for AIM Europe in the UK. After a career in TV production, a change of direction saw Ruth moving into Christian ministry, working with Oak Hall, Tearfund and latterly SAT-7 where she was responsible for marketing and fundraising.

Steve and Ruth now work with IBM in Morogoro. IBM is an ongoing Bible training programme for around 140 pastors and evangelists who are involved in ministry within the Africa Inland Churches (AIC) of eastern Tanzania. This coastal diocese includes over 14 districts or regions and covers over half of the country. The goal and purpose of IBM is to enable, mobilise and inspire these pastors to a closer relationship with God and greater effectiveness in their ministries, thereby equipping them to lead their own congregations, as well as helping them to reach their communities with the gospel message. Various regional seminars, lasting three to five days, are organised from March through to November each year, giving the pastors opportunity to gather together for fellowship, updates, and fresh Biblical input.

IBM’s headquarters are at Sanga Sanga near Morogoro and serve as a central location for the activities of the Institute. The 13-acre site comprises offices, basic sports facilities, agricultural plots, a camp site, a 13-bed retreat house and a large conference centre.

Ruth is the Communications Officer for IBM and her role involves helping to manage the Retreat Centre; handling bookings, accounting and budgeting; fundraising and publicity; and the teaching of occasional English courses. Steve is a Bible teacher, involved in the planning of the regional conferences and the teaching itself. He also preaches at a number of local churches, and is AIM’s Unit Leader for eastern Tanzania, which involves management and member care for AIM missionaries.

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Steve writes, “We’re now midway through our conference season… During the three-day course we journey together through the gospel of Mark, although with only 10 teaching sessions we’re only scraping the surface of some of the major events… From a teaching/preaching perspective it has felt as though there has been an extra ‘uummpphhh’ to sessions 9 and 10… The singing that follows these sessions has borne testimony to the fact that hearts and minds have been challenged and blessed, as we’ve considered the awesome power of the cross and the empty tomb. It’s our hope that the teaching the pastors receive will enable and inspire them personally, but that they might also be mobilised to pass on what they’ve learned to their congregations.” Praise God for the four conferences that have already happened, and please pray for the remaining three that Steve is teaching at between now and December.

“One of Ruth’s goals for this term was to find a good person to employ as an Accountant. Praise God that we have been able to appoint a young man who is a believer and seems suitably qualified. God willing, he will start on 1st July and Ruth will spend several weeks training him in our systems and processes. Please pray for us both as we enter the home straight of our Tanzanian venture! We now have less than six months before we head home and close up here. Pray we would cross the finish line well. Please pray with us that God would show us clearly what he wants us to do in 2021, and the next chapter of life.”

Steve & Ruth Lancaster are based at the Africa Inland Church’s Institute of Bible & Ministry (IBM) in Tanzania. “Ruth has spent a lot of time over the last few months at Sanga, beavering away at getting the accounts up-to-date, tracking down payment vouchers and receipts. At the moment she’s working on end-of-year financial reports for AIM, but by the end of the month, she’s hoping to have signed-off on ‘the money’, and will then turn her attention to fundraising and marketing. This has been a huge undertaking for Ruth, and her diligence and persistence is definitely winning through. 

In terms of teaching material for this year’s conferences, I’ve chosen to look at the Gospel of Mark, focussing on Jesus as the suffering servant. It’s the shortest Gospel, the earliest Gospel, and probably the liveliest with everything happening at a quick pace… Mark manages to pack a lot into his Gospel, although if you add up all the events that he portrays, they only come to a period of three weeks in the life of Jesus. Ironically, at my current pace, it’s going to take me three months to prepare eleven teaching sessions!” Please pray for Ruth as she finishes work on the financial reports, and for Steve as he prepares the materials for this year’s conferences.

In November the Lancasters returned to Tanzania after having been in the UK on Home Assignment for several months. Steve writes: “Since our return Ruth has been spending hours with her head in the cash books, sorting out vouchers and receipts from the last eight months and playing the detective in trying to work out what came from which budget etc! It’s consumed her every waking thought (and some night-time thoughts as well!) but headway is being made slowly. My efforts have been focussed more on unit leadership matters, which has meant more time behind the wheel as I visited various missionaries in the unit… Please pray for me as I being my teaching preparation for seminars in 2020, and pray for Ruth as she wades through the accounts, checking and correcting.”

The Lancasters are currently in the UK on Home Assignment. Steve writes: “Hopefully, we’ll be flying back to Tanzania on Sunday 17th November to begin our third and final term at Sanga Sanga (2 years). Ruth will continue to work closely with Pastor Batano in the management of IBM & Sanga (bookings, admin and finance), and I’ll continue in my role as a Bible teacher amongst the pastors and evangelists of the AIC. I will also continue as AIM unit leader for Tanzania East…. It will also be quite strange returning to Morogoro without the Swansons or the Dixons being there, but we’re looking forward to working with our new team-mates (Joel & Lauren Wildasin), who arrived back in May and seem to have got their feet firmly under what was the Swansons’ dining table! So, onwards and southwards we go, back to the mighty continent of Africa, and in his strength we’ll carry on the work that he’s given us to do for this next chapter. We’re fully aware that “there is nothing in us that allows us to claim that we are capable of doing this work” but we know that “the capacity we have comes from God” (2 Corinthians 3:4). And so we commit ourselves to him and ask that he would use us mightily for his purposes, despite our weaknesses and our ‘jars of clay’ fragility! Please pray for us as we return on Sun 17th November; that we would be able to pick up where we left off; for good relationships with our new team mates; for strength and stamina as we get back into the Tanzanian flow; and for safety on the roads and in the home.”

Tanzania

Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest nations; agricultural subsistence dominates its economy. Health and education sectors require massive investments.There is freedom of religion; all major faiths have the ability to share and propagate their faith. Christianity makes up 54% of the population with Islam totalling 31%. LEARN MORE

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