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The Institute of Bible & Ministry (IBM) is a theological programme designed to enable, mobilise and inspire the 140 pastors and evangelists of the Africa Inland Church (AIC) in eastern Tanzania. Steve & Ruth Lancaster share…
347,000 square miles
At IBM we want pastors and evangelists to grow in their walk with God and be effective in their ministries as they serve their congregations and seek to reach out to those who haven’t heard the gospel before. Each year IBM organises seven-eight regional conferences within the AIC Pwani (Coastal) Diocese, which covers over half the country and includes 14 different regions. In fact the diocese covers just over 347,000 square miles which is seven times the size of England!
My tooth is Steve
Steve Lancaster shares about the humour, joy and perils of sharing the good news in Swahili.
Often, my limited mental energy is sapped simply trying to pronounce a word correctly, which is vitally important when you’re preaching, and when one mispronounced letter can make a huge difference. Consider the following examples: “bariki” = to bless, “birika” = teapot, “bikira” = virgin. Think what fun I could have from the pulpit in trying to say ‘God bless you’! In fact one of our teammates learnt this lesson the hard way during a Sunday School class when she repeatedly talked about the ‘teapot Mary’. A few years ago, whilst introducing myself at a school assembly here in Tanzania, I couldn’t quite work out why there was so much sniggering going on until it was pointed out that I had said “Jino langu ni Steve” instead of “Jina langu ni Steve”. Only one letter out, but it made all the difference between “My tooth is Steve” and “My name is Steve”. And what about the verbs “kuonyesha – to show”, “kunyesha – to rain”, and “kunyonyesha – to breastfeed”! And finally, what can go wrong with a casual greeting? “Jambo” = hello but “Jamba” = to break wind. Oh, the joys of making mistakes in these situations. Please continue to pray for me, for clarity and a decent memory!
IBM’s headquarters is based at Sanga Sanga near Morogoro. The 13 acre site currently comprises a pump house, a 13-bed retreat house, a football pitch and a volleyball court, a couple of container-type offices and a number of agricultural plots. Building work is currently underway to build a 200-seater conference centre.
Where do we fit in?
So – where do we fit into all of this, and what exactly do we do? Ruth is the Communications Officer for IBM and her role thus far has involved helping to manage the staff at Sanga, payment of wages, guest-house management, accounting and budgeting, fundraising, publicity and marketing, keeping the website updated, and the teaching of two English courses to the Sanga staff. Steve’s role at IBM is that of a Bible teacher and so he is involved in the planning of the various regional conferences, the preparation of some of the teaching material, and the teaching itself. To a lesser degree he is also involved in the management and development at Sanga, preaches at a number of other churches in the area, and also undertakes the AIM role of Unit Leader for eastern Tanzania.
In terms of outlining a typical day, it’s hard to pin it down! Ruth might be wrestling with the project accounts or visiting Sanga to pay the staff wages. Steve might be on the road visiting other missionaries, or preaching at a small AIC village church. Ruth might be working on a publicity leaflet for Sanga or picking up supplies in town to take to the retreat house cooks. Steve might be at home at his desk responding to emails and pondering how best to handle a member-care issue, or refining his Swahili notes for the next seminar. Or we might both be on the road journeying to and from a conference venue, dodging the potholes and the many crazy drivers that seem to travel these Tanzanian roads. One thing is for sure, there aren’t many dull moments, and there’s always something to do – but through the challenges and the opportunities that we have, we trust that God will use us as we seek to help the AIC pastors and their churches to become truly Christ-centred.