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Christmas Greetings and other things...

December 22, 2012

tims blogFirst things first: Merry Christmas! Despite all that is wrong in this tired old world, I hope your heart finds comfort in the promised consolation of Christ.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17:
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.

May your new year be blessed by the one who alone can "make all things new" (Revelation 12:5).

It has been several months since I last updated you on the missions, projects, and plans of Workers Together With Him. One of the reasons for the delay is that over the last few months I've completely redesigned this website. I had two objectives: to reorganize the interior structure, and to simplify the site visually in order to make it easier to navigate and more suitable for tablet computers.

I won't tell you much about the process except to say that it has been very mind and time consuming. There were many days I felt like I had driven off the learning curve into the abyss! The photo pages are still not working the way they are supposed to and I'm sure I won't be able to relax until I've figured out what I've done wrong.

Redesigning the website also gave me time to settle some things in my heart, things that were bothering me ever since I got home from my October mission to Tanzania. More on that later!

The December 2012 Vine & Branches

A new edition of the Vine and Branches is now online. This December issue is unusual in two ways: first, it is online only and not in print. Second, all of the articles are from past issues with one notable exception, Jerelyn Pearson's "Happy Birthday Jesus." This article is an update to a previous entry, this time with photographs. Although Jerelyn wrote this message specifically for her own grandchildren, I suggest you substitute the names of the young ones in your family and share it with them. I also invite you to enjoy once again the moving illustrations of the Cameroon Bible.

One aspect of rebuilding the website that I actually enjoyed was the necessity of looking over all of our online sermons. At the risk of sounding immodest we really have a remarkable collection and these sermons are well worth revisiting.

Upcoming Events

The first half of 2013 promises to be a busy time for me, Lord willing. In just a few weeks I'll be in Switzerland to present "Mapping the Psalms" at the International Church of Bern pastored by Reverend David Mantock. In February I'll be teaching at two locations in Kenya, first in Masai Mara with a church of Kenyan Maasai, and then in Chesamis as part of the Christian Life Teachings International training program headed by Dr. John Robert Opio. In April I plan to return to Tanzania for an extended teaching series with the Maasai.

Translations Update

The translation of my three books into the Ugandan language of Ateso is complete, and Reverend Opio is searching out various publishing options. Reverend George Oripu of Matebete village in Tanzania has completed his translation of The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ into Swahili, and Evelyn Paraboy is typing up his work. My wife Nelly continues to work on her translation of that book into Spanish, and Beatrice Mantock has completed her German translation of the audio/video presentation that is on this website.

There are very few hard copies of my books remaining. It's not that they've been flying off the shelves, but I did not print that many copies to begin with. I intend to put them all on this website as free downloads. The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ is currently online in both pdf format or for reading on a Kindle app.

Update on my Hawaii Connection

In my last blog I wrote of my astonishment and delight in learning that my childhood home in Mililani Town, Hawaii, was currently being used as the office and meeting place of Calvary Chapel Central Oahu. I have since heard back from Tom Storhaug, the owner of the house, who wrote:

"It is amazing the way God works. You lived in this house and now do work in Tanzania. We lived in Tanzania as kids and now live in this house! We were just back in Kenya and Tanzania this last summer. Both my wife and I were missionary kids. I had spent 5 years mainly in Dar es Salaam and Arusha. My wife’s parents were at Bumbuli in the Usambara mountains for 10 years. Both were with the Lutheran church. My father worked with refugees entering Tanzania and my wife’s father was a doctor. We both went to school in Kenya at Rift Valley Academy. We went back for a class reunion. Some of our classmates work at the same school and others work for a variety of organizations."

Really, how incredible is that?

A Successful Failure: My Mission to Tanzania

One of my favorite movies is Apollo 13, based on the true story of the aborted voyage to the moon. Commander Jim Lovell summed up the mission as "a successful failure" because the astronauts returned safely to earth despite their failure to land on the moon. That phrase struck a chord with me as I contemplated my October mission in Matebete village.

I went to Tanzania in October to present my class on the spiritual gifts, In the Power of His Might. My intention was to teach the same group of people who'd sat through The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ in January. Unfortunately there was some miscommunication about this, and a different group had been selected to sit through this class. Another communication mishap occured on our first day in the village. Having just arrived the night before after a long day of travel from Dar es Salaam, Daniel Bucher and I decided to take a walk after breakfast to stretch our legs. As far as I knew, we had a full day to recover before classes would begin. I wanted to show Daniel the Worship Center since the last time he had seen it, it had only the beginnings of a foundation. We saw many people had gathered inside and we decided to investigate. They were waiting for class to begin! I had to run back to my room to get my Bible and teaching notes so we could start. I faced yet another setback when my interpreter told me he needed to leave the village fully two days before the class was scheduled to be complete. Now I would need to trim my material by about 30% in order to fit in into the allotted time.

Looking back it is easy to see that I should have switched gears and taught The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ to this new group of students. But I stubbornly determined to teach the class I'd come prepared to teach. In my fervor to "finish my course" (pun fully intended), I so drastically cut back my presentation that I practically ruined it.

Simple is good, and I strive to make my presentations as simple as possible so that people of all ages and cultures can benefit from them. But simple does not always mean quick. You cannot do a "quick" job of teaching the alphabet by leaving out some of the letters! I did no one any favors by rushing through my instruction. It set a bad precedent. There are no shortcuts in the Christian walk, and neither are there shortcuts in instruction in righteousness. Those who seek shortcuts inevitably end up lost.

I suspended my teaching and talked openly with the class. I shared with them my disappointment over how many things had gone wrong in this class. I told them that after eight years of missions to the village, I still felt like I was starting over each time I came. The responsibility for my failure, I assured them, was entirely my own.

I now realize that in order to be successful in these missions, I must try a new approach. That is why in April/May of 2013, I intend to return to Matebete village. This time, God willing, I will take a select group of eight men and eight women through five of my classes: The Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, In the Power of His Might, The Prosperity of the Lord's Servant, If Ye Do These Things Ye Shall Never Fall, and finally, The Week of Millenniums. I will meet with them for 4 sessions a day, six days a week, for three weeks. There will be workshops, homework, tests, and teaching assignments.

I believe this is my best chance to fulfill my calling to the Maasai, to teach them the sound fundamentals of Christian doctrine and discipleship so they can in turn go out and teach others. Those who complete the entire series will be well on their way to being ready to teach this material to others.

My classes are not individual studies; they are a collective unit. Each one builds upon the other to give a total picture, a greater whole than the sum of the individual parts. That is why it is better for me to teach them all together, not only one or two a year.

I have shared these things with Dr. Opio and he agrees that this method will work best in my future work with CLTI as well. But my first presentation of this program will be in Tanzania. Should the Lord tarry, I am very much looking forward to continuing my work with Reverend Opio throughout 2013. We expect to conduct seminars together both in Kenya and in Uganda.

The invitation to Masai Mara comes from the two Kenyan Maasai who were part of the October mission, Samwel Naikada and Daniel Ole Samperu. Samwel interpreted my class into the Maa language and all the participants agreed he did an outstanding job. I am very hopeful that our partnership will continue.

One of the highlights of the mission was a joyful celebration of song and dance in the Worship and Historical Center. The center is slowly being furbished with historical artifacts.

Samwel and Daniel departed for the long trip back to Kenya and Daniel Bucher and I, along with our escort Irene Lobara, traveled on for a two-day visit to Sokoine Village, a place I had not visited since 2007. Irene was my interpreter when I taught in the church during the afternoon and evening.

Photos from this entire mission can be viewed HERE.

Finally, the other reason I delayed writing this blog...

This has been a particularly difficult season in the United States. We have faced natural disasters and horrendous crimes against society. We also went through a very divisive presidential campaign and election. Reasonable debate was tossed aside in favor of finger-pointing and name-calling. Each side tried to discredit the other by villainizing them and misrepresenting their intentions.

Thank God we have a King who is appointed and not elected, to whom we should make a daily pledge of allegiance. Let us concern ourselves with being good citizens of his everlasting kingdom.

Isaiah 9:7:
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

God bless you in his holy name Jesus. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In the service of his Majesty, the King of kings,
Tim Sullivan

 

 


 

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