In the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, pastors serve anywhere from two to fifteen congregations. Rather than depending on the pastor for daily support, each congregation has an evangelist, someone from within the congregation who is trained to preach and teach each week. Michael is the evangelist in one of the congregations served by Pastor Frances Gunda.
It's a rapidly growing congregation, where the building that is being constructed is already too small for the worshipping community.
Because of the lack of space, meetings often take place under the mango tree outside the new worship space.
Michael faces challenges in life because he is albino. In certain areas of Tanzania there are people who believe that it is okay to kill those who are albino, and that their body parts will bring wealth. Pastor Gunda and the congregation are careful to protect Michael when he visits homes in the local neighborhood. It is a remarkable witness that this man of faith has been called to proclaim the gospel of God's love each week.
Another challenge that comes from being albino is that Michael's vision is greatly compromised. Michael had to read with a book inches in front of his eyes. Pastor Gunda brought him to the construction site and then to the eye clinic on the first morning it was set up in the Patricia Ward, and Doc Erica found a pair of eyeglasses that would improve his vision, but they weren't quite strong enough. Michael wore them faithfully though, and was thankful for the help he was given. We promised to keep working on the problem so that Michael would be able to see even better.
This morning Jim visited America's Best Eyeglasses, where he presented the prescription for Michael's glasses and told the story to the manager. What a delight when the manager not only helped find the strongest frames and most durable lenses, but also was very generous in the final cost. The best part though, was when the manager asked if he could first take the glasses to his own church so that the people there could pray for Michael and his vision, and then he'd get the glasses to us to send to Tanzania.
It's so exciting when people "catch the vision" of God's goodness and desire for healing in this world.
Janice Kibler and Jim Williams