27 April 2007

Tanzania

Some of you will be hearing this for the second time, but I’m excited to share with you the news that I have the opportunity to spend six weeks in Tanzania (May 17-June28) working with Tanzania Educational and AIDS Mission (TEAM) to help facilitate HIV/AIDS education seminars. Kevin & Blair Henneke Martin and Dennis Mnyanyi are the founders of TEAM.

The mission of TEAM is to partner with local churches and local Tanzanian missionaries in educational and leadership development initiatives in response to growing numbers of HIV/AIDS infection in rural areas of Tanzania. Approximately 1.4 million adults and children in Tanzania are infected with HIV/AIDS. The infection rate is increasing rapidly in the rural areas where people neither understand HIV/AIDS, nor have the resources to combat the spread of the disease.

The curriculum they have developed over the last six years of working in this field includes: God-Centered Small Groups; God-Centered Servant Leadership; HIV/AIDS and our Call as Christians; and Peacemaking/Reconciliation ministry. TEAM works with facilitators from the communities to equip leaders to respond to the needs in their own communities, and they provide resources and an open forum for AIDS education (prevention and care).

In terms of roles, Blair’s focus is seminar participants, Kevin’s focus is the administrative end of hosting 100 people for the seminars, and they would like me to help as support person for the seminar facilitators—12 local Tanzanian missionaries. We have also talked a little about working to develop care groups within churches for hospice patients and those whose families have been ravaged by AIDS.

As I said when I sent out an initial email, it is a thrilling surprise and gift to be able to participate in this work with my friends and see firsthand God’s heart for the people of Tanzania, who have undoubtedly all been affected by the tragedies of this disease. I apologize for the late notice, but my joining this trip has literally happened over a period of a few days. In addition to Blair, Kevin & Dennis’s hearty welcome to join them in this work, I have seen other evidence of God’s hand in the process in that TEAM has offered to subsidize a portion of the cost for me to join them. Of course if you are moved by the Holy Spirit toward financial support of my participation, and TEAM to further the ministry, it would be a blessing. The Educational AIDS Mission, TEAM TZ has 501(c)3 status as a Member Foundation of the National Heritage Foundation. Let me know and I can get you information about where to send donations.


TEAM’s website
is a wealth of educational information and gives a good picture of what they’ve been up to, what they believe in, and where they’re hoping to continue to do in obedience to the needs and calling God has given them to serve these communities. In terms of other resources if you are interested in learning, two books that I read this past winter were excellent: The AIDS Crisis: What We Can Do by Deborah Dortzbach and W. Meredith Long (both directors at World Relief); and also Rethinking AIDS Prevention by Edward C. Green (which is more case studies/best practices in developing countries).

My plan is still to attend Covenant Theological Seminary this fall to pursue a Masters in Theological Studies with an emphasis in counseling to be better equipped for further mission work. I am hoping this will be good field practice! I will most likely not send out mass emails, but rather will try to update here and share pictures, etc. as often as I can.

Dennis already taught me that “Lord have mercy!” in Swahili is: “Bwana uwe na rehema.” I think I will keep it in mind as I prepare over these next short weeks and as we are there for God to show me his heart for those who need his love and healing in relation to this disease, not only in Tanzania, but wherever the marginalized, stigmatized, broken and hurting of his children need the demonstration of his love.

N.T. Wright says:

“What is our calling, then? We are called, simply, to hold on to Christ and his cross with one hand, with all our might; and to hold on to those we are given to love with the other hand, with all our might, with courage, humor, self-abandonment, creativity, flair, tears, silence, sympathy, gentleness, flexibility, Christ likeness. When we find their tears becoming our own, we may know that healing has begun to happen; when they find Christ in being held on to by us, whether we realize it or not, we are proving what Paul said: God made him to be sin for us, who knew not sin, so that in him we might embody the saving faithfulness of God.”
And Dortzbach & Long wrote what could sum up the heart of why I want to go:

“Volunteers not only seek to bring comfort, teach infection control and help relieve the responsibilities of family members, but they also seek to be the frontline extenders of Christ’s compassion, counsel and presence in the shadow of death. For the AIDS sufferer, the journey is long, and the pain sears the soul.”

Thanks, as always, for your friendship, prayer and support.

Bwana uwe na rehema (Lord have mercy),

angela

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