Training Pastors in Tanzania
Associate Professor of Mission Kent Eby ’94, Ph.D., traveled to Tanzania, Africa, to minister alongside pastors of the Maasai Tribe this summer. The trip was organized through Brenneman Memorial Missionary Church, where Eby attends, and included pastor and alumnus Matt Maloney ’99, who has been working with the Massai for the past decade. This trip – Eby’s third – was focused specifically on discipleship and multiplication.
“The Maasai are a reached tribe, but education has been slow,” Eby says.
However, he’s been encouraged at the growth in the pastor’s training conference over the past three years. While in the first year, they had only 15 pastors, the second year they had 50. This year, they had 150 pastors and 800 people total who attended the conference.
Eby explains that a typical day would begin with prayer over the loudspeaker at 4:20 a.m., and preaching and teaching would run until 11 p.m.
One of the challenges the team faced was teaching the written word of God in a verbal culture, where only about half of the pastors could read or write.
“I couldn’t say, ‘turn to this book and read this passage,’ like I do in class,” he explains. “So, we walked through the book of Acts … we walked through the book of First Corinthians … walked through chapter by chapter and theme by theme.”
However, because of their verbal culture, Maasai absorb information quickly. So what was taught one afternoon would be preached by Maasai pastors the next afternoon, Eby says.
In addition to the pastor’s conference, Eby, Maloney and the team spent several days traveling to unreached villages.
“This year, we found a very unreached area of Maasai land with only two known believers. We go out where there is no electricity. No running water … we live in tents,” Eby explains.
At one of these villages, God used Eby to lead a 97-year-old elder to Christ.
Eby plans to return with Maloney next year where Maasai pastors will co-teach at the conference. And while his position as a college professor gives him credibility as a teacher to the Maasai, his experiences with the Maasai give him credibility in the Bethel classroom.
“All of these experiences bring richness to the classroom,” Eby says. “If my students see me doing it, they know it’s possible for them as well. And hopefully, they’ll catch the vision and passion [for missions] as well.”
Reaching the Unreached for Christ
“One of the pastors took me to a remote village to meet his father, who is 97 years old. I talked through his son, who was translating. The son asked me to tell his father about Jesus. Though the son had spoken about Jesus to his father many times, he’d never been receptive to the message. I just asked him if I could talk to him about my friend, Jesus. After about 15 minutes of talking, the father accepted Christ. For me, I didn’t do anything special – God used me to bring this man home. It’s not about me. It’s about what God has done. Allowing me to be a part of it is just awesome.” – Kent Eby