Baptisms of 56 people took place in the region northeast of Malambo, with four village churches combining in the celebrations for so many lives turned to Christ.
Recently, MAF Tanzania was blessed with an opportunity to facilitate a flight for a bishop and a pastor from Arusha into a remote village to conduct a baptism service for new Christian believers from the four surrounding villages.
Reverend Loning’o Mathayo, a local Tanzanian pastor, had a commitment to conduct a further service elsewhere during that same day. He said: “If it weren’t for the possibility of catching this flight with MAF, we would have had to travel by road. The journey is very long, from Arusha to Malambo on the road for about eight hours, then through the wilderness where no roads can reach the village. By foot, the walk to this village would still take 2-3 days from Malambo.” With MAF’s aircraft, we can thankfully fly much closer.
When MAF pilot Peter Griffin landed at the remote airstrip closest to the village, Malambo Discipleship Training College founder, and evangelist Elisha Moita, greeted his guests with a warm embrace. From here the journey continued through the dry, dusty bush in an old Land Cruiser truly suited to this challenging terrain. Elisha navigated with absolute confidence through the open plains - to the untrained eye the miles appear identical to each other with the scattered, thorny acacia trees, ditches and dried-up riverbeds in the seemingly endless plains. It doesn’t take much investigation to realise he has travelled through these areas repeatedly over the decades of his ministry, and as a result, he is able to easily tell the similar-looking landmarks apart from each other.
On their arrival to the village, the vehicle was surrounded by a crowd of people welcoming them warmly to this joyful day of celebration. Children and adults alike swarmed the visitors as soon as the car pulled to a stop, greeting each one with gratitude and respect. Here we are all one big family.
The sounds of people singing and the group of dancers moving in unison to the beat of a solar-powered portable speaker, created instant excitement and the atmosphere was festive. The visitors and locals from the surrounding villages gathered under the slim shade of a tree that marked the place of meeting. Bishop Solomon Masangwa and Reverend Mathayo Loning’o lead this special service together with Elisha and the church elders from the represented villages. It was a true celebration between four neighbouring churches all located in the same region of Tanzanian wilderness. They got to celebrate not one, but 56 lives of men, women and children that in repentance of their sins were baptised in the name of Jesus Christ.
By far, the most striking gesture of the day was the sharing of food after the service. This region has suffered severe drought over the past years, yet the people were prepared to break bread together and celebrate new brothers and sisters in Christ over a meal that must have been an incredible sacrifice for their households. It really was just like the story of the Prodigal Son’s return in Luke 15:11-32.
Elisha, a man dedicated to bringing the Gospel to villages it has not yet reached is one of MAF Tanzania’s long-standing partners. The continuous partnership between MDTC and MAF has resulted in evangelists reaching more people in remote areas over the years. Elisha gives great thanks to God and shares their gratitude for MAF’s flights in support of their teams of evangelists. He states: “Since we started to fly with MAF, the Good News of Christ has travelled to considerably further villages than before. Today, we have over 20,000 people committed to Jesus within the villages of this region.”
Among the crowd of individuals being baptised was also the former traditional healer ‘Kiaypi’, who earlier this year had turned away from a lifetime of traditional healer practice following an evangelistic outreach in the region. To the surprise of his fellow villagers, his life was transformed and he accepted Christ. His son spoke in front of the crowd at the baptism and expressed his wholehearted thankfulness for the work of MDTC and MAF. Elisha and Peter responded by expressing their joy at witnessing so many lives changed by the great love of God.