[Editor’s Note: the following letter came to me just last week from a colleague of mine working with Pioneer Bible Translators in Tanzania, East Africa.]

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Year of Jubilee

Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. – Leviticus 25:10 KJV

On December 9th, I looked out of a hotel window in the capital and saw the British frigate Somerset that had arrived for Tanzania’s 50th birthday celebration. In 1961 something seemingly impossible happened – an African country achieved complete independence without a war of independence. The UN Protectorate of Tanganyika applied for independence and actually got it! The British administration peacefully handed over Tanganyika’s governance and a nation was born on December 9th 1961.

On the other side of the world, I was a baby girl being born that same day. I think of this concurrence as the first prophetic event of my very blessed life. As Tanzania and I begin this year of jubilee, I invite you to join me in praying for consecration for me personally and also for this country that I love. Let’s proclaim spiritual liberty for all those throughout this land who are in spiritual bondage. God bless Tanzania!

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15 Years in Africa

When I was in Bible College, I was shocked to read the statistic that 75% of missionaries serve no more than one field term (usually 3-5 years). How could I believe that my dream of spending decades overseas would come true? But I did believe. And it did come true, and still is coming true in fact, despite the little I have to do with it. If it were up to my abilities, health and moods, I would not have made it to Africa in the first place, and I would definitely not be listening to monkeys partying on my roof in January 2012. What is the secret of my success? God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV

Lord willing I will arrive in Florida at the end of February to begin what we call “temporary home assignment.” In addition to my heavenly home, my heart has two earthly homes, and other than trip preparations and deadlines, I transition easily between Tanzania and the USA. I don’t often think of my life as being apart from either place. Neat, eh? It is just another example of God’s grace and blessings.

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As I read this letter, it brought home two important spiritual truths for me.  The first is the fact that we live in a world where there is the reality of war, and even though peace treaties may be signed between different parties or nations, that peace can often be a very fragile peace.  We have just passed the Christmas season, which speaks of the hope of “peace on earth, and goodwill toward all men.”  But that kind of true peace can only be found in Christ, not a human agreement.

The other spiritual truth that hit me was the reality that we who are committed to serving the Lord in mission work abroad will often find the same thing as my colleague, that our definition of “home” becomes much bigger.  As stated above, we find ourselves to “be at home” in the places where we work overseas, while still being attached to our friends and families “back home” where we grew up.  And then as we think about it, we also realize that this world is not our true home, but in fact Heaven is where our heart truly is.

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You know, I think that is one of the neat things about being a missionary.  As we continually cross back and forth between our home where we minister abroad and our home back in the country we grew up in, we can often find that the attachments we may have had toward material objects greatly decreases.

Rather than investing in “things” of this world, we find there is a greater joy when we invest in people, wherever they may live.  And that is what our Christian faith is all about; it’s about having a relationship with God and others that is most important.

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I will say that I too am very pleased that there is a structure and the will to have peace in this part of the world where our family also had the privilege to serve God.  But we did live there for 18 months and saw that there are still many problems within the country, just as there are in any country.  Violence, crime, poverty and an unwillingness on the part of many people to submit in obedience to the true God above.

What is exciting is that there is still relative peace and freedom to bring the Good News of salvation to those who need to hear it.  PBT has been able for many years to bring the translated Word of God to a number of language groups in that region of the world.  And that is the key to bringing true freedom to all who have been in bondage to sin.

And so my final word is to say thank you to my colleague who has been faithfully serving God and the people of East Africa for more than 15 years now.  My prayer is that she will find herself refreshed and renewed as she spends time with her American friends and family so that she can  soon return to living among and ministering to her African friends and neighbors.  And may we all be open to be renewed in our hearts by the God above, the true Author of peace for the world.