The word Gospel, when used in the Bible, is a word ‘stolen’ from the Roman Emperors. They would send out ‘proclamations’ throughout the Roman World which would often start something with the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, evangelion, meaning “good news”. For instance there is an inscription in stone recovered from an ancient Greek city in Western Turkey that uses this word to announce the birth of Augustus Ceasar. The translation is something like this:
“Since Providence, which has ordered all things and is deeply interested in our life, has set in most perfect order by giving us Augustus, whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as a savior, both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war and arrange all things, and since he, Caesar, by his appearance (excelled even our anticipations), surpassing all previous benefactors, and not even leaving to posterity any hope of surpassing what he has done, and since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good tidings [εὐαγγέλιον] for the world that came by reason of him”
The Gospel that announces Jesus is similar. Part of it is about ‘eternal life’ but much more of it is about bringing blessing to the poor and needy and health to the sick and restoration of the outcast.
Familia Moja is part of that ‘blessing for all nations’ that was promised initially through Abraham and then King David and then their descendent Jesus the Carpenter. This work is the followers of Jesus continuing that blessing.
Up until now, members of FMI – our partners in Tanzania – have been providing the service that you are supporting with little mention of the motivation and origin of the support. At one of their recent team meetings, it was felt that they should be a little more open about where the ‘blessing’ was coming from. With the blessing comes a challenge from Jesus – “Follow me”. Jesus called people to put their allegiance [trust] in him and become like him. This was no call to an intellectual acknowledgement that he existed or that what he said was good / true. This was a call to imitate him and tap into the supernatural power that God promises those who follow him. Eternal life is just the icing on the cake – not the cake itself.
A few days ago a couple who have benefitted from the work of Dr Ruth and FMI decided to very publicly announce their allegiance to Jesus [having been Muslims till now] and got baptised. N, now aged 81, has worked for Dr Ruth for over 10 years. His wife’s life was saved in a rather ‘desperate’ manner years ago by Dr Ruth.
Changing allegiance like this – from Mohammed and Allah to Jesus – is not an easy thing to do in their culture. They will no doubt meet resistance from family and friends. Please pray that God will continue to bless them and keep them safe in the knowledge that the community known as Familia Moja – ‘One Family’ – has their backs.
More need for this ‘good news’
The team have been assessing several new families.
One is a lady who had a stroke and has been bed-bound for 2 years. Her husband deserted her some time back. Her sister, who was already looking after a third sister with mental health issues and a child with severe learning difficulties, took her in. This put immense pressure on the family. This ‘carer’ was forced by her husband to go out daily to earn extra money to look after all these extra family members. But now her husband has now thrown out the whole accumulated family as he felt he could not support them anymore.
There is a 15 year old boy who suffered a fracture when playing football. Due to the unfortunate way the fracture term happened, the bone pierced the skin and he has an ongoing infection in the bone which is not healing. He was told by the local government hospital doctors that he would have to go to the zona speciality hospital in Mwanza. His mother, a single lady with four children has been earning the money by selling vegetable in the market. They cannot even afford the trip, let alone the treatment. This infection must be treated if the boy is to have any life at all. If untreated he will be disabled for the rest of his life. FMI is trying hard to engage with the mother to find a way to access affordable treatment that will help him.
It has become very clear that over last 2 years the community around the office have struggled to cope. Food prices have increased. Some people are not eating for days at a time. And Covid-19 has added some additional economic strain with some being unable to work. Many people are suffering, and probably dying early, because they cannot afford treatment due to the economic down-turn that has happened over the last few years. Local reports suggest that in the last 2 months about 28 people have died in Kipalapala alone (the area local to the FMI office). FMI is looking to step up to try and relieve some of this need. Please pray that they will have the capacity to do this and that God will send them the resources – people and food and medicines and funding and the necessary rain [but not too much] – to be a massive blessing to this community as we approach Christmas.