I’m writing from air over western Illinois on a US Air flight bound for Philadelphia. (I’ll upload the post after arriving in Philly.) Tomorrow we will see Niko (our exchange student for the 2008-2009 school year) and his family in Frankfurt, Germany. On June 13 Laura and I will arrive in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, where Laura will preach a “crusade” (like a revival). I never expected to take a trip anything like this. So what’s the story?
Five years ago, Erasto Mwambeje, an Assemblies of God pastor in Dodoma, struck up a friendship with Laura through Living Water’s website. I truly don’t know the story behind Erasto reaching out to Laura (maybe we’ll learn about that when we’re there). In his first e-mail he blessed Living Water and said Laura would be welcome in his church, Beroya Revival Temple.
After a few months of exchanging news and prayer requests by e-mail, Erasto asked Laura to come to Dodoma to preach. It struck her at the time as an odd invitation given that Laura was a new pastor, she had never thought of doing international mission work or preaching, and we had no personal connection to Erasto beyond the sporadic e-mails.
Erasto and Laura continued e-mailing every few weeks. Erasto’s church, Beroya Revival Temple, needed a sound system. So Living Water raised some money and sent it over. Pretty soon, Erasto was sending us gifts and the people of Beroya were making various crafts to sell to raise more money for church needs. We exchanged photos of our churches in worship. A rich, cross-cultural relationship had blossomed through e-mail. (Even now, e-mail is the only medium of communication we have ever used with Erasto and his church – there hasn’t been so much as a single phone call or Skype). Quite without any intentionality on our part, Living Water and Beroya had become sister churches. Once a year, or so, Erasto would ask, “Dear Pastor Laura, please tell us when you will be able to come and preach.”
This excellent adventure, the trip of a lifetime, came out of Erasto building a relationship with Laura and Living Water and his persistence in asking Laura to come, believing that God, in His time, would make it so. And so He has.