I think I have an inkling of an idea as to why I’m here in Tanzania now. (Good timing, right?) So, I want to share that with you now. Over the past 2.5 years working in a church in Charlotte, NC (shout out to my MPUMC folks! LOA!!!) I found that I did my best work when working behind the scenes enabling and encouraging others to grow in their lives and faith. And so it is with me here in Morogoro…

I’ll be honest and admit that, from time to time before arriving, I had this dream of being the ULTIMATE teacher and volunteer upon arriving here in Morogoro. I would create fantastic new ideas that would revolutionize the way the English language was taught both in Morogoro and consequently Tanzania. Then when I came down from my cloud, I reminded myself that God wasn’t calling me hear to bring something that wasn’t already there nor was it to perfect something that needed fixing. My calling here is to live WITH the people of Morogoro and to love them as Christ loves the church and seek to help continue God’s work here. Since then my parts have been small; I’m teaching 2 of the 6 grades in just one subject which I’m enjoying thoroughly and it’s working out nicely for the school from what I can see as well. But I knew I could not come charging into the school and start demanding changes and corrections. (From my experience, that doesn’t seem to be how God works either.)

I came across a Scripture from the Gospel of John (in a devotional book through the Methodist church called Discipline 2011… check it out!) that revealed to me a truth in discerning my life’s calling.

It’s John 1:35-42 and it says this:

“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas.” (which, when translated, is Peter).”

 

I was absolutely floored after reading this. I’m sure I have read this before but something stood out to me this time that I just couldn’t shake. Perhaps you’ve heard of Peter… you know, on you I will build my church Peter… Peter the rock Peter… Peter had quite an influence on the spreading of the Christian faith. But, according to John, look how it started. His brother, excited for what he found, simply went to Simon Peter and said, “You’ve got to come meet this guy Jesus.” Andrew simply went and shared what he had found and that small act made ripples throughout history and continues to do so today.

And that’s why I am here. Yes, God may or may not do something physically or tangibly incredible with my presence here but even if I help one student have a better education or share in the love of God with one congregation at one church service, I count it all completely worth it. To me, doing something is like doing everything. I believe it was Mother Theresa (or Momma T as some affectionately call her) that said something to the effect of that we ought not to be doing “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” And, call me optimistic or idealistic or whatever, but I believe those small actions with great amounts of love truly add up to something quite incredible in the end.

There’s another “other” guy in the Bible that I have been intrigued by his rather brief mentioning. You might not have heard much about him because he’s only mentioned in Acts 1:21-26. (To my knowledge…) Justus was a nominee to fill Judas Iscariot’s spot when Judas left his position after betraying Jesus. Justus lost in a casting of lots with a man called Matthias. Being that they were the 2 in consideration I’m sure that both were outstanding and devoted followers and genuine in their life and faith to Jesus’ ministry. My question lies with the curiosity as to what happened to Justus after NOT receiving the vacant spot with the 12 Disciples? Did he, with bitter resentment, leave the group or even his faith in Jesus and try something else? Or did he continue with the family still serving with his heart, soul, mind and strength even though he wasn’t in the spotlight? My heart prays that he chose the latter and if so, I’m sure he went on to do great things even if they weren’t noticed or appreciated here. This was a great reminder for me that life just isn’t fair sometimes. But that’s no excuse not to press on loving and serving God and loving and serving my neighbors (all over the world!) Even if things don’t go my way or if something happens I didn’t expect, I don’t want that to change my attitude and my ability to care for those around me as they have cared for me in my time of need. May we all hold strong to the one constant that is in this life, God and remember that we each have our own gifts to share with those around us.

I wanted to share these stories of the “other guys” because they are great reminders that it’s okay to be “other” sometimes and we never know the overall impact of each little action of love or compassion or peace that we share with our fellow brothers and sisters around the world.

 

Go and be other! And may the Love and Peace of God be with you always. -Mathayo

 

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