Today, we attended the La Gungu United Methodist Church in Kigoma, down the road from Joy in the Harvest. We had a wonderful time as we worshipped with God's people. Other missionaries came to worship with us as well. It was truly an international experience demonstrating the unity of the body of Christ. Celebrating Holy Communion took on special meaning!
One of the special opportunities I have been able to enjoy on this mission trip is preaching. On Saturday, I was able to share a short-sermon with the refugees at Camp Nyarugusu. Today, I was privileged to communicate with the folks at La Gungu UMC. Needless to say, it was different, having a translator, etc. However, I believe the sermon went well. If the Pentecostal pastor from Nigeria thought it was good, then I will take that as a compliment!
Here are portions of what I shared based on Ephesians 2:1-10; remember how each sentence would be translated into Swahili -
"Yesterday, I shared with our brothers and sisters in Camp Nyarugusu that our Lord Jesus Christ is with us. I communicated that Christ loves us, and that he died on the cross to save us. Using the Fourteenth Chapter of the Gospel of John, I stated how God sends the Holy Spirit through Jesus to guide us and lead us, to help us and be with us. It is the hope of the gospel."
"This morning I would like to offer a word of grace using a passage from Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. In this passage, we read how at one time we, who were once dead, followed the desires and passions of our flesh (vv 1-2). We were disobedient and dead to what has kept us from God, dead to the selfish desires of our heart. Therefore, at one time, we did not know God, and we did not know the love of Christ."
"That's the first part of our message: What we have done to mess things up! What we have done to turn away from God."
"But there is a second part to our message, and that's what God has done! There is God's side to the equation: God, who is rich in mercy, has poured out his love for us, that even though we have sinned and fallen short of God's kingdom, we have been made alive with Christ through the Spirit (vv. 4-5). We have been raised up together with Christ through the cross, and have been given new life. We have been given the great gift of God's love! In fact, we have been given the greatest gift of all: God's only Son, Jesus Christ."
"It's a familar message: 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life' (John 3:16)."
"In short, in Jesus Christ, God shows us the 'immeasurable riches of his grace'! We can't earn it; we can't work for it; we can only receive it in faith, in trust! For by grace are we saved! And by grace can we turn to God. By grace can we receive Christ and the benefits of our Lord on the cross. By grace! By God's free gift of love and hope!"
"A gift, given to us by the Spirit - that we may have the mind of Christ, and that we may walk as Jesus walked; that we may bear the fruit of God's Spirit and may ever grow unto the likeness of Christ."
"And it's all grace! God's grace! By receiving the Spirit into our hearts, by turning to God with our lives, by following Jesus in the Way! By grace! By God's amazing, life-changing grace! By God's all-powerful grace! Given out of love for you, for the world, for us all!"
"And so, receive this love, this grace and live! And live!"
"May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."