Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Two Days in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

I keep forgetting to mention this so I am going to do it right at the beginning this time. You can also read Missionary Ude’s blog at: http://paroikos.lutheranmissions.org/

Today was another wonderful day in the Lord’s service. As mentioned in the last post, we met twelve of the pastors and evangelists that Pastor Atawa is working with in and around Bulawayo. These men came to our hotel and we met for about an hour or so just getting to know one another. We all introduced ourselves and told a little about ourselves and the ministries we are responsible for. All the men who gathered at the hotel on Monday evening had one request in common…they wanted to be better trained and equipped for the Gospel ministry. Many of the men are currently taking theological correspondence courses from a school in South Africa. They were thrilled that they would be able to spend the day on Tuesday in a day long pastoral training seminar.

Very little preparation had been done prior to our arrival for various reasons, so this meant that I needed to find some sort of meeting room for us to use for our seminar on Tuesday. The Lord provided! I made one stop at the front desk of the hotel where we are staying to see if they had a room. This hotel does not but the manager on duty was quick to recommend a place. He put someone else in charge and led me a few blocks down the street and around the corner to a beautiful building called the Bulawayo Club. It looked like a mansion of a very rich person from the 1800’s. As we entered the front door I was skeptical about whether we would be able to afford it. When I mentioned this to the manager of our hotel he said let me see what I can do, I know the man in charge. Sure enough, they offered us a room for a very affordable, reduced rate. This building is beautiful on the inside and out. From the history and pictures I read hanging on the walls, the area that we were in was the wing that honored Cecil Rhodes. This was the European man who was chiefly responsible for colonizing much of South Africa. Zimbabwe which was at one time called Rhodesia (named after Cecil Rhodes) before the country changed its name after they achieved independence. Just an interesting little tid-bit of history for the day. You can see some pictures of the place that the Lord provided for our use here: http://www.bulawayoclub.com/photo-gallery/

Most of the pastors and evangelists met at our hotel at 9:45 so I could show everyone the way to the meeting room. Once our classes got started we spent the day going through the CLC Statement of Faith and Purpose to begin to lay a firm foundation of doctrinal unity. There was some good discussion along with questions and answers. At the end of the day time was given to the group of seventeen pastors and evangelists to discuss what they had learned and to organize themselves for ongoing study of the Word. They plan to begin holding monthly pastoral meeting to go through the course material that Pastor Atawa and Pastor Gullerud had gone through over the past several months. All of the men continued to stress their desire for more training in the Word. There was a definite spirit of humility before God’s word among these men. It was a pleasure to teach them and an even greater joy to hear men so eager to be better equipped to serve our Lord. Pastor Atawa is hoping to continue correspondence courses with Pastor Gullerud so that he can share the lessons he learns with the men he is working with.

After our meetings ended we all piled into a small pickup truck and began taking the men back to their homes. Our final stop was at the church where one of the evangelists who had been at the seminar attends worship. He wanted his pastor to meet us. They must have known we were coming because many of the women of the congregation were there to sing a few songs and they had Cokes cold and ready to be served. After greeting the pastor and a few women from the congregation I explained to the pastor why were in Zimbabwe and what we had discussed in the seminar. By the time we were ready to go the pastor was explaining to us that he was in need of more training himself and was wondering he could be “enrolled” in the future classes that they will be having. We told him that he was more than welcome and we encouraged him to speak more with Pastor Atawa. It would seem that the young man from this congregation who attended the seminar had this in mind the whole time. Before we left, he came and shook my hand and gave me a hug and said that he was so glad that we met his pastor and he just knew that his pastor would want to train with us as well! The Lord is good!

Well, it is Tuesday evening here and we will be heading to the airport tomorrow morning at 9:30. The first flight will take us to Johannesburg, South Africa where we will spend the night before Pastor Ude and I part ways. While in Johannesburg we will also meet with a man there from Congo who Missionary Koenig has worked with over the years. His desire is to start a Lutheran congregation there. We will only have short time to meet when he comes to our hotel for visit.
From Johannesburg, Pastor Ude will continue on to India and I will make my way back home via, Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Rome (Italy), Washington, DC and then finally home. This is always the worst part of the trip…having the work that I came to do complete and finished and yet still far from home and my family. I always wish I could just snap my fingers and be home. Hopefully, I will be able to get some work done on the way home so I can have a little time with the family on Saturday. It will be so good to see them and all the folks at Faith on Sunday.

In Christ,
Pastor Ohlmann

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