The church at Songembelle


Hey everyone,
I hope you are keeping well. This week we have passed our two week mark as a team. Which is a scary thought it only seems like last night that I was lying nervously in bed wondering what the next few weeks would bring. Here I  now sit with two weeks experience behind me and 9 weeks to look forward to.  I have settled well into the rhythm of life here, as has the whole team. As a team we are getting on well getting to know one another in both faults and positives. It feels that we have moved from being strangers who where set on becoming friends, to being more like family living and serving Christ. As someone personally who likes their own space it is probably the thing I find hardest having to live constantly with one another, but there is something precious and beautiful about living as a community with other Christians, serving and submitting to one another and bearing one another’s frustrations. 
This week 
On Monday of this week ( 27th April, which seems a life time ago ) Graham Mclure and Vicki who had brought us out from Heathrow airport time ended, and they headed back to the UK to resume normal life. We as a team are so thankful to both of them for all they have taught us and done for us. From the lessons in Swahili or the local culture, to showing us how to build. I personally am so thankful to Graham for the vision he had to form Go Mad, and the example he sets while he is out here. 
However this week has been manic as two of our main projects got underway. The first one which I have mostly been involved with and found myself passionate about is the Church at Songembelle. We as a team have committed ourselves to putting a roof on the church at the very least, hopefully money dependant we will be able to put a floor in. So that the church will be completely useable for the people it is seeking to serve.  The other project is we are building a block of three toilets at a local school. To mainly serve the teachers who’s current facilities are simply not up to scratch. 
Church at Songembelle and what it taught me 
Personally I have loved working at the church in Song ( for short ) because the church is something I am passionate about, this week we have been making the roof trusses which will be the framework for the tin roof. We have 10 in total to make and they will average about 10.3 meters in width and 2.5 meters high. We are working at about 2 a day between four of us. Which for a team with no engineers is excellent going. 
The Wood work itself I have enjoyed but it is quite mundane. We have repeated the same process every morning and afternoon every day this week. Good work and God glorifying work, but not what I really want to think about. As a team we where invited to join the congregation in church on Sunday past ( 26/4 ) which was amazing. As we pulled up after driving on a road that was similar too but not quite as bad to a ride on the ‘Big Dipper’ in Barry’s Portrush.  We arrived at a scene that to me was akin to something out of the bible, 30-40 people sitting under Mango trees worshipping God, but yet with all the trappings of an Anglican Church service.
Church seemed in no rush to get going, but once it did it was full of life. There is something about church in Africa I love and this service of worship was the supreme reason why. Here was people who literally have nothing worshipping God under trees in a random village in the middle of Tanzania, joined by a random bunch of Brits from all over the UK joined through one common thing.; The Gospel. But for me personally more than that, here was an Anglican Church in a region that before 2013 did not exist. The service had none of the usual features that we grown. There was no musical instruments. There was a choir full of young and old, who sang and danced and clapped as they lead us in worship ( all of which together I assure you is biblical ) there was two Men at the front who lead the service. When it came to the sermon one preached and the other translated ( quite the team ), there where bible readings, prayers and reciting of psalms. All squeezes into 2 and a bit hours. 
The questions after However I found myself asking was not about the language, or the culture. But a question of simplicity. Forgive me if I offend you, it’s not my intention but I promised myself I would blog as much as I could and as honestly as I could. What I mean by simplicity is how in the UK and especially in my own church experience, how have we added so much to ‘Church’ ? By this I mean how we Do our Sunday acts of worship. Quite simply our Sunday is far to complicated. There is to much noise ( I don’t mean musically ) and to be honest I am not sure what I mean. But I will try to think it out. 
First and Foremost I am a Christian, that is a Child of God, redeemed by the Blood of Christ. I worship and feel called to serve within the Anglican communion.  I love everything about it. I am not questioning anything to do with Institution I feel called and excited to serve in. I am questioning how we as a people have gotten to the place of what ‘Church’ means to us. How we seem to have becoming a people who come demanding ( I include myself in this ) and when our demands are not meet we are deeply offended. Offended often for all the wrong reasons ( myself included ) this is something God had been challenging me about for a long time and it really came to head on Sunday. I fond myself sharing a pew and worshipping with people’s who combined yearly income would have been less than a 10th of what I earned in a month, who lived to survive Not to prosper. One man who I sat beside and have worked with over the last few days (Johan ) is profoundly wonderful, he speaks broken English, he has a wife and two kids and a deep love for Jesus. He has suffered more in the last year than most could handle in loosing a child to malaria, but yet every morning when we have pulled up to start the day’s work he is literally over flowing with joy and kindness. From what I can see Johan comes every Sunday not demanding, but simply to give thanks and worship the God he believes in. 
There is something beautiful about the simplicity of a church newly planted full of people who’s lives are simple. We on the other scale have become a bunch of religious Pharisees who come with their own requirements and rules ( our demands ) and when they are not meet, we become  deeply offended.  That is we have become people who are deeply offended at all the wrong things and blinded to all the right things. 
Personally I want to move back to a place of simplicity. Where God is the only thing we come for, and the only thing that offends us is that which is truly unbiblical, not that which is not within our personal parameters. 
If I take one thing home from Songembelle this will probably be it. 
A vision for the future
On Monday afternoon, as we set into making our second truss, three men approached and in some broken Swahili seems to ask for work.  I apologised after saying no and set out to get back to that which I was doing. Then one of them started to speak in fantastic English. After introducing himself as Pastor Zac he started to share the story of Songembelle and their vision for the future. How aft the church was finished they wanted to build schools to improve the education in the local area. 
The rest of the week 
The rest of the week we worked between various projects, including cementing in the foundation for our new toilet this morning ( 2/5 ) and started to plan for our work in the local schools and kids work in the local churches. 
Prayer Points
– Pray for the church we are working with that we would be able to completely finish it and it would help their mission into the local community 
– Finances. That our money would stretch as far as we need it to and if we need to raise more we would be successful. 
– leaders. Over the next few weeks some of the at Mad staff are heading home for a break pray that they are well rested and get home safe. 
– spiritually. That we as a team would become more dependant on God and grow closer to him. That Gods word would speak to us 
– me.  That I would get some decent sleep every Night and that I would lead well and myself become more dependant on time. Always making sure to set time aside for him. 
Thank you all 
Yours in Christ 
Andrew
 

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