Truett McConnell University’s (TMU) World Missions Center prepares students to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. This summer, TMU students, faculty and staff, teamed up with Helen First Baptist Church (HFBC) to help fulfill that mission in Tanzania.
Abby Johnson, a senior Psychology major at TMU, was among other mission-minded participants in this venture.
“I was saved a little over a year ago,” she explained. “When l felt God call me into missions, I thought I was going to go somewhere close with my husband.” However, when she found out her he was unable to attend the trip, she was hesitant to proceed with her plans.
After spending time in prayer, and seeking wise counsel, Johnson realized “if this is what God is telling me to do, I need to be obedient to Him.” She then cited Isaiah 41:13, “I am Yahweh your God,” a scripture reference which helped calm her fears and anxieties about the trip.
Johnson soon stepped out of her comfort zone and set forth to Africa with ten others, including Dr. Van Sanders, Associate Director of World Missions Center and Associate Professor of Missions and Evangelism and Dr. Natalie Ford, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science.
When she arrived in Tanzania, located on the eastern coast of Africa, she quickly noticed the difference in cultures between the third-world country and the states. Describing the world around her, she said, “they had huts made out of cement blocks and straw. In the city, they had tin roofs and churches built of sticks. There was no electricity within the villages we visited. I remember, though, everywhere we went, seeing some type of farming, agriculture or livestock, which did remind me of America in some ways. There were no stop lights within the streets we traveled — just speed bumps. It was pretty scary going from place to place in a vehicle, and they even told us that people are ran over pretty often.”
Equipping the people
With weeks of training beforehand, Johnson explained that their goal was to provide training and tools, “on how to study God’s word and how to share the Gospel through conferences.”
The mission team also spent time evangelizing door to door with a translator, inviting the community to activities in the local church where they would meet the staff and experience a family-friendly environment, thus opening the door to share the Gospel.
While in Tanzania, Johnson was part of a group who taught Bible truths to the local women participating in the women’s conferences. Once again, she began to deal with her internal anxieties, “I remember challenging myself to get out of my comfort zone and share stories and my testimony to the other women. I felt God telling me that I needed to do this. It was so rewarding to finally give that fear to Him and share with the women.”
Along with personal testimonies, the group would use the “Creation to Christ” illustration and repeat it several times through storytelling. “One of the cool things would be watching the locals take what they learned and make it into a song so that they could share with others,” Johnson said.
Darkness within a nation
Johnson shared how the group prepared for the language barrier by learning simple words and phrases of the Swahili language before coming to Tanzania. However, nothing could prepare her for the “darkness,” as she described, of Voodoo practices in the African nation.
“Witch doctors were prevalent in the villages we visited. Even those who claim to have a relationship with Christ still believe in the power of these witch doctors.”
However, God shows light through the darkness. Johnson remembered on their last day, they spent time evangelizing in the community. “We were walking back to the church,” she said, “and an older man asked us what we were doing. Right then and there, we shared and he prayed to receive Christ!”
Bringing the experience home
The mission experience also enhanced a calling she hopes to grow in the months to come.
“I have a heart for women’s ministry,” she said. “During my time in Tanzania, I enjoyed teaching the local women about the Bible. Seeing their excitement was encouraging. Each day, they would tell us how they shared with neighbors, pastors and even spouses about Jesus. They were so bold going out and sharing what they had learned. I want to do this here where I live.”
Travels back to Tanzania may not be in her near future, but whatever her next mission experience may be, she says, “I definitely hope that my husband can come, but if God calls me, then I will answer His call.”
Jenny Gregory is the Content Manager for Truett McConnell University.Return to News Archive