Field Notes

Field Notes

Tanzania, Haiti, and Turkey – March-April 2021

Reporting from the field…

INTRODUCTION

It has been more than 15 months since we’ve been able to conduct disciples-making-disciples (DMD) training of Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters in Tanzania because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mission: Kilimanjaro 2020 was cancelled and none of Kingdom worker Damson Samson’s quarterly trips from Malawi to Tanzania were possible. Damson tested negative for COVID-19 on Friday, March 26 so he could make the border crossing in a few days. This trip is scheduled March 28 to April 12.

At the same time, Gilbert Lindor will lead a team from C4C’s New Generation in Haiti to do a workshop about flooring for people in two communities. This is scheduled March 30-April 4.

Our fourth follow-up to Mission: Ararat 2020 was scheduled March 25-April 4. But our Kingdom worker’s father had a heart attack on March 24, forcing us to reschedule his trip to eastern Turkey to visit Kurdish friends and family from April 9-19.

Here are the latest updates on these trips:

Sunday, April 18

TURKEY – “Everyone is so sad for Osman,” our worker said. I told him not to be sad for Osman; he is in a place where there is no suffering or pain. Be sad for those he left behind.

“Everyone is tired of crying,” said our worker, who spent most of the weekend with the family. He did not have much chance to be with Osman’s widow because men and women sit separately. “We lost one of our brothers. I have passed along your condolences. She was very happy that you are with them from your heart.

“Tomorrow, early in the morning, l have to drive back home.”

Friday, April 16

TURKEY – Osman has succumbed to his cancer. He passed late afternoon local time. We give thanks to God for sending us to him last summer and allowing us to introduce him to Jesus. We rejoice that today he is with Jesus in paradise. We pray for his young widow – for peace and that her heart would also belong to Christ.

Thursday, April 15

TURKEY – Osman continues to struggle in the hospital. I instructed our Kingdom worker to share with Osman’s wife that we were praying she would experience the peace of Jesus as she faces this great challenge. I wrote, “We are lifting Osman as he prepares to leave this pain-filled world and feel the embrace of Jesus in paradise. We will see him again one day in heaven. Praise God! Tell (Osman’s wife) if she believes in Jesus, she also will see him again in heaven.”

Our co-worker reported that he shared what I had written. “I said to her, ‘Gary, Elaine, and the (Climbing For Christ) Prayer Team all are praying for you.’ She said, ‘That is great. l am not alone.’ She said, ‘But l am very upset.’ And she said, ‘It is Osman’s dream to be with Jesus in heaven and it is my dream to be with Jesus as well.’”

Our co-laborer went to visit Taner in another village, but the military did not allow him through that village’s checkpoint. “I argued with them and he (the officer) was mad with me,” he reported. “The jandarma (army) still keep me at the station. They will let me go in one hour’s time. Please don’t worry about me; Jesus is with me.”

We can confirm that our co-worker was released.

Wednesday, April 14

Osman with his wife in ICU in photo sent on April 8. He was continuing to give a thumb’s up to Jesus.

TURKEY – This morning, our worker received a phone call. Osman, the man we led to Jesus on what we thought was his death bed last July during Mission: Ararat 2020, could no longer breathe on his own. The family took a taxi to our worker’s hotel and he drove them to the hospital, where Osman has been in intensive care for several weeks. His wife, who we first met during Mission: Ararat 2013 when she was still a girl living with her semi-nomadic Kurdish family, came out of the ICU to speak to her family. “She said, ‘They pierced his throat’ – intubated,” our worker reported. “They didn’t let us see Osman. The doctor said there is no way to see him because he is in intensive care.”

We pray for peace for everyone as he prepares to leave a body wracked by bone cancer for nearly five years and step into the sweet embrace of Christ. No more pain or suffering. Glory to God!

Tuesday, April 13

TURKEY – “In Doğubayazıt, there is police control and army control everywhere,” our worker reported from eastern Turkey. Because of that he could not go on Monday to a village to meet with a young man he has been discipling. Instead, they met at a tea shop.

“He was so excited to see me,” our brother said. “I downloaded the Bible on his phone. He is very upset because of Ramadan. He doesn’t fast, but he cannot eat or drink because of the people. He thinks if someone will see him, he can be in trouble.”

Approaching a military checkpoint outside a village in eastern Turkey during Mission: Ararat 2020. (Photo by Gary Fallesen)

Today, our worker drove to a particular village, but the army didn’t let him go to the village. He called our sister and told her that he could not pick them up. So this sister walked with her father and mother from their village out to the main road to meet our worker.

“After we met, we drove to (another) village to visit (another sister and brother). We had dinner together and after dinner we had a Bible reading and talking about Jesus. After we had Bible lessons, we drove back to (the first) village. l dropped (them) on the road on the way back to their home. I asked the army boss (at the military checkpoint), ‘Why you don’t let me to drive them back to home?’ The army boss said, ‘There is nothing l can do about it because of COVID-19 curfew.’”

TANZANIA – Damson’s father was buried on Monday. He and his family grieve their loss, but Damson is feeling the prayers from the Climbing For Christ family.

Sunday, April 11

TURKEY – “Today in Doğubayazıt – and the rest of Turkey – we have curfew,” our worker reported. “At the moment in Turkey, COVID-19 is hell. l did stay at the hotel all day and l am very bored. Looking forward to tomorrow.”

TANZANIA – Damson was still traveling home when he received a phone call telling him his father died. “We loved him, but when it is God’s time we have no option,” he said. “I (ask) for more prayers, especially in this hard time we are going through.

“I remember two weeks ago, when I was saying bye to him (before traveling to Tanzania), he was doing well. Only to hear now he has gone.”

Join us in praying for Damson and his family during this time.

Saturday, April 10

TURKEY – Our worker stopped and spent Friday night in a Kurdish city in the southeast. He revisited a Kurd with whom he has been sharing. “Last night it was a long chat about the Bible and Christianity,” our worker said. “We read the Bible about two hours total. He read and I listened, and I read and he listened. Now (his name) would love to have a Bible. He would love to read and know about Christianity more.”

We will see to it that he receives a Bible.

Our worker’s travels continued today.

“I just drive to Doğubayazıt now,” he reported at 10:35 p.m. local time. “On the way back to Doğubayazıt today, the army and police stop me many times. Always they ask me same questions: ‘Where are you going? And what are you going to do in Doğubayazıt?’

“I tell them that I am going to do a program for the mountain Ararat for 2021. l say that because mountain Ararat is open now. Then they didn’t say anything.”

TANZANIA – Speaking of travel, Damson crossed the border from Tanzania into Malawi this morning. “I had an overnight travel from Moshi to Mbeya,” he reported. “I will also be overnighting today to get to Blantyre tomorrow. Then I will be driving back to Phalombe.”

We pray travel mercies on our brothers.

Friday, April 9

TANZANIA – Damson has begun the long bus rides back to southern Malawi. The first bus (from Moshi to Mbeya) takes 22 hours, after which he crosses the border and takes another overnight bus to Blantyre. Fares for flights increased and could not be afforded.

Before leaving, Damson had lunch on Thursday at the home of a Muslim friend. He used this opportunity to talk about Easter and the resurrection of Jesus. He told about “the report of the guard,” found in Matthew 28:11-15, and how the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus were given a “large bribe” by the leading priests.

“They told the soldiers, ‘You must say, ‘Jesus’ disciples came during the night while we were sleeping, and they stole his body.’ If the governor hears about it, we’ll stand up for you so you won’t get in trouble.’ So the guards accepted the bribe and said what they were told to say. Their story spread widely among the Jews, and they still tell it today” (Matthew 28:13-15).

Not only the Jews, but Muslims, who do not acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and the Risen Savior.

TURKEY – In this Muslim country, our Kingdom worker is traveling to eastern Turkey to disciple new believers and continue outreach among Kurdish people.

Wednesday, April 7

Graduating class.

TANZANIA – Twenty members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter graduated from our introductory DMD training. Damson was joined by earlier grads and current advanced DMD students Dauson Chonjo, John Mollen, Gift Mboya, and Eliya Yona in teaching the final chapters of the introductory text.

One graduating student from Marangu admitted “he knew nothing (about) how to interpret the Bible,” Damson said. “Now he has the understanding on what it means to share the Word with others, and he promised this will go far to touch many outside as he is ready to go and share this love with others.”

Each of the new graduates received a certificate and a Bible.

Tuesday, April 6

Kilimanjaro Chapter class at the end of day two of this quarter’s training. (Photos by Damson Samson)

TANZANIA – Damson used a personal lesson as he taught from our DMD text a chapter called, “End Vision.” The end vision is God’s desire that all know Him – every nation, tribe, and language. To do this, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to live and minister among us, teaching His disciples, and then going to the cross on our behalf. Jesus left His followers with instructions, found in Matthew 28:18-20, known as the Great Commission.

“Climbing For Christ adopted me to be part of this Great Commission 11 years ago,” Damson told members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter. “They were all amazed and wondered how that happened.”

Damson explained, “When Climbing For Christ adopted me it was the time when I was completely done and I had no hope. Only God would know how far I am going in serving Him.

“Like David, I don’t have any desirable character which could open eyes to say, ‘Yes, this young man is capable.’ But God could see it all to this end vision of being a missionary to East Africa, and the possibility to make you disciples so you can go touch all areas to His glory – that nobody could perish but have everlasting life.”

It is our hope that these guides and porters will be among those who catch this God-given vision and become part of the generation that finishes the task left with us by Jesus.

Guides and porters doing small-group work during study on God’s “end vision.”

Damson said today’s training was “successful” and “very exciting.” He said it started well when he recapped Monday’s lessons and the group remembered 100 percent. The “old man” of the group, Stanley Kessy, said: “I remember nothing from all the past, but this lesson (on church planting) has entered more in the heart.” Others called it “an eye-opener, like from dark to light,” Damson reported.

HAITI – Gilbert reports of 40 people in Kalmette attending their “ceramics” workshop on Saturday (April 3) after 47 had attended in Majon on Friday (April 2). They had planned for 60 people and ended up teaching 87 a skill that will allow them to make something they cannot afford to buy for their houses.

“The people received the workshop with great enthusiasm, even our motorcycle drivers (who brought the team into the mountains). They all paid attention,” Gilbert said.

Teaching how to make flooring in Kalmette. (Photos by Gilbert Lindor)

The first workshop was taught by someone who makes tiling for a living. He is a friend of C4C New Generation member Wilene. Gaston, one of the New Generation leaders, said this same course is offered in his church for $20. “Look how we have taken it for free to these towns,” Gaston said.

Not only did they teach about making tiles that can be put on floors or walls, but they also fed people in the two villages and they offered the Bread of Life. “God poured out His power while we worshiped,” Gilbert declared.

“Wherever we go and whatever we do, God glorifies Himself,” Gaston said, “and they (villagers) always ask us for more.”

“Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.” – Psalm 127:1 (NLT)

TURKEY – We rescheduled our Kingdom worker’s follow-up trip to eastern Turkey for Friday (April 9). His father has recovered from his heart attack and returned home from the hospital. He thanked us for our prayers and acknowledged that Jesus blessed him. Amen!

Monday, April 5

Damson teaching the first day of DMD training.

TANZANIA – Damson declared, “There was a great need for these brothers to be visited in this time.” He gathered the students in the Kilimanjaro Chapter’s advanced DMD class for the first time since December 2019. After the usual start of prayer, dancing, and singing, the class of 20 settled in for review. “Some were able to remember, and some had completely nothing to talk about,” he said.

But all were soon on the same page as they turned to the next chapter in their text: “Four fields on church planting.”

While rain outside has minds on planting vegetables, this class turned its attention to church planting in preparation for a great harvest. “With smiling faces,” Damson said, “they were able to follow the lesson.”

The four-field concept is based on Mark 4:26-29. The stages: entry plan (empty field) followed by the Gospel plan (seeded field), church-formation plan (harvest field), and discipleship plan (growing field). Damson taught about being a visionary church planter and how the Kilimanjaro Chapter here and the Mulanje Massif Chapter in Malawi are part of “completing the task of the Great Commission.

“This opened the eyes of these brothers,” Damson said. “I further advised them that this is the call we have been called to, (and) our willingness to obey will give us (a greater) harvest.”

Our DMD class.

Easter Sunday, April 4

TANZANIA – “Today was just a self-feeding day while preparing for the training tomorrow,” Damson said. DMD training resumes with Kilimanjaro Chapter guides and porters in the aftermath of celebrating Resurrection Sunday.

HAITI – Gilbert returned to Santo Domingo late today, sharing two videos of a successful and well-attended workshop. He will be filing a full report on Monday.

Saturday, April 3

Damson teaching on Sango mountain.

TANZANIA – This was the day that God had prepared in advance for members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter. When Damson showed up for a second day of prayer on Sango mountain, this time with chapter members from Marangu, he was shocked to find 30 people waiting for him.

Students from both classes – the introductory and advanced DMD participants – came to climb what has been dubbed Prayer Mountain.

 

Praying under a big tree, above. Below, the group that met with Damson.

There was worship (singing and dancing), Bible study, and times of intense prayer. They read from Matthew 27 and 28, discussing the trial of Jesus, guarding the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid, and the report of the guard when Jesus rose from the dead.

In discussing all of the acts of conspiracy surrounding the crucifixion of Christ, the guides and porters revealed the poor behavior of leaders and elders they have observed in their own churches. Many times, what they have been taught by Climbing For Christ about being a disciple who makes disciples does not match up with what they are seeing in the local church. For example, Damson said, “Commonly, our leaders pay more attention to those who can tithe.”

This time of teaching “really touched many who came to be prayed for and four among them confessed Jesus as their Lord and Savior,” Damson reported. One brother surprised Damson after he’d prayed for him. “He was in tears since I laid a hand on him (in prayer). He witnessed he had diabetes and this affected his eyes – he could not see clearly. After prayer, he could see very well. I posed, ‘Why are you crying?’” He answered that they were tears of joy and thankfulness to God.

Today, Damson concluded, “We really climbed for Christ as His name was glorified.”

Friday, April 2

Wilene Noesi and Ferline Víctor teaching the “ceramics” workshop. (Photo by Gilbert Lindor)

HAITI – “Today we had our first event with a total of 47 people present, when we only had plans for 30,” Gilbert reported from Majon. “Today was a wonderful day for all these Majon people.”

Climbing For Christ’s New Generation taught what translates into “ceramics,” but is a type of tiling made to cover the concrete or dirt floors in the people’s houses.

“The people were willing to spend the whole day learning from the C4CNG members,” Gilbert said.

Praising the Lord: Moshi leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter. (Photos by Damson Samson)

TANZANIA – Damson presented “the highlight of another day the Lord has given us”: a time of fasting and prayer for the Moshi leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter. “As we agreed with the Moshi brothers, we went to the prayer mountain,” Damson said. “We were five in total.”

Damson asked how life has been since he last visited Tanzania, pre-pandemic, in December 2019. “They confessed that it was a hard time in all areas – on the spiritual and physical side. Since we had less opportunity to pray together and be encouraged, we needed this time to strengthen one another.”

John Mollen, a guide who serves as our translator during DMD training, said: “It was a great honor receiving the (COVID-19) relief. We saw God working mightily in our midst.”

Climbing For Christ provided $5,800 USD in relief in 2020 to members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter whose livelihoods, based on tourism on the mountain, were erased by the pandemic. More help is needed for these guides and porters.

Damson and the others prayed about this on Sango mountain after he taught about “knowing the Father” and shared Luke 11:2-4. They thanked God for His provision and for how He is using Climbing For Christ to glorify His name.

Marangu leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter meeting on April 1.

Damson met on Thursday with leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter from Marangu. “We had a good time together, sharing the story of faith in these end times,” he reported. “I told the team, ‘It takes you to understand your call. This is where God has called you to reach others.’ I added that we need to be sure of our call no matter what it takes. Jesus Christ knew that He was on the mission to die for the sinner. He went on preaching in various places for people to repent. When the time came, He offered His spirit to the Father as a matter of accomplishment of the call (on His life).”

For the days ahead, the Marangu leaders agreed with the plan for DMD training next week. They decided they will fast and pray for this work on Saturday. Today, the leaders in Moshi are fasting and praying. Training is being moved from Himo, where it normally is held, because the center there wanted to double the charges. The Kilimanjaro Chapter will meet in Moshi instead.

Thursday, April 1

HAITI – Gilbert reported an update on the construction of latrines in the villages where Climbing For Christ is supporting schools. CLICK HERE to read “A loo with a view.”

Wednesday, March 31

TANZANIA – Damson began meeting with friends of the ministry and members of the Kilimanjaro Chapter from Moshi today in preparation for DMD training next week. He delivered gifts we’d left with him in Malawi last March to give to old friend and guide Yusuf. The pandemic had kept us from traveling to Tanzania, but then also restricted Damson’s crossing the border from neighboring Malawi. Damson also had some time to share with our Muslim friend about Jesus Christ dying for us as we prepare for the celebration of Resurrection Sunday.

Later, Moshi leaders of the Kilimanjaro Chapter gathered with Damson. “I was sharing with them a word of encouragement on how we use this opportunity where everybody is shaken,” he said. “I told them that they must be strong enough for this time when people need to hear the word of hope.”

Damson plans to meet with Marangu leaders on Thursday before those leading the chapter go to Sango mountain to fast and pray on Good Friday.

Tuesday, March 30

Damson has arrived in Tanzania and Gilbert and C4CNG have begun their travels.

HAITI – “I am currently traveling with two members of C4CNG, Wilene Noesi and Ferline Víctor,” Gilbert reported from the Dominican Republic on his way to Haiti. They are overnighting in the Dominican border town of Jimani, where they plan to visit some C4CNG members on Wednesday before proceeding across the border to Soliette on Maundy Thursday. “We will preach the Word of God in the church that Gaston leads,” Gilbert said, referring to New Generation co-leader Gaston Louis-Jean.

Gilbert, wearing his Captain America T-shirt from Colorado, with C4CNG members Wilene Noesi and Ferline Víctor.

On Good Friday, the plan is to teach the first of two workshops in Majon. The second will be in Kalmette on Saturday. Those two villages, in the Chaine de la Selle mountains, are where two of the four Climbing For Christ-supported schools are located. Latrines are currently under construction in all four villages.

Gilbert asked for prayer for Wilene’s family; she has three children sick at home in Santo Domingo. Wilene was “very excited to participate in the trip,” Gilbert said. “She told us, ‘I packed my backpack last week to go.’

“Please continue to lift us up in prayer that the glory of God will shine in the dark through us,” Gilbert said.

TANZANIA – Damson celebrated travel mercies as he “finally arrived in Moshi” this evening (local time) after three days of travel. He reached Mbeya, Tanzania at 4 p.m. Monday more than 24 hours after leaving his home in southern Malawi. He overnighted in Mbeya before flying to Dar es Salam and then Kilimanjaro today. “Tomorrow I will be able to make communication and possibly transfer to Marangu when all goes well,” Damson said. He plans to stay close to Kilimanjaro Chapter co-leader Dauson Chonjo for the duration of the trip.

Sunday, March 28

TANZANIA – “I started this afternoon, the trip to Tanzania, after we had a church service,” said Damson, who is traveling by ground from southern Malawi to southwestern Tanzania, where he will take flights to Kilimanjaro. “Yes, the Lord is on my side on this trip as I find it more exciting to GO.”

Damson’s daughters Elaine, right, and Hayley seeing their father off on his trip.

 

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