HARVESTERS PRAYER MINISTRY AFRICA MISSION 2017
REPORT BY GERRY MARKLAND
“The people are now ready for your seminar.” These words, spoken very calmly by our translator Roman, sent a wave of panic through me. Why? Let me explain. This was my first mission to Tanzania with the Harvesters Prayer Ministry Africa team. I was travelling with Gerard Pomfret, a ‘veteran missionary’ with over 15 years’ experience. He had assured me that I didn’t need to prepare any talks as, from his past experience, it was best if we prayed beforehand at each parish to see what the Lord wanted us to say and do. Having been a teacher for over 30 years, where planning was paramount, this was completely outside of my comfort zone. However, I bowed to his greater wisdom.
After a 30 hour journey from England, travelling by train, plane and 4x4, we eventually arrived at our first parish, Uomboni, and were made very welcome by the parish priest, Fr. Juvenali. As it was quite late, we had just enough time to set up our mosquito nets and crawl into bed, having been informed that the ‘late’ Mass was at 7am!
Despite the small inconvenience of sharing a room with only one sink, we dutifully made it on time for Mass. The church building was large and the furnishings reflected a parish that is financially poor. However, the fact that Fr. Juvenali distributes 20,000 hosts in a month must show that they are rich in many other ways. As Mass was drawing to an end, both Gerard and I thought that after breakfast we would be able to spend a good time in prayer ‘to hear what the Lord had to say’. But no, for it was then that Roman dropped his bombshell:
“The people are now ready for your seminar.”
“What now?” replied Gerard, a little surprised.
“Yes,” said Roman.
“For how long?”
“Two hours,” said Roman.
“Oh,” said Gerard. “Well we’ll just go back to our rooms and pick up our Bibles.”
This was my worst nightmare but in the 5 minutes that it took us to collect our Bibles, Gerard had decided that he’d talk about Genesis 3 –the fall of Adam and Eve. So we returned and he spoke brilliantly, for over 40 minutes to a group of 70 men, on the dangers of turning away from God. I had the really difficult task of thinking up two questions for the men to discuss in small groups! After this, we gathered together again to share any pressing issues that had been discussed. It was noticeable to hear these men, from the other side of the world, expressing the same concerns about their children’s futures as we have. And so once the two hours had elapsed, we concluded with a final prayer and made our way to breakfast.
The next four days had a similar format with our talks coming straight after the 7am Mass. We concluded the week by praying over at least 150 men and women for the Baptism in the Spirit. As a result of this, a men’s group was formed numbering over 70. Fr. Juvenali was so pleased with the effect that the week had had on the men that, at the end of the next Sunday Mass, he was going to ask the women to leave so that the men could tell the others of their experience. He was also planning on having street Masses. Here beer would be served at the end of Mass and the men’s group could tell other men about what the Lord had done for them.
During our stay in Tanzania we worked in a further two parishes, setting up men’s groups and praying with a total of 540 people for the Baptism in the Spirit. For me, it was a wonderful experience as well as a steep learning curve. Very quickly I found myself paying for three things: humility – to realise that despite my inexperience the Lord still wanted me there; courage – to speak out and trust that the Spirit can, and did, work through my words; and wisdom – Lord what are you telling me through all this? As for this last question, I can’t help but think that the Lord is saying, no matter where you are “The people are now ready!”
A Big Thank you to all the men of Harvesters Conference 2016, who generously donated to support this mission, it is a hugely valuable Ministry and is certainly being blessed by the Lord and bearing good fruit through the work of The Holy Spirit.