Powerless yet Powerful

How does a group of diverse individuals from various walks of life and different parts of the world form into a unified, supportive and fruitful team? This is my challenge as curriculum coordinator for TIMO; that is to help new TIMO teams by orienting them to life in Africa in such a way that they form well in order to perform what they’ve been called to do. The problem is that I am powerless to make this happen.

Let me share a recent example from the Rangi team who came together this summer from the US, Tanzania and Congo – a pretty diverse group to say the least. Powerless? You decide…

On that first fearful morning I was glad that there was Another in the driver’s seat who was watching over this new team as they started on their journey of faith in a far and distant land. Because, the first day in country I lost one whole truck full of team members. Yes, half the team lost in one fell swoop!

Seeing that both team vehicles were right behind me I decided to pull into a shopping complex on our way south from Arusha, where they landed, to Kondoa, where their orientation would take place.

As the driver of the lead truck in our convoy it was my job to ensure everyone made the turn. So as I pulled in off the busy thoroughfare I noticed vehicle #2 immediately pulled in after me and I thought vehicle #3 followed suit. However, after parking and getting out we looked around and no vehicle #3. Yikes! New arrivals and they’re lost with no cell phone, no map and NO IDEA of where in the world they are or where they are going.

I hopped back in the truck to go search and told the others to stay put in case our lost friends somehow returned before me. First I drove one way hoping that our friends had just kept going straight, but after 20 minutes I realized they must’ve turned or doubled back. So I decided to double back as well and when I reached the shopping complex there was still no vehicle #3. I pulled back out to head the other direction and just then met up with a friendly Tanzania police officer who I enlisted to help.

“Officer” I said, “if you see a green truck with a bunch of lost looking white people can you please pull them over into this shopping complex?”

And sure enough, within five minutes our friends in vehicle #3 were pulled over by the Tanzania police – their first run-in with the law.☺

This fiasco ended happily as we were reunited after only a ½ hour of searching

and wandering around town. But this mishap illustrates my point that I am truly powerless on my own to form new teams into anything resembling what they should be – unified, supportive and fruitful.

However there is One, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is powerful enough to form these teams into what He wants. And it is experiences like losing team members their 1st day in Africa that remind me of my powerlessness apart from Christ’s all-sufficient powerful presence.

Thank you Lord for these faith lessons in the midst of our trials.

One Great Story

In the middle of July our whole team spent two weeks in Arusha attending a training session on chronological Bible storying. The training was done by a branch of Wycliffe called OneStory (www.onestory.org ). Our team has been looking forward to doing this for the last two years, but it was necessary to get a good grasp on the language before we started. Since the majority of Alagwa people are oral learners, and their language is only just starting to be written down, this is a method of presenting the message of the gospel in a way that is easy to understand   and remember. We’re hoping to work with mother-tongue speakers to develop and record a world-view sensitive chronological Bible “story set” for the Alagwa. What is a story set?  A story set isn’t the whole Bible. In our case

it will probably end up being a set of approximately 25 chronological stories from  the Bible that tell the ‘one story ’ of God’s plan to restore our broken relationship with Him. As we learned in July, a good story set needs to include several elements: stories that explain the problem (man’s separation from God), stories that hint at the solution, stories that tell the solution, and stories that explain what the response of the believer should be. The 25 stories should also touch on all parts of the Christian worldview (what you find written in the Apostle’s Creed). As we chose stories to fulfill all those requirements we also tried to be mindful of the kind of stories that will resonate well in Alagwa culture. That part wasn’t too hard since they are herders and farmers and have a heavy involvement in the spirit world. The story-crafting process has many parts including recording the story with a native Alagwaisa speaker, back translating it into English to make sure it is biblically sound,

testing it with other Alagwa to see if it is retell-able and understandable, and sending it to a Wycliffe consultant for approval. When our team gets at least 10 stories to the consultant stage, the trainers will come back and we will have a second round of training with them. Hopefully that will be sometime in late 2012. We have divided our team into four groups so that we can work on several stories at the same time. Please pray for each step of this detailed process to be completed correctly and that we will be able to complete the whole set within the next year. Pray that we will work diligently, but also trust that the results are in God’s hands and not worry about the enormity of the task. It is good to be reminded that God is in control of all things, and He is the one that accomplishes all good things in and through us.

“Lord. . . all that we have accomplished You have done for us.” Is. 26:12


TIMO Team Leaders Forum 2012

TIMO Leaders’ Forum 2012

As newcomers, Colin and I found the TIMO leaders’ forum refreshing and profitable. John and Nancy Lorusso had encouraged us to make every effort to attend in order to meet other team leaders. We were indeed blessed to meet precious new friends, enjoying the fellowship and finding we had much in common.

But there were many other benefits as well. There were sessions in which more experienced team leaders shared problem-solving strategies and answered questions about the challenges of their teams and outreach. There were “nuts-and-bolts” sessions in which some of our questions about setup and logistics were answered. We spent time in prayer for one another. As a group we reviewed each of the values of TIMO, recognizing each other’s commitment to them and hearing stories of how those values affect our choices and our life experiences. Some sessions were designed to help us understand others and ourselves better.

Some leaders were experienced, some novices. We appreciated the mix of cultures and ethnicities represented in that group. Leaders from AIM and from AIC attended, and expressed their appreciation and support. The TIMO En Gedi staff worked hard to provide valuable and relevant sessions, delicious meals, personal encouragement, and cheerful hospitality.

By the end of the forum, we had a notebook full of helpful information. We were encouraged in spirit and had a better understanding of the road ahead as we move to our village and prepare for our team’s arrival. Most of all we were reminded why we appreciate all that TIMO is, especially the people who stand in this grace together by the strength that God supplies.

Becca McDougall

TIMO Quest among the Alagwa in Tanzania

TIMO Quest among the Alagwa in Tanzania

By Kylie Reynolds and Vivienne Tibbs

Our TIMO journey started with the opportunity of doing an overseas placement as part of our Diploma of Theology studies at Sydney Missionary and Bible College. We wanted to learn about working cross-culturally, and God had laid Africa on both of our hearts. The TIMO Quest placement was perfect for us. We would join a real TIMO team for a month.

We were really keen about the apprentice-style approach, shadowing and learning from the TIMO team as well as from the locals. We loved it because it was really hands on, including an in-village orientation followed by a three-day home stay. This was a hard introduction but we were quickly able to see how valuable it was to us.

The TIMO team we were visiting in north-central Tanzania had been within their unreached people group for 14 months. They lived, worked and ministered among their people, concentrating on living Christian lives in a non-Christian community. They spent time in prayer for the villages and the people, and they read the Bible with the few Christians and some who were not yet believers. They’ve started having church together in their houses in the villages, a different house each week. They love the people and are really enjoying their time in the villages, even though they live with limited resources compared to home. They were very welcoming to us, and it was a real privilege to be with them. We learned a lot from the team and were encouraged by their stories of God working in their lives to bring them to the villages. Their support of us was a blessing and an encouragement to our Christian walk.


Highlights for Viv were joining my mentor as she read the Bible with people. This involved a 45 minute walk to the home of the couple she was reading with, being joined by an older woman along the way. They were so keen to read and learn. It’s not an easy process, as the Bible has not yet been translated into the local language, but this work is underway. So they read in the trade language, Kiswahili, and discussed the concepts in the local language. It was a joy to sit and pray for them as they studied. It was especially amazing when my mentor relayed a little of their discussion to me. We rejoiced together as they were able to grasp concepts of God and what He has done.an community. They spent time in prayer for the villages and the people, and they read the Bible with the few Christians and some who were not yet believers. They’ve started having church together in their houses in the villages, a different house each week. They love the people and are really enjoying their time in the villages, even though they live with limited resources compared to home. They were very welcoming to us, and it was a real privilege to be with them. We learned a lot from the team and were encouraged by their stories of God working in their lives to bring them to the villages. Their support of us was a blessing and an encouragement to our Christian walk.

Highlights for Kylie: I loved interacting with the local kids, seeing the locals recognise the power of Christian prayer… and ploughing. Yes, ploughing! The locals were mainly farmers and our experience of village life included lots of group ploughing and sadly, lots of funerals. The funerals happened not only on the day of death, but again seven days later and another forty days after that. The whole village stops and everyone meets and tries to pray the deceased person into heaven. It reflected the fear they felt that their prayers would not be answered and it was amazing to see the non-Christian locals recognizing that when the Christian’s prayed, things happened.

The biggest challenge for both of us was the feeling of helplessness that comes from not understanding their language. This struck us in different ways, due partly to the differences in our personalities. Kylie found it very difficult not being able to speak the language, whereas  Viv felt that not understanding what was going on around her was more of a challenge. For both of us, this helplessness was a catalyst for growth, as it led us to an increased dependence on God.

Overall, we had an amazing time. TIMO Quest was an amazing opportunity. A privilege!  As we process our experience, we are both wondering where God is leading us when we finish at College. Please pray for each of us that God shows us His plan for our lives and that we continue to grow in Him.


The value of short term Help

Wow, he has really made friends learning language . . .
I was able to focus more on my ministry . . .
She shared her faith so freely with the local people . . .
I have been refreshed . . .
I caught up on projects I have been putting off. . .

My children have a new teacher . . .
They fixed my broken water pump . . .
He helped build a pastors house . . .
I was comfortable living quite simply. . .

These are the comments we often hear when someone has had a short term experience. Living, serving, working, learning in a foreign culture for up to 1 year is the definition of a Short Termer.

Recently, I went to a Short Term conference in Madagascar. How wonderful….. Read More »