By Emily Easttom
[Reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.]
TANZANIA (BP) — Sweat poured off the men’s foreheads as they made the two-hour journey up the mountain. They clung to their motorcycle drivers to stay balanced on the eroded and bumpy path as they experienced a sliver of everyday life for the Vidunda of Tanzania.
In August, five African American pastors were challenged by the International Mission Board to embark on a journey to Tanzania to take the Gospel to an unengaged, unreached people group like the Vidunda.
“It was a trip of endurance not only up the mountain but down it,” Robert Anderson, pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown, Md., said. “But can you weigh it in terms of getting to people and sharing the Gospel?”
While on the trip, Anderson said he witnessed nearly 10 people come to Christ. Many more heard the Gospel for the first time.
Globally, there are more than 3,000 unengaged, unreached people groups. Many of them remain unengaged and unreached due to their isolated locations.
“It’s one thing to be told it will be difficult to reach people,” said Ryan Palmer, pastor of Seventh Metro Church in Baltimore. “It’s another thing to trek up a steep mountain, through the crevices that have been eroded because of rain water coming through, putting in two-feet gashes.”
Palmer said sharing Christ in these remote areas is not optional. There is a need for others to catch a vision for spreading the Gospel to all nations, and a need for more African Americans to go.
“It’s more than a decade that I have heard of the indigenous people asking my blonde-haired, blue-eyed missionaries, ‘Where are my African-American brothers; is it that they don’t care about our condition?'” Palmer said.
According to IMB strategist Keith Jefferson, only 26 of approximately 4,900 IMB missionaries are African American.
“Many people have longed to see African Americans come,” said Byron Day, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md.
“One of the reasons I came to Tanzania was to be an example to African American churches of embracing missions — there is a great need, particularly in Africa,” Day said. “As an African American coming to Africa, I think we have the opportunity to get into some doors that most may not have, because there is a natural acceptance.”
Day said he encourages all African American churches to take at least one mission trip in hopes of members catching the vision and being sent out.
“People are lost; they are on their way to hell; there is utter darkness and the only light is Jesus,” Anderson said.
“Can you bear that light? We need you. Come join us.”
Visit subsaharanafricanpeoples.imb.org/embrace to learn how your church can take the Gospel to an unengaged, unreached people group in Africa.