The Kansas youth wiped away tears and looked out over the church congregation. Men wrapped in red blankets leaned forward on the roughly hewn boards that served as pews, listening intently to the teenager. Women adorned with bright jewelry nodded their heads and encouraged them to continue talking.
“My parents left my life when I was young,” Izzy D. told the small group. “I’ve had a lot of abandonment in my life. I was afraid that people would leave my side until I came to know Christ earlier this year.”
Heads nodded and verbal approval echoed. Another Kansas teen stepped up and told how she didn’t have anyone in her life to tell her to be a Christian. She was on her own. A third teen told the group that her father had died in a car accident a few months ago. One after another, the youth group from Sublette Southern Baptist Church in Sublette, Kan., shared testimonies of hardships and Jesus’ love.
It wasn’t the “normal” kind of church service that the rising college freshmen were used to attending back in Kansas. This church was more than 8,000 miles from home in the bush of Tanzania. The service lasted four hours and included a lot of joyful dancing. This mission trip was anything but normal for the young Americans and Tanzanians alike.
It was originally a “busted” mission trip — the plan to go to Haiti fell through. But according to Annie Tidenberg, Tanzania was exactly the place the short-term team was meant to be. Annie and her husband Tim both grew up in East Africa.
After retiring from the International Mission Board, Tim became the pastor at Sublette Southern Baptist Church. They decided to salvage the youth mission trip by taking the students to Tanzania where they used to work. The goal was to help with a pastor training workshop and host a Vacation Bible School.
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Source: Baptist Press