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New Life; Following Jesus Together

We are so thankful that 141 different people have decided to follow Jesus and enter into a life of love, leaving their lives of selfishness behind. Here’s a story of what this has looked like, as well as a brief overview of how disciple-making works in rural Tanzania; how exactly we are able to disciple so many people simultaneously. I’ve also attached a summary report of the new house churches and disciples, for anyone who is curious.



Matende (not his real name) is a farmer, of the Kuria tribe. He is a hard worker, waking up around 4 each morning, grabbing a jembe (similar to a hoe, but larger, heavier, made of wood and cast iron) and working the hard earth into furrows for hours. He works hard for his wife and children, and he expects to be obeyed. He also believes that you cannot trust a woman, and that his tribe has the best way of dealing with this. The Kuria use force. He always keeps a sturdy stick around, and if his wife is late getting back home, he beats her. If the food is a little burned, he beats her. If she does anything to raise suspicion that she might be cheating, he beats her, sometimes for an entire hour. If she does nothing wrong for several days in a row, then he beats her for no reason at all, because he believes the Kuria proverb, “If you let too much time pass without beating your wife, she becomes rebellious”.


One day a distant relative, Amos Mwita, arrived at his house, together with a man named Musa Damas, and they wanted to talk to him about God. He was interested. He knew that the Kuria believed in the Mizimu (Great Spirits, spirits of specific ancestors), but also, he knew… everyone knew… that the Mizimu aren’t all that great. They are selfish and unpredictable, not really good, and not really evil, either. Not worth bothering with, anyways. Amos and Musa both shared their testimony… what their life had been like before following Jesus, how they had decided to follow Jesus, and what their life had been like afterwards. These were the kinds of stories that he didn’t hear every day, so he invited them to come back and share some more. They returned several times, explaining the good news of the Gospel, and how you can turn away from your old behaviors and trust God to make your heart new. 


This sounded like a good deal, and he agreed to be baptized. That Sunday, Musa found him out on his farm, making furrows and told him that it was time to be baptized. Matende said that he was ready.




Matende, with a group of new disciples after the baptism. To protect his identity, I won’t say which is Matende.


It was a day of rejoicing, a day of entering into a new life. The following Friday, Amos and Musa went back to his house to see how he was doing with following Jesus. They reminded him of his promise to change his life. He talked about a few things he had done to change his life, and they asked him if he was still beating his wife. He said that he was. They told him that he couldn’t beat his wife and follow Jesus; that the two were incompatible.“Ah-ha… God doesn’t like it when I beat my wife?”, he asked.


They explained that God hated it, and that God was on the side of the weak, the ones who couldn’t defend themselves… that every time that he beat her, he was standing on the wrong side of God. Matende called his wife to come over to where he was talking with Amos and Musa. Right then and there, he promised to never beat her again, as long as he lives. He asked Amos and Musa to visit him regularly and make sure that he was keeping his promise, and he told them to ask not just him, but his wife, to make sure that they were getting the truth.This change will be hard for Matende to stick with, but so far, Amos and Musa confirm that he has not returned to his old behavior.


Since April 30th, 2022, we’ve seen many stories of both women and men deciding to follow Jesus, deciding to let go of their old lives and enter into a life of love.


I am sure that some people are wondering how I am able to disciple so many people. It may even lead to suspicion and cynicism, that I’m not telling the truth, or that we are baptizing people, but not discipling them.


That suspicion is fair. It is common in East Africa for missionaries, as well as African church leaders, to overstate the number of people who one is discipling. It is also common to overstate church membership numbers, or to brag about how many people “came to Christ” at an open-air evangelism event… without any follow up.


I’d love to answer those questions.


How am I able to disciple so many people? I am not able. In fact, most of these disciples, I only met at their baptism.


I only disciple five people, named Raphael Musa, Musa Damas, Dinnah Sylvester, Doto Francis, and Gloria Sentozi.


I’ll explain a bit about the network of two of these five disciples, and then here is a spreadsheet that lays out everyone’s networks:


quadw-tarime-disciples-and-house-churchesDownload


Musa Damas and Raphael Musa disciple the following 15 people: 

Amos Mwita, Samweli Mwita, Michael Pius, Gati Juma, Pendo Mwita, Mama Patrice, Mariamu Tanu, Mama Sosi, Gati Marwa, Esther Msando, Joseph Mwita, Catherine Kinyara, Gati Nyamhanga, Simeon Mwita, and Eunice Ferdinand. 


They, in turn, disciple others.

Amos, Samweli, and Michael spend most of their time finding new disciples.


Gati Juma disciples her husband, a married couple, and another young woman through their house church, every Monday at 2.


Pendo Mwita disciples a young woman and a married couple through their house church, every Tuesday at 3.


Mama Patrice disciples 3 people through their house church, every Tuesday at 2.


Mariamu Tanu disciples an older married couple through their house church, every Tuesday at 2.


Mama Sosi disciples an older woman and her two older children (both adults) through their house church, every Wednesday at 2.


Gati Marwa disciples a large family; an older man and three of his wives, as well as several of their older children, who have all decided to follow Jesus; every Wednesday at 2.


Esther Msando disciples 3 young women, as well as her husband, through their house church, every Friday at 3.


Joseph Mwita disciples 2 people through their house church, every Thursday at 1.


Catherine Kinyara disciples 2 young women through their house church, every Thursday at 3.


Gati Nyamhanga disciples an older woman and her two sons, as well as her husband, through their house church, every Friday at 2.


Simeon Mwita disciples 18 people through Jordan House Church, every Friday at 4.


Eunice Ferdinand disciples 8 of her fellow young adults through their house church, every Saturday at 2.


We make sure that every new disciple has an audio version of the New Testament on a memory card, in a language that they can understand, and some way to listen to it.


How do these house churches work? Basically, the members pray for each other, listen to the Bible, make promises to change their lives, and then hold everyone accountable to their promises the next week. They learn to interpret the Bible through practicing interpreting it, together. They don’t stop there, though. Since knowledge puffs up, but love builds up, every member makes a promise for how they are going to love, in action, during the coming week. Each member knows that they have made a promise to God, and also that they will be held accountable to their promise, one week later. The full house church meeting program is attached here:


english-house-church-meeting-format-1Download


With a group of family, friends, and neighbors holding everyone accountable to their promise each week, change happens slowly and steadily. People slowly realize that many of their actions have been hurting the people around them, and even hurting themselves. They let go of these unloving actions, week by week, and start to become kinder, more giving, more loving, closer to the way that Jesus lived in the four gospels.


A few examples:

Pendo Mwita was addicted to witchcraft and was being bullied by demons, voices, and terrible dreams. She also fought constantly with her husband. When she broke her ties to the world of witchcraft and evil spirits, she found freedom from the spiritual attacks, and has been able to repair her relationship with her husband.


Esther had been holding a grudge against her neighbor, Gati, for 5 years. She decided to visit her neighbor and tell her that she forgave her. She also shared her testimony about how she had been changed. Her neighbor was so surprised that she decided to follow Jesus, too, and was baptized recently.


Robina has decided to follow Jesus, even while her husband is deeply committed to witchcraft. Their daughter is blind, and her husband has repeatedly tried to get various witches to do animal sacrifices to restore her eyesight. Robina has consistently stood up for her daughter, while also learning how to speak to her husband in a way that makes him respect her. He has finally stopped trying to use witchcraft on their daughter, and they all live in peace, together, these days. You can see more of her story here: https://davisrhodes.org/2022/06/23/imani-ya-mwanamke/


Joseph Mwita stopped beating his wife, stopped trying to control her every move, and stopped trying to break down her confidence. He also started to spend more time with her, and they are learning to enjoy being together.


Samweli believed that men were above women, and also that all women should have FGM performed, as soon as they were old enough. He was a bully towards younger women, and would be especially hard on anyone who hadn’t had FGM performed. He has stopped bullying young women, and he even helped to protect women from FGM this past December.


Baba Mariamu was always suspicious of his wife, tried to control her every move, and beat her regularly. He has stopped beating her, given her freedom, and they have reconciled.


Mama Baraka was frustrated with her life, and she took this anger out on her children, beating them heavily for the smallest mistakes, or even out of suspicion. She would also insult them, calling them “dogs”, or “brainless”. A couple months ago, she promised to stop doing this, and everyone agrees that she is keeping her promise. She says that she is most surprised at how well her children behave now and how much peace there is at home.


There are many more examples that we could give. This post is already too long, and I won’t make it longer. If you would like to hear more examples, I would love to set up a phone call; it’s surprisingly easy for me to call you, almost anywhere in the world.

Finally, here are some pictures of these new disciples being baptized; a baptism into an entirely new life.




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