Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Way Things Are

Dear Prayer Partners,

I was recently asked some questions about life and ministry here in Magugu.  Perhaps some of the information that was shared would be of interest to you and help you  to know how to pray for us.

Is Swahili a developed language? Swahili is the most widely spoken of all African languages with roughly 100 million speakers in several countries.  Swahili is spoken by 99% of Tanzanians and is a first language for many. Because of its prominence as a premier African language and its relationship to Arabic (roughly 40% of its vocabulary comes from Arabic),  it is more developed than many other African languages.  Also, the Bible was translated into Swahili roughly 60 years ago, so this has greatly increased the religious vocabulary of the average Tanzanian.  However, the average Swahili speaker still  has a much smaller vocabulary than an American speaking English would.  There are times when I use a couple dictionaries and seek out a proper word for a concept in a sermon or lesson, and I soon realize that no one has ever heard of that word.  That means that instead of using one precise word to explain a truth, I must describe the truth using a number of terms.
Isn’t English an official language of Tanzania? Although they are taught English as a subject in school from 1st grade on, the reality is that you could not have a conversation in English with most people--including some of the English teachers. They know the greetings and some limited vocabulary, but even many upper level high school and college students really struggle with their English.  Just last week, I gave a ride to a local English teacher, and after about 2 minutes, we were forced to revert back to Swahili.
What is Magugu like?  Magugu is a rapidly growing village located between Babati (a town of about 40,000 people about 25 minutes away) and Arusha (a city of about 400,000 about 2 hours away).  There is electricity there, but probably much less than half of the people actually have electricity in their homes.  The vast majority do not have running water either.  The average home is very simple (roughly 10x12 feet) with one, or at most two rooms. Probably half of the homes would have concrete floors, while the rest would simply be dirt. There is one paved road, which was completed two years ago, connecting Babati and Arusha, running right through the middle of Magugu, but the rest are all dirt. There are schools, one clinic, and small family owned shops (called dukas) everywhere.  Most sell what everyone else sells -- flour, soda, margarine, rice, soap, salt, sugar, and various other necessities.  Because of cheap land, and the new paved road, many people from all tribes of Tanzania are moving to Magugu.
How is ministry among the Datooga (Barabaig) going?  We have been truly blessed to have a young Barabaig man join our church (Gabrieli).  He has shown great spiritual wisdom and has a strong desire to reach his people for Christ.  Please pray for evangelistic efforts among his extended Barabaig family.  Gabrieli has even agreed to do any translation from Swahili to Kidatooga that may be necessary. Also, please pray for his young wife to grow in Christ and desire to be baptized. 

Thank you for your interest and your prayers.

Together In Him,

Aaron & Nicole Shipe
                                                                                    A Sunday Service at Mapea

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Beginning of a Work

Dear Prayer Partners,

Home Sweet Home- Babati: We are officially moved into our home in the town of Babati, and we thank God for His protection and direction of us as we returned to Tanzania.  Babati is the nearest town to the village of Magugu where we desire to begin a church plant.  It has been our plan to build a home in the village of Magugu, but our plans are on hold due to some recent legal issues that have arisen.  So, for the time being, we are living in Babati and driving the 25 minutes to Magugu to evangelize.  

Bible College: Being in Babati has also put us closer to the Bible College, 25 minutes on the other side of Babati in the village of Bonga, and has opened up an opportunity to teach a course on Pastoral Theology.  Please pray for these students that God would ground them in His Word and prepare them to stand firm against the many forms of false doctrine that surround them and their ministries. Please also pray for me that God would grant me wisdom and greater proficiency in Swahili.

Team Work: I have always felt that a team ministering together is always more efficient than any single person.  With that in mind, God has begun raising up a team for the work in Magugu.  Pray for one elder gentleman named Barakieli from our church in Ndatu and a young Bible College graduate named John who have both agreed to help with the work in Magugu.  Barakieli has been involved in evangelistic efforts for many years among the Massai tribe and feels burdened now to help among the Datooga.  John has lived for a couple of years in the very subburb of Magugu that we are targeting called Mapea.  He has asked permission to help us with the church plant.  Both of these men come from different tribes and different generations, but I believe God has brought them together in His wisdom and plan.  Pray for wisdom and direction, as well as a spirit of love and unity to pervade in our “team”.

Your Fellow Laborers,

Aaron and Nicole Shipe

Friday, April 11, 2014

On the Road Again

Dear Prayer Partners,
On the Road:
Since the end of January, we have been to fourteen churches in seven states. Travelling together with seven children has its challenges, but it has been a great blessing as well.  Not only have we been blessed to meet and reconnect with a number of wonderful fellow believers and minister in a variety of settings, but also we have had the privilege of enjoying a significant quantity of time together as a family.   
Continued Progress:
Over the past several months, we have shared with you the progress of the building project in Ndatu.  We rejoiced to hear that the progress continues, and at this point the walls are n

early completed.  The exciting thing about this project has been the complete absence of outside funds with a total dependence upon the Lord to provide. 
He Who Has Ears to Hear:
I don’t often include family information in our prayer letters, but because many of you have been praying for our daughter Erin (who has battled ear infections almost constantly for several years), I would like to share with you a significant answer to prayer.  We were concerned that as a result of such long term ear trauma she might have permanent hearing loss.  However, praise be to God, the audiologist recently told us that she has no hearing loss whatsoever. Thank you for your prayers for her. Please continue to pray for safety as we travel, an agreement with a landlord to rent a home in the new village of Babati, and for wisdom and an open door among the Datooga people as we begin a new phase of ministry.

In Christ,
Aaron and Nicole Shipe

Monday, January 27, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Dear Prayer Partners,

Nicole and I receiving "Goodbye gifts"
from our church family.
After a wonderfully blessed time of being reunited with family and church friends, we have now just begun reporting to our churches.  In early December, our ministry partners, Rodney and Lynn Myers, returned to Tanzania and transitioned back into the ministry in Ndatu.  At our last service at Ndatu Baptist Church, we had over 70 in attendance!  It was a special service where we formally recognized Rodney as the new pastor, and we said “goodbye” to those we have grown to love so dearly.  A few days later, we boarded a plane and returned to the United States to enjoy the holiday season with our family.

Future Plans
Scripture clearly teaches not to presume on the future but rather to say, “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”  So at this point we are making plans for our second term, while acknoweldging joyfully that our lives are in the Lord’s hands.  We are planning to move from the Arusha area and the Meru tribe, to the region of Manyara and the Datooga (Barabaig) tribe.  We will need God’s grace and wisdom as we seek to begin a new work in the village of Magugu.  Would you pray that God would prepare us, as a family, and that he would give us godly and commited national believers to partner with us in this endeavor. Also please pray for safety and a fruitful time of ministry as we report to churches over the next several months.

In Christ,
Aaron and Nicole Shipe

P.S.  See our new video at Shipe Family 2014