I was excited and filled with joy to hear the news. Pastor Mponzi has his airline tickets! He is coming to Minnesota!
He is my brother in Christ from Africa, who I will meet in person for the first time at the end of October. Pastor Baraka Mponzi serves as pastor of the Lutheran church in the mountain village of Idunda, Tanzania.
For decades, St. James Lutheran and Idunda have been in a mission partnership. We pray regularly for each other and support each other in mission. Numerous trips of visitors from St. James have traveled ‘over there' to witness the joy found in Idunda. The Lutheran church in Tanzania is the second largest growing Lutheran church in the world and it is filled with a vibrancy that is contagious.
I was first introduced to Pastor Mponzi on Facebook. For over a year, we have sent words of encouragement to each other and have exchanged pictures of Lutherans in action on opposite sides of the globe. I am grateful for technology that allows us to be connected in a way previously undreamed.
Before the last group from St. James went to Tanzania, discussions began about the possibility of bringing Pastor Mponzi to visit us. I am grateful for the vision and support of many leaders who recognized the importance of such a visit. I am also thankful for the guidance and work of Dr. Ken Olson, Pastor Peter Harrits (Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod), Mchg Lusungu Misgwa, BKB-DIRA Coordinator and April Trout (BKB volunteer). Working together we navigated the waters of preparing for International travel (i.e. passports, VISAs, necessary approvals, etc.)
Why would we bring Pastor Mponzi all the way to Minnesota?
Relationship. Relationship. Relationship.
To celebrate the relationship that our two congregations have that spans decades. God linked us together and blesses us through each other. Pastor Mponzi’s visit will help strengthen these ties.
To learn from the wisdom of the second largest growing Lutheran church in the world. We have much to learn from our sisters and brothers in Africa about the joy of the gospel. Pastor Mponzi will preach and teach us many things about God’s love.
To share what we have with Christ-siblings on the other side of the globe. Pastor’s visit will give us a chance to be generous and return the hospitality that so many of our folks have received when they journeyed to Idunda. Now it is our turn to give a heart-filled welcome.
Now that Pastor Mponzi’s tickets are purchased, we are finalizing the details on our end for his visit. Stay tuned for information about how you can meet Pastor. There will be multiple opportunities in the two weeks plus that he will be with us.
For now, I hope you can join me in just getting excited….
I can’t wait to meet my brother!
I look forward to seeing you in worship,
In Christ’s Light,