Fruit

Fruit

Since we launched our very first school in 2005, we have somehow always managed to have enough, or almost enough, sometimes just barely enough teachers for our schools. This has been another one of those suprising and pretty much "unexplainable" facts of life these past six years given the rather acute shortage of teachers in this country. This is often perplexing and provokes consternation among some government officials trying to understand how it is that when many schools in the country are operating on less than a quarter of the teaching staff they need, we always seem to have teachers in our classrooms. It certainly isn't because we offer attractive salaries or special benefits. Indeed in any of our public meetings on university campuses here in Tanzania, our appeals have always centered upon the sacrifice and hardship that would be involved in serving with us, the need to sense a real calling and vocation, and the challenge of doing something for the poor and trying to accomplish the impossible task of helping those who would otherwise never have gone to school to get that chance to get not only an education, but the highest quality education possible. We emphasize that there's nothing special about our "salaries", that the houses we have for our teachers are simple, and that life in the village is hard. We make a joke almost out of the fact that when God called Paul He told him that He would only tell him of the work that he would have to do and the hardship and sacrifice and suffering he would face -- and God never mentioned much about the salary or the benefits -- and that if you're interested in serving with an organization that can only promise you hard work and suffering, then go ahead and contact us.

Well, after living on the edge for the last six years, just barely having enough teachers to keep our schools running, this weekend we have an entirely new problem. Justin has spoken in so many different places sharing with people about the opportunity to serve in our schools that we have 278 recent graduates who have applied to serve with us. He has "weeded" that down to about 150 applications that he considers worth pursuing and they have been invited to meet with us in the city of Iringa. We need to choose 74 of them this Saturday as we go through marathon sessions of interviewing them and then choosing those we want to send out to show their skills in the classroom before we actually sign any agreements with them.

And so, many thanks to those of you who have been praying over the last months that God would send workers into His harvest field. We by no means want you to stop praying in that way -- because we're going to keep opening more and more schools -- so the need for more and more workers will continue to grow. But also we would like to ask you in particular over the next couple of days to pray for discernment for Godfrey and Emmanueli as they make the choices of who to say "yes" to and who to say "no" to. We are told in James that if you lack wisdom to ask for it and God will give the wisdom that is needed. We are looking not just for those who can teach, but those who have a godly character, who will not look down upon the poor but rather will seek to lift them up, who will live well in the village without grumbling and complaining or hurting people in the village by showing them that they think that they are better than they are. Among them we pray that there might be those who will have the gift of evangelism and desire to share with their students, those who will have compassionate hearts who will want to get involved after school in helping those in the village who are widows and orphans and sick with HIV/AIDS, those who will come with other interesting skills, who might know how to use computers, who will want to play soccer with the kids, who will take a special interest in the needier students. In short, we're looking for a wonderful crop of servants. Out of those 278 may we find the 74 that God would have us choose to come serve along side us.

VSI, like all charities, sends out receipts and thank you notes to all of you every time you send a financial donation for this ministry -- and we sincerely do appreciate what you do by giving so generously. We don't have a way of tracking and sending out receipts and nice letters to thank those of you who pray for this work. So today, let me thank you, all of you who take time to pray, for the harvest of workers, for the fact that in the truck accident we had last night that no one was hurt and the truck is still in good shape, for the fact that we continue to find favor among high government officials, that doors continue to open for us to work in more and more places, in short, since we see God doing far beyond all that we could ever ask or think, we thank you for, as Paul says, joining us in our struggle by praying to God for us. The fruit of money given is seen in classrooms which are built, trucks which are purchased, scholarships which are provided. The fruit of prayers offered to God is seen in open doors, and multitudes of workers, unmerited favors, softened hearts, kindnesses from government officials, transformed lives, and a whole host of intangible and unexplainably wonderful things. Including, but not limited to, 74 new teachers for our schools.

In His service,
Steve