... as we look back over the past ten years.

... as we look back over the past ten years.

Our hearts are full of thanksgiving as we look back over the past ten years.

Ten years ago, in November 2004, Godfrey and Emmanueli traveled by bus from their home villages in the Rukwa region some 500 kiliometers to the region of Iringa to the little village of Igoda to begin work with people there to build our first school. We celebrate the faith that it took for them to step out to do what seemed to be impossible. We rejoice at the many others who have followed in their footsteps, and under their leadership, going to villages far from their homes – something that today means we have 31 schools already open scattered across 6 regions of Tanzania and the neighboring country of Malawi, and another 7 under construction (including one in the neighboring country of Zambia), with just over 9000 students currently in school – none of whom would have otherwise had the opportunity to get an education. As we look back on this, our great hope is for more of the same, and so we ask those of you who pray for this work, to pray that God will continue to call people into His service. We believe this model of encouraging people to build their own schools for their own kids is effective and good, but it takes ambassadors, people to go and spread the message, and then it takes people willing to go and serve.

In May of 2005, I remember after we had built the first school that I wrote back to my wife Susan to tell her that while we had opened the school, I had failed to get a house built for us. She wrote back quickly to Godfrey and Emmanueli to tell them that it did not matter, that she was coming with the boys in July, whether we had a house or not to live in. I celebrate not only her willingness to sacrifice, but how her example has permeated the organization. Over the past decade, God has provided 151 short-term missionaries who have come to live in these villages. Serving in Tanzania has admittedly entailed a great deal of sacrifice on their parts, but the impact they have had on our students has been huge and the relationships they have built have been treasured. As we look back on all of those who have come, we cannot help but look to the future and to rejoice in the many open doors we have before us. We therefore ask you to continue to pray for even more workers as the harvest is indeed plentiful.

I remember when I first went to Africa sitting around the fire in some village in Congo and I asked my grandfather where all of the money came from to do everything. Ah son, you never worry about that. It’s God’s work and He will provide for His work. All well and good Grandpa but seriously where does all of the money come from. Listen, your grandmother and I have served all of these years and we have never lacked for a single penny to do even one thing that we felt God wanted us to do. I remember telling that to Godfrey and Emmanueli when we started out. It might, I suppose, take less faith now after we have seen all that God has done. But the truth is that it has not mattered how many bricks these people make, God has always provided the money needed for the metal roofing. It has not mattered how many girls come to school, there has always been enough scholarship money for them. It never mattered how many of Susan’s friends desperately needed the benevolence of a free bus ticket to travel to get medical help or a blanket to comfort them while getting better or to ease their final days before death, the benevolence fund has never run dry. We can truthfully say that we have never once lacked for funds. We have never had our backs against the wall. We have never felt that if only we had this we would be able to do that. It has truly been wonderful to be witnesses to all this!

Therefore we are encouraged to move forward into these coming years with big dreams. More schools in Tanzania, more schools in Malawi, the first and then, hopefully, many more schools in Zambia. The opening of our first college. More kids in all those classrooms. More missionaries to teach our students, to love them, to share the Gospel with them. Year after year, we have seen transformation in the lives of our students and their families, and then the transformation of life in these villages. As more and more educated Christian leaders take on jobs throughout these countries working in various fields from medicine to politics, as more and more of our graduates start their own businesses, build their families, serve in their churches, work faithfully at their jobs, we look with excitement to contributing to transformation in many countries in Africa.

You are our family and our friends, and you have partnered in this work with us, and we are full of thankfulness for your love and concern and kindness. Celebrate with us the overwhelming clear evidence that God has chosen to do wonderful things this past year and throughout this past decade. Pray with us that He might continue to give us the faith to believe that He wants us to continue to move forward into the next decade, and that He would call more and more people to serve Him in this way. We thank you for your prayers and encouragement, we thank you for your financial investment in this work, we thank you for your many acts of service and kindness!

May you feel the real joy of Christmas in a wonderful way. And may 2015 be a great year of much joy, much service, much fruit for us all.

In His service,

Steve & Susan Vinton