From Alaska to Africa

June 01, 2009 | Ruth deGraaff

Don Bliss, in charge of truck maintenance at Klondike Concrete in Chugiak, Alaska, heard about the ShareHIM campaign being held in Tanzania, East Africa. Bliss still doesn't quite know how he got involved. He called the conference asking questions and the next thing he knew, he was listed as a speaker for the campaign.

So Bliss bought a computer, solicited financial help from his Eagle River Church, as well as friends and family, got leave from his work, persuaded his wife Pat to go along, and headed off.

Sue Dickenson, on the other hand, was fulfilling a childhood dream by going on the trip. The program made her think, especially when she saw what the Africans themselves are doing. She writes, "We need to step out of our comfort zones and share Christ where we live—our Lord is coming."

The Blisses, and Dickenson and Alicia Dickenson from Delta Junction, Alaska, joined Nita Larson from Anchorage, Alaska, along with volunteers from other countries and met Don Folkenberg, ShareHIM leader, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for an orientation. After the orientation they divided into two groups. The larger group went to Dodoma, toward the interior of Tanzania and the Alaskan members went to Kibaha. This group was divided into five small groups to hold meetings in five different villages in Kibaha. The pastors and church members had prepared the sites and sowed the seed. The guests did the reaping and God blessed the harvest. After the series, on Dec. 6, the last day of the campaign, they all met at the outdoor stone baptismal pool for baptisms. One group arrived in an open truck and could be heard singing their hearts out to the Lord on the way. The total baptisms from all five sites were 53.

The church with more than 3,000 members (Dar es Salaam) has no windows, only openings. People eat rice and bananas every day. People walk in the streets at all hours of day and night, only the main streets are paved, all the space is used--even the ditches along the road are planted with corn, squash and sweet potatoes. Lights go out continually. Recycling is a way of life. Locals didn't say "Good bye," but rather, "we'll see you on the great and glorious day when our Lord comes".