During this 20th Anniversary Year celebration, the Lord continues to surprise and bless!
Yesterday’s worship (October 2) was very special, including a nice message about worship (based in part of Jeremiah 23:23-24), prepared and delivered by one of our recent Form 6 graduates, who also happens to be a young lady! The most recently graduated Form 6 students were on campus to say, “Thank You!” and present a nice gift (a widescreen television set) to Simba wa Yuda…and it was special, indeed. We – Lynn and Hart – were deeply touched as we realized several of those recent graduates were among the early students of the school and were children of Hart’s students when he taught at NTC. Now they are graduated, on their way to university and careers in engineering, business and finance, medicine, law, and other professions. Each of them is a devoted follower of Jesus, carrying the message of the Gospel with them.
But what I’m going to write about today is, Lion of Judah Academy Students Ministry – usually called, “LOJASM” (pronounced “lo – jazz – um”). LOJASM would best be understood, from an American perspective, as the alumni association of Lion of Judah Academy. Since Lion of Judah Academy is only 20 years old, LOJASM – composed exclusively of alumni – is relatively new. It was first organized about five or six years ago…since that was a few years after we began to have a significant number of graduates! It has grown rapidly in size, strength and outreach. In fact, the 20th Anniversary celebration was largely planned and carried out by the members of LOJASM.
These bright, intelligent, highly capable young men and women are a delight to be with. They care deeply about the school and about each other. Perhaps the most exciting thing of all we realized about them, however, is this: the vision of what The Lion of Judah Academy is all about is taking hold of their hearts! The vision has been planted in them…it is being nurtured and nourished…it is beginning to blossom in specific and tangible expressions of love and service to their school.This is so exciting to see!
The initial purposes for organizing LOJASM had to do with helping the students network for mutual support, employment and encouragement. Recently graduated from university studies, they were entering a job market and economy which offered VERY limited employment possibilities. Finding jobs, and finding ways to put their education and passions to work, was a great challenge for many. Mtebe hit upon the idea of calling them together to help them see the power and possibilities of networking and working cooperatively. LOJASM was born!
Those purposes, which have indeed been helpful, quickly expanded to include service to the school and the community. They have raised money for projects around the school, carried out service projects for the school (painting buildings and so forth), as well as service projects in the community. This year, for instance, in addition to organizing and carrying out most of the anniversary celebration, they also raised money to purchase supplies for the Bulima-Lion of Judah Dispensary AND the nearby government dispensary. So a genuine heart of service is being formed in the group…they are taking the word, “Ministry” very seriously!
In addition to those things, this year we have had conversations with the group as a whole, as well as with many individuals. In those conversations we have discerned a genuine attitude of love and devotion for the school, along with the deep desire to see the school benefit and bless others in the same ways they have found benefit and blessing. In other words, they are catching the vision…and claiming it as their own. Seeing this brings us great joy and hope.
There are several examples I could cite, most of which are in the planning and discussion stages. But their discussions are serious, and their plans are taking on specific and concrete form. One ‘for instance’ has to do with helping the school become more financially stable and self-sustaining, a very important long-term goal for the school. They are seriously exploring two specific projects in this regard, both of which have potential to serve a variety of functions. One is to develop a cement block business (the Tanzania version of cinder blocks — construction is booming around us, and good quality building materials are in short supply). The other is to develop a T-shirt and cap embroidery business (these are as popular in Tanzania as they are in the U.S…but there is only one supplier within a huge area around us…located about two hours away!) Both are very creative ideas, and each would be connected to the school and designed in such a way as…
– to serve real needs within the school (the school needs lots of both those items!)
– to serve real needs within the community
– to raise income for the school
– to employ both villagers and alumni
Who knows what will happen, but seeing our alumni thinking creatively and concretely about things like this is VERY encouraging for us. Incidentally, if you think you might be interested in being involved in the development of either of those projects, please contact us! Initial capital investment costs are the greatest challenge for each project, and we think both can be launched (and become self sustaining – producing income for the school) with an initial investment of less than $10,000 each.
We are so proud of these young people!
#1 – Class 7 national exams on Wednesday and Thursday, October 5 and 6. These are very important national examinations for our students. These kids are in the equivalent of the U.S. 7th grade. Normally our students excel on these exams, and we expect that to be true again. However, it is a very stress-filled time for the students because these exam results are very important for the future of their education.
#2 – Food costs and expenses – This is always a challenge. But recent growing season problems, along with the all too real world-wide food shortages, have caused some basic food commodities to increase by almost 400% in recent months. This not only threatens our ability to provide healthful and nutritious meals (while staples are at least available at exorbitant price increases, most fruit and vegetables are not available at all in the quantities we require); it is also threatening our abilities to provide staff salaries, and has completely stopped all capital development efforts for the time being.
Please pray for both of these issues.