We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Feeding the Multitudes

On Monday night we felt rather like the disciples of Jesus who were worrying, wondering how on earth they were supposed to find food for the thousands of people that had come to listen to Jesus on the mountainside on the far shore of the Sea of Galilee. We were expecting 20-30 people to arrive from places further afield on the night before the Church and Mission Conference (hosted by Bishop Charles and the TAG Church and ourselves with Emmanuel International). But suddenly, on that Monday night, there were 120 people looking for food and lodgings! How would we provide for everyone on our rocky mountainside on the far shore of Lake Victoria?

But God provided! Pastor Zakayo and his wife, Evelyn did such a good job organizing things and everyone was fed and bedded for the night. On Tuesday morning, Andrew Wingfield (joining us from Iringa), Tim and I arrived … and so did many other people! We were expecting to have about one hundred people when those from the local area had also arrived in the morning. However we ended up with over 350 people all together, from all over the place ... including the islands!  We only had 350 people, not 5000, but thinking about the disciple Philip’s comment to Jesus (in John 6:7), it would have taken more than two year’s wages of some of those there to feed and bed everyone! But the immediate challenge was morning chai for everyone. And by the end of the long lunchtime line-up, I think the budget for the entire 3-day conference was blown!
The long lunch line-up
But while we had tried to limit things, based on what we saw as our limited resources, God had other plans, much bigger than ours! And He made things work with the resources we had offered … even when we thought we didn’t have enough!  We were able to squeeze the content of the three days into two, accept an offering from delegates (and friends) at the conference and gratefully accept the generosity of the Bible College opening their dorms at no extra cost. Everyone had a place to stay and enough to eat and all were fed with the Word of God and encouraged to be His people fulfilling His mission here in the Mwanza region!

People sitting on the steps outside
Bishop Charles introducing Andrew
It was exciting to have so many pastors and leaders there; it was a fantastic opportunity to share our heart for mission, to see the Church fulfilling God’s purposes in the world, in their own communities, in every area of life. Tim introduced the overall topic of “integral mission” and with an overview of the Bible talked about the place of God’s people in God’s mission. Pastor Zakayo and Andrew also talked about reaching out with the all-embracing love of God, helping the church to use their own resources, using what they already have, to reach out to meet the physical, social and spiritual needs of the poor and oppressed in their communities.

Group discussions

This conference was significant for us, after our period of exploring all that is happening in Mwanza, observing the assets we see in the different communities and the needs to be met. And now at a pivotal point, as we begin to move ahead in reaching out with the church here, we were able align ourselves with them, standing with them to help and serve the poor in and around Mwanza.  And we were encouraged that whatever our vision, God’s is bigger! And we were reminded in a very real way that we don’t need to have “everything”  or even much at all; we just need to offer what we do have and God will multiply it and in His compassion, will satisfy the needs of the multitudes.


  1. Fantastic. We trust that this initiative will result in a big advance of mission in the region. Well done.

  2. Wonderful to hear how well it has all gone.And we're excited now to see what opportunities emerge. We're so happy for you being able to see that all the pain of recent weeks is worthwhile.


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