By Chris Eggerman-mission team member
Each day that we went out into villages within the Kishapu district of Tanzania to share the gospel, I was in a group with a man named Joseph. Although he’s around 70 years old, he’s one of the most happy, energetic people I’ve ever met. He also knows about many people and historical events from various parts of the world even though he has always lived in east Africa.
Joseph has had a very interesting life. He worked in a gold mine as a young man, and then was an immigration officer in Tanzania and Kenya. He married a Muslim woman, who convinced him to become a Muslim. He later became the Muslim equivalent of a pastor.
Joseph and his wife have several children, but their youngest son was kidnapped by a house guest shortly after he was born. After praying to Mohammed for their son to be returned didn’t help, Joseph’s wife secretly went to a Lutheran church where the pastors prayed with her. She eventually got help from the Tanzanian police (which was somewhat unusual at the time), who eventually located their son on the other side of the country and got him back.
Joseph’s wife told him about praying with the Lutheran pastors, and that she believed God had helped her find their son. She convinced Joseph to go to church with her, and he eventually came to faith in God and was baptized in 1999.
Joseph is now an evangelist for the Lutheran diocese in Shinyanga. Because of his friendliness and good sense of humor, he is effective in helping people understand that the teachings of witch doctors are false and that they should instead put their faith in Jesus, who loves and accepts them as they are. Whenever he witnesses to a Muslim, he says to them, “Mohammed died and remains in the grave, but Jesus is alive! You should put your faith in the one who is alive!”
Soon after we got to Tanzania we found out our dear friend Joseph was in the hospital with liver problems. Rev.Yohana Nzelu gave us updates on him each day. Unfortunately for those who loved him, Joseph passed away on Saturday. We do know there was much rejoicing in heaven over this brother … he had such a great faith and was so very animated in sharing it!! I will never forget him “Just Digesting his food”, his hyena demonstrations, putting pennies in his shoes or his phrase, which is now one of my favorites “If God wishes”