High tea party draws more than 400 prostitutes to church.

By September 18, 2006

Tanzania (MNN) — In northern Tanzania in Africa is Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake. The lake’s many islands support a booming fishing industry, which also produces an arena for prostitution.

Burdened to reach the women in the sex trade, Africa Inland Mission’s Chris Hamilton, together with local believers and a short-term ‘Jesus is Life’ team, personally invited the women to a special tea party outreach. “We had done up 240 invitations, and we ran out. And people came back to me and said, ‘we didn’t have enough invitations’ and I said, ‘well, that’s fine, just go back and invite ladies anyway. They don’t have to have an invitation when they come.'”

The next day, 420 ladies showed up for the tea party. Tea, cakes, doughnuts and door prizes and decorations had transformed a church building into a place where broken and hopeless women felt love and met Jesus.

Hamilton says the goal of the high tea outreach was twofold: “Our first goal was to do a health teaching on HIV and AIDS with a prevention message. And then the second one, and more important, was to specifically share with these ladies the hope that we have in Christ, and that even though some of their lives seem quite hopeless, that we have a message to present to them which turns everything else upside down for them if they’re willing to abandon the lifestyle that they live in and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”

The team performed mimes about AIDS and about Jesus, shared testimonies and Chris shared about the salvation and hope of Jesus from Scripture. At the end of the tea party, Hamilton says that 23 women openly professed Christ. “There was a really good result to our outreach. People are soft. They’re interested. We’ve since been back with another ‘Jesus is Life’ team to do some more follow up and to do some other outreaches in that particular area.”

One woman came to Chris later that evening and shared that she was dying of AIDS and wanted to accept Christ. Since the tea party outreach (which took place in June), the woman has died, but Chris and other believers were able to encourage and be a witness to the woman’s family.

The tea party outreach is just one of many opportunities that there are in ministry to the island people. Chris and her husband Dale have been serving in Tanzania for nearly two decades as church planters with AIM, doing evangelism and discipleship among the islanders. Dale is a pastor and Chris is a nurse, and together they are using health ministries and mercy ministries to reach out among the islanders of Tanzania.

AIDS is a huge problem there, and like many other places, Chris says, “There’s a lot of stigma and discrimination, a lot. It is not something that people are willing to easily talk about openly, which is one of the reasons that we specifically did this women to women. One of the things that Dale has a real vision for is doing some things like that men to men.”

There are many needs for the ministry work there, and Dale emphasized more significant ones, “I would say the biggest need is that, within the state of transition that they find themselves, with AIDS so prevalent, that they will hear the Gospel message in a way that will challenge them to accept or refuse. There’s a tremendous open door for medical ministries that are combined with HIV/AIDS ministries.”

He continues, “We are struggling to find anyone that will even take notice of the problems. Our vision is to facilitate the island believers to reach out not only with the message of the Gospel but with AIDS teaching and health teaching to their island neighbors. So a huge prayer is that they will get connected with what will facilitate the message getting to the next island, their next neighbor.”

Pray for the follow-up being done to continue discipling the women who gave their lives to Christ at the tea party. Pray for all of the ongoing ministries to Tanzania’s islanders.

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