Falling in Faith

Steve VSI

We’ve all heard sermons about walking in faith, but what happens when we fall, when things go deeply awry as we seek to do God’s will? Let me share with you an edited email from my friend Steve Vinton and his wife Susan, founders of Village Schools International, and longtime residents of a village in Tanzania. Please look within this essay for their perspective on the troubles in life and the goodness of God.

Susan slipped in the mud, passed out, broke her arm, and dislocated her wrist. A houseful of people showed up in the early evening bringing her home. I was sick over what had happened and how much pain she was in, while at the same time I was feeling woozy myself from the pain of what I mistakenly thought were kidney stones. Our friend, Dr. Leena, told us the best thing was to make the 13 hour drive to the big hospital in Dar es Salaam. Godfrey and Emmanueli took turns driving that night, and Sarah spent the whole night massaging Susan’s fingers until we were finally all in the emergency room together.

Although Friday was a big holiday in Tanzania, the orthopedic surgeon came in that afternoon anyway and relocated Susan’s wrist. A CT scan showed that I had a blockage coming from my left kidney and putting me into three days of really terrible pain. Once we had Susan taken care of in the emergency room, Godfrey and I went to reception to get started on me. I was told that, since it was a holiday, I could see a general doctor, but then I’d need to come back next week. As he walked me toward another building, we ran into my dear wonderful friend, Dr. Jamal. He talked to the doctors in the emergency room, and the next thing I knew one of his surgeon friends was on his way to the hospital. As soon as they finished Susan’s surgery, it was my turn! (Things were a bit delayed when the electricity went off, but other than that everything was wonderful.) My body is all fixed, although I won’t be good to go home until next Friday, and Susan’s wrist is going to take months to heal.

Once again we are reminded of God’s goodness in all things!

  • A dear old grandmother carrying a huge load of firewood on her head stopped to help Susan where she had fallen.
  • Our students at the college spread messages to the four corners of the country for people to pray.
  • Dr. Jamal “just happened” to bump into me in the hallway here at the hospital.
  • Emmanueli, who never takes naps, had gone home for lunch that day and surprised his wife by saying that he was going to take a nap for “no particular reason.”  But that meant he could drive through the wee hours of the night to get us to the hospital.

Sometimes you just have to smile at ‘coincidences’ like that in order to experience the real joy there is in seeing God at work when the bad things happen.

How I wish that Susan had not fallen! But she did, and what followed was a little glimpse of God arranging really kind things for us.

  • Right now I am not only without pain, but the nurses connived to get Susan and me in a hospital room together so that we get to talk and slowly get better together.
  • When Susan was nauseated and felt she just need a sip of coke, the nurse found out we were here with no money, went out herself, and bought Susan a coke.
  • Later Susan wanted a banana, so when Godfrey & Emmanueli & Sarah came during visiting hours they went and bought us a huge big bunch of deliciously sweet bananas to share.
  • As Susan said, the way she fell she easily could have broken both wrists.
  • How easy it would have been for us to have made a poor decision to go to a closer hospital that couldn’t have helped us!
  • And what would have happened if Dr. Jamal had not been walking down that hall?

Soon we’ll be back home and back into the busy days of what we do—there are schools to visit, classes to teach, big programs to work on—but for right now we just get to be the happy couple here with nothing to do, nowhere at all to go, and we just get to smile and talk and marvel at really how blessed we are.  How nice to just enjoy a nap together—a forced vacation! Life sure is good.

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Eighty Happy Students

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I’ve got two quick questions for you today:

How many Bibles do you own?

Are you excited about those Bibles?

My friend Sara teaches Tanzanian children through Village Schools International (www.villageschools.org – a mission worth reading about!). She started a program that gives each student a chance to earn a Swahili Bible by memorizing 25 verses. It’s working! I’d like to let you read a portion of her latest email telling about the results:

I love getting to see the students huddle together and help each other memorize different verses. They get so excited as they learn more verses and gain a better understanding of God’s word.

Last week two of my students finished saying 25 verses. Yesterday I had them over for a little celebration so they could see how excited I was for them. The three of us had some sodas, talked about the verses they learned, what some of their favorite verses were and how they would use their Bibles. Both of them were very excited when I handed them their Bibles and spent the whole time looking through them.

The three other missionary teachers in my region also gave out Bibles to those students who earned them. There were 78 Bibles given out to some very thrilled students. One student said he was so excited to get a Bible because he could now have his own and be even closer to one day being a pastor. Other students were so excited to receive their Bibles they cried, sang and danced for joy.”

I have multiple Bibles in my home, and access to a dozen or more through my Kindle alone. I do read them. I do memorize a verse now and then. But I can’t remember the last time I opened my Bible and really thought about what a  privilege it is to have one. Tomorrow, when I sit down to read Gods Word (or plug in my head phones to listen to an audio version) I’m going to think about Sara and her students. And my heart is going to dance for joy!

P.S. Please pray for Sara and for VSI. They are doing awesome work!