Vangast Bitukenja is the pastor of Tanzania Assemblies of God Upendo Revival Christian Center in Dodoma, Tanzania and has spent more than twenty years in ministry. He has a heart to reach the Muslim people with the love of Christ and has travelled on missionary trips to the Muslim nation of Zanzibar, despite being previously jailed for sharing the gospel there.
Vangast and his wife, Rehema, are the proud parents of four biological children and three adopted children. He graduated from Bethany’s Advanced Biblical Studies Program in May 2011.
Vangast recounts his second- and third-quarter internship experience with New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ in Buffalo, N.Y., pastored by Willie and Verdis Griffin and presents a call for the American church to pursue godliness and holiness.
I have learned many things during my internship at New Jerusalem Church. One of among many is the life of Pastor Griffin and his wife, Verdis. To be honest, these servants of God have taught me a big lesson through their lives about true love. Their church has been a place where I have experienced the extraordinary presence of God and have sensed, felt, and touched the true love of God. In this church, love is not only spoken, but is being put into action. For the people in this church, love is the lifestyle of their daily activities.
The second thing I learned from the Griffins is how they teach their people through example. They also do before they tell their people to do something. I have seen the way they devote themselves to God and the work of ministry. They are ready to help their people anytime, are so humble, and they help people and work as if they were many years younger than their actual ages.
On another note, from my time in the United States, it grieves me to say that I believe that much of the church in America is now in compromise. Instead of the church influencing the world, to a large extent the world is influencing the church. I am saddened when I see church leaders who fear to correct and rebuke sin because they don’t want to offend people. They want to have big numbers in their churches. Of course, not all are like this, but I have seen it in some churches which I visited and in how some pastors treated their people. That is why I say this.
In some churches I visited, I didn’t experience the move of God; I saw how to collect money. Many plans were made only to honor people rather than God, and bishops were mentioned more often in conferences than the name of God. When we elevate our money, plans, and people above God, this is a great sign of a dying church.
I urge American churches to change their vision and start planning to receive missionaries from other countries. To be honest before God, America as a nation has gone down spiritually. I don’t mean that American churches should stop sending missionaries to other countries, but I am challenging them to see the reality. Many people are focusing on sending missionaries, but I believe that there is also a need for missionaries to come from other nations who may help America to rise again.
May God continue to purify His church around the world and raise up godly leaders, like the Griffins, who will shepherd His people into the fullness of God’s purpose for this hour.