About ten years ago Methodist Pastor Jim Rudy decided to follow a dream. With two computers and a vision that he was certain had come from God (and not from a restless sleep after too much night time junk food) Pastor Rudy started to repair and rebuild computers to give away. His dream was to give them to folks who would probably never be able to afford them. He told neighbor and friend, Bob Shreiner. In 2006 the Central Pa Conference UMC helped launch Computer Ministry, Inc. (CMI), and provided space in its Mission Central warehouse, Mechanicsburg.
In less than ten years more than 10,000 computer systems have been given away! The most recent shipment (110) went to the Konde Diocese, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, for the Mbeya Lutheran Teacher’s College. The Tanzanian Church and government are joining together to move the academic work from what we once called a normal school, preparing people to teach primary grades, to university status with accredited faculty and necessary facilities to support world-class study and preparation. This new school is Southern Highlands University College, Uyole, Tanzania.
The shipment started when, maybe in the spirit of Pastor Rudy, I too, caught a dream and vision. I felt called to help the school get the computers necessary for accreditation but after researching prices I was really discouraged. I grumbled to Bob Shreiner, who I had met when I volunteered at CMI. He looked at me like I was dumber than dirt and said, “That’s what we do here. Do you need them today or tomorrow?” The journey to Tanzania began.
I shared the good news of CMI’s offer. Family, friends and strangers from many faith traditions caught the vision and shared themselves, their resources and their prayers. We organized as a ministry of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Enola. The wish list for the new school grew. Soon we were gathering textbooks, office furniture, overhead projectors, even copying machines and a small telephone system. Warehouse workers who had done this kind of shipping before urged me ask UMCOR for school kits to extend the educational opportunities and stabilize the contents of the container. Overwhelming help rushed over our efforts like rain on a hot summer day!
The container was packed and left Mission Central on time, July 11. It sailed from Baltimore on Friday the 13th aboard the MSC Natalia. Many watch and wait in great hope and joy. We are tracking its voyage on our computers and the folks in Tanzania have gathered “armies of prayers.”
Heartfelt thanks to all in and around Mission Central whose godly hearts and human resources were freely given again and again! May everyone know the joy of the blessings they bring to others, even generations yet unborn. Those who now survive in central Tanzania might soon thrive with tools for education and the hope of Christ alive in us.