Photo Jul 25, 7 59 29 PM

What is going on “off the trail” of the freedom walk? In addition to all the stories of what God has done on the walk, are the stories that will emerge or remain untold from the lives of the hundreds of people who participated in the Young Life Freedom Walk across the former slave route through Tanzania. I am confident each person has been changed; and that the change in them is now impacting the lives of others.

My name is Douglas Buckley. I have been living in Tanzania for six years with my wife and three children and I pastor Vineyard Church of Dar es Salaam.

Off the trail, around a campfire on the freedom walk, I had a significant experience that God used to reconfirm his calling on my life and teach me the power of confession and forgiveness in the present for sins that have gone unconfessed and unforgiven in generations past.

The experience was lived out under a blanket of stars as smoke swirled around those gathered around the campfire. The flames cast long shadows upon us and made our faces bright.  Around this campfire stood the descendants of slaves who were taken from Africa and sold to the Americas. Around this campfire stood descendants of Africans who captured and sold their brothers into slavery. Around this campfire stood those whose ancestors made financial gain
from pain and dehumanization. The flames cast long shadows upon us and made our faces bright.

There were several African-Americans participating in this part of the freedom walk. On this night we, the fellow African-Americans, were invited into the middle of the gathering around the yellow, orange flames of the fire. Then our African brothers and sisters confessed that their ancestors had captured ours and sold us into slavery.

Confession for the past does not make sense in the present humanness of our flesh and limited understanding, but on this night we chose to deal with what we could not see and pray for what we could not understand.

Some confessed, some forgave. And it was in these actions; this boldness of doing what does not make sense in our humanness, that the grace and forgiveness of the maker of humans changed the atmosphere and I felt freedom and joy and confirmed afresh of my calling.

The church I have been leading the past three years in Dar es Salaam is a diverse church of people from many different cultural backgrounds. God has asked me to lead out in a ministry of reconciliation to grow a kingdom community that is united by the love and grace of Jesus across lines of division.

This campfire forgiveness inspired me to lead our community in confession of what was done in the past regarding slavery. We stood as representatives of our ancestors, proclaiming the truth of forgiveness over past sins because of the great love and shed blood of Jesus.

One man stood among us and proclaimed that during our service Jesus set him free of his hatred of women. As a young boy, his father was killed in a disagreement over a woman. This boy is now a 39-year-old man who has never married because of this hatred and bitterness toward women that has enslaved him for too many years.

On this day he proclaimed with his own mouth that Jesus had set him free from this hate.

My calling confirmed; his hatred cleansed.Off the trail, down the line: the spiritual impact of the freedom walk will continue to influence and expand one person at a time