Saturday, July 10, 2010

Report "from the field" (Tanzania)

George Kariuki receiving gift from Arusha, TZ TOT participants Tanga, TZ TOT participants
Dar es Salaam conference in outdoor church

The following report was sent while I was in Tanzania about 3 weeks ago:

The flights from Appleton to Nairobi seemed particularly long this time, inasmuch as I had to leave the day after my daughter's wedding (the wedding itself was a beautiful outdoor wedding at Calumet County Park). George Kariuki met me at the airport. I was the recipient of typical African hospitality, as we were feasted at the home of George's brother-in-law Daniel and his wife Katherine, even though we didn't arrive there until about 10:30PM. Unfortunately, we had to leave early the next morning for the 8 hour bus ride (over horrible roads) to Arusha, Tanzania. In Arusha we conducted our first of two Biblical Stewardship TOTs. Although I generally insist that TOT participants be fluent in English (because TOTs are designed for smaller groups, and a premium is placed on discussion and Q&A), some of these participants were not too fluent in English. Consequently, we conducted the TOT in Kiswahili (I didn't, but we had a translator for me). As a result, I decided that George Kariuki should lead most of the sessions (in Kiswahili), which he did. George is an excellent teacher. All of the participants commented on how valuable this TOT was. Stewardship is one of our core courses, and essentially amounts to applying Christianity and biblical principles to most major areas of life (environment; time; mind; body; money and possessions; and the church). Applying this has the potential of profoundly changing lives. These TOT participants are now in the vanguard of changing people in the churches to a better way of living, which will affect not only the churches but Tanzanian culture.

We then travelled to the east coast of Tanzania, where we did another Stewardship TOT in Tanga, for pastors from both the Tanga area and from Zanzibar. Several of the pastors seemed quite moved by what they had discussed--especially the role that the church should be playing in the lives of the people. Three of the pastors said that, based on what they had learned, although their churches did not currently have formal budgets, they would now be adopting them (the Stewardship materials include information for both household and church budgets, including sample budget forms).

We are now in Dar es Salaam (the national capital) where we have just completed a pastors conference on 1 Timothy. Wilbert Seme and Joram Ibrahim, both Tanzanians, taught with me, and did excellent work. Although we have been in Dar previously, this was a new venue. This work is particularly important here in eastern Tanzania, since Muslims constitute the vast majority of the population here (about 85% in Tanga; 96% in Zanzibar). Consequently, the churches need to be equipped and strengthened so that they can work together and help to meet the important needs in this difficult part of the country.

Pastor Wilbert Seme has been coordinating our work throughout Tanzania. He has been doing a good job. However, he does not have high fluency in English. Having to work through a translator inhibits our ability to communicate well. I am happy to say that Joram Ibrahim of Tanga has agreed to be my Tanzania national contact person and will work with both Wilbert and me (Joram will act sort of as a CEO and Wilbert as a COO). They both will join me and the other national coordinators for a strategizing meeting in Kampala in October. This has been an answer to prayer. I think that, as a result of this trip, we will be able to put into place some good regional leaders throughout the northern half of Tanzania. Since Tanzania is the geographically largest country of East Africa, and has the highest Muslim population of East Africa, establishing a solid organizational foundation for EPI here is of great importance.

Tomorrow we take the lengthy bus trip to Dodoma, a regional capital and site of a large university. From there I plan to go to Singida and then to Kilifi, Kenya (just north of Mombasa, on the coast).

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