Visit by Peter Maclure and Simon Moore
In a major strategic leap forward for PTI in East Africa, we were asked to go to Tanzania for the first time ever. Pastor Michael Nhonya, the Vice President of the Baptist Churches of Tanzania, invited us to lead two conferences in Arusha and Morogoro, north and due west of the capital, Dar Es Salaam.
The venue was a rural church about 8 km from the centre up very rugged tracks towards the foothills of Mount Meru. It was the first Baptist church in the area and was being enlarged. Most of the 70 or so pastors who attended stayed in a nearby hostel although others came from their own homes. Some had travelled considerable distances. A sudden tropical downpour forced us to stop teaching for a time because the noise of the rain on the roof was too loud.
Peter taught the Big story of the Bible, tracing God’s plan of salvation from Genesis to Revelation and Simon expounded Philippians. We also gave the delegates notes on how to prepare sermons, with workshops, during which Peter showed how Christ could be preached from the story of the Passover in Exodus 12.
The majority of the pastors had only primary-level education and most were from the Maasai tribe, which was helpful since they tend to be neglected and exist on the margins of society. Most led Baptist churches, although at least a couple of other denominations were represented. A Maasai choir serenaded us with songs and dance. The notes (which had been well translated into the Tanzanian Kiswahili language) and the books were greatly appreciated.
We were very impressed with the leadership of Michael Nhonya, who represents the new generation of technologically astute leaders. Not only is he still studying and doing a course in administration and management, but he is also Pastor of the main English/Kiswahili Baptist church in Arusha. We were made to feel very welcome throughout and we were both honoured by being given traditionally-made blankets and Maasai names of honour and blessing. Our car journey from Arusha to Morogoro took over ten hours, but we enjoyed a beautiful view of Mount Kilimanjaro on the way. We were told it was rarely so clear.
This conference too was held in a church under construction, this time a Pentecostal one led by Pastor Justine Mboya. The lack of windows and doors was good because we had arrived at the height of the hot season, the thermometer hitting 37 degrees centigrade most days. The afternoon sessions needed some passionate delivery to maintain the delegates’ attention. The pastors stayed in hostels in the town. One, called Paul, was leading a church having had no training whatsoever and this was his first-ever conference.
We taught the same as we did at Arusha, but with a few tweaks and adjustments. The general educational level was slightly higher and many more denominations were represented. One pastor was a University professor who had taken early retirement, after seventeen years of lecturing, to lead a Pentecostal church.
Some bizarre incidents occurred. One pastor was arrested for attacking intruders who entered his house, but who later turned out to be police officers. And the son of the organising pastor broke his arm playing football and there was a car accident. We see this simply as spiritual warfare.
One delegate said that it was wonderful to have a week immersed in God’s Word and he felt washed clean. Several of the pastors texted their friends in other parts of Tanzania about the conference and, as a result, Pastor Michael was asked to hold conferences in other towns, too.
Overall, it was a great privilege and joy to be able to visit Tanzania for the time and to teach and encourage fellow pastors in these two venues. We look forward to developing further and deeper links in the future.