Header: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania

The ELCT responds to the great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel to all Nations (Mt. 28: 19-20). Programs are in force to bring the Good News to non-Christians to enable them accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and be incorporated in the Church.

Click below for more information:

1. Introduction
2. Growth of the
    Church
3. Mission Outreach
4. Neglected areas
    of Mission
5. Mission Thrust
    Areas
6. Mission in
    Neighboring
    Countries
7. Detailed
    Description


1. Introduction    

Nurturing and strengthening the faith of all converts has been the task which is so central to the ELCT Mission and Evangelism Department. The Church's Mission has a holistic approach, which is to render both Evangelism and Social
services.

The vision of the Department on the 21st century is to reach with the Gospel the fifty percent un-reached people in Tanzania. To receive the Macedonian call from the neighboring countries. To enable people to understand their rights and social responsibilities.

Each Christian is made aware of the involvement in the Mission activities. The involvement of members of the congregation in Mission work has enabled the Church to grow tremendously and have stabilized Church leadership founded in the leadership patterns of our Lord Jesus Christ. The ELCT is in which the lay persons play a very significant role for propagating the Gospel.

2. Growth of the Church    

When the seven Churches merged in 1963 to form the ELCT, the Church had 500,000 members scattered in those Seven Churches. By January 2012,the membership was over 6.1 million in a population of approximately 45 million Tanzanians. The growth is due to the effective strategies to reach the people with the gospel. Some of the strategies are Evangelism Campaigns, Open air spiritual meetings, teaching, visitation programs, choir songs/cassettes, Radio Voice of the Gospel (SW and FM), healing Ministry,
Bible Studies and house-to-house evangelism. Christian Services are rendered to all the people without discrimination for instace in schools or health facilities of the Church, etc.

3. Mission outreach:    

Mission and Evangelism is the backbone of the Church. The Church needs to focus all its activities on Mission and Evangelism. Such a Focus is a positive response to the Great Commission of our Lord to proclaim the Gospel to all Nations. Mission and Evangelism Department was established to meet this end.

The Department has been coordinating the Mission work within Tanzania, and it also involves Mission work of the Lutheran churches in the neighboring countries whereby it participates in sending pastors and evangelists, offering scholarships to the indigenous personnel to study in ELCT theological institutions and attends consultative bodies that are also known as Joint Mission Boards.

Following the creation of two dioceses in 2013, the mission areas in Tanzania are Rukwa, Tabora, Kigoma, Mtwara/Lindi, Zanzibar and Ruvuma. ELCT operates Seafarers Mission work (also known as Mission to seamen program) at the ports of Dar es Salaam and Tanga, etc. Some Dioceses have been assigned by the Church to be caretakers of these Missions working in cooperation with the Mission Department as the Coordinator, facilitator and advocate.

The Department participates in Mission outreach programs to the neighboring countries of Congo, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Uganda. The Department prepares the Church Literature e.g. Hymn Books, ELCT Bible Calendar, Books of Confirmation class and Sunday school. It also deals with Christian Education and Theological issues of the Church and Ecumenism questions. Radio Voice of the Gospel, inter-faith and coordination dialogue on inter-faith relationship is part of the work done in Mission and Evangelism Department. The Youth Desk was established in 2010 to become part of the Mission and Evangelism Department.

4. Neglected areas of Mission    

The Department has to increase the efforts in exploring the possibilities of propagating the Gospel to the neglected Communities. These neglected Communities are the fishermen along the lakes and rivers; solders in the Army barracks; prisoners in the prisons; people or other faiths, minority African tribes (Barabaig, Tindigas etc), the sick in the hospitals; workers in industries and factories, street youths and children of whom the growth is becoming high and most of them are alcoholics or drug abuse; The
tourists flocking into Tanzania; etc. The Department is preparing programs to reach the above communities with the Gospel message.

5. Mission Thrust Areas    

5.1. What is Thrust Approach?

Thrust approach is a sampling model which applies scientific methodologies that can be justified by empirical data. Customary, it commences with intense observation and completing with prudent assessment and evaluation.

The 21st century in which the propagation of the gospel is being carried out is typically oriented by scientific and technological machinery, which makes the globe a small village. The ELCT found it of paramount importance to appropriate this relevant approach in earmarked mission areas with a view to speeding up the spread of Good News into communities where Christians are the minority, hence traditional beliefs shape the life style of the people concerned. The methodology will enable ELCT to measure the
work done at the end of the day, hence prove to be an essential working tool for the direction the ELCT is to take.

5.2. Dioceses Under Mission Thrust Areas    

There are four dioceses under the program of Mission Thrust Areas. These include Eastern of Lake Victoria Diocese, Diocese in Mara Region, Morogoro Dioceses and Eastern and Coastal Diocese. Each of these four dioceses have designated and mapped areas of operation as focal point for Mission work for the period of three years 2004-2006.

What has been done so far is to put in place the modus operandi of the entire program, by forming committees to implement the program action plan, identification of centers, highlight the needs of people and determine the potential ELCT has. The mission outreach program has already started in Morogoro and Eastern of Lake Victoria Dioceses. The progress is at a low pace as we got less money than we budgeted. In Zanzibar the progress is encouraging as the Eastern and Costal Diocese has taken serious initiatives for evangelization. They still need support from outside since the area of operation is pre-dominantly Muslim. In Mara Diocese the progress is still basic. Mapping has been done and funds earmarked for the work has been disbursed. We received no response from any of our partners for the Second phase 2007 - 2009.

To start with in mission field is to engage in case study of each culture of the people concerned. The focus in this regard will be understanding of traditional beliefs, ideology, culture, customs, formalities, rules, protocol and structure of the community.

There after the process will concentrate mainly in investigating the methods the dominant churches in those areas that have been applied to evangelize. For example the area where Catholic Church is dominant the enculturation methodology has been applied, hence the gospel never judge, and transform the culture of the people. From there we concentrate on the evangelization of the gospel door to door.

5.3. Why Only These Four Dioceses Are Under Mission Thrust Areas?     

There are numerous areas in the ELCT that could be identified and placed under Mission Thrust Areas. With the limited resources we have it was prudently decided to begin with few areas.

However we embarked on identifying these four areas because they had serious challenges which called for urgent attention of the church. Almost all four dioceses under mission thrust areas share many things in common, though there are some of those that are unique and exclusively related to one diocese. To give clues and glimpses, the explanation of the Eastern of Lake Victoria Diocese will serve as an example:

The Eastern of Lake Victoria Diocese used to operate in two regions of Tanzania, namely, Mwanza and Shinyanga, with a population of six million inhabitants, which is 20% of the entire Tanzanian population. Among these people, only 6% of the population is Christians. The rest adhere to traditional beliefs and some few Muslims.

The inhabitants in this area depend on agriculture and livestock for living. Cotton is the major cash crop which most of the cloth industries in the country count on it as their source of raw material. The area is also rich in precious gem stones including gold and diamonds. Fish in Lake Victoria enrich the country in terms of million shillings from exports.

You could expect people living in this area to be better off since they are surrounded by numerous of potentialities, which could benefit them abundantly. But the negative is the case. Most of the people in this area live abject poverty.

No matter how rich the area is, it does not help them at all. They are just spectators of what is going on. They rank to be among the poorest and the most deprived people in the country.

Most of the time poverty always results into something terrible. Being poor as they are, people of this area most of the time face shortage of food. They are also subject to disease, mostly malaria and HIV/AIDS. Health Services is not adequately rendered. There is very little rain, hence vegetation is not to their advantage. They face drought and deforestation partly because of the introduction of tobacco cultivation that has led to massive destruction of tree cover.

The traditional beliefs they adhere to, high illiteracy rate and the lack of Christianity influence in this area are some of the major factors of all these challenges the area is subject to. In this area they have strong belief in traditional religion which does not translate their life positively. But most of the time it leaves them with fear. Fear of
witchcraft, fear of customs and taboos etc.

As a result the area and its people does not want old women, they axe them to death as they are most of the time suspected to bewitch their young ones. Old women with red eyes are always suspected to be witches. A man with red eyes is a drunkard. Men are always spared, women are hacked to death. The red eyes among the old is a result of using cow dung instead of wood for fuel because of massive deforestation, therefore firewood is not easily available.

6. Mission in Neighboring Countries    

The mission of the ELCT is not bound by boundaries but crosses beyond them. Thus the church participates in mission outreach programs to the neighboring countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi and Congo. The church is exploring possibilities to bring the Gospel to Burundi and Sudan. In these mission fields there is a need to send missionaries, train indigenous people in theological and secular education, have exchange programs for parish experiences and support them with funds.

Mission outreach program to the neighboring countries need funds to facilitate it. The ELCT is able to cover local coasts for preparation of the missionaries. The local costs include transport expenses, charges to obtain their passports and visas, orientation and seminars, etc. The expenses for missionaries while in the mission fields are always requested from our partners. I will mention a few partner including LMC, ELCA, NMZ, MWB, COS, LWF, etc. We are very grateful for the generous support offered to our church to enable the church foster in mission.

7. Detailed Description:    

7.1. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Uganda

This mission field was established in 1991. It started as a fellowship group with few converts. According to the statistics of 1997, the Church had a membership of 2,364 Lutherans. Currently it operates in Mbarara Region and Kampala city.

In 1993 the ELCT through North Western Diocese sent a Missionary to Uganda. He worked there up to mid of 1997.

The ELCT trained one pastor who became the Chairperson of ELCU. The growth of this Church is tremendous but hampered by the internal conflicts which resulted into four splinter groups which do not go along. LWF through LUCCEA is working to resolve the problems.

7.2 The Evangelical Lutheran Church in MOZAMBIQUE

The Church in Mozambique was established in 1989. It started with eleven converts and now it has approximately three thousand members. Congregations have been established in Maputo, Tete, Nampula and Beira.

The Church is registered according to the law of the Government of Mozambique. It is also a member of Lutheran Churches in Southern Africa (LUCSA) and Lutheran World Federation. It has a Mission Board. The Board comprises of partners from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe, Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil.

The Church has five local Pastors and one missionary from Zimbabwe who is the Senior Pastor and leader of the church.

7.3 The Evangelical Lutheran Church in ZAMBIA

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zambia was established in 1983. The Church has a membership of approximately three thousand converts. It has six Parishes, eleven congregations and nine preaching points. The Church has a Mission Board. The members of the Board are from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Africa, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Lutheran Evangelical Church in Africa, Lutheran World Federation (World Service Lusaka) and Lutheran Evangelical Association of Finland (LEAF).

ELCZ has nine local pastors of which two are women. There are two missionary pastors one from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia who serves as a Senior Pastor and the other one from the ELCT. The Church has few Evangelists who were trained in Tanzania and Zambia.

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Corrections to or questions about this page should be sent to: elobulu@elct.or.tz

 

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