Message of solidarity following the burning of churches in Tanzania
Bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) on 18 October visited grief-stricken ELCT members at Mbagala Parish, in Dar es Salaam to offer solidarity and hope following a spate of church burning by a faction of Moslems.
The following is an official translation of the message:
AND CONSOLATION OF ELCT BISHOPS TO ALL TANZANIANS
in the Lord,
We bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) have received with a great shock the news on the incidents of burning of Christian churches in Mbagala area. Gathered at our annual Round Table of the Lutheran Mission Cooperation (LMC) in Moshi which brings together ELCT and all partners, mission organizations and churches from Europe and America, we have cut short the meeting so that we may be able to come here at Mbagala.
come for three major purposes:
coming of the Bishops here at Mbagala, we have not come here to do the
Dear and beloved members of ELCT, honourable sons and daughters of Tanzania, the land of Julius Kambarage Nyerere; what happened in Mbagala in the week of commemorating Nyerere Day, the Father of our beloved Nation, is an insult not to the Father of the Nation but to us who sit on the throne that the Father of the Nation used to sit on. He gloriously and honorably rested after performing good work. May he rest in peace and may the values he stood for resurrect in these ashes resulting from the burning of the peace and tranquility of Tanzania he built.
happened at Mbagala is the genocidal torture; the torture of the Church
(Persecution). This torture is the result of the wild seeds planted in
the good garden and now such wild weeds are bearing bitter fruit. Symptoms
of genocide torture to the church and the persecution of the Church began
a long time ago and were not dealt with by the successors of the Father
of the Nation. Such symptoms include the following:
Beloved ELCT members and all Tanzanians, even though those committing these sacrilegious things have been awarded the status "activists" unlike the ordinary activists known by many Tanzanians, we are indebted to warn with all patience that their activitism should not be used to break the government Laws. Tanzania that has peace and solidarity is the fruit of all religions, ethnicities, political ideologies, races and all economic conditions. Even those who do not subscribe to any religion contribute to the peace of this country.
With our eyes and ears, we have continued to witness acts of burning churches in Zanzibar, Mwanza, Mdaula, Mto wa Mbu, Tunduru, Rufiji, Kigoma and now Mbagala. During that time the patience of Christians might have been interpreted to be a weakness and cowardice. It should be noted that even the weak and the coward, do come at a point of saying "no more" when they are abused excessively. We do not pray that Christians are should come to that point.
We have witnessed government ministries and law enforcement organs being invaded in the break of the day and being pressurized to release criminal suspects; we have witnessed police stations being set on fire; court of law being forced to close their operations; mosques being hijacked, the lives of religious leaders threatened publicly and a retired head of state being slapped publicly because of the so-called religious activism. We have come to the point of asking: What should these people invade so that steps may be taken against them? What should they put on fire so that the leaders who are entrusted to protect the property and life may be alerted? Who should they kill so that it may be believed that these people are a great threat to our national security?
We who are called by the holy vows and oaths, we highly urge our religious believers and all Tanzanians in general, those who are duty bound to obey us and those who do not have to obey us, to take in mind that God loves this nation and its people. God will never leave it to perish.
For Christians, it is time to continue fasting and praying for the peace of this nation. A true Christian is one who is willing to suffer for Christ and the church. Christians should not kill, torture, revenge in order to defend Christ. Our God is not defended by killing others and burning altars of other religions.
In this persecution, the church will grow more steady than before, and in these ashes of Mbagala, a new Tanzania will be born and true liberation will be found. We urge all Christians to forgive and continue to be good citizens and actively be involved in bringing about real change through the proper channels. While others are strategizing to burn churches and altars, Christians are called to put strategies to pray and participate fully and well in claiming our civic rights. Despite being as innocent as doves, we must also be as shrewd as snakes (Matthew 10:16).
Let us always remember that "OUR STRUGGLE IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD, BUT AGAINST THE RULERS, AGAINST THE AUTHORITIES, AGAINST THE POWERS OF THIS DARK WORLD AND AGAINST THE SPIRITUAL FORCES OF EVIL IN THE HEAVENLY REALMS," (EPH 6: 12).
own hands, we, your bishops by the Grace of God.
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