This is the man who opened my mind and heart to go to Tanzania, Africa this August. Not for a safari, although that would be fun. We’re going to provide training for pastors from around the country. My role will be to teach pastoral counseling.
Ambilike is a doctoral student at Dallas Theological Seminary and kept asking me when I could come and help. He’s as winsome as he is persuasive. It’s amazing what can happen when a man loves his country and loves his Lord. Vision gives way to plans which turn into action. It’s an honor for me to be on his team.
This is where Tanzania is. It used to be called Tanganyika.
If you have the time to read further, here are some of Ambilike’s thoughts about why it is important to train leaders in Africa.
Why Is It Important to Train Leaders in Africa
The church in Africa is growing at a very fast rate that there is a greater need for leaders to nurture the new believers in their faith. In Tanzania, for instance, the number of born again believers more than doubled from about 2.3mil in 1990s to 5.7 mil in 2000s raising the number of evangelicals to 17% of the population. The reality of the growth is not just statistical as it is evidenced by, among other things, the continuous increase in the number of churches and church attendance. As a result of the growth, the capital, Dar es Salaam, which was predominately Muslim up to the late 70s and early 80s, is now about 50-50 between Christians and Muslims with Christian population growing faster. The good work of the western missionaries from the late 19th century and indigenous leaders who succeeded them contributed to the growth which God is gracious bringing in the lives of His people. Despite the fastest growth rate in the world, the church in Africa lacks schools and colleges to train leaders who will adequately and effectively take care of the ever increasing number of believers in the continent. Despite the population of 40mil, Tanzania has, for instance, only 3 colleges which provide some type of theological training at a degree level. This implies that there is 1 college per 13mil people. With the estimated number of ‘Christians’ at 52% of the population, it also implies that there is 1 theological college per 7mil ‘Christians.’ The shortage of schools and colleges has resulted into a big shortage of trained leaders in the needy continent. Africa is having some of the most devastating problems for which ineffective leadership is one of the major causes. Extreme poverty, moral corruption, political instability, HIV/AIDS and many others have been facing the continent for several decades now. The media makes extensive coverage of the problem that it may not be necessary to repeat them here. Leaders of the church in Africa go through many hardships as they minister the gospel in the continent. With an annual income per person of $1,416 (about 3.05% of USA’s $46,381), for instance, the giving of the believers in Tanzania does not enable churches meet personal and ministry needs of the ministers as they provide the much needed pastoral services to the people. However, these leaders endure the hardships and remain true to God and His work. It is, therefore, proper to equip such faithful and committed leaders and to encourage them to continue well in their walk with and work for God. The church in Africa has a role to play in the growth and continuity of the universal body of Christ and the evangelization of the world. As you may be aware, the church in the northern part of Africa was very strong and made significant contribution to the understanding of some core Christian beliefs like the Holy Trinity in the early years of Christianity. With the rise of Islam in the 7th century, however, the church was almost wiped out and that part of the continent has been turned into a strong Islamic zone. In the recent years, the church in Africa has been making significant contributions in the debate on homosexuality in various Christian denominations. With proper equipping, I believe, the church will be able to fulfill this role even better for the good of the body of Christ.
The church in Africa is increasingly making impact in the lives of many people in the continent. In Tanzania, for instance, the church has influenced the Muslim community, which makes about one third of the population, in several ways. The faithfulness of many Christians to the biblical command to have one husband and one wife has caused many Muslims, especially the younger generation, to adopt this type of marriage. Muslim men are allowed to have up to four wives at one time! Also by demonstrating faith in Jesus’ power over demons and other works of Satan, Christians have caused many Muslims and followers of other religions to turn to Christ for, among other things, protection against witchcraft and other forces of the dark world. The church in Africa is also blessed with strategic advantages that can be used to further the Kingdom of God both in the continent and beyond. People in Africa have, for instance, strong ties with their extended families which make them do a lot of things together around the year. With the lack of medical, financial and other services, families and friends usually work together to help their sick, orphans, widows, elderly and other needy people in their midst. If properly trained, church leaders can take advantage of the social ties to extend the Kingdom of God in the continent. Globally, African societies have similar traditional cultures with Asian’s and Africans, generally, relate very well with Arabs. These opportunities can be utilized by the body of Christ to reach out to the Islamic world and other least evangelized nations in Asia. Similarly, devastating problems in Africa have made followers of Christ in the continent to depend on God, literally, for everything in their life. The body of Christ can learn the life of faith from their fellow believers in Africa and enrich their Christian lives one way or the other. Coming from a background in which witchcraft and superstitious beliefs and practices abound, believers in Africa also have a great understanding of the spiritual world and spiritual warfare which they can share with the rest of the body of Christ. Deborah and I feel privileged to minister to the part of the body of Christ with such potentials. Please join us in equipping leaders of the church in Africa to impact Africa and the world with the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. This summer, a team from Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) will have an opportunity to train pastors and other church leaders in Tanzania. In a visit to another part of the country, the team which went there last year learned about pastors who have fled religious persecutions in their countries and now live in Tanzania. The team deliberated to extend its training to this new location so as to equip these pastors thereby helping to reach out to their closed countries with the gospel. We appreciate your partnership in equipping leaders for the church in Africa.
Ambilike and Deborah Mwangomo June 10, 2010
Please pray for our team and for Tanzania. If you would like to contribute financially to my trip, you can send a check to East-West Ministries, Int’l and write “Dr. Lee Jagers Account #4052” on the memo line and mail to East-West Ministries, Int’l, P.O. Box 868050, Plano, TX 75086-8050.