KISONGO, Tanzania (BNc) — The first half of a 20-year plan for evangelism in northern Tanzania has resulted in 100 new congregations.
In 1998 Cy Stafford and the elders of the Kensington Woods Church of Christ, Hattiesburg, Mississippi launched a 20-year plan for evangelism in the Arusha (pop. 280,000) and Moshi (pop. 150,000) regions of northern Tanzania. Arusha (4th picture) is at the foot of Mt. Meru, and Moshi (5th picture) is at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain (15,100 ft / 4600 m).
Churches were planted in these cities by Andrew and Claudene Connally in 1971-73. Before Andrew passed away in June of 1992, he encouraged Cy and Stephanie Stafford to go to Tanzania as missionaries.
They, with their three sons and a three-year-old niece, served at Chimala mission hospital in southern Tanzania from 1991 to 1994. They then returned to the states so Cy could study at the Brown Trail School of Preaching and Stephanie could attend nursing school.
In 1998 Cy and Stephanie determined that, Lord willing, they would return to Tanzania for at least 20 more years. A 20-year plan was drawn up and worked out with the Kensington Woods elders, who also agreed to back the endeavor for at least 20 years.
The plan included helping the Arusha and Moshi congregations grow and mature. Bible schools would be established in each of these cities to teach local Christians and non-Christians. Special evangelistic efforts would be organized each year with Christians coming from the States to help.
A preacher training school would be built from which brethren, well-versed in the Scriptures, could go forth with the gospel into the entire region and to surrounding countries in East and Central Africa.
With the Lord’s help, and the support and participation of many Christians, these plans have been put into operation. The Arusha and Moshi Bible Schools have graduated several classes. The Andrew Connelly School of Preaching (3rd picture) has been built near Arusha. It has graduated 60 men from a two-year program and 11 from an advanced program. For the coming January session, 17 are enrolled.
Many of the graduates return to their home congregations, building them up in the faith, while others go out to plant new congregations. Graduates are now preaching in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Yusuph Mdaki is an example. When a need arose, he answered the call, and today (after two years) there are eight new congregations meeting just south of Lake Victoria with more than four hundred and fifty new Christians worshiping God in Truth and Spirit.
The staff of the school includes three Tanzanian evangelists (two are graduates of the Andrew Connally school and one is a graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching.) At present, six missionaries also teach regularly in the program. Short courses are taught throughout the year by visiting brethren from the States.
The school has a modern campus in the Kisongo area just outside Arusha, with a library, classrooms, kitchen, offices, guest quarters, two dormitories each of which houses up to 24 students, and a covered patio area for large gatherings.
Churches of Christ were established in Tanzania in the late 50’s by a group of young college graduates, including Guy Caskey, Andrew Connally, Dale Dennis, and Eldred Echols. They conducted a preacher training school and built what is now called the Chimala mission hospital. After a while efforts were also made to establish congregations in major cities. Dale Dennis and his wife spent 20 years (two periods of 10 years) at Dar Es Salaam, which is Tanzania’s largest city (pop. 2.5 million). The name means ‘house of peace’ in Arabic.
Tanzania now has between 3 and 4 hundred congregations of the Lord’s church with 8 to 10 thousand members.
The county’s main religions are Christianity (40%) and Islam (35%). Most of the Muslims live on the coast and along old caravan routes. Most of the Christians live inland. Most of the rest of the population adhere to traditional beliefs. Among the Asian minority there are Hindus, Sikhs and Ismallis.