As we drove from Mwanza through Musoma, we passed the entrance of Serengeti National Park. I could not help but marvel at the wonderful creation of God. I was reminded that our world belongs to Him. When God created the world, it was good and beautiful and He allowed everything — plants and animals on land and in water — to multiply and flourish. I was reminded that the world does not belong to us but God intended us to enjoy His creation. We are stewards entrusted to take care of this world and all the resources therein.
Butiama is as beautiful as the Serengeti. When we first entered in a relationship with Butiama, It was a remote village with no electricity or running water. The houses were made of mud and wattle, and they had no schools or churches. Villagers grew food for subsistence and not the market, and they were not organized in groups as they are today. In 2006, World Renew’s church partner, the African Inland Church of Tanzania (AICT), started working in this area. The AICT began by holding a week-long, open-air crusade and at the end of the week a number of people had committed their lives to Christ. John Kifungo, our host for this evaluation visit, was one of the first converts. He was taught this verse from Matthew 6, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” and he determined to live it out.
We met with John under a makeshift papyrus shelter that currently hosts the church. Nestled under a large tree, the shelter protects the worshippers from the direct sun. This used to be John’s land and home. When he gave his life to Christ, he gave everything he had, believing that God would take care of him. Today, this piece of land holds this temporary church structure and is also used as a meeting place for pamoja (similar to Village Savings and Loans) and literacy groups, a community borehole, and a pastor’s house (still under construction). The pastor’s house will have a tin roof and walls made out of clay-cured bricks.
John has seen this community go through much transformation initiated and supported by the church. Today many people have better types of houses, children go to school, and women walk a shorter distance to a clean water source. There is less domestic gender violence, and community members earn income from businesses and participate in village savings and loan cooperatives.
John’s zeal and enthusiasm in his newfound faith opened many doors for him. Although he was not educated, the pastor selected him as the contact person for the pamoja groups, and he has supported the establishment of six pamoja groups; he is a community volunteer assisting visitors to the community, and he has become an elder in the church.
John’s position as contact person for pamoja groups gave him the opportunity to attend many offered trainings. As a result, his farm is producing better output, he has increased savings, and - coming full circle, from the gift of his land to the church - the church decided to buy him another piece of land. Here John has constructed a modern house with a separate kitchen. Now he no longer has to sleep and prepare food in the same space as his animals.
John is hopeful that the church will continue pioneering transformation in his community!
World Renew East Africa