Earlier this year, many of you gave generously to support our Global Mission through Local Leaders appeal. One of our local partners in Africa, Paul Kibona, spoke to us recently about the kind of difference those gifts will make.
Since his view of mission was changed by attending a Vision conference run by Dennis Tongoi in 2007, Paul has overseen CMS-Africa’s Samaritan Strategy training in Tanzania. The programme has so far trained more than 5,000 people. He explains how the Samaritan Strategy inspired him personally and is proving to have surprising resonance in Muslim communities.
Samaritan Strategy is involved in training local churches to discover their potential, to discover their role in the community and to discover the resources they have in their community to use for transformation, instead of depending on outside resources.
Samaritan Strategy was an inspiring programme for me. It really expanded my understanding about missions. I realised it is not only touching the spirit, it is to do with holistic ministry.
All people have need, so when you begin touching people’s need, when you begin loving people, we don’t begin preaching the gospel. We begin doing something in the community, working with them. I remember one Muslim said, “I have never seen such a love which you have. I’m a Muslim but I’m confessing before you that you have a true love.” And we didn’t even preach the gospel.
World Vision Tanzania really took an interest in what we are doing in the local churches. And they were asking themselves: we have been working as World Vision here for a long time but we don’t see the impact CMS-Africa are experiencing through your programme. So in fact World Vision partnered with us for four years in Tanzania. So we were able to go to about 41 areas of development of World Vision Tanzania where we were able to train their workers, the community leaders, the Muslim leaders, pastors.
And the very touching thing was these Muslim leaders sitting five days in our programmes as we read the Bible and teach principles of community development, how we can be involved in transforming the community using local resources.
And also there’s another organisation called VisionFund [the microfinance subsidiary of World Vision Tanzania]. They also invited us to do the training. They’re still using our programmes to train their people. They’re not using everything but they have adopted some principles to use to train their people.
I remember especially in the Muslim context in Tanga, we trained a pastor who is working in a Muslim community. He began to serve the kids – kids were coming to his church to learn to read. And the impact was very good because the people could see the change of the character of their kids. It happened when they were burning churches in Tanga. Because of the love which this church showed to this Muslim community using Samaritan Strategy principles, it was impacting the parents. And I remember, they said: “Pastor be at peace, your church will never be burned; we will protect it.”
Another pastor who attended a Vision conference and is in the coastal region has started a nursery school there [in] a place where there is no school, through Samaritan Strategy principles. It has also really impacted the Muslim community. They have seen the love of Jesus. I remember walking in the community. They were asking my friend who is working there: “Pastor why don’t you start a church?” He is still waiting on God to feel when to start the church, but Muslims themselves are asking a pastor to start a church.
My hope is to see the church continue discovering their role in the community and that we will be able to be a model of the nation, a model of the community, church living out godly principles in the community, not only in the church. That is really my hope: to see that the church is transformed and it transforms the nation.