The beginning of the CLC in Tanzania was very similar to our own beginning here in the United States. Both were formed out of already existing Lutheran Churches that were forced to leave their fellowship because of false teaching. The TCLC is divided up into four districts, which are all in the northeastern part of the country.
From the very beginning these Tanzanian churches had a strong desire to reach out to those who were lost in unbelief. Only one third of the population of Tanzania considers themselves Christian, with Islam being slightly more than a third and animism being slightly less than a third. Even among those that call themselves Christian, most have only a cursory understanding of the work of Christ and many believe that the God of Christianity and the god of Islam are one and the same. Each of the districts work among the Maasai tribe (largely anamistic). Over the years the Lord has blessed the efforts of our Tanzanian churches among this African tribe and many congregations have been formed among the Maasai. With the growth of Islam throughout East Africa, many TCLC congregations have become actively involved in outreach to Muslims as well.
One of the most important goals moving forward is the establishment of an institution for the training of future pastors and teachers. Many of the leaders of our Tanzanian brethren are becoming older, and they recognize that training the next generation to take their place is a critical part of their work. For this reason the reestablishment of a seminary for the ongoing training of pastors and teachers is vital in the work of the Lord’s kingdom work in Tanzania. The challenge is to find a way to do this in the immediate future. There are several gifted men who would be an asset to a seminary, but it has been difficult to find a feasible location that would be accessible for all the districts. Other problems are funds to purchase any possible property, and a qualified man to organize, run and teach at the seminary to get it up and running.
The district leaders are currently working toward legal registration of the church body with the Tanzanian government. This would allow them to post signs with their church name and affiliation in the areas where they are working, and give them greater exposure to the people of Tanzania. Over the past two years they have formulated a detailed constitution in which they clearly proclaim the doctrine that they preach and confess based on the Brief Statement.
Pray for our brethren in Tanzania that they may remain strong and faithfully proclaim Jesus as the only Savior of sinners!
Nathanael Mayhew is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye, MN and Faith Lutheran Church in New Ulm, MN, and a member of the Board of Missions of the CLC.