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Tanzania - Oct/Nov 2016

Mwanza, Tanzania October 28 - November 6, 2016

We are partnering with East Africa Christian College. Curriculum to be taught: Hermeneutics

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Tanzania - Oct/Nov 2016

Nov  8th,  2016Random Thoughts after a great TLI Short-Term Trip


I’m writing this while sitting on a KLM flight getting ready to take off from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Amsterdam. There, our team of four will disband, where two will catch a flight to Detroit, followed by flights to Chicago and Portland, Maine. The other two of us will catch a flight to Minneapolis. We’ve already been traveling for ten hours – two short flights within Tanzania and an eight hour layover in a small airport near Mt. Kilimanjaro. Getting to northern Tanzania isn’t easy, but after a week teaching at East Africa Christian College, we all can confidently say that the need for good theological education and pastoral training in this corner of the world is massive.

So after a busy week of teaching and a day of safari in the Serengeti (Hey, it can’t be all work and no play!), here are a sampling of the thoughts going through my head as get ready to head north then west.

  1. East African greetings are the best. To hear a stranger say, “You are welcome.” as a greeting rather than a response is awesome. Walk into a room and multiple people say, “You are welcome.” This is the English language as it should be.
  2. Most tourists don’t get the privilege of being in a home of a resident. They stay in hotels and resorts, take the tours, and never get to know a national in real relationship. Donald and I ate with Pastor Peter’s family on Sunday and had sodas at one of the student's (Keswa's) home this afternoon. Eating in someone’s home creates a friendship that’s significantly different than that between a guide and the guest. The hospitality here is amazing and humbling.
  3. Teach long enough overseas and you encounter some difficult cross-cultural ethical questions. Today’s topped them all. Google “nyumba ntobhu” and then think about what a pastor should say to those practicing it who join the church. It took me two days to figure out what the students were talking about since this practice only occurs among one tribe in northern Tanzania/southern Kenya.
  4. There may be nothing more beautiful than students gathering to sing and pray at the close of the day, then retiring after wishing each other a good night.
  5. One of the great privileges of TLI trips is seeing the US pastors we bring along to teach ministering to each other. As pastors from three states spend a week together overseas, gospel friendships form, prayers for each other are made, and godly counsel is offered. God doesn’t just have us here for the classroom experience.
  6. Cell phones interrupt conversations and classes more often in Africa than in the US. Do they not make vibrate mode over here?
  7. Most northern Tanzanians have never heard of Cecil the Lion. All Minnesotans have.
  8. Teaching how to interpret the Bible correctly is arguably the most important subject we teach. The abuses present in individuals and churches that don’t take the time to study and think is staggering. Oh, for more teachers and opportunities to teach in environments like this!
  9. Spending even a day in Serengeti National Park is mind-blowing. It’s impossible to count the herds of wildebeest, zebras, impalas, gazelles, and cape buffalo we drove by. Add in hippos, crocs, giraffes, hyenas, warthogs, and even a couple elephants off in the distance and the experience is overwhelming. And I didn’t even mention staring at three lions in a tree 100 feet away. Our Creator has made a diverse and amazing world. Enjoy it!
  10. Deuteronomy 22:5 is a big proof text for clothing options in Tanzania. Questions that sprung from this verse show that need for good hermeneutics to be taught to pastors who use OT law for proof of there positions.
  11. Did you look up “nyumba ntobhu” yet? They never taught us how to respond to that in seminary. Life at TLI is nothing if not interesting.


Students, teachers, and staff of EACC, along with the participants in the Leadership Seminar.


The Serengeti is an amazing display of our Creator's handiwork.

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Nov  1st,  2016African Questions About Biblical Leadership

  • "How can a pastor lead when the deacons control the church?"

  • "You keep talking about elders and pastors. What about apostles and prophets? Don't they have a place in the leadership of the local church?"

  • "Being called to ministry is between an individual and God. Why do you need the affirmation of the local church to confirm a calling?"

Teaching church leaders in Africa really isn't that different than teaching church leaders in the US. Perhaps the role of apostles and prophets surfaces more often, but many of the questions regarding church leadership are remarkably similar at their core. Ultimately, they boil down to: "Who's in charge of the local church?"

We can argue about terminology all we want: pastors, deacons, elders, bishops, apostles, overseers, etc. But before we go there, we have to establish that God rules over the local church and Jesus is the Head of the church.

On Tuesday morning, I sat down with 20 pastors from all over northern Tanzania and from denominations as diverse as Baptist, Pentecostal, Mennonite, and Methodist. We are together for a four-day seminar on Christian Leadership at East Africa Christian College while the students in the college are being taught Hermeneutics from the rest of the team (David, Donald, and Gil).


David teaching HermeneuticsIMG_2037436c90b75f

Gil teaching a divided classroom the importance of context.

What a joy to see multiple districts and diverse denominations coming together to discuss biblical leadership. While many of the participants came with immensely practical - and very important - leadership questions, our first task is to establish a proper theology of church leadership. God rules. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd. Pastors/elders/ are under-shepherds.

"So I exhort the eldes among you ... shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory." (1 Peter 5:1-4 ESV)

We have much work to do before our departure on Friday afternoon. Both the Hermeneutics classes as well as the Leadership Seminar are feeling the crunch of a short week and a lot of material to be covered. Please pray we use our time efficiently and wisely.

And as a seemingly trifling prayer request, the water has been off for the last two days. We're given buckets of water from the cistern to flush the toilets and wash and we have plenty of bottled water to drink, but after seven hours of teaching in equatorial Africa, a nice, cold shower before going to bed would be amazing. #FirstWorldPrayerRequests

Josh Montague
trip leader



My friend and interpreter, Pastor Nicholas (the one wearing the way cooler shirt). When he was a young boy, his father gave a medicine man 10 cows for a potion that would make him live forever. He died a month later. Years later, Nicholas heard that there was eternal life in Jesus, believed in him, and began pastoring in Mwanza, Tanzania.
He's been a pastor since 1972.



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Oct  31st,  2016East Africa Christian College: A Small Campus with a Big Vision

IMG_2026The saints gather after Sunday service

       After a staggered arrival of both teachers and baggage, the team has finally started teaching our course on Hermeneutics. Donald is leading one group of students while David leads the other. Gil will teach tomorrow while I (Josh) teach a seminar on Biblical Leadership for a group of 25 local pastors.

Donald Thomas leading his class

Getting to Tarime, Tanzania is not easy. I've taken a dozen or so trips with TLI and this one might win the award for the most exhausting travel schedule.
1. Fly 8 hours to London.
2. Layover in Heathrow for 6 hours.
3. Fly 9 hours to Nairobi, Kenya.
4. Layover 3 hours in Nairobi.
5. Fly 1 hour to Kilimanjaro in Arusha, Tanzania.
6. Change planes.
7. Fly 1.5 hours to Mwanza, Tanzania.
8. Negotiate customs and immigration and lost luggage claims in a small, rural African airport. (2+ hours)
9. Drive through Mwanza for an hour, purchasing snacks and water for the drive north.
10. Drive 4 hours to Tarime, Tanzania.
11. Arrive thoroughly exhausted at East Africa Christian College.
That's about 35 hours total. We slept well on Saturday night in Tanzania.
EACC is a beautiful, small campus with a big vision to train the next generation of pastors and church leaders in northern Tanzania. The students are eager to study and learn and after all our travel adventures, it's a joy to be looking into Scripture with them.
On Sunday, David went with Pastor Christopher to his church while Donald and I went to Pastor Peter's church, Tarime Baptist Church. Set in a wooded community near the base of Mt. Tarime, the church is a beautiful community where God's people gather weekly to worship Jesus and enjoy Christian fellowship.
Tarime Baptist Church
I taught Sunday school, which is essentially a simplified worship gathering. Donald enjoyed a lizard-moth battle at his feet during my teaching. Then as the church gathered for the morning worship time, Donald preached from Jude's doxology, pointing us to God's sustaining, preserving grace.
Tanzania is about 40% Christian, 40% Muslim, and 20% other religions (Hindu, Sikh, animistic). In areas like Tarime, there is a higher population of Christians, while nearer to the coast and in Zanzibary, the Muslim population surpasses 90%.
The Christian church here faces multiple challenges. Pentecostal churches are increasingly synonymous with prosperity theology while Roman Catholic churches are syncretistic. One pastor describing his conversion stated that worshiping in a Catholic church was essentially the same as his background in animistic idol worship.
So what does Tanzania need? Tanzania needs the gospel that God's word proclaims! Our course on Hermeneutics will be introducing these students to the process of studying God's word, the Bible. As these students engage in ministry in northern Tanzania, may they point to the grace of God in Christ Jesus explained and proclaimed in the Bible.
Josh Montague
International Trainer, trip leader


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