Personal stories from the five churches in Babati
The Connected Church Partnership is one between All Saints Ecclesall, the Diocese of Kilimanjaro and Tearfund Tanzania. We work together on a programme called Church and Community Mobilisation (CCMP).CCMP is a dynamic programme, run by Tearfund, aimed at transforming people’s lives. In early 2018, two members of our church family, Elaine and Charlotte visited the programmes. They have brought back with them strories and picutres of the lives of those supported.
The diocese of Kilimanjaro’s mission is ‘Holistic Faith’. Through CCMP workshops they teach the struggling rural communities of Babati about using their God given skills to help their families and communities out of poverty.
The programme inspires people to work hard, to problem solve, to help each other and to grow in faith.
We saw the evidence of this during our visit to Babati. We visited each church and asked what challenges they faced and how the CCMP workshops had helped them. Here are some of their personal stories.
Kiru Dick church
One of the larger of the five churches with 40-50 members. Pastor Stephen (below right) has this and six other churches in his parish and walks up to 20k per day visiting his churches. He has no transport.
Pastor Stephen – ‘Since CCMP workshops started we have been doing bible studies to understand about our gifts and what the bible says. We are helping people to see that there is a lot they can do if they work together. We have put a concrete floor down in the church and we all worked hard to complete this. We are very happy that we were able to do it with our own hands. We are learning about new agricultural practices so we have better crops. This year we have managed to harvest 10 bags of maize per person. Last year it was only 2 bags. We had training by experts who told us about new seeds, fertilizer and weeding. We have pesticides and new knowledge about the crops which grow best in different kinds of soil.’
Sampson – ‘I used to think that God and our everyday lives were different. New teaching and training has helped me see that my body is given by God to use in his church and community. I used to be selfish but now I talk to my family about how we can help each other.’
Abude Ali –‘ I have thought carefully since CCMP and I am now very careful with the way I use water’.
Eveline - ‘I have poor health but I need to look after my family. I learned about how to keep chickens and I now have 70 chickens which I am very proud of. I am worried because the chicks can die and I have asked for help from the workshops so I can keep the chicks alive’. (NB Tearfund informed us that there is a vaccine which can be used and it will be introduced as part of the CCMP)
Mama Rosemary – ‘ We need to help people who don’t believe. We need to be salt and light and to draw people to God. All women worry about their families. We need a good place to sleep, education for our children and a hospital for when we are sick. We don’t have these things but since the CCMP workshops we have started a Woman’s group where we all come together and pray for each other and support each other in our practical lives. This is new to us and we are very pleased about it.
Philip – “ We have recently set up a cell of neighbours who support each other. We all contribute to a small pot of money to help each other in a crisis”.
Sala – “The training has been helpful to me as a mother. I need to look after my children. I have a sewing machine and now I am sewing clothes. They were difficult to sell so I now make shirts and cassocks for pastors and they all buy from me. I have started sharing my new skill with other women”. (NB the women are keen to have skills of their own so they do not need to rely on their husbands)
William – “I have been keeping chickens for a long time but I now see this as a serious business. I work hard and have gone from 3 chickens to 40 chickens in a year. I now always have something to offer at the auction at church on Sunday morning. This makes me happy”.
This church over looks the beautiful lake Babati and is led by Pastor Lucas and his wife Meris. Their home is, unusually, next to the church. Pastor Lucas looks after 4 churches and has a rented motorbike to travel between them. The churches are approx.10 km apart.
Pastor Lucas – “We thank God for the training so far. Our spiritual growth and physical well being are linked together. We’ve learnt how to use the resources God has given us, personally and as a church as well. As a Pastor we should be an example of God.
‘Luke 4:18-19 - an emphasis on holistic transformation. God created us for a purpose, not to be poor. We must move forward; lead the church to have food security, and a safe place to sleep’. The church must be salt and light in the community.”
After the initial CCMP training Pastor Lucas led by example by starting a chicken project, in the church grounds. He started with 5, but now has 20 chickens. Hippos were eating his crops, so he changed the crops to something the hippos dislike. He said, “food, a good/safe house, good education, water and projects that will give us income and help us grow spiritually will improve our family lives and will lead to a church full of love.”
Desire- He is a facilitator for the training and thanks God for the opportunity to attend. Says he had no vision before, but now has a chicken project; this raised enough money this year for seeds for crops, as the last harvest was very poor. He has also been able to afford to hire a motorbike to get to church, as he lives far away, and he has been able to give to the church offertory.
Paul- Also a facilitator. Didn’t have a house, realised he needed one after the training, so built one! Knows that his next step is to have chickens. Says he is growing physically and spiritually and that he realises they are important to build up together.
Dorcas- helps to lead the choir. She is the pastor’s daughter. “Music is so important. It’s a way of evangelising.” This view is held by the church. Dorcas says she knows the importance of spiritual growth for the choir as “evangelistic outreach.”
Dorcas talked about girls being “Salt: Good salt that won’t be thrown out. That people will see us as different.”
Philippo- works in agriculture and with livestock. After the training he changed his practice and tried ‘professional’ farming. The yield has increased from 3 to 15 bags per acre.
Philippo says he has learnt to improve his relationships and works with the community in a loving way. The community now call on him to deal with conflict, and he has become known as a ‘wise man.’
Meris- “I had nothing to do at home. After the training I bought a goat and 2 chickens. I am looking forward to the future.”
Meris has started a Mothers’ Union group, and now more women come to church, and some have joined the choir. She has also started a prayer group on Thursdays. “Lots of people come. Sick people come, and we see healings. God is at work.”
Prayer request from Pongay church: ‘for a change of mindset so we can change our poverty’
Wahari church (also known as Kiru Six)
The current church building (right) only holds about 15 people and is not watertight.
Paster John leads this church of 25 adults and 38 children. He had vivid memories of our visit in 2015 and was very pleased to see us again (and slightly disappointed not to see the 12 young people again!) He said that the first training in December 2016 gave them a vision of what they wanted for the future. They wanted a better place of worship where the community could come together – where they could support each other and do lots of activities as well as worship. They started to fund raise and have been slowly building a new church building. This is a joint activity and they hope to finish the walls by June 2018.
Their numbers have already grown from 8 to 25 adults. Together they have decided to plant new crops – sugar cane and bananas as this will bring in the best income. They are also hoping for a maize grinding machine and are raising funds for this. They need a pump to pump water to the new crops and the CCMP are helping them to apply to another scheme for this.
Elisha – “When we open our new church it will be a church of the future. The CCMP process has helped us look at the future and to change our lives”.
Dirma church is led by Pastor George, who moved to this very remote rural area to ‘church plant’ after he felt the Lord tell him to do so 6 years ago. He shared with us that he had a dream, and he knew exactly where to place the church, he even saw the tree it was to be under. The people of Dirma live 14km from the nearest water source, and before they can do anything each day they must walk to get water for their family.
Since the training some of the congregation have formed a group and started a small farm. They were all encouraged by how much they have learnt from sharing ideas with the other 4 churches on the CCMP.
Pastor George-“I have learnt a lot and grown spiritually and physically on the training. I have started a chicken project and now have 50 chickens, which brings me great happiness. When Rev Eliah told me about your visit I was very happy to be able to share our stories and experiences with you.”
Aqueline- A facilitator for the training and an evangelist. She walks 14km to other churches to share the training she has learnt. She has to do this after ensuring water has been collected for her family. When she gets there people are busy collecting their own water, so are often not around. Despite this, she has brought women together, and they have bought 40 chickens for the church farm. Aqueline tried to keep her own chickens, but they all died.
Esther- A facilitator for the training. After the training, Esther trained more choir members. Choirs are very important, as the music attracts the local community. The music is always played very loudly, and the songs are often about old testament stories and acted out in dance. Esther has a vision of making a CD of the choir.
Since the training the choir have grouped together and bought goats. Everyone in the choir contributes financially and practically to this project.
Veronica- Encouraged by the farm group that has been started since the training, she talked about changing her farming practice. She grows maize and sunflowers. She’s learnt about good spacing of plants, and better root management to get better seeds and crops. Veronica wants to use the capital from this to yield more crops and buy more land. She asked for prayer that the newly taught methods would work well.
Eli-Talked about spiritual and physical training. He visits people and evangelises.
Dareda church – led by Pastor Jacob.
This is a very small church building with a small congregation but they have a big vision to build a new church building so it can be the centre of the community. They have a river nearby so CCMP has encouraged them to ask the local authority to help them with water pipes. They can then run lots of activities for women and children from the church building. They have started the new build and it is progressing slowly. They are enthusiastic about building together and hope to finish the walls and roof by Christmas 2018.
Pastor Jacob – (centre) ‘we want to be salt and light, we want people to come to us and to find God. CCMP has helped us see how we can come together to help each other and we want to do this for our community here’.