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Tanzania, Ahoy!

Over the last few years, Arthur and I have been developing a ministry job description for ourselves – a philosophy of student ministry and and where we fit. Our big question, though, has been whether there would be somewhere we could carry that out. Would there be a place for us, in German speaking Europe or anywhere else?

A few weeks ago, Neville Carr came to college to recruit student workers for a university in Tanzania. As he described the need on campus, it seems to fit our job description. And he was keen, asking us how soon we would finish college and could (possibly) come. We were so excited that this was a concrete situation, and not only that, but one that seemed like a good fit for us! What an exhilirating goal to work towards!

But chatting with friends over dinner on Friday night, we were asked where humility fits in to our excitement. On one hand, the job might look like it suits us, but on the other hand, how will we be the people who suit the task, whatever it is? What if we were to get to Tanzania and the job description changed, to something other than the ‘perfect fit’ we thought we were going to? Would we see the opportunity to serve people rather than pursuing the fulfilment our own desires?

It’s fantastic when your desire and the needs of those you serve line up. That’s an important consideration in missionary placement. Yet, most missionaries I speak to comment on how different their expectations were from the reality. And so the call to humility is an important one. I was challenged to think about how I will respond when what seems exciting now is something else in reality. Will my heart be to serve people or myself?

Categories: University ministry Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

5 replies

  1. Wow! Coincidence! The Carrs are members of my church and when they spoke recently I felt the same pull. Get a couple more degrees then go to Tanzania to work as an academic in the university.

    I spoke to Elspeth and she said that she would be praying that if my dream of being an academic has been put there by God, that it will become realised and be used for His Glory. I’ll keep praying for you guys too!

  2. Also, I think your point about humility is a good one, Tamie. What seems exciting now is probably more about what would be exciting for me rather than how God can be use me/us.

  3. Hi again, sorry to spam.

    Have been thinking about this a bit further… do you think short-term mission trips are often more about having fun/what is exciting than what you phrase ‘the call to humility’?

    Or do you think that when we’re excited its because ‘our desire and the needs of those you serve line up’ and God loves to work through us in this way?

  4. Hey I.I.

    Spam away! Good to have your comments.

    I don’t think that being excited about a mission trip (including short term) is necessarily misplaced, especially, as you say, when our desires and the needs line up. John Piper would say that the pursuit of pleasure should be an integral part of the Christian life. But I guess for me the issue is how I’ll respond if it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, whether my heart will still be to serve others.

    Short Term Mission is a debated topic in Christian circles. I’m cautious about it myself simply because I think we tend to overestimate our ability to ‘make a difference’ in such a short time. What do you reckon?

  5. To add to what Tamie has mentioned, I suspect that the value of short-term mission really lies in how God is at work in the heart of the short-term missionary.

    What I mean is that on short-term missions, gung-ho Western Christians should expect not to ‘change the world’, but to have their own horizons blown wide, to have their own lives so burnt by the needs of the world and the mission of God, that they are moved to commit to long-term mission — be that a return to the same country, or remaining in their own, or elsewhere…

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