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Tanzania: why go? (Part 1)

So, why go to Africa? Long term? or just for this visit? I thought I’d thought about this before but this week I’ve had a number of conversations that have caused me to re-visit this as Christians have discouraged me from our current long term plan to work in Tanzania.

The objections fall into two main categories:

  1. Africa doesn’t need us. Tanzania is full of Australian missionaries. We would only encourage dependence on Western Christianity if we went.
  2. Our gifts would be better used here. There are heaps of needs in Australia and we already know the culture here, so we should stay here.

The vehemence with which these arguments came shocked me somewhat, though perhaps they shouldn’t have. However God has been very gracious in putting St Andrew’s Hall right next door to where we live and the wonderful people there were very patient and encouraging to me.

They mainly spoke to the first objection with a resounding ‘Absolutely not!’ Here are a few of the things they shared with me:

  1. There are a lot of Australian missionaries in Tanzania, in fact, more Australians than perhaps any other nationality. That’s because (rightly or wrongly) during the colonial era, CMS ‘gave’ certain countries (like Tanzania) to other countries (like Australia) to be their special concern. Today, that’s much less patriarchal, more like a partnership, but that’s why so many Australians go to Tanzania (but if you go to, say, Uganda, you’ll find a whole stack of Brits.)
  2. The Tanzanian church is Tanzanian led. Far from being dependent on the West, the bishops and significant leaders are all African. When Australians come to work in Tanzania, they come at their invitation and submit to their leadership.
  3. Tanzanians are inviting Australians to come and work with them and there are huge opportunities. I sent an email to a missionary in Dar es Salaam asking him if there was much need for student work there. He emailed back saying that there were at least 2 unis and one school who had wanted him to do stuff but he’d had to prioritize other things.

So I’m excited about our trip, especially now that it seems there may be more opportunities that I had previously thought. And I’m excited about learning about Tanzania and its people. In fact, it’s already begun! We’d thought that a week would be plenty of time to have a leisurely experience of St John’s, but now that there are other opportunities to explore, a week is looking far too brief! Because ministry in Tanzania is so relational, you need WAY more time than you might think! We’re hoping that we might be able to extend our stay by a few days (before we have to get back for the start of classes) or otherwise that God would take care of the logistics!

Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

6 replies

  1. I agree with st A’s – absolutely not!

    Not convinced that going to a country need be decided according to how many other missios are or aren’t there.

    Did you guys see the episode of compass the other night? Very interesting – about Nigerian priests who have come to Tasmania to be catholica priest missionaries, attempting to help revive the catholic church. Provoked lots of q’s in my mind about how cultural differences can get in the way, or be handy for ministry…
    Certainly seen in work I’ve done how new insights can be gained by working with different people groups.

    A wise guy once said to me upon discussing going o/s vs. staying in Aus – others can’t go. If you can go, go, because others can do work here that you are prevented from doing (i.e. for family, health reasons). But use the time until you go to train and serve Aus as much as you can.

    Last thought – I think there’s a way of doing ministry, (and of being a woman and wife for that matter), that is very submissive and servant-like, takes a lot of strength and courage sometimes to operate that way… and when this type of humble serving is going on it doesn’t create dependency, but points people to Jesus. Whether one is western, eastern or otherwise. May you guys be that wherever God has you serve him! :-)

  2. I find this very interesting, because I’ve spent most of my life wanting to go to Tanzania, but never managed to get there. You might also be interested in having a look at the blog of recently-arrived (American) missionary in Tanzania, I also met an Anglican bishop from Tanzania 25 years ago, and he was one of the nicest people I have ever met. And he seemed very appreciative of Australians working in his diocese. What matters is not how many Australians are there, but whether there is a particularly ministry needed there that God has given to you. And that applies anywhere, including in Asutralia.

  3. Hi Steve!

    Thanks for your encouragement and the link. How did you come by our blog? :)

    I found your blog and saw that you changed from being an Anglican to Orthodox Christianity. I blogged through a book on Eastern Orthodoxy some time ago and would love to hear your perspective. It continues to be an area I’m keen to learn in, especially considering the vital role Orthodoxy has played in Africa. I wonder whether you’d be willing to comment on those posts too? –

  4. Hi Tamie,

    Sorry to hear some people have said discouraging things.

    God will use you both where you are now and wherever you go next. He gave you the gifts after all! I second what Jane wrote – not everyone can work overseas, but if you and Arthur can and have a passion to go, that’s great – please go, on behalf of everyone else! All people need the Gospel, and the workers are few both here and overseas.

    A friend of mine worked in Tanzania for a year. It is very hard there, but God is faithful and will supply all your needs. (If you email me I might be able put you in touch with her.)

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