Our conversation partners are into exams and holidays but that hasn’t stopped us chatting with students!
This week I met J, a third year nursing student. Though he’s a free Pentecostal, he thinks that the most important thing is to be a Christian first. There were two hallmarks of Christianity that he asked me about: repentance and burial.
On repentance, he asked me if I cry when I admit my sin. Do I repent with tears, he asked? This was the sign for him of feeling sorry in your heart.
On burial, he told me that he’d heard that Christians in the west are cremated. He had a number of objections to this. One was that he believes this to be a pagan practice, ‘like the Indians’. He also seemed to associate cremation with child sacrifice to a pagan god. But he really got fired up in talking about it as a practice of our fathers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus were all buried.
He’d also heard that Christianity is on the decline in the west and asked me why. When I suggested it was to do with wealth, he pointed out that many Arabs are wealthy and yet very devout Muslims. He was amazed when I told him that Australia needs Tanzanian missionaries and it took quite a bit of convincing and giving of examples for him to take the idea seriously!
Students Speak contains some of the highlights from our conversations with students each week. This isn’t about getting an ‘accurate’ picture of Tanzania so much as learning how the students we meet with each week see their world.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.