I recounted a conversation about missionary legacy in an article for Eternity recently. In it, I hinted that this is not the only way to view missionaries, and I thought I’d fill that out a bit. Our friend from the article, the one staying with us, gave us his perspective a bit later.
His view is that missionaries came doing many good things. In particular, he cited setting up schools and hospitals. He acknowledged that there were mistakes that were made, but the big factor for him is that in his Anglican tradition, the church leadership has been indigenised for 50 years. While many bishops and senior leaders may remember the church under missionary leadership, in his lifetime, there have only been Tanzanian leaders. His question is, how long will we continue to look back? For how many years does the church have to be under Tanzanian leadership before we stop blaming the missionaries?
‘Do something now!’ he said. He has a strong sense that he as a church leader will stand before God and answer to him for his work. He does not believe it will be an adequate answer to say that the problems of the Tanzanian church today were products of the missionary legacy. He said, ‘The missionaries gave us many things. What are we doing with them?’
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.