Planting seeds of partnership, the 2020 Bishop’s delegation to the North Central Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania

“Yesu ni rafiki yetu                           “What a friend we have in Jesus,
            akaaye mbinguni.                             all our sins and griefs to bear!
Hutuombea kwa Baba,                   What a privilege to carry,
            na kutupatanisha,                            ev’rything to God in prayer.
lakini twajikosesha,                          Oh, what peace we often forfeit;
            twajiywika mabaya,                         oh, what needless pain we bear –
tusipomtafuta Yeye,                         all because we do not carry
            na kuomba kwa kweli.”                   ev’rything to God in prayer.”

We sang in Swahili and English, a tune familiar in the US and in Tanzania. We sang together because we are partners in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ – “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” [Ephesians 4:5]

On January 17, 2020, ten travelers from the Northern Illinois Synod flew to Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport. We arrived on the evening of Saturday, January 18. The purpose of this journey (safari – Swahili) was to bear witness to our common faith in Christ Jesus, to renew old friendships, build new relationships, learn about the ministries of the North Central Diocese, grow in our appreciation for acts of accompaniment, and discover ways we can partner with one another as citizens of God’s kingdom.

Happily we were joined on many of our travels by Ron Gustafson (NIS liaison to NCD) and Daudi Msseemmaa (ELCA Representative in East Africa). Daudi shared with us the ELCA’s core values of Accompaniment: Mutuality, Inclusivity, Vulnerability, Empowerment, and Sustainability. The travelers reflected each evening on their experiences through the lens of these core values.

We visited hospitals, schools, congregations, and offices. We prayed together, ordained two pastors together, sang together, ate together, and shared our faith in Jesus together. The travelers planted seeds of partnership, we pray the seeds will grow in Tanzania and in the US.

“Yesu ni rafiki yetu!”

Respectfully submitted,
Rev. Gary Erickson
Director for Evangelical Mission
Assistant to the Bishop for Outreach and Stewardship