Tanzania – New command develops identity

TanzaniaThe Tanzania Command is one of the newest in The Salvation Army world. While the Army has been ministering in Tanzania for 67 years, the country received command status just two years ago.

“We want to have a good command” says Lt. Colonel David Burrows, officer commanding. “Tanzania wants to be independent. There is a unity of purpose here; we’re all heading in the same direction.”

Burrows and the command staff have identified a number of priorities for the command, including spiritual growth of soldiers, officer development, and encouraging self-sufficiency.

Officer development is a key component in planning and implementation of strategy. “Our emphasis is on our officers,” Burrows says. Included in that is bringing officers, who have had access to limited materials in Swahili, to a level where they continually improve educational skills.

Captain Benjamin Mnyampi, secretary for administration, notes that the spiritual growth of Salvationists is a vital component of the Army’s growth. “We want them to grow spiritually. Then the giving will improve, discipleship will improve, and more will be won for Christ.” Mnyampi notes there are more than 120 tribes in the country, and a growing number of Salvationists who are new to the faith.

Officers come from two main tribes: the Kurya, in the north and the Malila, in the south. They often serve in areas not of their own tribes; Swahili, the common language, brings them together.

Challenges are a part of daily life: Some officers walk six to ten hours to reach neighborhood corps; finances are precarious. “This command is far from self-supporting, although we encourage the principle of self-support,’ says Burrows. “The Western Territory has been very kind to us in sending personnel and resources.”

Funding for the command comes from Self Denial/World Service giving. Tanzania is the third poorest country in the world, and the majority of officers do not receive full salary.

The growth of the Muslim faith is a new problem. While The Salvation Army enjoys a good relationship with the Christian Council of Tanzania, a general election will be held soon which might impact the balance of power. “This has been a peaceful country,” Burrows says. “We are grateful for that. The government has given freedom to us for worship. Muslims would bring things up that would disturb that.”

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