We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Fire of Persecution

We heard the news this morning that three churches near Lake Victoria in northwest Tanzania were burned last night and the buildings and contents completely destroyed. Three churches (PAG, EAGT and Living Waters) were set on fire with paraffin in the Bukoba area in Kigera Region. There are no reports yet as to who started the fires. This is the third time in three years that the Living Waters church has been burned by arsonists. The church building which burned yesterday had not yet even been completed.

This is a sad repeat of events. In March of this year, in the same region, three other churches were burned down. Earlier in February, a church building was destroyed. And in May, Samson Gwajima, a Bukoba pastor, was attacked in his home after receiving threats. In October of last year, Dioniz Ng'wandu, a 31 year old father of two, was killed with machetes and another injured as they attended a TAG prayer meeting in that same area. The church has reportedly received threats from Muslim extremists who say they want to reduce the number of Christians in the region.

We hear that it is difficult to get authorisations for churches. Churches say they are refused permission to rebuild on their premises, with claims that the land is for residency only. So even if the church can raise the financial resources to build, there are further obstacles to overcome.

This area is also one heavily involved in witchcraft. It was in this region that 18 witch doctors were arrested in March, during the crackdown on murders of people with albinism which involved the arrest of over 200 witchdoctors nationwide. The area has been repeatedly in the news with reports of ritual killings for organs, other kidnappings and killings of children and people with albinism or other mysterious killings with witchdoctors involved. In March of this year, there were at least seven people killed in the Bukoba region, allegedly with a 90 year old witchdoctor, Gaudensia Ndibalema, behind it all.

So please share and pray for the church here in Tanzania. Pray for the churches in this region of Kigera. As in many places worldwide, the church is quite literally in the fire. But if we remember Moses and the burning bush and Shadrach, Meshak and Abednigo in the fiery furnace, in the fire was the abiding and preserving presence of God and in the end was His glory!

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