Former Mission Partner Returns to Host Country

Oct 6, 2023 | News

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By Peter Akester, Former NZCMS Mission Partner

It was four years since I had been in Tan­zania, and being part of a SOMA mission team to the Diocese of Kondoa was an ideal oppor­tun­ity for me to return. Changes in Tan­zania were evident as soon as I arrived. A new loc­a­tion for the long-dis­tance bus stand was just one of them, as I sought to travel 600km up country to Kondoa from Dar es Salaam where I arrived. The capital city of Dodoma has grown immensely since I was last there and even Kondoa town has seen a lot of growth towards the main Dodoma – Arusha road.

The SOMA team con­sisted of seven people. Rev. Ian Hard­castle was the leader, along with his wife, Helen, and two other parish­ion­ers from St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Whanga­paraoa. Their names were Toni and Michael. Anton and Christine Niko­loff from Ran­giora Anglican parish were the others with whom I joined. We were away from Kondoa town for ten days with sem­inars in the South­w­est part of the Diocese and were based in the village of Mpendo for our accom­mod­a­tion. The seminar loc­a­tions were chosen by Bishop Given who accom­pan­ied us along with his wife, Lillian. We visited three loc­a­tions; One parish that had been estab­lished three years ago, another church loc­a­tion where it was expec­ted to be made a parish next year, and a larger estab­lished parish to finish with. The thrust of teach­ing ranged from calling for a response to Jesus in people’s lives, receiv­ing the empower­ment of the Holy Spirit, how to pray for others for healing, both phys­ic­ally and spir­itu­ally, and for deliv­er­ance. Many lives were changed over this time. People were healed, were set free, and came to know Jesus as their per­sonal saviour. We felt priv­ileged to see God at work in power­ful ways.

Having been based in Kondoa at the Bible College from 2015 to 2018, it was good to see a new intake of stu­dents for the three-year diploma course, and we had some input for them while in Kondoa.

Recon­nect­ing with many Tan­zanian people was also a high­light for me. I had two extra weeks after the mission trip was over, and it was excit­ing to see the Msalato Theo­lo­gical College with staff and stu­dents. My late wife, Chris, and I had been at the college from 1988 to 1998 and many devel­op­ments have been made there since then. Encoun­ters with ex-stu­dents from both eras, with past cus­tom­ers of Central Tan­ga­nyika Chemist, past co-workers, pre­vi­ous pastors from Makole parish, and other people who we had rubbed shoulders with in many dif­fer­ent situ­ations all con­trib­uted to a very stim­u­lat­ing time.

Another part of my visit was to fulfil a promise to Chris, my wife, who died in January 2020. Before she died, she had expressed a wish that I take a portion of her ashes back to Tan­zania. Covid restric­tions delayed all that, and I was able to take the portion back with me during this trip. I was touched by the response of the people in Kondoa and other close friends in the Diocese of Central Tan­ga­nyika. It res­ul­ted in two cere­mon­ies and a divided portion of ashes being interred in Kondoa, beside the church near the Bible College, and a village called Lamaiti where Rev. Richard Kanungha is living. He was our pastor at Makole in the early years of our first time in Tan­zania. A friend­ship of almost 40 years.

People were keen to hear about Chris and how she coped with Motor Neurone Disease. I was aware of the Lord’s strength as I shared about that with them. I was worried ini­tially that it might be impos­ing some­thing strange on them by bring­ing back those ashe however they expressed how hon­oured they felt to share in that way.

It is hard to put into words how encour­aging and excit­ing the SOMA mission was, coupled with all the mul­tiple encoun­ters and exper­i­ences that fol­lowed and sur­roun­ded that. Praise to the Lord who made it all pos­sible. I am so grate­ful for having been part of that and yet aware of how small I am and how great God is.

1 Comment
  1. Nigel Mander

    At the start of 1992 I visited Tan­zania for a month. I visited David and Jen Pearce at Kondoa (on my way from Arusha to Dodoma) and I met Peter and Christine (with Sarah and Pendo) at Msalato Bible College (during the adults’ first decade in Tan­zania). It’s lovely to hear that Christine wanted some of her ashes to be depos­ited in that country!

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