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Sunday School Around the World: Tanzania

 

Persecution
Tanzania is on the coast of East Africa. Radical Islam is spreading from northern Africa into Tanzania. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar where most of the people are Muslims, Christians have faced persecution for a long time. People who leave Islam to follow Jesus sometimes have to flee their homes when family members kick them out.

But in recent times, Christians on the mainland of Tanzania have started having the same kinds of problems. Riots have broken out in some places, and churches have been burned.

Tanzania

Fact: Click Languages
Hadza and Sandawe are two of the many click languages of Africa. The languages use click sounds as consonants. Click noises can sound like the “tsk tsk” used by English to say, “What a shame,” or “I don’t approve of that.” Other click noises are like the clip clop sound made to sound like a horse trotting. Fewer and fewer people in Africa are speaking click languages, and some of the languages are already extinct.

Bibles
The Bible has not yet been translated into the languages of some Tanzanian tribes. The Tanzanian Sunday school children in the photo are looking at a children’s Bible in their language provided by The Voice of the Martyrs.


Tanzania Squash Craft

 

A calabash is the gourd or gourd-like fruit of various plants. Some people in Tanzania and other African countries make bottles or containers, or even musical instruments out of calabashes. Some even use dried, hollowed-out calabashes as motorcycle helmets.

To Try
You can make a vase out of a butternut squash. Ask an adult to cut the top off the smaller end. Use a spoon to scoop out the insides about halfway down the squash. Add artificial flowers.

Christians in Tanzania
Life can be dangerous for followers of Jesus in Muslim Tanzania. People who leave Islam to become Christians often have to go into hiding to escape threats and persecution. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)

Enter “Tanzania” into the Search box to find stories of bold Christians in Tanzania.


“Home Jail”

East Africa

You have heard about parents homeschooling their children, but have you ever heard of kids being home jailed?

A Christian in Zanzibar (a part of Tanzania) shared the following information about youth from Muslim families who have left Islam to follow Christ.

“Many youth have been denied permission to go to school just because they changed their faith. Many have been denied access to go outdoors just because they have decided to believe in Christ. If they can’t escape, that will be their lifetime home jail.

“Their parents force them to stay inside with the condition that they must return to Islam quickly if they want freedom of movement. The Muslim parents call this love, because they believe the youth ought to be punished severely, so just keeping them at home is ‘love.’”

Pray that entire families in Zanzibar will come to Christ and encourage one another in their new faith.

Some of the quotes and stories on this websites have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.


“God Trusts Us”

Burned Car
The mob burned the pastor’s car

Bishop Dickson is a pastor on the island of Zanzibar, which is part of the country of Tanzania. Many Christians live on Tanzania’s mainland. But more than 95 percent of the people on Zanzibar are Muslims.

After Bishop Dickson gave his life to Christ, he promised God that he would start a church on Zanzibar. At first, only a few people came to the church. Today 800 people worship in the congregation.

Attack
Muslims from outside of Zanzibar have joined with radical Muslims on the island to try to get rid of Christians. One Saturday night during a church prayer meeting, a mob of Muslims approached the church. Bishop Dickson helped the church members escape out a back door. But the pastor stayed in the church. “I had an opportunity to run away,” he said. “But you know, I love the church.”

About 300 Muslims arrived at the church with iron bars. The pastor was in his office by the church sanctuary. He heard the mob shatter the church windows. “Where’s the pastor?” they shouted. “Let’s get him!”

“I just sat down and I didn’t know what to do,” said Bishop Dickson. “But there was some peace and confidence deep in my heart. I knew God was in control.”

The mob stacked the church’s plastic chairs, speakers, and keyboards in a pile and set them on fire. They burned the pastor’s car. But they left without finding the pastor.

Escape
The next morning, church members showed up for church. They cried when they saw the damage. Bishop Dickson reminded them of the story of Job in the Bible, who suffered through many struggles.

“You know why this is happening?” the pastor asked the congregation. “I believe it is because God trusts us. He is faithful to us, and we will endure…and we will become victorious. Many good things will happen, so I don’t want people to cry. Let’s rejoice!”

To Do
Do you know the Bible story of Job that Bishop Dickson talked about? Read it in the Bible, or ask a Christian who knows it to tell you about it.


Mother of 12 Trusts God

Generosa
Generosa trusts God for his help as she raises her 12 children

A previous post told the story of a persecuted pastor’s family in Uganda. Tanzania is a country south of Uganda. Christians in Tanzania are also facing persecution by radical Muslims.

Generosa is a Christian widow in Tanzania with 12 children. The family had many struggles even when her husband, Mathayo, was alive.

Once the family was without money or food for three days. Generosa and Mathayo went to the church to pray. When they returned home, sacks of food were on their doorstop! Kind Christians had left the food.

Sadly, Mathayo died in an attack by radical Muslims. Generosa told workers from The Voice of the Martyrs that she forgives the attackers. “They did something they didn’t understand,” said Generosa. “They didn’t know what they were doing. We read in Scripture that God wants us to forgive those who offend us.”

Generosa wants to continue her church activities. She and her children will have to move out of the home for the church’s pastor. But she knows that her family’s future is in the hands of God. The Voice of the Martyrs is helping Generosa start a rice-selling business.

Generosa asks that we pray she’ll grow stronger in faith.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs June 2013 newsletter.