It is hard for us in the United States to understand the difficulties of travel in other countries because we can easily drive anywhere at any time with one of our family vehicles. However, travel within the East of Lake Victoria Diocese of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELVD) can be tough at times and extremely tough during the rainy season. The ELVD is spread over a large area of Tanzania located primarily east and south of Lake Victoria. The land area of the diocese is similar in size as the area of the combined states of Tennessee and Arkansas. The size of the area is one travel issue but the other issue is the roads that must be traveled. The ELVD is reaching out to approximately 8 million Sukuma tribes’ people in this area with 40 ordained pastors assisted by a number of evangelists. Approximately 20 % of this population is non- Christian which means there is lots of work to do.
Many of these parish pastors have a home congregation and 8 to 13 sub parishes in the areas adjacent to their home congregations. Serving these sub parishes is very difficult and time consuming. The parish pastor in Barida has a congregation and 11 sub-congregation and the pastor in Sengrema has 10 sub-parishes. Some of the congregations are more than 40 miles away from their home church. It is difficult to serve each parish in normal times but in the rainy season it is almost impossible. An hour commute in the dry season can be a 3 hour trip on motorbike during the rainy season. Just imagine planning for an 8 am worship service in Bariadi and an 11 am service at a church at the other edge of the district. You might arrive at 11 or at 2.
The pastors may travel between these villages by walking, by bicycle or a motorbike. Often the evangelists walk between 20 to 25 miles a day to villages to share the message of Salvation. The travel between villages takes up much of their time.
The Mid-South District LCMS has help to support transportation issues during the last few years but we need to continue to help provide pastors and evangelist with transportation help so they can effectively serve those in their districts. This help includes motorbikes and bicycles and upkeep (money for tires and supplies) to they can keep them running. Think about how your congregation can support the transportation of the Pastors and Evangelists in the ELVD.
World Mission Coordinator