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Openness to gospel in Tanzania creates need for volunteers

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (BP)–Missionaries in Tanzania are calling for volunteers to share the gospel with thousands of Muslims who have shown tremendous openness to the gospel.

A total of 367 people accepted Christ when 10 volunteers from Kentucky partnered with Vingunguti Baptist Church in Dar es Salaam for a 10-day outreach to the Zaramo people.

During the first day, the group prayerwalked around the community. Then they began evangelism and taught discipleship classes for children and adults. The gospel was presented in more than 700 homes.

They showed the “Jesus” film twice, and predominantly Muslim crowds of 700 to 1,000 people gathered to watch it.

This victory is amazing to those who are familiar with the people group.

The Zaramo are a tribal group with strong ties to Islam. Ninety-eight percent hold to traditional animistic beliefs under a veneer of folk Islam. The Zaramo people traditionally have been hard to reach with the gospel because commitment to Islam is expected.

“Witchcraft, sorcery and black magic are widely practiced among the Zaramo, and as a result most live in perpetual fear and darkness,” says Kevin Barnes, an International Mission Board missionary to Tanzania.

Barnes and his wife, Sonya, began a new work among the unreached Zaramo in 1998, when they were appointed as church planters and developers in the area.

In January, missionaries Dwight and Kim Lazarus* joined them to establish a medical ministry among the people.

The team has been conducting a worldview and ethnographic study on the Zaramo.

“Only until we come to a clear understanding as to who the Zaramo are and what worldview they hold will we begin to know what strategies will be most effective in establishing an indigenous church planting movement among them,” Barnes says.

“Reach the Wazaramo of Dar” is a yearlong project Barnes has developed to involve a partnership of Southern Baptist volunteers and Tanzanian Baptists to reach the people group for Christ.

The volunteer group from Kentucky helped complete the first phase. The second phase involves a second team of volunteers to join the local Baptist church with a more balanced approach to evangelism and discipleship within the group.

Phase three calls for a third group of volunteers to concentrate on discipling the new Zaramo believers so they can establish study groups among themselves.

The project is heavily dependent on Southern Baptist volunteers from the United States. Without their response, the plans will not succeed.

“People are not responding. We need more laborers who are willing to come and serve alongside their missionaries and fellow Tanzanian brethren,” Barnes says.
*Names changed for security concerns.
For information about volunteering to help take the gospel to the Zaramo people group, contact e-mail [email protected] or call 1-800-888-8657. To contact Kevin and Sonya Barnes directly, e-mail [email protected].

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  • Erin Curry