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One month ago today, I was invited to preach during the daily chapel service at the Iringa Diocese Head Office. According to the ELCT’s lectionary, the focus of the week’s readings was on loving and serving children and the question I left them with was this: “What are you – you specifically – doing in your home and in your work to love and care for ALL of God’s children?”
It is a question that came from me not only as a father of two young children, but also as a leader who is committed to seeing that God’s Word and the gift of God’s Son are shared with many generations to come. Children, youth, and young adults are not just the future of the church; they are the church here and now.
In a place like Tanzania, this is especially true.
As a country, they are blessed with children and youth. Demographically speaking, Tanzania is an incredibly young country. Like the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30 and the largest age group is the youngest. Based on statistics from 2018, for example, 43% of Tanzania’s population is 14 years old or younger! By comparison, places like the United States and Sweden are much ‘older’ with 18% and 17% under the age of 14, respectively.
Children and youth are one of Tanzania’s greatest resources and it should come as no surprise, then, that treasuring, teaching, and empowering them has become one of the primary areas of activity for our companion synod relationship with the ELCT Iringa Diocese. Working and walking side by side for more than two decades, congregations in Iringa and the United States have been digging deep to invest their time, energy, dollars and hearts in students and their studies.
During my time in Iringa, I’ve been privileged to hear many success stories and learn first-hand about the impact this cumulative series of investments has had on scholarship recipients and the communities that they call home.
Soon you’ll be able to do the same.
Over the past several weeks, a Tanzanian production crew has been traveling across the Iringa Diocese in order to conduct a series of interviews and document the BKB Scholarship Program. The short video they are working on is now in the final stages of editing and, God willing, will be ready to premiere at the 2021 BKB Fall Festival.
Even now, as congregations and cluster leaders make their pledges and commitments for the 2022 academic year and beyond, we have much to celebrate – and I look forward to celebrating with all of you soon.
With joy and gratitude
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega & Assistant to the Bishop