In the Mission and Vision statements that were adopted in 2015 to guide our companion synod relationship with the Iringa Diocese, the people of the Saint Paul Area Synod say:
The Mission of BKB-SPAS (Who we are and why we are here)
Bega Kwa Bega is a joint ministry between the Iringa Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and the Saint Paul Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America representing communities of faith whose core purpose is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to extend Christian hospitality, and to strengthen one another through the shared practices of prayer, presence, and projects.
In brief, then:
Bega Kwa Bega is a network of relationships: holy, growing, and thriving. Through it we walk beside our companions in Iringa, celebrating our life together through mutual prayer, presence, and projects.
The Vision of BKB-SPAS (Where we are heading)
Led by the Spirit, we envision deeper faith and fuller life, accompanying one another as participants in God's ongoing mission in both America and Tanzania.
At a recent meeting of the Iringa Committee (the governing body that oversees Bega Kwa Bega), committee members reviewed those statements and put them in conversation with the opening lines of 1 John
. As expressed in the words of The Message, the passage says this:
From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in - we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes... We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
The passage helped us to read our statements in a new light - to rediscover who we are and what we are about. We were reminded that proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is at the heart of all that we do. More than building cultural awareness, in what we see, touch, taste, smell, and hear, together we are experiencing communion with one another. But we are also building communion with the Father and his Son. And in that communion there is life, energy, and vitality that compels those who have experienced it to share it with others. "I just returned from a visit to Iringa and I have to tell you..." is a phrase that many have found themselves uttering to their family and friends.
Not simply an abstract idea or a concept, the holy relationality described and experienced here is immediate and incarnate. It involves specific prayer, physical presence, shared actions, and the risk of being transformed. It is an act of celebration and an expression of joy. Shoulder to shoulder, across continents and cultures, what we witness is nothing less than "the infinite Life of God himself (taking) shape before us," and the motive for our work is simply this: "We want you to enjoy this too..."
For this renewed vision, we give thanks.
The Rev. Peter Harrits
Director of Bega Kwa Bega and Assistant to the Bishop