A Report of Theology of Work Seminar Conducted in Morogoro Region, Tanzania, East Africa
First of all I would like to express my sincere thanks to Almighty God for given us this wonderful opportunity to learn how our daily activities relate to our faith to God. It has been a long journey until this important TOW seminar is conducted in Morogoro. In addition I would like to thank you my great friend Dr. Lowell Bakke for given me an amazing opportunity to study TOW course (Audit) at Bakke Graduate University. The TOW course I studied at BGU from October to December 2015 helped me a lot to understand and capture the full concept of Theology of Work which transformed my understanding of work and its relation to faith. The course enabled me to teach and facilitate the TOW seminar at St. Joseph Parish, Msamvu, Church Hall venue in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania, East Africa. Dr. Lowell has become my inspiration in this journey. God bless you Dr. Lowell.
Last but not least, I would like to pass my condolences to the family of my dear friend Reverend Erick Musee, the former Director of Go Ye Africa who passed away suddenly last year. I was very shocked to hear about his death through Dr. Lowell when I was in the United Kingdom last year. May his soul rest in peace with the Lord and I pray for the comfort for his lovely family in Nairobi. Erick died before he came to Morogoro to conduct the TOW seminar in our Theological College as we planned. But what I want to say, the seed he planted to us through his willingness, passion and love to minister us have started to bear fruits. TOW seminar has conducted now. His family must be proud for his commitment, humble leadership and great ministry he did in Africa and beyond.
Geographical Location of Morogoro Region
Morogoro is a city with a population of more than 350,000 in the Eastern part of Tanzania. It is in 169 Kilometres west of Dares Salaam, the country’s largest city and commercial centre, and 223 kilometres east of Dodoma, the country’s capital city. Morogoro Municipal is the capital city of Morogoro Region. It is also known informally as “Mji Kasoro Bahari” which translates as ‘city short of an ocean/port’.
Morogoro Region occupies a total of 72,939 square kilometres which is approximately 8.2% of the total area of Tanzania mainland. It is the third largest region in the country.
Morogoro region has various ethnic groups namely wakaguru, Wavidunda, wandamba, wamasai, wapogoro, wakwere, wakami and wahehe. The region has different religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hindu and African Tradition religions. Luckily, in spite these religious and ethnic differences, the inhabitants live in peace and harmony.
The TOW seminar conducted in Morogoro provided an understanding of biblical agenda about God's plan for work. The teachings intended to help participants to integrate TOW into their daily activities, which include removing the sacred secular divide and engage other possible elements of the theology of work that are new or different than their current understanding. The teaching of TOW provided the practicing Pastors, students and Christians working in the market place with Foundational and Biblical Perspective on work and Biblical Principles of Work; and to help them recognize God’s divine purpose, meaning and value of WORK. Help them contextualize TOW Principles with a view to developing simplified local church-based teaching Materials on Theology of Work; and to evaluate the effects of TOW on congregational lives and ministries/works.
- First, was to enable participants (pastors, students, Church leaders, Government leaders, Non-governmental Organizations leaders, teachers, doctors etc) in the market place understand and apply Biblical Theology of work by demonstrating and teaching their congregations and those in the workplace the mandate of God in creation.
- Second was to enable participants understand and appreciate the role of market place Ministry, and to encourage them to be actively involved in Gospel enterprise, by helping them integrate their faith and work.
- Third was to become people of Kingdom of God influence in the workplace and to influence their culture through functioning in their stewardship and calling of work.
In our TOW seminar the participants were, pastors among Churches, Governmental workers/leaders, students from Morogoro Bible College, Political leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, medical doctors and Evangelists.
The total of 85 people attended the TOW seminar at St. Joseph Parich, Msamvu - Church Hall.
Some of the participants of TOW course in Morogoro
The TOW teachings were divided into five sessions of six hours each day including a 45 minutes break. This means each two hours has 15 minutes break. The seminar venue had benches which enabled the participants to sit and write. In addition in order to deliver the content of the course well, the teacher/facilitator used power-point to deliver materials. During the sessions participants were put into small groups of six to eight people for discussions. The participants were allowed to ask questions or to respond to the questions asked.
- We looked at the etymological meaning of the word Theology. It was very important for the participants to understanding the meaning of the word ‘Theology’ because some of the participants came from the background that they were not very much familiar with the term. Also it was very important to articulate the meaning of work. We looked at John Stott’s definition of work.
- The session provided a biblical foundation for the theology of work. We looked at the artistic and creative work of God as displayed in the account of Creation (Genesis Chapter 1 and 2). We looked about man, the pro-creative agent in Genesis chapter 2 and the role of the present day Church and the people in general in pro-creation.
- We looked the Work as in the Garden of Aden.
- We explored the role of man in earth care and stewardship of human resources including natural resources, environment, peoples gifts, talents, skills stewardship, all in an holistic approach.
- We discussed the perception and interpretation of work before and after the fall.
- We saw the fall of humankind on how it caused brokenness with all main relationships: with God, self, others and the creation.
- We expounded work in the Old Testament, New Testament and present situations by providing practical Biblical and contemporary case studies.
- Work and the Kingdom of God. We learned God’s mission was from the moment brokenness entered as a result of the fall to redeem the world and to restore the relationships that where broken.
- Work as an act of worship and service to God. We determined the relationship between work and worship.
- We looked on how participants can practically integrate their faith in the market place - “Work/business is Mission”.
- We interrogated practical and current challenges and determined best practices looking at the examples of Joseph, Daniel and Paul as case studies.
- We concluded by declaring that there is no Secular and sacred work by exploring the current trend of ordination and non-clergy role in Gospel enterprise.
- We looked at the practical application of TOW through entrepreneurial and business development, a Concept of stewardship to utilize available human capital, natural and creation resources to glorify God in the market place.
- Evaluation and participants’ response form. Discussion groups have been given 30 minutes to evaluate the course and propose a work plan for action in their respective congregations or areas of influence. In addition, each participant has been given an evaluation form to fill it.
The last day of the seminar the participants were given opportunity to evaluate the course by highlighting the strengths and the challenges. Participants were divided into small groups of 6 to 8 people according to their professionals. The following are responses from the groups:
First, the participants said; they are so thankful for having an opportunity to attend this TOW Seminar because it has transformed their understanding of work and its relation to their faith to God. They declared that they didn’t know that before if their daily works are works of God. Their understanding before the TOW course was that, working in the Church sphere is the only working for God. But now they have understood that all works are works of God and their works have to glorify Him.
Second, the participants declared that, the TOW teaching will help to uproot the wrong/false teachings about the prosperity Gospel. They said many Christians today, even we here are being confused from those preachers who said they can offer prayers to believers/people and those people can become rich but they need give good offerings before they pray for them. These teaching underestimate the value and importance of work by
Third, the women who attended this TOW course said, the TOW teachings will help to make them free from men’s domination. They said, in some tribes here in Tanzania men do not allow women to go out for work. They want women to stay at home and look after children and this make them to be beggars by asking each everything from the men, this make them to feel less free, because they do not have access and right to make decisions on the income in the family. Through TOW they have discovered that, God himself worked, women worked and God is the source of work and He still works until today and He commanded all people to work. They concluded by saying, TOW is the best tool for teaching gender equality and they asked for another TOW seminar for gender equality.
Fourth, others said that, Theology of work course will help to fight against poverty. Because TOW emphasises about work and teaches that work originated from God; therefore work is sacred and service to God, TOW will enable people to work hard and increase their income and make their life much better. Yeremia Mapindi, a secondary School teacher said that, ‘here in Africa many people use a lot of their time to stay or play rather than working, and this is the reason why Africa is poor, so TOW teaching will deliver Africans from this bondage of poverty’.
Fifth, the Bible College students said that, it was a great opportunity to attend this TOW course today. They had a very little understanding on how work relates to faith. One of the students whose name Yona Chisongela said, ‘we only talk about work when we refer to Apostle Paul, the tent maker and we interpret it as something which has no link with our faith but we stress it as a good thing but today we have discovered that work is sacred and work is mission’. In general the students asked the TOW course to be taught in their college and we thank you God this semester we have started to teach TOW course.
Sixth, the pastors attended the seminar declared that they have learn something new which has changed their understanding. They said, TOW has expanded the scope of propagating the gospel. If we implement TOW in our ministries the Gospel will be widely spread than before. One of the Pastor whose name Frank Karoli from United Methodist Church said, ‘before we understood that the work of spreading the gospel is for Pastor, evangelists and those who work in the Church but TOW has opened our mind that all believers what to preach the gospel through their works’.
Seventh, the teachers and government leaders who attended this seminar declared that, TOW is among of the powerful tool that can be used to uproot the effect of colonialism which brought negative attitude towards work to African people. They said, we need many TOW workshops to be conducted in Tanzania because this will help to transform our communities. Moreover, the teachers suggested that, TOW course has to be taught to our children in schools so they can grow up with this understanding.
Eighth, the political leaders said, TOW course supports our new President’s John Pombe Magufuli motto ‘Hapa kazi tu’ which translates as ‘Here work only’. They contended that, TOW will help people to work hard and bring development to the country. Tanzania is poor country even though it has so many resources. The country has minerals, good land, etc but still it is very poor and their people live miserable life. We believe TOW is the best instrument to awaken the people of Tanzania to know that God has given us a good country with many resources so we can use them to develop our lives and glorify him and this will be done through working hard. In addition, through this seminar we have learned that even doing politics is doing the work of God. This understanding helps us as politicians to understand that our works will be accountable before God’.
Finally, in general comment, the TOW seminar conducted on February in Morogoro brought positive results to the participants and it has transformed their understanding about work. The teachings broke the dichotomy between secular and sacred. The TOW helped to uproot the wrong notion that work is curse. Participants understood that work is sacred and it is an act of worship and service.
Among the challenges which happened in our TOW seminar of February were as follow:
- The participants argued that four days is not enough for the people enjoy and capture the full concept of Theology of work. They suggested at least seven days’ of a TOW workshop/seminar will help.
- Another challenge was the lack of TOW Swahili materials. Many of the TOW materials are in English language. Many of the Tanzanians speak, read and write in Swahili, so they asked if possible to translate some of the materials in Swahili language. I was able to provide few notes I prepared in Swahili language (see the attachment of the power-point notes).
FUTURE PLANS FOR TOW
Considering the responses and evaluations from the participants and the importance of TOW course there no doubt that there is a big need to spread these teachings for the benefit of the Church and the communities in Tanzania as well as Africa in general. We currently planning to spread TOW teachings by conducting seminars and workshops across Tanzania. We have received a number of applications from Churches, Pastors Networks and different Christian Organizations that want us to provide them the TOW teachings.
In addition to the above, we are planning to conduct TOW seminars/course to a number of Theological Colleges and universities here in Tanzania. These colleges want to integrate TOW in their studies. We thank you God this semester we have started to teach TOW course at Morogoro Bible College.
Moreover, I am looking forward to pursue a Doctoral course (DTL) at Bakke Graduate University. My intention to pursue the DTL course at BGU is to expand my theological understanding in order to transform the communities of God here in Tanzania.
Finally, as we have seen that, TOW course is a very important and powerful instrument on making sure the Gospel of Christ is spread in wider perspective, evacuate the wrong notion about work and help the communities to be transformed and bring development, I recommend that this course has to be taught seriously in our context.