A New Sanctuary to Rise For Tanzania in Dar es Salaam

February 27, 2024 | | GNJ News, Tanzania

Tanzania conference leaders and landowner standing on the purchased land that will be the foundation of Bamia United Methodist Church. Photo provided.

Bamia, a burgeoning neighborhood on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, witnessed a landmark event on January 13. United Methodist District Superintendent Isaka Ibrahim, alongside Nyasinde Pablo and the Rev. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi, Tanzania Conference Director of Church Development and Evangelism, congregated on a parcel of land earmarked for hope and unity.

In a gesture transcending cultural and religious boundaries, a Muslim landowner and his family extended their hands in fellowship, as they sold a plot to The United Methodist Church.

Here, the Bamia United Methodist Church, under the spirited guidance of Pastor Adrosia Josia, plans to erect a new sanctuary. This growing congregation of 70 members, currently worshiping weekly beneath iron sheets, is poised for continued growth in a town where the Muslim community constitutes 75 percent of the population.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, is home to 7 million inhabitants and seven United Methodist congregations that serve the spiritual needs of that community. Only the First UMC of Dar es Salaam has a physical building.

Now, with construction underway, Bamia United Methodist Church is set to become the second. The excited anticipation of this significant development has garnered Bamia UMC the honor of hosting the next session of the Tanzania Annual Conference, scheduled for the end of May.

“Bamia is a neighborhood brimming with potential, and having a church building here is a big step,” remarked District Superintendent Isaka Ibrahim. “It will not only provide a home for worship but will also be a school for many children who walk very far to get to school right now. And the new building will greatly support Pastor Adrosia Josia and her leadership in the mission to share the gospel and grow our community.”

This special moment was made possible by the generosity of the United Methodists of Greater New Jersey. Launched last fall, the For Tanzania campaign aimed to raise $100,000 to construct a permanent church building in Dar es Salaam and to ensure a livable wage for United Methodist pastors in the Tanzania Conference for one year.

So far, GNJ members have raised over $75,000 towards the campaign, and their outpouring of generosity has facilitated this initial land purchase and laid the foundation for a new edifice of worship.

But it’s more than just a building. “It’s a testament to the unity and transparency valued by the church,” shared Nyasinde Pablo, a conference leader present at the land purchase. “Principles of grace and love were demonstrated through the collaboration of local government leaders, the Bishop’s office, and the Church Council of Bamia UMC.”

(Left to right) Pastor Adrosia Josia, Rev. James Lee, and Nyasinde Pablo giving a presentation during the 2023 Tanzania Pastor’s School. Rev. Josia is the pastor of Bamia UMC. Eric Drew Photo.

The narrative of Bamia UMC intertwines with the transformative journey of Pastor Adrosia herself. Once a follower of Islam, her life took a dramatic turn through the evangelical work of Rev. Wa Mushidi. Later, her conversion led her from the pews of First UMC in Dar es Salaam to a deeper calling.

She eventually became the Women’s Coordinator both at her church and on the district. Now, as she continues her pastoral studies in Morogoro, she serves as the pastor of Bamia UMC, appointed by Bishop Mande Muyombo.

“I am overly excited to have church land, but not only land. We will have a new permanent building for people to worship,” expressed Pastor Adrosia. Her vision is clear: “A new building will not just be a shelter but a beacon for the gospel, inviting many to join the family of God.”

The For Tanzania campaign and the story of Bamia UMC offer a clarion call, an invitation to United Methodists in Greater New Jersey to contribute the remaining $25,000 of the campaign. When they do, pastors like Pastor Adrosia Josia can be equipped with a livable wage and boldly continue the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the communities in Tanzania.

As the morning sun rises on the Dar es Salaam’s horizon, its rays illuminate the future site of the Bamia United Methodist Church.

“I would like to express my gratitude to all the people in New Jersey and around the world for your big support,” proclaims Pastor Adrosia, as she envisions the church rising, much like the dawn, to bring light to the lives of many. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”

View this video to hear the Rev. Mutwale Ntambo Wa Mushidi, Tanzania Conference Director of Church Development and Evangelism, thank GNJ supporters for their generous donations to help build this church in Bamia: Thank you GNJ // Rev. Mutwale. To learn more about the For Tanzania campaign, and to join the Circles of Giving, or to just give and join the movement, please visit: www.gnjumc.org/fortanzania.

Initial architectural drawings of the future Bamia United Methodist Church. Provided.