Mar 05, 2024 | John W. Coleman

“And I will show you my faith by my works.“  (James 2:18b)

The Rev. Mutwale wa Mushidi and Kabaka Alphonsine, United Methodist Global Ministries missionaries in Tanzania, have shared an inspiring gospel of faith in action in their visits over the past three weeks to various sites throughout the Greater New Jersey and Eastern PA conferences.

They brought that message to EPA&GNJ staff Monday, March 4, and will share it one last time with members of both conferences who join in a videochat with them on Thursday, March 7.  All are invited to meet and greet them via Zoom at:  Meeting ID: 865 0972 2730.  Passcode: 986337.

The itinerating missionary couple has visited about a dozen churches in both conferences since February 17. And they spoke to a class at EPA’s South-East Region Tools for Ministry session on Saturday, March 2. Then they joined EPA&GNJ staff, who worship and meet together on first Mondays at EPA’s conference office.

The Rev. wa Mushidi, who directs evangelism, leadership development and church growth efforts in the UMC’s Tanzania Conference, has been giving listeners an African, missional understanding of the need for faith to show works, as cited in James 2:14-16.

‘Show us your faith by your actions’

“The people I encounter say, ‘Show us your faith by your actions,’” he reported in his brief homily during the staff’s chapel worship. He noted that the UMC is small but growing in Tanzania, amid a much larger presence of other Christian denominations, with multiple churches and bishops, plus widespread Islam and animism.  

“It’s very hard to get new believers in our United Methodist Church,” said Mushidi, speaking in a baritone voice that was soft but steady. He was sent with his wife and several other missionaries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1992 to establish United Methodism in Tanzania. They became Global Ministries missionaries in 2001 and only then began to receive modest salaries.

“If we don’t have an infrastructure, how can we be known by the government and the community? We have been building for the last 32 years, but we started meeting in tents and classrooms and everything in-between. There are still many churches worshiping without land or buildings. But praise the Lord, because of our faith, along with our actions and yours, The United Methodist Church of Tanzania became a full conference in 2012.

100 churches, 75 ordained pastors, 71 local pastors, 6,000 families

“Now we have 100 churches, with 75 ordained pastors and 71 local pastors and more than 6,000 families—all from zero in the beginning,” he reported, as staff applauded.

“The churches we are building show our faith in action,” he explained. The schools, like the two his wife operates along with skills training programs for women, and the training and support that pastors receive all show “our faith in action,” he said. He thanked Bishop John Schol for GNJ’s support in sponsoring and teaching in Pastors Schools and also raising funds to help pay Tanzania’s dedicated pastors and to build a much-needed second church in Dar es Salaam, the largest city.

Mushidi showed photos onscreen of the new Bamia United Methodist Church under construction and of school children and families Kabaka Alphonsine serves. The new church will be the site of the 2024 Annual Conference in May, he proudly announced. He also mentioned development of a mission center, health clinics and efforts to aid refugees.  

“We want you to know what you are helping us to do,” said the missionary pastor. “We are showing our faith through our actions. We need you, and that is why we are here as missionaries, to ask you to support our work both spiritually through prayer and financially.

“We have to do these things so that our people will know that The United Methodist Church is alive, through our faith and our action.”