Including the spouses – a welcome intervention

If those involved in local church ministry in rural Tanzania are neglected in terms of training and general encouragement, how much more so their spouses. No wonder the participants at the BUILD training in Shinyanga asked if their spouses could be involved, and no wonder they were so excited when the organisers found a way of including them.

Mercy Mungai, the Lake Zone BUILD Coordinator for the Anglican Church of Tanzania reports, “They wished it had been for a longer time”, explaining that, “Shinyanga had been without any training for many years and the BUILD training has been so instrumental. But it seems as though most of the clergy spouses have no clear place in the ministry, and all the more so in their rural setting.”

Mercy continues, “In a final block of training we included some of the spouses of our participants [all of whom happened to be women – the group was already mixed]. That was both at Nyakato Bible College in the Diocese of Victoria Nyanza and at the Mission and Evangelism Training College in Shinyanga. We thought through their request and decided it was important to implement it and here we are! It was such a unique initiative. It meant we had fifteen extras at NBCV and twenty-five at METC all of whom came for most of a week. While at the training, they joined in our morning devotion every day. We took them through some units of Module One that introduced them to the BUILD programme among other things. We also included other teachings along the way to help them understand their role and place in ministry. We believe this will have a huge impact in their churches and in the ministry of their spouses at large. They are well placed to lead and teach in various ministries. Their confidence has been raised so much as a result.”

Out of the attendees Martha had this to say, “Coming to this training to me is a great miracle. I have learnt so much and I am now confident that I can share the gospel to others and even share a message from the Bible.”

Another participant, Joyce, shared how much she wished they had been able to spend more time at the training event. She explained how she learnt a great deal from reflecting about the BUILD logo in the context of the Bible’s teaching. That had led to fresh thinking about the kind of Church that God longs for, a Church whose foundation is the Bible. Joyce feels that she can now teach the Bible with confidence.

Finally, Jackeline is grateful that the BUILD program values the participants’ spouses and is happy to have been introduced to the BUILD training, which she would now love to continue with.

Jackeline’s desire is an obvious but unforeseen outcome with a whole range of implications, all of which are encouraging.