Playing our part
Posted on: 1st February 2023
CMS missionaries Arthur and Tamie Davis will soon head back to Australia after ten years serving in campus ministry in Tanzania. Here, Arthur explains why it made sense to get behind an existing ministry already working to grow a generation of disciples with a mission mindset.
Ten years ago, when Tamie and I were first looking at taking part in campus ministry in Tanzania, we expected to work directly with students, doing the familiar and essential ministry tasks of running Bible studies, discipling and mentoring.
What we discovered was an environment in which we certainly could have done this, but it seemed better not to. There was no shortage of Christian student groups and fellowship opportunities across various denominational frameworks. .
However, as Yaw Perbi and Sam Ngugi write of Africa at large:
Many urban middle-class churches are laying their claim for the soul of college students with services and programs designed for their appeal. The only problem is that some lack a global vision of the nations, and rather than invest in empowering the youth and raising an army of global disciples for God’s global harvest field, many churches are driven by raw ambition and competition to promote and expand their church brands among college students and the youth, and to lock them in as an investment for their own future financial gain or influence.
An authentic work already underway
Instead of getting caught up in this territorialism, we noticed that the local IFES movement, TAFES, was helping students to go deeper: to take ownership of their faith, see things for themselves in the Bible, and discover what Jesus means for every aspect of their lives.
Tamie and I chose to bind ourselves to TAFES in order to build up that ministry. This has meant going along with others and going about things in ways that might not always make sense to us. Yet we could see that this was far and away the best use of our God-given time, because it meant joining in with something God had started long before us. I became ‘Staff Coach’, seeking to empower TAFES staff workers in their ministry with students.
Mobilising for a life of mission
Other Africans are mobilising to be part of the promised blessing to the nations, and TAFES has been part of this emerging desire in Tanzania. Whereas some student fellowships have busied themselves with big, concert-style events and ‘fly-in-fly-out’ crusades to villages, TAFES has emphasised day-to-day ministry on campus and a deeper, lifelong involvement in God’s mission.
Rather than initiating things for Tanzanians, we in CMS Australia can ask what part we might play in supporting these kinds of mobilisation efforts. Tanzanians may be very accepting of help, but after many years of being the ‘receivers’, the challenge we have noticed has more to do with Tanzanians embracing their dignity and finding their confidence to become gospel ‘senders’. As we encounter the Spirit of Christ building these sister churches, it makes sense for us to empower believers and the structures they are already using.
Could you play a part in helping to train the next generation of gospel workers among students in countries like Tanzania? Learn more at www.cms.org.au/get-involved/become-a-missionary.
 Africa to the Rest: From Mission Field to Mission Force (Again), Sam Ngugi and Yaw Perbi, Xulon Press, 2022, p93