Tumaini University

6-21-10 / Nathan: My B-day!!!! We did our laundry in the morning, ate breakfast and went to the internet café. After that we had lunch and then we went to a tour of a college. After that came back and hung out until dinner. We went out for dinner and then we came back and hung out until it was time to go to bed.

John: Today we toured Tumaini University, the first private college built in Tanzania, with the help of Lutherans in the St. Paul Area Synod. In 1963 there were 200,000 Lutherans in Tanzania. That number today is around 4 ½ million! They have seen a 10% growth per year consistently over the past decade.

Tumaini began with a few courses in which to major: journalism, law, business and seminary training. This had spread to include majors in cultural anthropology, physics, biology and chemistry. A new science center is scheduled to open next year.

Ironically, though the college was started by Lutherans, very few students are going into theological training. There is a great shortage of pastors in Tanzania. The pay is very low (less than teachers) so it is hard to convince young people to pursue a career in ministry. The theology department was almost shut down a couple of years ago. Due to generous donation from the St. Paul Synod to help fund scholarships for seminarians, the seminary has been spared from being eliminated from the program.

The per capita income for Tanzanian’s is $535. This has doubled since 1987. In 1999, Tanzania was the 5th poorest country in the world. Today it is the 28th poorest. Increasing the enrollment in secondary school is good for everyone. You send a kid to college and they may not get a job in their field right away, but they do find work.

We can help by providing scholarships for theology students, keeping the university in our prayers, and by participating in the pastor-teacher program. This is an extended period of teaching by which a pastor from the states volunteers to live in Iringa for the summer and teaches in a field of their choice. Airfare, housing and a car are provided by the college. Meals and living expenses are provided by the home congregation. I was asked to consider participating in the program. My brother Dale, who is a pastor in Harris, MN, is planning to be a pastor-teacher at Tumaini in 2012. It sounds like a wonderful way to support the education of young minds for a brighter future for all Tanzanians!

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