Faith is something that crosses barriers, both physical and cultural. Whether it is several continents and oceans, or a language barrier, something about faith will always make it through.
That couldn’t be truer for Emmanuel and Joyce Kimaro from Tanzania. The married couple are from a small parish in Sawe in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is in the northern part of the Republic of Tanzania in East Africa.
The Kimaros’ parish is the sister church of Kingman’s Grace Lutheran Church. The two churches have been working together since February 2015. Grace Lutheran’s congregation agreed to provide $5,000 a year for at least three years to help the 750-member Sawe congregation expand their church. As of 2015, about 400 people fit into the original building and the rest must stand outside in the sun or rain.
Emmanuel said they have about 2,000 worshipers. The Sawe church is part of the Northern Diocese of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania.
“We can learn a lot here, but not practice it in our country,” Emmanuel said.
He said this is due to money shortages and an unorganized government, especially in comparison to America. However, they do their own part, such as helping orphans get a vocational education. Emmanuel said they focus on helping the orphans so they can help them learn and go through life without resorting to more dangerous activities.
“We are doing (this) so they can have a straight way to having a good life,” Emmanuel said.
Grace Lutheran here in Kingman helped fund several students’ tuitions to the vocational school that the Sawe church set up in Tanzania. The school offers a 3-year vocational degree.
Emmanuel said the role of the church is very different in his country than here in America.
“The clergy has a lot of concern with the people,” Emmanuel said. “When people have problems they go to the church, not the government.”
The church does counseling on religion but also acts as a liaison between groups for the people, said Paul Lewis, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. At church, pastors also read government announcements since church is one of the few places they can acquire information.
“Everything is different. I assure you it is very different,” Emmanuel said with a laugh. “However, the way of worship is the same … the church at home is always full. Here it is less, but the church is strong.
You can see the faith. People here are reaching their hands out, across oceans, to help. That has really touched me.”
The Kimaros have been in Kingman for just over a week and will be staying until Tuesday before the nearly 30-hour trip home.
“Next time we’ll invite our friends to visit us,” Emmanuel said.