Incarnation is one of many congregations in the Saint Paul Area Synod that partners with a congregations in the Iringa Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. “Bega kwa bega” is Kiswahili for “shoulder to shoulder”–a powerful image to shape our mission partnership with the people of Mkwawa and Kigamboni Lutheran Churches. Working bega kwa bega, side by side, with our brothers and sisters in Iringa, Tanzania makes us equal partners in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We pray for one another, learn from one another and are blessed by one another in Jesus’ name; we strengthen relationships with one another through shared practices of prayer, presence, and projects.
Incarnation prays weekly in a variety of settings for its partner congregations, Mkwawa Lutheran Church and Kigamboni Lutheran Church as well as the Iringa Diocese, and Incarnation’s Tanzania’s partners pray for us all the time! Through letters and Ambassador visits, as well as regular communication, Incarnation’s Tanzania Action Group has via email or WhatsApp, we learn of specific prayer needs so we can lift each other in ways that are meaningful, significant and timely for the seasons we each are in.
Most of the time, the pillar of Presence means communicating via email, WhatsApp and even over Zoom, sharing messages, updates, photos, videos and prayer requests with one another.
During pre-pandemic times, Incarnation delegations have traveled to Iringa to visit our partner congregations of Mkwawa and Kigamboni Parishes. In addition to considerable time spent with Mkwawa and Kigamboni community members, Incarnation groups visit places like these:
- Huruma Center Orphanage to play with children
- Lutangilo Secondary School to interact with students, some of whom are sponsored by Incarnation
- Ilula Hospital to learn about health care in Iringa
- University of Iringa to learn about post-secondary education
- Ruaha National Park to experience a safari
These experiences provide a wealth of opportunities for learning about daily life in Tanzania and simply being together in relationship, shoulder to shoulder, something available to those who travel as ministry partners, not as tourists.
“Our trip to Tanzania included many opportunities to get acquainted with and to connect with church members and leaders. Pastor Frederika and I shared a bus ride ride to see Iringa University, a school founded by Incarnation members Arne and Mary Blomquist. On the trip, I learned about Frederika’s ministry, and she learned about my grand children.” – Candace Gruman, Incarnation delegation to Tanzania.
Projects: Education Sponsorship
Secondary school can cost as much as a year’s average wage in Tanzania so help is needed to provide the opportunity for the youth to attend secondary school. Providing a secondary school education to Mkwawa and Kigamboni parish youth opens doors for the student and for the sponsor as students receive an education and sponsors enlarge their families! People of Incarnation currently sponsor over 40 secondary students from our partner congregations. Most are funded by gifts from private individuals or families. $400 is the approximate amount to support a secondary student through a year of education. Make a secured online donation toward secondary education and other educational initiatives here.
In addition, Incarnation helps to support capital projects within secondary schools and post-secondary education of students within the Iringa Diocese through donations that are made by this faith community.
“Just a kid, born from a poor family and living my dreams….all I can say is THANK YOU GOD and my parents, my sponsors from Incarnation and all my friends for always being a part of my life!!” – Samwel Lungo, member of Kigamboni Lutheran Church
To help sponsor secondary students and other educational initiatives, make a secure online donation through Incarnation’s site, drop off a check at the Incarnation Office, or learn more by contacting Becky Benson.
Incarnation’s Companion Congregations
Mkwawa Lutheran Church
Incarnation and Mkwawa have been companion congregations since 2000. Mkwawa’s primary building is on the outskirts of Iringa town. Like Incarnation, Mkwawa is a large “suburban” congregation, and the building has the space for 1,200 people to worship at one service. It is used for a number of Iringa Diocese events such as ordinations and festivals, in addition to Mkwawa parish worship.
In addition to the Mkwawa building, three sites called “preaching points” on the outskirts of town are also part of Mkwawa Lutheran Church. An Evangelist, who leads worship and teaches Christian education, staffs each of these locations. These sites are Ikongo, Itamba and Frelimo. Note that Kigamboni parish (below) used to be a Mkwawa preaching point until it bloomed into its own main station congregation.
“The old and the new! The African drums played with every anthem and hymn, and a keyboard with (very large speakers) as well.” – Johanna Pokorny, Incarnation delegation to Tanzania
In 2012, Kigamboni Lutheran Church, which had previously been a part of Mkwawa, became a separate congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania. This church worships about 200 people each week. Incarnation youth who participated in the 2002 mission trip to Tanzania helped to clear a corn field so the congregation could build this worship space when it was still a preaching point.
“No staid Scandinavians here! There’s clapping, swaying, and even dancing down the aisle to give the offering. Even we staid Scandinavians clapped, swayed, and danced.” – Sue Nelson, Incarnation delegation to Tanzania
Partnering with the Iringa Diocese
There are a number of ways in which individuals can support the Iringa Diocese through the St Paul Area Synod’s Bega Kwa Bega arm, beyond what’s detailed on this page. Learn more about those additional opportunities on the Saint Paul Area Synod’s Bega Kwa Bega page and here.
Questions about Incarnation’s Tanzania Ministry Partners? Contact Becky Benson.