Tanzania: Reaching Great Heights With God’s Word

Tanzania is located in East Africa and best known for Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the continent. This February, Gideons also reached great heights in the distribution of over 313,000 Scriptures throughout the communities of Tanzania. Over 1,000 Gideons serve in more than 70 camps in Tanzania. Members in the city of Dar es Salaam were joined by visiting Gideons from eight other countries.

Isaack, a Gideon from Shinyanga in western Tanzania, traveled 12 hours by bus to join the team’s efforts in reaching his country for Christ. The dirt roads in Tanzania often make traveling to distributions a challenge, but Gideons viewed these as opportunities to share God’s Word. “While stuck in traffic, two policemen on motorcycles driving alongside us asked for Scriptures. Since we were sitting still in traffic, a few of us gladly jumped out of the car and gave the officers Scriptures. We noticed others on the side of the road and also took the opportunity to share a word of witness and a Personal Workers Testament,” said Larry Vangilder, a Gideon visiting from Missouri.

Students Hungry for God’s Word

A large part of the Scripture distributions occurred in schools, where students sometimes sit on the floor due to overcrowded classrooms. However, Sam Choi, a Gideon from Korea said, “The children’s eyes sparkled with joy after receiving their New Testaments. I saw two girls kiss the Scripture as soon as they held it.” Several Gideons on the team learned the Swahili words for “God loves you,” and they were amazed as students responded back in English, “I love you.”

Tanzania is open to religious freedom. Yet, when Gideons visited schools enrolling both Muslim and Christian students, some teachers separated the students so Muslim children would not feel obligated to take a New Testament.

Still, the Christian students who received New Testaments were quick to show their gift to their Muslim friends. Many students pointed out different sections in the book, spending lengths of time explaining the importance of the Scriptures.

“The students are so hungry for the Word of God. I will never forget the anticipation in their eyes waiting to receive their very own copy of God’s Word,” said Noble Roberts, a Gideon from North Carolina.

Some students wrote letters to thank Gideons for bringing Scriptures to their schools. One student wrote, “Thank you for giving us the Bibles because it will help us to read and understand about who God is and how we can follow Him. Please come again to our school. I am sure God will pay you back for the best gift you have given to us.”

By the end of the blitz, team members had visited 584 schools and distributed over 277,800 Scriptures to students.

Open to the Gospel of Jesus

Gideons also distributed New Testaments to prisoners in a Moshi jail facility, which lies at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro National Park. As they approached one cell, ten men desperately reached through the bars for Scriptures. A Swahili New Testament was given to each prisoner, and local Gideons shared about repentance, forgiveness, and salvation. After some time, one of the men behind the bars said, “Sir, you must stop talking now and show us how to pray. We are ready.”

One blitz team visited the police academy in Moshi, where 3,100 officer trainees were enrolled. “This was the highlight for me,” said team member Jeff Brown. “The experience was humbling and dynamic—to see all those recruits lined up military-style with that impressive mountain behind them, their hands held out to receive God’s holy Word.”

During their journey to different cities, the team was blessed by the stories from those who had received Scriptures from Gideons years ago and had since come to know the Lord. Shadrack Sanga received a New Testament from Gideons in 2007. After reading it for the first time, he knew with all he had learned and experienced in the reading of God’s Word, his heart must be surrendered to Jesus. Sanga carries the New Testament everywhere and often shares Jesus with others using the same New Testament. “I can’t find enough words to satisfy my heart in thanking Gideons for the work they do,” he said.

One of the young drivers for the blitz, Sam, was inspired by the good work he saw Gideons investing in during the week. Team member Jeff Brown shared, “After traveling with the team all week, and seeing what the Lord was doing in his country, Sam heard God tell him to share Jesus with his father. While the Gideons prayed from afar, Sam led his father to Jesus.” Before the end of the Scripture blitz, Sam signed an application to become a Gideon himself. He plans to continue the good work of spreading the Gospel in his city.

God remains faithful in Tanzania. Before beginning the Scripture blitz, teams were prepared to go out and bless others with the Gospel. However, in the end, team members agreed they had been the ones blessed by the joy and positive response of the people of Tanzania to hear about Jesus Christ. Continue to pray for the many people who now have God’s Word in their lives—that they would read about His love for them and accept His gift of salvation.

Share in the effort