July 26, 2019

Tanzania Mennonite college brings fresh water to neighbors

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John Wambura (right), acting principal of MTCEA, discusses the renovations with the carpenter who is working on this project. John Wambura (right), acting principal of MTCEA, discusses the renovations with the carpenter who is working on this project. Don and Judy Stoltzfus/Friends of MTCEA

MUSOMA, Tanzania — Shouting, singing, and celebration resounded throughout the village. Water came flowing into tanks from Lake Victoria, which is just to the north of the Mennonite Theological College of East Africa (MTCEA). Acting Principal John Wambura recalled people in the village declaring, “God is back in Nyabange Mission.” 

Wambura commented on how the celebrants related “the flow of water in the village with the presence of God!” He continued, “The people who donated the money for the water project have preached and proved the presence of God.”

The Friends of MTCEA, a philanthropic group with various connections to East Africa, helped fund several improvement projects at the college, totaling 101,694,292 Tanzanian Shillings (about $44,000).

Ernie Hess, chair of the Friends of MTCEA, explained the significance of the addition of an electric water pump: “It is envisioned that stations will be developed where persons in Nyabange village can purchase water at a reasonable cost, so they will not need to buy water brought each day by bicycle from the lake.”

Don and Judy Stoltzfus, also members of the Friends of MTCEA, shared that Wambura had done a lot of research and planning to bring water to the theological college.

The Stolzfuses spent January through April 2019 in Tanzania during these renovations and played an integral part in the process. They shared that there was great excitement from the students, the village, and church leaders.

Wambura explained that access to water has opened up new funding mechanisms for the college. He noted that the college will have 2,000 planting stations for crops such as watermelons, passionfruit, maize, tomatoes, onions, etc. 

Poultry production and animal husbandry projects are being developed for income generation and vocational training for students, noted Wambura.

In addition to providing water for the college and the village, there were several other renovations done at the beginning of 2019 which have helped to improve the mission of the college. 

The library gained enlarged windows, fresh paint, new bookshelves, and 15 computers. The men’s dormitory has a new ceiling, new windows, tile floors, fresh paint, and modern showers and latrines.

Two years after what appeared to be an inevitable closure of the college, Wambura’s renewed vision for the school is helping it innovate for the future. 

The motivation for this turnaround is Vision 2034 of the Tanzania Mennonite Church, Kanisa la Mennonite Tanzania (KMT). Looking toward its 100th anniversary, KMT has set an ambitious goal of reaching more than 1 million Tanzanians with the gospel. 

On how the college fit into this plan, Joe Bontrager, non-resident Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) worker to Tanzania, explained: “The new general secretary, Pastor John Wambura, committed himself to the renewal of MTCEA and began to recruit students and to work out a plan for congregations and church districts to support their students.”

Wambura, who also serves as the general secretary of KMT, hopes to find another leader to take on the responsibilities as the principal of the college. As of May 2019, the college had a total of 28 students working toward diplomas or certificates.

EMM founded the college in 1936 to train young church leaders, but today, the college is run by KMT. While at least 50 percent of the college’s budget comes from within Tanzania, the global church is invited to help with the rest. 

Friends of MTCEA continues to raise funds for future projects and also for student scholarships. You can give toward the work of the college through Friends of MTCEA online or by sending a check to EMM with a preference memo for MTCEA.