News from Tanzania

Postulants sharing "Jumuiya Ndogo Ndogo", or small Christian communities

As Jesus went around teaching in the nearby villages, he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over the unclean spirits.

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick. He said to them: “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave it. Whatever place people do not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet (Mk 6, 6-11).

Our postulant master, bro Valerio, did the same with the postulants. He sent us out, two by two, to go in all surroundings “Jumuiy NdogoNdogo” (or Small Christian Communities) of Ilemela Parish. Of course, he did not give us authority over the unclean spirits, but he instructed us to share the Gospel with the Christians. He gave each one of us a Bible and a rosary, and told us to greet people with the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Amani na Salama!”.

As we are in vocation discernment, we postulants are somehow aware that we are to follow the teachings of Christ in the footprints of our Seraphic Father St Francis in order to be good Franciscans, for our sanctification and the sanctification of the people of God.

It is in this context that we go out to spend time visiting people and sharing the Word of God, praying with them and taking part to the different aspects of their life. It is also through these people that we get to know the love of God and the work of the Spirit in the many hardships and challenges they face.

Kiswahili is, of course, the language spoken here. The little we know of it helps us to communicate; and when it is insufficient, you just smile. Fortunately, most of the people are literate, so they are able to make sure that we understand each other.

The Jumuiyas we have visited so far are about 20. The Christians are hospitable, but the attendance is little, many communities lack committed leaders, the organization is poor and they often lack prayer books. However, the biggest problem is their poor catechetical knowledge they acquired in the past.

After saying so, I want to share with you what I have experienced in the Jumuiya of St Veronika. This community is situated near the airport and is made up of several families, whose members work mostly at the airport, in the nearby shops or as soldiers in the barracks across the road.

Some of those who attend the meetings are Moslem converts, who, when they entered the Church, had a poor knowledge of the Christian faith, but they are very eager to know better the Church and her doctrine. The rest of the members are born Catholics who are no longer fervent and have lost interest in the practice of their faith.

For this reason, three quarters of those attending the meetings do not know how to pray, and have no sense of prayer life; they do not have even prayer books nor Bibles. Before we started visiting their Jumuiya, they were no longer meeting; their faith was almost dead and they were not even going to church. But when our master started sending us out, we happened to meet that Jumuiya when it was still scattered.

We postulants begun to revive that community, encouraging the Christians to meet weekly. We created a prayerful atmosphere, sharing the Word of God together with our prayer books and Bibles. So far that Jumuiya is doing well and now it is one of the most active among the small communities of the parish.

This makes us postulant very happy, and with the parable of the good shepherd of Jesus we say to you: “Rejoice with us, because we have found the lost sheep of God in the wilderness!”