There is religious freedom as well as equal rights and opportunities for Christians and Muslims to worship and share their faith in Tanzania. This allows room for the Holy Spirit to work.
The coast, Zanzibar and many of the southern provinces are Muslim dominated. Muslim “extremists” earned Zanzibar a ranking among the 50 most persecuted places for Christians for many years, according to Open Doors. “Christians struggle to find employment and gain access to education,” the World Watch List stated in 2009.
But in 2013 the entire nation of Tanzania received notice when it jumped up to No. 24 on the World Watch List because of “moderate” persecution. It ranked one spot below a cluster of 12 countries where severe persecution has occurred.
It ranks 49th among the 50 most-persecuted nations in 2014.
Persecution in Tanzania used to be limited to Zanzibar island, but has now crept into areas in the north not far from Kilimanjaro.
In February 2013 the severe act of radical Muslims beheading a pastor took place in a village in northwestern Tanzania. This prompted The Voice of the Martrys to ask Christians to “Pray for peace in Tanzania, and pray that Muslims will come to a saving knowledge of Christ.”
There remains a need to develop church leaders — in Islamic strongholds and other areas of the country — as well as to teach evangelism so the church can be more effective in sharing the love of Christ with the Muslim community.
Market area in Moshi with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background. (Photo by Shawn Dowd, Mission: Kilimanjaro 2007)
This country has enjoyed some political stability (especially relative to the rest of Africa) since becoming a democratic republic in the mid-1990s. But it is not without its problems. To wit:
- Tanzania is in the bottom 10 percent of the world’s economies in terms of per capita income. The economy depends heavily on agriculture, which accounts for more than 40 percent of GDP, provides 85 percent of exports, and employs 80 percent of the work force. Topography and climatic conditions, however, limit cultivated crops to only 4 percent of the land area.
- The average annual income was US$280, according to a 2004 World Bank estimate. Tanzania ranked 162 out of 175 countries in the 2004 United Nations Development Program Human Development Index.
- Thirty percent of Tanzanian children under age 5 suffer malnutrition.
“Missionaries continue to play a vital role with a wide range of ministries in outreach, church support, training and specialist ministries,” Operation World reported. Climbing For Christ is one such specialized ministry, focused on empowering nationals with the ability to do the Lord's work on the mountain slopes and in gateway villages.
Location: East Africa. Leader: Jakaya Kikwete has been president since Dec. 21, 2005. Tanzania's Muslim-dominated Zanzibar islands elect their own separate president. Population: More than 46.9 million in a country slightly larger than twice the size of California. Primary Religion: Thirty-five percent Muslim, 35 percent indigenous, and 30 percent Christian.
Where in the world?
Tanzania is located in eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique. (World Factbook)