We are serving:
Tanzania, East Africa
Ukerewe Island is a lush island, about the same size as Maui. With a steady source of water on every side, it’s a great place for farming and raising wildlife. Fishing is a major industry here as well. This island serves as a breadbasket for the region, and much of the food that is grown here is exported and sold in the nearby city of Mwanza.
Long ago, the island’s leader, Chief Ruhumbika, would communicate with the people via large drums. These drums would send important messages far and wide that were important for the safety and social life of the people. To this day, the drum is a symbol of Ukerewe Island, and appears on their Crest and Flag.
Current Spiritual Climate
According to recent government surveys, the predominant religion on the island is Animism. It is a system which is driven by fear of the spirit world, and teaches that the spirits must be appeased through ritual practices and sacrifices. The people have appointed spiritual experts who communicate with the spirits, instruct the people on how to harness spiritual power for their own gain, and are responsible for administering healing rituals.
The unfortunate reality is that many people don’t realize that they are being held captive to the prince of darkness through this religious system. The spirits which they are communicating with are demons, and the powers that they are experiencing are not fake, but truly evil powers. We know from the Word of God that the enemy of our soul comes only “to kill, steal and destroy”, and this system is doing that very thing to the souls of the people of Ukerewe Island.
It’s our desire that they would be set free from fear through the power of the Gospel, and learn about the true Creator God who loves them and sent His Son to deliver them “from the domain of darkness and into His marvelous light”.
We’ve received an invitation from the Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) to assist them in translating the Bible into the Kerewe language. Andrew’s official job title is “Translation Coordinator and Exegete”, and he will be responsible for administration, as well as assisting in a technical capacity with the Biblical languages. He looks forward to the chance to work alongside the translation team to encourage them in the work.
Bishop Andrew Gulle, who has been appointed the leader of the church in the area said, “It is important for (Andrew and Alexis) to come and work with the project of translating the Bible into the Kerewe language. We don't have other people who are knowledgeable with translation, so I hope they will facilitate this project to be finished. We want the Kerewe people to hear what God is speaking to them through their language. We want God to speak with the Kerewe people.”
We couldn’t agree more. It’s absolutely essential for the Kerewe people to hear God’s loving gospel message.
Although there are a handful of churches on the island, the services are being held in the national language of Swahili. According to reports from local pastors, many people are unwilling to attend church, because the services aren’t held in their heart-language of Kerewe… However, there is hope!
It’s the overwhelming consensus of the church leaders that a Bible in the Kerewe language would serve to greatly assist the church in expanding to all parts of Ukerewe. As people hear the truth in their own language, we believe they will be transformed, and faith will be formed in their hearts.
“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the message, and the message through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
"The Witches of Ukerewe"
Anglican Missionaries Shergold Smith and Mr. O'Neill were martyred on Ukerewe Island, December 1877 by king Lukonge. A shrine exists on the island to this day, commemorating this event.
Recorded by Robert Pickering Ashe, Two Kings of Uganda: Or, Life by the Shores of Victoria Nyanza, p39. Available here: