Tanzania: Youth preaching the Gospel, planting trees
(LWI) - In 2019, Rev. Frank Mexon Mng’ong’o graduated from Tumaini University Makumira. He was ordained in January 2020 and appointed the youth coordinator for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) in May of the same year.
Mng’ong’o shared his plans to further engage ELCT youth in the life of the church and to continue creation care through reforestation begun in 2005 under ELCT Presiding Bishop Dr Fredrick Onael Shoo’s leadership.
Who inspired you to pursue the ministry?
My father. He has always encouraged me to strive for my goals in life. He was sure that I would become a pastor, but even though my father is a pastor in the Southern diocese, it was not easy for the rest of my family to accept my decision to pursue ordination, but they stood by me regardless.
I am also inspired by and appreciate the work of my predecessor, Rev. Anza Amen Lema who led the youth desk for years. I hope with hard work, my skills and with God's grace, I will continue the work that Rev. Lema began.
Growing up in the church, I have seen how God blesses His servants and this inspired me to enter the ministry. I believe service for God is a blessing.
What are your goals for the youth ministry in 2021?
It is my hope that 2021 will bring more opportunities for youth to participate in different activities and projects. There are plans to implement LWF supported initiatives and projects in the youth ministry as we continue fellowship.
One of my goals is to continue increasing the number of young people who participate in church programs. This year, we are preparing a young people's consultation with youth from all 26 dioceses of the ELCT in June at the Tabora Region (West Central Diocese).
We have plans to participate in tree planting throughout various regions inspired by the reforestation initiative started by Bishop Shoo. From this initiative, youth have grown to understand the value of tree planting and the necessity of replanting trees lost due to deforesting.
Also on the horizon are camps, seminars and missionary trips. Missionary trips for the youth are very important to areas within Tanzania such as Zanzibar, Kigoma and Tabora. The purpose of these trips is to offer youth the opportunity to preach the gospel in neighboring communities. This is done though sharing the Word of God, singing and diaconal or social services to the communities.
How have the youth remained engaged during COVID-19 restrictions? How has it been challenging?
As for sanitation, we are taking precautions to decrease the infection rate.
However, if COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly, we will postpone the youth consultation until next year, of course, but the greatest challenge is ministering to youth who struggle with unemployment, which is one of the consequences of COVID-19.
What does it mean for your church, your work, you to be a part of the communion of churches?
I am thankful for the Lutheran World Federation global youth programs and climate justice initiative. These programs give youth throughout the communion of churches a platform to exercise their potential. Our youth developed small projects about care for creation and climate justice and the prevention of gender- based violence, for instance. Being a part of the communion of churches has provided an arena for youth involvement in the United Nations climate actions such as COP (Conference of the Parties) and Sustainable Development Goals, hence inspiring me to motivate youth involvement in different initiatives and projects here in Tanzania.