Written by GMI missionary John Caprari
Omar (not his real name) is a motorbike driver on the island of Mbwera where the population is 100% Muslim. These people belong to the Wandengereko people group whose population in Tanzania is about 85,000 of whom only 0.7% are followers of Christ. Mbwela is located along the Indian ocean, 200 kilometer South of Dar es salaam, the commercial center and business hub of Tanzania.
The island of Mbwera is deeply submerged under spiritual darkness. There is no access to the gospel throughout the whole island, and not one local from this island is a follower of Jesus. There is one public primary school and a health center which provides opportunities for immigrant workers from the mainland. Despite the religious neutrality of public employment, the Mbwera working context favors Muslims more than Christians. There are few nominal Christian workers from different areas of Tanzania working on the island, less than 10, out of the whole population of over 18,000 people. Some Christian workers have already converted to Islam for their safe stay on the island.
At the end of the year 2019, I and my ministry colleague paid a visit to the island to find out what life was like on the island and to explore opportunities for bringing the gospel to this place. Just after we docked at the island, we were welcomed by a cheerful motorbike driver, a young man named Omar, who took us through a thick muddy trail which eventually became hot sand leading us to the center of the island. After two hours of touring around, Omar invited us to his home and we met his extended family. It was amazing to meet his mother and sisters and be served cashew nuts and coconut water. This is how the journey of relationship with this lovely Muslim family started and praise God that it has been going deeper and deeper as time goes.
In July 2020, our co-worker visited the island again during the Eid-ul-adha festival. He was hosted by Omar at his house and had the privilege to spend more time with his family and relatives. We spent a night there and got an opportunity to know more about Omar. He is a good, friendly, charming and well-known person on the Island. He introduced us to his circle of friends, and they were so happy and welcomed him to their homes. Before our co-worker left, he asked Omar if there was anything he could help him with. He shared with him his dream to start a business to supply gas to other motorbike drivers on the island, since there are no nearby gas stations. He helped Omar open up his business for $75 and the relationship and trust continues to grow.
Omar has invited us to the wedding as part of his inner circle of friends. He continues to show signs that God has prepared him, even though a devout Muslim, as a person of peace on the island, a bridge for us to use to reach his community.
There are hundreds of similar communities throughout the coastline of Tanzania. Villages completely without gospel access and people completely separated from God. This is what missions work is about. People leaving their reached and churched home area, to go out to places without access to the gospel. Our desire is to see Unreached People Groups in Tanzania with equipped, trained, and empowered Tanzanian ministers providing access to the gospel for these lost communities. Please pray for Omar, his community, his people group, and the Tanzanian missionaries that are being mobilized for this ministry. For more information and for online giving information, click HERE.