Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 25 - Modern Tanzania

The Twenty-Fifth Day (Thursday, September 25)

Changing times among the Rangi people

Population: 350,000

Since the early 1900s in the city of Kondoa and the surrounding areas, more and more Rangi have turned to Islam. When the British took control of Tanzania in 1920, the Kondoa region was already 90% Muslim. Only the Rangi in the Haubi Valley refused Islam. After some debate among the local chieftains, in 1937 the Rangi in Haubi became Catholic and built an imposing cathedral. Since then the 90% Muslim, almost 10% Catholic ratio has basically not changed. Although there have been evangelical congregations for several decades in the area, there are few Rangi evangelicals.

The majority of the Rangi population live in villages and their identity is often wrapped up in village life. For a long time few non-Rangi Tanzanians wanted to live in Kondoa and the 150 surrounding Rangi villages. The Rangi were often unloved and mistrusted by many because of their reputation of being active with evil spirits and witchcraft. Even today some Rangi are brought to trial for ritual murders associated with black magic. However, in the last ten years larger numbers of Tanzanians have started to live in Kondoa with a noticeable rise in the number of cars and televisions. Mobile phones abound, business is booming, and hospitals and schools are being built.

A Rangi language Bible translation project began in 1996 and the translation is progressing well. Other work to help poor families is also under way. In September 2006 some local believers opened a new school in the city. It is hoped that there will be good communication between all the groups, that old historical prejudices will be overcome, and that social as well as spiritual development will continue.

Prayer Starters
* Pray for the unity among the Christians that Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-26 to become reality in the area. Muslims have sometimes pointed out that the believers have often been divided.

* Pray for courage, creativity and wisdom for the Rangi Christians as they proclaim the Messiah to their Muslim neighbours.

* Pray for positive economical development, and that the Rangi will not forget God as they seek better economic conditions.

Jesus in the Qur’an
The Qur’an affirms certain beliefs about Jesus that are actually true biblically: He was born of a virgin, he performed miracles of healing the blind, lepers, and raising the dead, he had disciples and experienced rejection from his people. Jesus is also given many great titles in the Qur’an including “Servant of God”, “Prophet and Apostle of God”, “Lord of God”, “Spirit from God and “One of the Righteous” . He is called “The Messiah eleven times in the Qur’an but there is no explanation of what this means. He is most commonly called “Isa, son of Mary” in the Qur’an, emphasising his virgin birth, but it is clearly stated that this is not “God in the flesh” (He is no more than a prophet), not “Son of God” and he did not die on the cross. Even if he had died on the cross the Qur’an denies the possibility of an atoning death, declaring three times that on Judgment Day, noone can bear the sins of another! So although there are some similarities to the Jesus we know from the Bible, the Qur’an also presents some strong theological barriers for Muslims to come to know him as the Messianic King sent to bring forgiveness of sin and deliverance from the power of death, Satan and injustice.

HT: 30 Days Muslim Prayer Focus

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