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Tanzanian villages prove challengecomment (0)

January 4, 2001

When Charles and Carolyn Dixon look out their kitchen window, they don’t simply see the beautiful, rugged Uluguru Mountains. They see their missions field — literally.

The city of Morogoro, located about 120 miles west of Dar es Salaam, is tucked into the foothills of Tanzania’s Uluguru mountain range. Dozens of villages dot the nearby mountains.

The Dixons were appointed as Southern Baptist career missionaries in 1993. They began their work in Morogoro the following year, helping start several churches and preaching points during their first few years of ministry in the city of half a million people.

In recent months, however, the Dixons have turned much of their attention toward the Luguru people who populate the mountain villages.

“God began to give us a sense of the people up and down this mountain,” Dixon explained. “You can drive 20 kilometers and there’s not a church, not a mosque, not a secondary school — there’s nothing.

“We have really prayed and tried to know what God would have us do,” he added.

“The work is far bigger than we are,” Mrs. Dixon said.

She said villagers on one side of the mountain primarily are Catholic and those on the other side predominantly are Muslim.

She added that many of the Luguru people “have continued in their old ways — there’s lots of witchcraft.

Sometimes people use money they need for food to buy charms for their kids to protect them from evil or heal them.”

Seeking to respond to the region’s tremendous spiritual needs, Mrs. Dixon said she and her husband “have been through about 30 villages. There are others you can get to only on foot.”

Despite the obvious challenges of the work, it isn’t hard for the Dixons to find ample motivation for their efforts. Among the places they have visited are two villages that did not have a Bible.

“There are people who have never heard the name of Jesus,” she said. “If we can start teaching the Bible and get a few strong believers in a few places, they can go out and help multiply the ministry impact.

“We feel like one of the biggest problems here is lack of education,” Dixon said.

An outgrowth of that need is Dixon’s dream of starting a Baptist primary school to provide area youngsters with a quality education in a Christian environment.

“People are going to recognize us as people who care about their personal needs and families. I see it opening doors,” he explained. “When these young people come out of this school, they’re going to take with them the training we have given them.”

The Dixons already have asked the IMB to appoint a school administrator and a kindergarten teacher/trainer, with the goal of opening the school by 2002.

They also have requested a student worker to serve area high school and college students and an International Service Corps couple to staff a Baptist reading center and teach English as a second language.

Once the school is operational and more missionaries are on the field, Dixon hopes to focus his energy on church planting among the Luguru and other people groups. (BP)

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