Mount Calvary’s Commitment to Africa
For at least two centuries, Africa has been portrayed in the West as primitive colonies or as backward independent countries. With the devastation of HIV/AIDS on the continent for the past quarter century and the recently outbreaks of the Ebola virus, that portrayal has only been reinforced. Civil wars between Christians and Muslims are tearing at the social fabric of Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Egypt.
However, we at Mount Calvary know that there is much more to the continent than these disasters. Tanzania is filled with many of the most caring, loving human beings to be found anywhere, and these friends have helped to change many of our lives. The Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT), Ethiopia and Namibia are among the largest Lutheran bodies in the world. The continent is now home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with millions being lifted out of poverty. Primary education is now almost universal, and up to half of the age-group are now in secondary schools, many provided by Lutheran and other Christian denominations. Despite the recurring disasters and health challenges of all too many Africans, Lutherans and other Christians have led the way in providing clinics and hospitals throughout the continent. Hundreds of millions now live in democracies of one form or another and the continent has had been blessed with the leadership of such Nobel Peace Prize winners as Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu of South Africa, Wangari Mathei (Kenya), Kofi Anan (Ghana), Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee (a Lutheran from Liberia)
Members of Mount Calvary (Krafts and Bennetts) have served as short-term ELCA missionaries to teach at Tumaini University and the Maasai Girl’s School, Dr. Charlie Jones has taught and performed surgery at Selian Hospital, and some 50 members and friends have made short visits as part of our African Aids Orphans Projects. For 16 years, we have annually sponsored up to 60 orphans and conducted building projects at the Huruma Center, built a girl’s dormitory at the Upendo Centre, and provided financial assistance to orphan projects in Zambia, South Africa, and Kenya.
Most of all, our lives have been changed by our long term relationship with Mama Chilewa, Gabriel Nzalayaimisi, and the numerous children, who despite having nothing, have taught us about joy, laughter, love, and caring. They have taught us about ubuntu a Nguni word which speaks to the fact that “our humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness. It speaks about compassion. A person with ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, and willing to share. (Bishop Tutu).