Early this morning we drove from the Ngorongoro Crater to Arusha where we will be teaching in schools as arranged by Dr. Moses Pulei. Moses, with whom I have beenworking in Africa since my first trip in 2007, moved to Arusha last October where he assumed the position with World Visionas Director of Education for East Africa. Meeting us also inArusha was Archbishop Valentine Mokiwa, our dear friend who is Archbishop of Tanzania. Valentine was in Arusha for the consecration of the new Bishop of Kilimanjaro, the Rev. Stanley Hotay, whose new diocese includes Arusha.
The Archbishop and Bishop Hotay met us for lunch before the team left for an afternoon of teaching Sex, God & Me. I stayed to have a meeting with Archbishop Valentine and Moses Pulei to review some plans on which the three of us have been working. Valentine showed us the front page of the Arusha newspaper from this morning that showed him consecrating Bishop Hotay along with several other bishops. The Archbishop said that a provincial judge had declared the consecration to be invalid and had ordered the arrest of both Archbishop Valentine and Bishop Hotay if they did not obey his court order. Those of you who know Valentine know what he did…he went right ahead with the consecration and defied the court order, declaring that the secular court had no jurisdiction over the church’s matters.
The objections raised by the court, he said, were entirely motivated by politics because the previous Bishop of Kilimanjaro had wanted another priest to be elected to succeed him as Bishop and seemed to be behind the harassment.
To compound matters, Archbishop Valentine had publicly confronted the President of Tanzania just a week earlier. Meg and I have been witnesses before to how he will boldly challenge the President over matters where he believes the Church must take a stay…when we were here in Tanzania two years ago he openly challenged the President over the issue of the government wanting to tax churches. This time the confrontation was over the responsibility of the government to crack down on drug dealers.
As Moses, Valentine and I were meeting (after the team had left to go teach), the Archbishop got a call and was told that the police were on the way to arrest him. They knew where he was because they were tracking him by his cell phone! Our tour operator, Evans Mulindi, told him to immediately take the SIM card out of his phone. His wife Grace and children were on their way over to meet us so he called to divert them and then after disabling his phone, gave me a big smile and a chuckle (as only he can do in the face of crisis) and left with his driver. I had my camera and told him (jokingly) that I wanted to take one last picture of him as a free man. His plan was to drive his wife and children back to Dar es Salaam tonight (a 10 hour drive).
I can’t wait to see the look Meg Rice’s face when she and the team get back and I tell them all that happened…this makes lions ripping up warthogs look pretty tame! Please pray for Valentine along with your prayers for all our team. Tom Knudson is taking a plane back home tonight and the rest of us will leave tomorrow evening after a full day of teaching.