School’s 25th Anniversary a Reunion for Trailblazing Leaders in Tanzania

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Global Strategy

By Carl Stagner

Beckoned back to Babati last year, missions leaders, former students and educators, and ministers from across Tanzania and beyond gathered to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Aldersgate School. Founded in 1998 by then missionaries-to-Tanzania Don and Caroline Armstrong, the educational operation has grown from eighty-eight students and a few teachers to a thousand students and nearly a hundred staff. Recollections of moments that define the journey of the school since certainly surfaced in casual fellowship and formal celebration. Thanks and praise to God for altered trajectories and life transformation left the greatest impression, ultimately, on all who poured heart and soul into the establishment and development of such an influential international institution.

“I think, for Caroline and me, it came down to seeing the mission of the school being accomplished,” Don Armstrong articulates. “When we arrived in Tanzania in 1990, there were three people in the entire church who had an education above seventh grade. We saw how this was hampering the growth of the church, so we started a secondary school of our own. Now the church is filled with graduates of secondary school, high school, and universities. Even our pastors took up the challenge and began courses in a local Open University that gave many of them bachelor’s degrees.”

Ben Shular and Don Armstrong (center, L to R) enjoy a moment of laughter with leaders at Aldersgate.

Positions for non-farm labor were becoming available, but most Christians in the Tanzania Church of God were not able to apply because of a lack of higher education. Since Aldersgate was founded, many Christians received higher education and are now taking positions around the country. This has happened in a single generation.

“With education,” Don continues, “the Church of God in Tanzania is able to plan, make decisions, and move forward strategically, together, and more deeply experience the church as a country.”

When asked about returning to the celebration, Don cites the product of their investment as the most vivid recollection. These students, as Don recounts, have done well in ministry and at home. “Many of the Church of God students,” he explains, “lead lives that their parents couldn’t even have dreamed of. The church has developed, the students have developed, and it was really good to see.”

Aldersgate 25th anniversary celebration

John and Gwen Johnson serve as regional coordinators for Global Strategy to Africa today. Along with former missionary and now chief of staff for Church of God Ministries, Ben Shular, and his wife Kelli, the Johnsons enjoyed the opportunity to see and celebrate Aldersgate in person. John and Gwen express, “We were very encouraged to see Aldersgate alums teaching at Aldersgate, pastoring churches, and working in various capacities within the church. It was a delight to be with Don and Caroline and Ben and Kelli, and to see how warmly they were welcomed back and how deeply appreciated they are. We were amazed at how God orchestrated the development of this campus, which was originally purchased to grow corn to help support Babati Bible School!”

Learn more about Aldersgate School, the work of the Church of God in Tanzania, and the ministry of the Movement around the world, at www.chogglobal.org. For more information about Aldersgate school, and opportunities to get involved, click here. To support the ministry of Aldersgate (Project 42.40473), click here.

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