Nostalgia is an unquenchable thirst, which makes diasporas remain connected to their home country. Wendell Holmes is right, “Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” A good example of nostalgia in the Bible is Nehemiah – the cupbearer to the Persian’s King who said “…why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers, Lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” (Nehemiah 2:3, KJ). In Nehemiah’s spirit, the Tanzanian Adventists living in the United States formed TAUS Inc., in order to support evangelistic activities in their home country.
Nehemiah heard of the great need to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls due to it lying in ruin and said, “ And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4 KJ). Similarly, TAUS Inc. was formed in 1999 to support our country’s home church to evangelize, and provide health and education services. Pastor Mbwana – who was then the president of Tanzanian Union – sparked the flame to establish TAUS Inc. When he came to visit Saburi Eliamani’s family and friends in Boston’s metropolitan area. Among other discussions with Saburi, Pastor Mbwana, who is currently the General Vice President of the General Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church – requested an opportunity to speak to the Tanzanian Adventists in the New England area. After a community potluck lunch, Pr. Mbwana gave a brief report about the progress of God’s work in Tanzanian Union. Pr. Mbwana then challenged the group to remember home. “You should remember to support the church and its work back home.” It takes a spark to ignite a wildfire.
Adventist Tanzanians from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey were on fire and immediately started to work on Pastor Mbwana’s challenge. Follow-up meetings resulted in the formation of an organization which was registered as TAUS INC. in February 2002. TAUS Inc. became a non-profit 503 C organization in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The founding members were about 25 of whom most are still present and active TAUS members.
The first president of TAUS was Paul Makoko and the first secretary was Saburi Eliamani. The new leaders started to recruit Tanzanian Adventists and they were very successful in TAUS’s original birthplace – New England. Following this, the group began to grow into a sizable community. The first TAUS retreat was convened in 2007 and took place in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. The main speaker was Pastor John Azael Kisaka. The TAUS retreats served as a springboard for curating new strategies to strengthen the growing institution. Members met and interacted to enrich spiritually and socially. The second retreat took place in 2008 at the same location – Fitchburg MA.
The first retreat outside Massachusetts took place at Takoma Park, Maryland in 2012 – underscoring TAUS’ geographical growth outside its birthplace. The speaker at the retreat was Pr. Christopher Mwashinga, from Andrews University in Michigan. As shown in Table 1, other meetings have taken place in Houston Texas, Berrien Springs in Michigan, Columbus in Wisconsin, San Diego in California and Tranquil Valley retreat center in New Jersey.
Just like Jethro – who advised Moses to choose assistants, TAUS’ expansion meant having local leaders and acquiring strong institutional landscape. New England remained the only area with a functional TAUS entity until 2012, when three more chapters were formed: Texas (West-South-Central), Maryland (South Atlantic) and Midwest. The Mid-Atlantic was also attached to the then Maryland Chapter, which is now the South Atlantic Chapter. It was in 2017, when and Mid-Atlantic and West North Central Chapters became fully-fledged and independent chapters to make TAUS have its current seven chapters.
As shown in Figure 1, TAUS has formed nine chapters. The chapters are divided according to the US Census Divisions. However, two chapters – Mountain and East South Central – have a lack of members in order to form a functional Chapter. Accordingly, the small chapters have been attached to their nearest functional chapters. Specifically, the East South Central Chapter is attached to South Atlantic Chapter and Mountain Chapter is still pending attachment to another chapter.
The total number of TAUS members is currently 346, and is growing at a faster pace, especially since 2017. The corona pandemic brought a special opportunity to strengthen members networking through virtual worship every Sabbath. The histogram below shows that New England, the TAUS birthplace, is the fourth largest chapter. Therefore, showing that TAUS’s growth in the new chapters has dwarfed the prominence of the founding chapter. The New England Chapter happily declares John the Baptist’s words “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). TAUS membership has grown twelve-fold since its establishment in 1999. Thus, achieving a 60% growth per year.
The growth in the new chapters occurred mainly from 2017 to present. In addition to the geographical and membership growth, TAUS has been growing institutionally. At national level, TAUS operated under five departments: chaplaincy, project, communication, social affairs, and youth and children. In 2017, the Youth and Children department was split into two: (i) Children and (ii) Youth and Young Adults. Two brand new departments were formed after 2017 – namely Music and Resource Mobilization and Donor Relations. The Organogram below gives a more in-depth depiction of TAUS leadership.
TAUS’s organogram has three tiers:
The President and second-tier leaders are elected by the TAUS general assembly and they serve for a two-year term. The president is the head of the institution and serves as its national representative to all national and international engagements. The president supervises implementation of TAUS’ vision and guides all activities in accordance with the rules and regulations set in its Constitution. Tier two of TAUS’s organogram consists of the national secretary, treasurer and directors of eight departments: Namely, Chaplaincy, Projects, Communication, Social Affairs, Children, Youth and Young Adults, Resource Mobilization and Donor Affairs and Music. Leaders who serve in the third tier are Chapter Secretary and Treasurer. Both leaders are answerable to the Chapter President.
One of the most iconic symbols of an institution or company is its logo. TAUS designed a logo after its inception. The original logo emphasized evangelism and it bore TAUS’ motto, which is based on Isaiah 6:8 Here am I, Send me. The Logo is also embossed with the then Tanzanian Union abbreviation (TU). Black, green and yellow colors are used to reflect Tanzania’s flag.
As TAUS evolved, there began to grow a need to redesign its logo. Additionally, the Tanzanian Union was also split into two Unions in 2013 – Northern Tanzanian Union Conference (NTUC) and Southern Tanzania Union Conference (STUC). The split further justified redesigning TAUS’s logo.
Sagatti, a graphic designer from Tanzania, was given a tender to design the new logo – reflecting TAUS’s three pillars – evangelism, health and education. The Logo was also required to reflect Tanzania and the US. The graphic designer sent 10 candidate logos. Candidate logo #1 and #2 both reflect the three pillars. The pillars and the associated symbols in brackets are: Evangelism (church in black and a yellow roof), Health (snake on a pole) and education (open book at bottom of the church). Whilst logo 1 has the TAUS motto (Here am I, send me), the second does not have one. Both logos are designed using black, green, yellow and blue colors – all of which are on the Tanzanian flag. The same symbols are repeated in logo number 3, 4 & 5. But all three logos omit the health symbols. Additionally the 4th logo is in black and white. Logo 6 omits the church building but introduces the Seventh Adventist church flame symbol. However, the flame’s shape is different, but reflects the great commission that Jesus gave us. The open book reflects both the education symbol and the open word of the Lord that needs to be read by all people. The Tanzania flags are used. Logo 7 and 8 are unique as they symbolize a TAUSI bird. Tausi is a Swahili word for a peacock.
The last two logos are similar but the last one has the word “USA” in US flag colors. The logo has a powerful symbol as it reflects flags of Tanzania and US as well as the three pillars and it was voted to be the best by the executive committee in February 2017.
TAUS’ growth reached a stage where it required an elaborate communication and organization system. In 2016, TAUS leaders decided to launch a website and asked Orupa Mbwana to design and serve as administrator. The website was dedicated on May 16th, 2020. During the website dedication, Pastor Mbwana said that the website will be the face of TAUS as many people will visit it and then know who we are. The website content will glorify God and help TAUS achieve its mission statement. The reason that we have created this website is to find our purpose. We need to ensure that we do not deviate from our mission as dedication is meant to help us, not deviate from our purpose. If we deviate, we should not expect God’s blessings. Pastor Mbwana perused through the website and he was well-pleased because the website shows fellows, harmony, creativity, quality and class. All visitors will see God through this website. Pastor Mbwana concluded his speech by quoting Proverbs 6:3. “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” We have dedicated our website to the Lord and we will be established.
Pastor Mbwana’s full speech of Website dedication is available at https://tausinc.org/website-dedication/.