After an ITEM seminar in Nairobi, Kenya in 2005, a Methodist pastor who was in attendance at the seminar told his denominational leaders about how he had been helped by the training. In August of 2005, Gerald Baraza , the principal of the Free Methodist Bible College in Tanzania, traveled to Kenya to invite Dr. Steve to Tanzania to begin ITEM’s ministry there among the Free Methodists and others. So Steve made his first trip to Tanzania to conduct ITEM’s first seminar there in April of 2006. The ministry that began among the Free Methodists quickly spread to include all denominations and independents.

Pastor Joseph Musuma Marwa attended ITEM’s first seminar in 2005 and when the original ITEM Coordinator moved to the United States Joseph was chosen to take over and was doing an excellent job when he was offered a scholarship to come to the United States for further Bible training. Pastor Joseph was leading his own church and a new denomination, Independent Bible Fellowship Churches of Tanzania (IBFCT). The IBFCT was formed after several pastors who had attended ITEM seminars were not allowed to “just teach the Bible.” They were told that they must teach the denominational handbook to their churches. The 12 or 13 pastors pulled out and formed their own independent denomination so they would be free to teach the Bible and nothing else. When Joseph moved to the United States in 2012 he turned the leadership of his church to Pastor James Shija and ITEM’s ministry to Pastors James Shija and James Johannes.
Pastors James Shija and James Johannes attended some of the early ITEM seminars in Tanzania and are a part of the IBFCT that was formed after the early ITEM seminars there. With Pastor Joseph Musuma Marwa in the United States furthering his education, these two men have stepped in to keep the ministry going. You can see James Johannes talking about religion, the church, and the challenges pastors face on ITEM’s You Tube channel. www.youtube.com/iteministries
Pastor James Shija has served as one of our interpreters. The seminars consist of 16 hours of content oriented lectures and end with an emotional challenge from 2 Timothy to stand for truth, to preach the Word without compromise, and resist giving into doctrinal compromise for the sake of getting more money in the offering.
The venues we use vary. Sometimes we will meet in a hotel conference room. Sometimes we meet in meeting rooms owned by local Christian organizations. But we usually meet in churches. In this case this is a newly built church. ITEM paid for the plastic chairs and the church donated the use of the facilities. So it was a win-win situation.
Pastor Phil Bartell from Bakersfield, CA is one of several pastors who have gone on trips to participate in the seminars. This was the third trip Pastor Bartell has been on. Phil graduated from seminary with ITEM’s founder, Steve Van Horn, in 1981.
During the breaks in between lectures pastors stand around discussing what they have heard in the lectures. Many times they are discussing new things that they have never been exposed to before. In one location pastors revealed that they had never heard the view opposing what is commonly referred to as the “health and wealth gospel.”
Those attending ITEM Seminars are excited to receive a certificate of completion. For many this is the first “schooling” they have ever received a diploma or certificate for. Some will take the certificates to job interviews trying to demonstrate to potential employers that they are bettering themselves by becoming more educated.
Lunch is provided for seminar attendees each day of the seminar. Sometimes the meals are prepared off site. In this case the lunches were prepared right on the church grounds. In most cases the meals are heavy on starches with limited vegetables and meat.
Pastor Bartell, from Bakersfield, feels called to do evangelistic crusades. He has been on three trips and in each case there have been what we call Truth Crusades being conducted in conjunction with the ITEM Seminar. Here in Tanzania the meetings were after dark and one light hanging over the outdoor pulpit was all the light there was. Phil was preaching into the night with no idea who was looking at him.
It would be typical at an evangelistic crusade to have some kind of special music. In this case the special music was provided by African Christian music videos. The video projector and amplifiers were run by a generator.
Each night the field was filled with people of all ages. This picture was taken with a flash looking into an otherwise dark-as-midnight field.
At the end of each message Phil would give an invitation. People would come and be met with counselors from local churches who would take down contact information from each responder.
When the evening was over people who wanted to be prayed for were invited to come and Steve prayed for them.
Lake Victoria is the second largest lake in the world and Tanzania is one of the three countries on its shores. In this picture Phil and Steve relax at the end of a successful week.
Lake Victoria is filled with fish and here a local resident goes fishing for Tilapia and other kinds of fish.
Bibles are not cheap in Africa. It is not unusual for a Bible in a local language to cost $7 or more. That is a lot of money for a local who is trying to survive day by day. Pastors normally have a Bible but the Bibles they own are not always in good shape. Here is an example. This picture was taken during a prayer time when the pastor was standing at the pulpit with his Bible on a table in front of him.