Correspondent Gerald Kitabu this week talked to Apostle John Simon Komanya of the Cathedral of Joy International Ministry on peace and harmony as we celebrate Christmas today. Excerpts:
QUESTION: Tanzanians are celebrating Christmas today, being a religious leader what is your message to them?
ANSWER: As we celebrate Christmas and New Year my massage to Tanzanians is for them to remember their identity which is characterized by love and peace. True love always brings peace, harmony and solidarity.
This month is a month of reconciliation, self identification, review, retreats and planning of reconstruction. It is a time for an individual to saw the seeds of love towards the future time. It is time for the Tanzanians to recognize themselves who they are, and what they are supposed to do so as to keep our values and Identity.
Q: I understand that religious leaders have a role to play to support government efforts in enhancing peace and different socio-economic activities. As Cathedral of Joy, what role have you played?
A: This is my country and I have that role to play. It is my right to support government’s efforts in this course. We religious institutions, we have major role to play in supporting community to build up their daily life, their future as individuals and as a group.
We at Cathedral of Joy, we always conduct entrepreneurship training seminars for different categories of people and youth groups, women, businesspersons and equip them with different knowledge and skills before networking them with financial institutions for them to start small income generating projects and realize their partialities.
When they are trained and capacitated, it is easier for them to approach financial institutions and access loans. Once capacitated like this, their economic ventures do not only support them but also the surrounding communities and the national at large.
Q: What are the challenges you have faced in the course of empowering the youth?
A: You must understand that the great mission of God is the change of mankind. Our mission is to bring people back to God and build his Kingdom. God is non denomination.
He is for all people. We have been dealing with youth for several years now. In fact to deal with youth is the most cumbersome and complicated task. For example, youth are normally impatient, they need quick money as such they need close supervision and sometimes inspirational kind of technique for them to behave well.
But with grace of God, we have managed to empower many of them in various fields, one being entrepreneurship skills. One of the techniques used is to explore their interest, understand them and after learning their interests, it is very easy to approach them and train them.
For example, after assessing them, we realized that some youth were interested in music, movies, games and sports like football and basketball. Being a musician by professional, and through gospel music band at our church, we managed to attract a good number of them and train them in music. There were those who were interested in drama, we did the same.
There were other who liked bongo Movies, we assisted them and we are still doing so as we go on learning their interests. We have also managed to change behavious of commercial sex workers who are now producers and earn regular income through legal means.
Q: You have hinted on commercial sex workers, how did you change their behaviour?
A: As I said before, my mission is to bring people back to God. So, through wisdom and creativity we managed to change good number of commercial sex workers and now they are back to God. When we sit down and discuss with them, we find that some engaged in this business against their willing.
For example, some have been rejected by their parents, guardians and close relatives. Some were orphans and they don’t have any other source of income. Through various techniques, we have been counseling them before integrating them into the community. There after we have regular follow-ups including educating them on different income generating projects which many of them are currently doing to earn a legal and regular income.
I expect to see big change from them especially young girls and boys who have been rejected. If we don’t deal with them now while they are still young, they might grew up into bandits, prostitute, gangsters, thieves and all what you can say about them.
Q: Do you have any plan to extend similar services to other regions?
A: Yes, my future plan is to invest more in many youth and women across the country. We must know that youth is the heart of any nation. It is where future government and religious leaders comes from. If we don’t invest in them now, we shall be digging our own grave.
As we gradually change their behaviour and capacitate them, we must make sure that we emphasize more on God’s teachings because if they respect God, obviously they will have good morals and be willingly to work for other people and the nation.
The government must invest in the youth and support these initiatives which aim at rescuing the youth and other marginalized groups such as women and persons with disabilities so as to get good and competent leaders in future. Donors and other stakeholders must also play their role. In fact every body has a role to play. It is possible, play your part.