Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Tanteraka. English folk call me “Tank”. I’m married with one wife! Her name is Jaela and we’ve got one baby girl coming soon in December. I’m 28 years old and my wife is 21.
Tell us a little about the area you work in
The area we work in is Antananarivo. It’s the capital city of Madagascar, an island situated 400 km east of Mozambique. Antananarivo has a population of about 2.8 millions. We’re classified as a Third World country, and our background is mixed Malay-Polynesian, African and Arabs.
Antananarivo is a very religious city with a Christian majority. Catholics and Protestant are the leading ones, followed by Lutherans and Anglicans. Within the past 40 years we’ve seen a great launch of Pentecostalism with a very strong emphasis on evangelistic crusades. In the early 90’s we saw the rise of the charismatic movement, Baptists and independent evangelicals. Now in the 2000’s a rise in the gospel of prosperity movement. Prosperity churches are the fastest growing churches in Antananarivo.
Our target is to plant a church in the centre of Tana (Analakely, Ambondrona, Antsahabe, Behoririka, Antanimena, Isoraka, Tsaralalana) which is the area of greatest population density and where we are seeing the greatest need for a strong, theologically sound evangelical church.
We want to attract more young professionals, young student, artist and old skeptic people into our midst. Mercy and Justice ministry will be an essential as Analakely has the highest number of people living in boxes and sleeping in the road. Tsaralalana and Behoririka are the places where prostitutes have their offices and play ground. These are the people my wife and I want to bring the message of hope and faith in Jesus Christ.
Tell us a little about how you got involved in ministry in this area
I grew up in Tana, and mostly in the center of Tana. I was saved in a church there while I was playing drums for their worship. A year after that I got involved in serving in our home groups with the help of my father who is the pastor of the church. And slowly God opened doors and I found favour in the eyes of the people. I become full-time staff there and God stirred a love for people in my heart and a desire for pastoral ministry to build His church with Him.
At the end of 2006 I moved to a church that was more Gospel centered and like-minded. Then that church sent me to South Africa for exposure to church ministry for five months. In November 2007 they invited me to become part of the eldership team. I was then formally ordained. At this point, the church was in the suburbs of Tana and was more effective in reaching English-speaking people. In March 2010 we had the privilege of launching a Malagasy meeting and now we are looking to start a new church/congregation right in the centre of Tana reaching the local people. There is a passion in our hearts to see people being changed by the amazing love of God. We want to proclaim the message of the gospel there and spread His fame.
Tell us a little about some of the difficulties of ministry
One of the difficulties is the church politics. Sometimes we can be more interested in our own empire than really advancing the kingdom of God. To plant a church is almost like speaking a new language. Many see church planting as a threat rather than as a blessing to the city.
The next difficulty is that whilst many people may make a committment to Christ out of tradition, they never really commit to their local church in membership or through active service for the kingdom.
75 % of the Malagasy people live on a less than a dollar a day. So finances might be a potential problem. Finally, another problem is the lack of sound theological training which opens a big door for heresies from everywhere.
Tell us a little about some of the blessings of your ministry
1. The blessing of our ministry is that we want to be part of a bigger and worthy cause. We do not seek to build our own empire but to be a blessing to our people and city.
2. We are involved in training pastors with sound theology twice a year. We do see pastors really being blessed through that. Part of what we are starting also is to translate good books into our native language and so far we have the copyright of translating Michael Eaton’s books (very well-known and trusted theologian based in Nairobi and mainly help third world countries).
3. We have a good partnership with few churches in SA and have linked some of their doctors in helping some of our hospitals in Tana (with materials, training, etc, …)
4. We partner with other 3 local churches in Tana and beyond in focusing on raising and reaching the next generation for God.
Do you have a team or do you work alone? Why?
I do work with a team. I believe in team ministry (relationally and accountability). As part of the eldership team that oversees Tana City Church (www.tanacitychurch.mg) we want to work closely together. We are walking in the tension of reproducing what is good there and preventing what is unhelpful there. I also do work very closely with Pete HB from new generation church in Somerset west Capetown, south Africa. He is like a father to some extent. He helps me with doctrinal issues and personal issues related to church matters. But all of these are based in a love and trust relationship. I also have a team of good, strong and happy friends that will come along to help in starting this new work in Tana.
Do you have a plan or a strategy for reaching out with Christ?
Yes we do. We want to present Christ in a new way. I’ve got lots of artist friends so an arts jazz evening will be frequent. Tana people love that. Personal contact also will be part of it. Because I grew up there and also the most of the core team lived there we want to be intentional in our relationships. We are also brain storming with regards to what can we do for the good of the city so that people would see both in words and deeds that Christ saves. It is important for us to build good relationship with local leaders and serve them in the community (with the mayor and each district responsible).
How do you do discipleship?
Since the area we are targeting is within walking distance our home group will be a big part of it. Once a month training for potential leaders and affinity groups will be explored (like for university student, for artists, for doctors, etc).
Developing of a team of pastors is a high priority. One to one goes a long way with Tana people. In each of these structures we will be sharing the gospel through deeper study of the Bible and praying for one another. I am also still exploring a possibility of writing good materials for each group to work with.
What are the best resources you have come across?
The best I have seen so far is Tim Keller’s “Gospel in Life” and the Michael Eaton series on “Preaching through the Bible” where he expounds each book of the Bible with simple language and practical applications.
How important is training leaders for this work?
Vital! As my friend Pete HB says “If you are not constantly training leaders, you are not serious!”
Thanks Tank. We will be praying for you and the gospel work in the centre of Madagascar!