Sheka, Joel Kwilasa
The Rev. Joel Kwilasa Sheka was born in 1924 at Nhobola Buchunga in Shinyanga, Tanzania. He received Jesus as his personal savior at Nhobola in 1936. His wife’s name was Susana and they had nine children. He remembers that those who guided him to Jesus were the late Rev. Benjamini and the late Rev. Zakayo Mulumba. At the time, both of them were serving at NG’wataga-Uduhe Shinyanga, one of the oldest stations of the Africa Inland Church Tanzania (AICT.)
“I felt God’s calling to ministry in 1942. The church members of my home church, without tolerance, continued to ask me to be their local church leader (evangelist). Through that I understood that I was called by Him to His field,” said Kwilasa on August 29, 2002. He started working with the Nhobola local church that same year.
In 1945, he attended the Kolandoto Christian Training Center for primary level education, offered by Africa Inland Mission (AIM) missionaries. He achieved Standard IV level in 1947 at Kolandoto. He then went to Katunguru Bible Training School for three years for a course in Bible studies and graduated with a certificate.
He was posted to AIC Ididi-seke in Shinyanga as an evangelist. He served there for nine years until 1959, when he was chosen to participate in a one-year course for pastors. In 1960, he was ordained a pastor of AICT, and the leadership sent him to Ngudu Kwimba to serve as the pastor. He was transferred to Bubiki in 1969 where he stayed for six years.
For his talent in preaching and teaching, AICT selected him, through its sending committee, to be the founder of the AIC Dar es Salaam pastorate in the capital city of Tanzania. He worked there from 1974 to 1977, when he was moved to Sengerema where he worked until his retirement in 1995.
Rev. Sheka served the Lord with AICT for fifty-three years preaching, teaching, pastoring, evangelizing, and giving spiritual direction. He remembers some of his co-workers, some of whom are retired evangelists: Stephano Salamba of Bushitala Maswa, Shinyanga; retired Pastor Reuben Nonga Kitinya of Kitangili, Shinyanga; and the late Pastor Tito Shitabo Majama of Kolandoto, Shinyanga. Rev. Sheka commended them for their great eagerness in doing the work of God.
When we met in Mwanza on August 29, 2002, he expressed his joy to me in a conversation. He said “My son, as John says in his 3rd letter, verse 4, which was special to Gaius, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Lord called us to walk in the truth, apart from being pastors, bishops or anything else; we are to walk in the truth which is better far than our positions in the church.’”
Pastor Joel is now hard-of-hearing, but is still strong physically, and continues to preach. He preaches with strength and authority. He is a servant of God and has dedicated his life to glorifying God.
Joseph N. Gisayi
Joel Kwilasa, interview with author, August 29, 2002, Mwanza, Tanzania.
Rev. Reuben Kitinya, interview with author, July 2002, in Shinyanga.
This article, submitted in 2003, was written by Rev. Joseph N. Gisayi, 2003-2004 Project Luke fellow, a minister in the AICT for the past twenty-four years, as well as a member of the Africa Inland Executive Council and chairperson of the AICT Mission and Evangelism Department. This article was reviewed and approved by AICT bishop Peter Kitula, David N. M. Nghosha, historian of the Africa Inland Church Tanzania and by Stephen Kapongo, coordinator of AICT Department of Mission and Evangelism.