Man of many hats

written by Andrew Fendrich

Jacob Makorere grew up in a village of the Serengeti district in northern Tanzania, away from any real Christian influence. He never saw his parents, Roman Catholic by association, go to church, and the closest evangelical gathering was more than an hour’s walk away in the nearest town.

Now a pastor and church planter, Jacob is driven by a passion to see accessible churches in every village surrounding his home in Bunda, a city near the southern shore of Lake Victoria.

Jacob’s journey of faith—which has now come to include partnership with OM Africa—began when a woman visited his village, going door to door with the gospel. Jacob was 10 years old at the time, and watched his sister accept Christ.

For two years Jacob’s sister walked more than an hour to church each Sunday, and Jacob often accompanied her. But when a prospective husband came along, Jacob’s sister was forced into marriage and out of church by their father, who demanded Jacob stay home as well.

Jacob had another two-year opportunity to attend church when his father left the home for business, and the second time, Jacob committed his life to Christ and developed a desire to share the gospel with others. When his family moved to Bunda, Jacob became more and more involved in church ministry and evangelism, until, as a married adult, he planted his first church in the Balili suburb of Bunda—which he now refers to as “the base.”

But even as the pastor of a church, Jacob felt he needed to follow God’s call on a greater level.

“I was feeling a really strong passion to reach out to the villages,” he says. “To plant churches where there are none, among different people groups. When I read the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, that was driving my heart.”

Evangelism in villages gave Jacob the chance to see from the outside what his life was like as a churchgoing boy. One man who accepted Christ walked nearly two hours each Sunday from his village of Tamau to attend Jacob’s church.

Tamau became the location of Jacob’s first rural church plant, and the man, Samel, is now its pastor.

In 2009, Jacob’s friendship with a fellow pastor and church planter, Tukiko Omosso, led to an opportunity that eventually led to their partnership with OM. Tukiko had heard of OM Zambia’s missions discipleship programme, and both pastors spent time in Zambia learning more about missions and church planting.

Training with OM in Zambia opened Jacob’s eyes to a number of different ways to minister in his community—through children’s ministry, which led him to start a nursery school in his church, hopefully leading to a fully developed school, and leadership training. He wants an OM Lake Victoria base with classrooms, so people can come for training. It costs too much for Tanzanians to go to Zambia, he says, which makes development slow. Pastors Jacob talks with in Bunda are encouraged and want to learn more, but it’s just not efficient to go to Zambia. “People are willing,” he says. “But they are failing because of the cost.”

But while his work in Bunda has developed, the core of his ministry remains close to his heart—and it fits perfectly with OM’s mission to see the gospel going out to the least reached.

“The most important thing in my heart is to see the villages and people groups reached by the gospel, transforming their lives,” he says. “People from the villages are missing many things, especially since the world we live in is an educated world now. My desire is to lift up and train leaders who can be transforming others.”

Pastor Jacob Makorere stands among trees he has planted on a property he owns in Bundu, Tanzania

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