While life in Tanzania is extremely hard, Colonels Ted and Deborah Horwood find the challenges reveal the heart of mission

These young people sell shoes on the roadside in Bukoba, Tanzania to generate income and learn self-sufficiency. 

 The Salvation Army has been active in Tanzania for more than 80 years, and in 2008 it was established as a territory. The country is one of the world’s poorest in terms of per capita income. About 44 percent of the population of around 50 million is under 14 years old. Many do not have enough to eat or water safe to drink. The economy is 80 percent agricultural, but only four percent of the land is arable. Despite living under such hardships, In this conversation with Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee, Colonel Ted Horwood discusses how his optimism is based on the vital services the Army offers where need is so very acute, how the light of the Gospel shines in this corner of God’s kingdom and how ministry there holds important implications for the Army’s mission.

How did you become interested in serving overseas?

Col. Ted Horwood: Prior to becoming an officer, there was a time at a Salvation Army camp when I really began to grow in my walk with the Lord. My future wife, who was also working at that camp, was sensing a draw towards ministry overseas. When we got married, that was on our hearts. We attempted to find a way through the Army, but there wasn’t a good vehicle for that. But our hearts were still focused, and it only came to fruition by a miracle.

We went into training college at a time when they didn’t send new officers out to the mission field. We made it known to the territorial commander, Commissioner Paul Rader, so they sent us out to open the work in Guam. They threw us the keys to a 15-passenger van and said get on with it. We felt that if we had the interest, desire, ability and the accessibility to serve overseas, God would put us on an amazing trajectory.

Colonels Ted and Deborah Horwood.

What have you learned from serving overseas?

Col. Ted Horwood: The body of Christ doesn’t look the same. People understand who God is based on their context. The way Africans understand God is completely different from how an American or an Asian or somebody from Latin America understands God. We shouldn’t force a theology that has been developed in the Western world as if it is relevant for everybody in the world. We should understand that God is present in a community in rural Africa or Indonesia just as He is in rural America. It’s important for us as outsiders to come and learn about how they see God.

What has been your greatest personal challenge?

Col. Ted Horwood: Living overseas is wonderful, but the cross you bear is frequently in your immediate family. Our children grew up in Malawi in a very rich environment. As they get older, you feel the separation—that they need to commit to American culture or the American education system. I wouldn’t want to put anybody off by saying that’s too big of a sacrifice. We all need to pick up our cross daily and follow Christ.

One of my concerns in the body of Christ, particularly in North America is that being a Christian is quite simple. It doesn’t require the same sacrifice. I want to feel the cross. I want to make that sacrifice for my service for the people of God and as a minister of the Gospel. I want to acknowledge how other people live, to be empathetic and to minister to them where they’re at. There are challenges, but I want to have them because they help warm our great Christian faith and strength in the Lord.

War Cry: What has been your biggest blessing?

Col. Ted Horwood: We’re living our dream. There is rarely a day that I don’t wake up and say, “I’m the most fortunate person I know.” The Lord has put us on an amazing journey, unique in a Salvation Army context—perhaps in any context. 

War Cry: Describe The Salvation Army in Tanzania.

Col. Ted Horwood: I often say you can plant a Salvation Army flag anywhere in Tanzania and it will grow a corps. It’s a very fertile area of the world. Having said that, it still has its challenges relative to economies, education and aspects of development, but the Army is growing. The Army is strong, is vibrant and has amazing potential.

"We should understand that God is present in a community in rural Africa or Indonesia just as He is in rural America."

War Cry: Is there any one Salvation Army operation that is an example of what the Army is about in Tanzania?

Col. Ted Horwood: This territory strikes at the heart of The Salvation Army’s mission. We have a school for children with disabilities and children with albinism— two of the most vulnerable populations in Africa. We recently were able to provide surgery for six of the children. The children at the school are with us for up to eight years. Most of them come from very poor families. We’re providing physically transformative opportunities through access to better healthcare and surgeries they could never afford otherwise. We’re able to provide the education and opportunities that are so important, particularly to vulnerable populations of children who are often discarded. We provide spiritual formation as well. The children participate in corps meetings, and they have officers who are praying for and ministering to them. We’re touching the fullness of humanity. We also have a residential anti-trafficking program that strikes at the heart of our Salvation Army mission, reaching the most vulnerable in the population, providing psycho-social support and the elements that bring them healing. 

"We have a school for children with disabilities and children with albinism— two of the most vulnerable populations in Africa."

War Cry: What is your greatest need in Tanzania?

Col. Ted Horwood: The greatest need is for partnerships* because they not only speak to our willingness to show respect, but also allow sharing of resources or specific capacities. That is a way forward for the Army in the majority of the world.

War Cry: What do you wish people understood about Self-Denial and World Services?

Col. Ted Horwood: Is there Self-Denial anymore? What is our sacrifice in the body of Christ? What are we? For us to live is Christ and to die is gain, so what does that mean to live Christ today? We can forget about it within a comfortable and convenient North American context.

Recognizing what God is doing around the world and wanting to invest in it in a way that it costs us something is a perspective we undervalue. Why do we give? Do we recognize that we’re giving to God through The Salvation Army, or are we getting a little bit jaded?

If we believe in the mission of The Salvation Army, do we act according to our hearts as Salvationists?  Who are we as Salvationists? What do we believe that God is doing uniquely in The Salvation Army? Do we believe that communities need The Salvation Army? Do we bring something different because of who we are as Salvationists? Do I want to invest in that? Do I want to be part of that? Why we give is important to explore.

People have the resources to give. What they need are better reasons to give. They need to realize the impact that they’re having. I’ll take people’s position over their donation. I’ll take them participating in our ministry over writing a check, because I want them to experience what I’m experiencing here. I want them to understand who the officers are and how they live.

I sure would like the soldiers to know how their contributions, how their participation at a local corps, is affecting Tanzania Territory. I wish they knew that kid who got an operation which changed his life or that young girl who is getting an education and will not have to become a wife at 14 years old. They would want to participate so much more in what God is doing around the world through the Salvation Army ministries.


*Salvation Army territories form partnerships to support Army services and ministries in the developing world and where needs are pressing due to natural disasters or emergency situations. 

Visit www.SAWSO.org for more information.


Thanks for reading the War Cry. If you share your email address with us, we’ll let you know when our next issue is published.

Already a subscriber? Login.
Would you like the War Cry delivered to your door?
Subscribe in print.

Next story