Billy Graham Center

Interview of John B. Lutembeka - Collection 585

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. The tapes of the oral history interviews in this collection may be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

Lists of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes

Collection 585                                                                                                             [July 9, 2008]
Lutembeka, John B.; 1953-
Interviews; 2003
Audio recordings (.02 cubic feet)

Restrictions: None.

Brief Description. Oral history interview in which Lutembeka discussed his family and childhood in Tanzania, education in Uganda during the Idi Amin regime, conversion to the Christian faith while attending teacher’s college; the development of his personal faith, the founding and growth of Big November Crusade Ministries; the rapid numerical growth of Christianity in Tanzania; the Tanzanian church’s characteristics, strengths and weaknesses; his education at the Wheaton College Graduate School, and a comparison of the church in Tanzania and the United States.


Full name

John Bubelwa Lutembeka


November 11, 1953 in Bukoba, Tanzania




Blasseo? and Rosenlia? Lutembeka



At least one elder brother


Marital Status

Married to Caroline Lutembeka



 David, Moses, Faith, Peace, Grace


1974 (confirmed in the Lutheran Church in 1969)






St Bernard’s College, Kiswera, Uganda (secondary boarding school)



Teacher’s College, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania; graduated with a diploma in Education



University of Dar-Es-Salaam; graduated with a BA in Commerce



University of Dar-Es-Salaam; graduated with a MA in Business Administration, with a major in Finance



International Correspondence Institute, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania; graduated with a BA in Bible and Theology



Wheaton College Graduate School; graduated in 2003 with a MA in Evangelism-Spiritual Formation




Six months of national service in the Tanzanian army



Teacher at a government school



The Big November Crusade Ministries; co-founder, secretary-general, preacher (part-time volunteer until 1992)



Attended the Amsterdam 2000 conference for evangelists and served as a Swahili translator; later helped organized evangelist training seminars in Tanzania as a follow-up to the conference

Scope and Content

Rev. John B. Lutembeka was interviewed by Bob Shuster on February 3, February 10 and March 10, 2003, at the Billy Graham Center Archives offices. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1969-2001.

T1 (100 minutes). Description of parents; his father’s first and second wives; his Christian name; family’s nominal Lutheran Christian faith; Christian attitude toward beer in Tanzania; John’s neglect of church; father’s business activities and the involvement of John and his brothers; education at boarding school in Uganda; Idi Amin Dada's 1971 seizure of Uganda and the conflicts between Uganda and Tanzania; effect of these events on Lutembeka and other Tanzanian students; cruelties of the Amin regime; attitude toward his education; abandoning church when he went away to school; testimony from fellow students at Teachers Training College; giving his life to Jesus Christ during a student meeting; impact on him of Luke 9:23-26; how God led him to conversion; joyful reaction of his parents and relatives; early witnessing efforts; early training in the Bible and the Christian life; contrasting Lutheran services with the salvation preached at a Assemblies of God church; lack of resources for development of a Christian life; God's promises and Lutembeka’s spiritual growth; witnessing to secular teachers; example of how he presented the Gospel; the baptism of the Holy Spirit and praying through God's Word; growing power of his ministry; opposition of Lutherans to the theology and healings of the Assemblies of God; mobilizing people to witness; origin of the Big November Crusade in Dal-as-Saleem in 1986 by five Christian friends, including Lutembeka and Jackson Kisonda; attempt to unite church people in love as well as to evangelize; the first meeting; expanding the meeting over the years to include other Pentecostals, Lutherans, other parts of the country; losing the Assemblies of God; meetings in other countries; including Roman Catholic churches in the meetings in 1995; growing Pentecostal movement within the Roman Catholic church in Tanzania

T2 (11 minutes). Impact of the Big November Crusade Ministries (BNCM) on Catholics and Muslims; efforts to make Tanzania a Muslim country; establishing a congregation for converts from non-Christian groups; development of the congregation; difficulties in developing the faith of new members; development of the Big November Crusade ministry and its leadership

T3 (100 minutes). More on the origins of the BNCM; conflict within the Assemblies of God leadership as a stimulus for the creation of BNCM; desire for greater fellowship across Christian denominations; objectives of the movement; the evangelistic theme of the campaigns; attendance of church and unchurched people; preparation for the first 1986 meeting - advertising, prayer, recording the services; conflict between ordained pastors and educated laity resolved by a dream; classes for new converts; problem over school children leaving meetings early because of curfew; need to hold open air meetings in the late afternoon because of the heat; the finance committee; the welfare committee; leadership of the campaign; prayer support; budget; taking pledges in later years; avoiding taking money from churches; typical services during the campaign (praise and worship, singing and movement, preaching, altar call); emphasis on evangelism over healing; praying over the sick; instructions to speakers; problems from robbers and muggers; problem of lack of counselors; people who give false names and addresses; changes in the campaigns over the years (going to other cities in the countries, holding meetings outside the country, special attention to those who are attending for the first time); replacement of Pentecostal churches with mainline churches such as the Lutherans as the main supporters; counseling converts about what church to attend; development of ministries in Morogoro, Tanga, Kagera, Musoma, Iringa, Moshi, and other cities; Mwzana as an example of a town where Western wealth discourages Tanzania churches from supporting ministries; cooperation with African Evangelistic Enterprise and other ministries; BNCM campaigns in other African countries; work among non-churched; impact of the BNCM in Tanzania; use of the word “crusade;” opposition from Muslims; local support of ministry; helping select invitees from Tanzania to the international conference of itinerant evangelists held in Amsterdam in 2000, sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA); translation into Swahili during the conference; impact of the conference on Lutembeka; memories of some of the speakers, including Franklin Graham; Amsterdam 2000 follow-up conferences in Tanzania

T4 (20 minutes). Applying for Wheaton College Graduate School and a Billy Graham Center Scholarship; reflections on the pluses and minuses of the education at Wheaton; need for more teaching in the African church; the need for American churches to be more evangelistic; comparison of evangelistic preaching in the two countries; open spiritual welfare with demons in Tanzania; lack of altar calls and movement in the United States churches, “No one says, ‘Amen.’”

T5 (65 minutes). Sunday school in the United States; church growth in Tanzania in the last generation: open air campaigns, healings, the deeper commitment of nominal Christians, breakdown of comity agreements between different denominational missions, improved communications in the country; civilizing influence of Christianity; tension between Christianity and Islam in Tanzania; turn against the Al Quaeda movement in Tanzania after the September 11, 2001, attack in the United States; impact on Tanzania of the United States war in Iran; the presidency of Julius Nyerere; government opposition to foreign Christian evangelists; opposition to Christianity by secular socialists; growth of the church, 1985-2000; more on President Nyerere; government religious councils; movements of Christians from inactive churches to ones with active evangelism; Assemblies of God healings and the growth of the Christian community; family tensions caused by church growth; tensions between leaders and pastors of Pentecostal, Lutheran and Moravian churches; tensions within denominations over evangelism and healing; conflict over styles of prayer; deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian; decline of paganism; shortage of Bible schools, seminaries, pastors, other trained Christian workers, Bibles, and Christian literature; lack of programs for young people; conflict between old pastors and young converts; impact on the BNCM of divisions between denominations and the departure of Pentecostals; acceptance of the idea of being “born again” by Roman Catholics; challenges of the church in Tanzania; greater dependence of the church on outside resources; lack of cooperation between denominational leaders; comparison of revival in Tanzania with the East African revival


The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Rev. John B. Lutembeka in February and March 2003.

Accession: 03-6, 03-8, 03-16 
July 9, 2008
Bob Shuster

Accession: 03-6, 03-8, 03-16
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.

Item# - Reel or cassette, speed, length, number of sides, contents (title of session, participants) according to the program, date.











Oral history interview of Rev. John Lutembeka by Bob Shuster






Conclusion of T1






Oral history interview of Rev. John Lutembeka by Bob Shuster






Conclusion of T3






Oral history interview of Rev. John Lutembeka by Bob Shuster


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Wheaton College 2008