Bohole, Joseph Ngussa (1938–2009)

By Baraka Manjale Ngussa

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Baraka Manjale Ngussa

First Published: October 30, 2021

Joseph Ngussa Bohole was a renowned literature evangelist and pastor who played a key role in bringing many souls to Christ across Tanzania.

Early Life, Education, and Marriage

Joseph Ngussa Bohole was the son of Kihoja Bohole and Misana Noni who were believers in traditional African religion of spirit worship. He was born on January 1, 1938, at Itilima in the Simiyu Region, Tanzania. Bohole did not receive a formal education as his family required him to work with them in their agricultural and pastoralist livelihood. But due to his incredible determination, Bohole did learn to read and write under the tutelage of a friend, Daniel Sayi, with whom he sat under a tree at Ng’wanunui village to be educated. It was Daniel Sayi who first introduced the Adventist faith to Bohole as well. Though he did not receive any academic credential, his ability to read and write reflected someone who had completed Standard Eight. Bohole was able to read the Spirit of Prophecy books, which in those days were in the English language only.1 He married Bathsheba Masele Katema, one of the first converts in the Tabora Region in Tanzania in September 1966. They were parents of seven children, Jacob, Emmanuel, Steven, Esther, Baraka, Furaha, and Amani.

Ministry

Following a public evangelism event conducted in Ng’wanunui village by Harun Kij Mashigani, Bohole was baptized by the evangelist in 1958. He started literature evangelism in the Shinyanga region, and in 1964 he was sent to Tabora as a team member in a public campaign conducted by Gabriel Mbwana where Peter Katema and his sister Bathsheba (who later became Bohole’s wife) were baptized by Haruni Kija Mashigani. These were the first converts in the region.2 In the same year, Bohole attended a literature evangelism seminar in Busegwe, then the headquarters of the Tanzania Union where he received intensive training on literature evangelism leadership by Ruddy Hening, the Tanzania Union publishing director.3

In 1965, Bohole attended a literature evangelism seminar at Bupandagila Middle School. Shortly after this seminar, he was sent to Kahama to work with his colleague Mika Kamambi. From 1966 to 1970, Bohole became a successful literature evangelist, working in Wenya- Itubilo, the Simiyu Region, and Mwanza.4 From 1969 to 1970, he served as a pastor in the Wenya District. He was sent to work as a literature evangelist in an unentered area of Bukoba, Kagera, working with colleague Daudi Balula from 1970 to 1974. Their effort brought many souls to Jesus Christ through literature.5 From 1974 to 1982, Bohole worked as assistant publishing department director in the Shinyanga and Sengerema zones, where he trained many successful literature evangelists, some of whom later becoming ministers of the gospel. He briefly worked as pastor once more, between 1982 and 1984, in Magu, Usimau District. For the remainder of his ministry, from 1984 until his retirement in 2003, he served as assistant publishing department director in the Sengerema and Bariadi zones. During this period, he also spent time as a successful public evangelist and bible teacher across Tanzania.6 For instance, in May 1990 the union president, Robert Taylor, donated 1,500 Bibles and 1,500 sets of Bible lessons in Shinyanga during an evangelistic series presented by Zakayo Kuswkwa. Under the leadership of Joseph Bohole, 2,121 people became involved in studying the Bible. Half of these were baptized and work continued with those who had not yet made decisions for baptism.7 Similar events took place in Kahama, Mbeya, Tarime, and Bariadi where thousands of souls were brought to Christ through the work of Bohole.

Bohole’s wife Bathsheba (1940-2020) was an excellent cook. She prepared delicious food for her family and taught other women to do the same for their families.8 She was a prominent literature evangelist who loved her job, and through her influence their children became successful student literature evangelists in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, and Norway.9 With her husband, she taught their children to love the Lord and serve His church wherever the Lord called. She urged her children to have a missionary spirit: “at any time, whenever the Lord calls you to work for him far or near, do not hesitate. Receive with joy a call for God’s work.”10

Based on the biblical teaching regarding education, the Boholes lived a simple life and sacrificed to make sure that their children attained the highest education possible in Adventist schools, colleges and universities. They used to tell their children that “education is the best investment in life. Therefore, study hard and be ready to serve the Lord in His vineyard.” They taught their children to fast and pray for challenges any member of the family faced, a practice which continues in their children’s families to date. They raised up their children faithfully in the fear of the Lord.

Apart from his ministry to the church, Joseph and Bathsheba Bohole organized their home like a church in which their children were assigned leadership positions annually through elections. In this way, he trained his children to be elders, deacons, stewardship directors, and Sabbath School superintendents. It is believed that this practice sharpened and prepared their children for ministry. One of their unique contributions to the church in Tanzania is that four of their five sons served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in various ministries. Their two daughters became faithful Adventists who served the Lord in their local churches through singing and other church duties. Church leadership positions held by their children include conference president, union and conference departmental director, chaplain, and associate professor at the University of Arusha in Tanzania.

Joseph Ngussa Bohole died on May 15, 2009, and his wife died on January 3, 2020, leaving seven children and twelve grandchildren. One of the former church leaders in Tanzania described Joseph Ngussa Bohole as “a powerful Bible teacher in camp meetings. He did an excellent job in follow up work after public evangelism across Tanzania.”11

Sources

Joseph Ngussa Bohole. Service Record. South Nyanza Conference, Mwanza, Tanzania.

Kusekwa, Z. “Crusade Reaps 1,000.” ARH, September 13, 1990.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1983-2005.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1967-1982.

Notes

  1. D. Sayi, interview by the author, March 3, 1999, Bariadi, Tanzania.

  2. P. Katema, telephone interview by the author, March 13, 2020.

  3. As told to the author, Joseph Ngussa Bohole’s son, by his father, 2003, Bariadi, Tanzania.

  4. “West Lake Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1967), 267.

  5. D. Balula, interview by the author, January 11, 2020, Bariadi, Tanzania.

  6. Joseph Ngussa Bohole, Service Record, South Nyanza Conference, Mawanza, Tanzania.

  7. Z. Kusekwa, “Crusade Reaps 1,000,” ARH, September 13, 1990, 21-22.

  8. David Makoye, Bathsheba Bohole Ngussa eulogy, January 7, 2020, Bariadi, Tanzania.

  9. Life sketch of Bathsheba Bohole, funeral, January 7, 2020, Bariadi, Tanzania.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Lameck Mwamukonda, former president of the Tanzania Union, interview by the author, March 13, 2020.

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Ngussa, Baraka Manjale. "Bohole, Joseph Ngussa (1938–2009)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 30, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=HIBT.

Ngussa, Baraka Manjale. "Bohole, Joseph Ngussa (1938–2009)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 30, 2021. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=HIBT.

Ngussa, Baraka Manjale (2021, October 30). Bohole, Joseph Ngussa (1938–2009). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=HIBT.