2019 (August-September) Southern Africa Report
The work in southern Africa is going very well. I was greatly encouraged as I was able to visit five of our Bear Valley schools, including one of our newest schools which began in May of this year in Maseru, Lesotho! The other schools in addition to Lesotho were Gweru, and Harare in Zimbabwe, Luanshya, Zambia and Ekwendeni, Malawi. Although it was a busy, full schedule it was also very productive. I am so thankful and appreciative to all who have contributed to our efforts in training local preachers to teach the Gospel as we seek to fulfill our Lord’s commission to make disciples in all the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
The first school I visited was in Maseru, Lesotho. This school is one of our newest extended programs, meeting every weekend on Saturday and Sunday. This allows the student to work full time while attending the Bible school on the weekends. Although it will take twice as long to complete the course work it allows the student to continue to support his family as he pursues a Bible education. I have found these students are often more mature in age and in their faith. In addition, many are already leaders within the local congregations having a desire to grow and mature in their knowledge of God’s word and in their service for the church. I was very pleased to discover one of the elders in the Maseru congregation attending my class. What a great example for others to see the need to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word.
Tawanda Mwadiya is our director at BVBI-Lesotho and is doing a great job in teaching and directing the school. Tawanda, additionally, works with and preaches for the Maseru church of Christ along with Vincent M. Shata. Vincent teaches for the school, but he is also the preacher and one of the elders of the congregation in Maseru. This congregation has graciously allowed us to use their building to operate the school. I taught the Scheme of Redemption to 17 students on August 30th and September 1st. In addition, I had the privilege that Sunday to preach in a young congregation, that the students and preachers have established, just outside the city limits of Maseru. The congregation is called the Sehlabeng church of Christ. I was very impressed with the unity of all these brethren and work being done by the school, staff, students and churches in Lesotho. I am excited about the work and growth in Lesotho!
Finishing there, I traveled to Gweru Zimbabwe, via Johannesburg, South Africa to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, then driving the 2 hours to the school in Gweru. Although the students were not in school that first week in September, as they were all out in the local congregations getting much needed practical work, nevertheless it was a productive visit. Matthew Muchingami, our director, met me at the airport, and we were able to visit some of the students that were working near Bulawayo. This is part of their work and training as preachers. This work is reviewed and assessed as a prerequisite in order to graduate from the program. The local churches provide housing for the students and feed them as they evangelize and conduct Bible studies day to day. It is a win/win for the school and the local churches as the students get much needed practical work and the local churches are encouraged and helped as their membership increases in number and in faith!
I was able to visit with Matthew and discuss with him the work in general, in addition, we visited the property that was given to the school by the government where there is much work and planning being done. Two wells (bore holes) have been drilled complete with solar powered pumps. Much of the land has been/is being cleared. A small guard house has been constructed along with a larger building that may serve as a classroom and library in the near future. The foundation for the school is now completed that will house the students as well as classrooms. This has all been accomplished with a minimal amount of funding.
Some of the benefits of moving to this property will be additional space that will allow us to increase the student enrollment to 20 students or possibly even more in the future. The 600 dollars monthly rent that is currently being paid can go toward finishing the construction of the property. Once that is completed there will be a savings of 7200 dollars a year. Having such a large piece of land (8 Hectors) allows the school to grow much of their own food as well as raise livestock. The students can learn farming and agricultural techniques in addition to getting a good Bible education. I was excited to see all that is being done and the hard work that has been invested by the staff, students, board and local congregations as they partner together!
The financial situation in Zimbabwe continues to be a major challenge and, if anything, seems to have worsened since the removal and now death of its leader, Robert Mugabe. It is nearly impossible to get more than 20-50 dollars a day from the bank. The lines are much too long, often taking hours to withdraw even a small amount of currency. Because of this, I carried with me three months support sent to me by Woodland Oaks the overseeing congregation. Despite the difficulties these Christians are facing, they are working hard and continue to plan and develop strategies for the future. The church continues to grow in number and in faith as they go forth evangelizing!
On Thursday September 5th Matthew and I drove the 4 hours to Harare to visit our sister school and meet with, our director, Howard Suwari and his family. I wanted to see how things are progressing with the school and the students, and as I suspected, they continue to do extremely well. As I mentioned earlier, the students in the extended programs, overall, seem to be more mature in their faith and generally make up the leadership in the local churches. It is always impressive to me to see these men and woman continue to want to grow and develop in their faith and love for God. The school is doing well consisting of about 27 students overall, 20 men and 7 ladies. And, of course Howard and his lovely family continue to work hard serving the local church and directing the school. I always enjoy visiting this family, their love for the Lord is evident. I am so grateful for their hospitality that is shown to me. Even though my stay was brief, I so much enjoyed being with this godly family.
Following my visit to Zimbabwe my next stop was to Zambia to teach during the second week of September. Luanshya, Zambia is in the northern part of the country near the border of the Congo. I taught 2 Corinthians this time, already having taught 1 Corinthians early this year (February). The students all did very well, and they seem to be growing and maturing in their faith and in their teaching and preaching. I always enjoy attending chapel services in the morning and hearing the students present lessons and lead the worship in song. They are doing an outstanding job as they continue to grow! Fred and Cephas along with Kennedy have done a good job teaching and developing these young men and leading them on evangelistic campaigns throughout the year. I was very pleased to see them growing and moving forward. I had time to talk with Fred and Cephas about the work and their future plans and it seems they are making extra efforts to be more evangelistic in the community, in the local churches, and throughout the copper belt region. It was a pleasure being there during the second week of September.
On Saturday September 14th I flew from Ndola, Zambia to Lilongwe, Malawi where Ephron Mbano, our director, was there to meet me. We drove the 4 ½ hours north to Ekwendeni where the school is located, and I stayed with Mbano and his family. I am so thankful for him, and his wife Beauty, and their 2 children, they always take such good care of me. I taught the Prison Epistles that week and the students all did outstanding. They were even more enthusiastic than usual seeing they were graduating that Saturday. I have so much enjoyed and appreciated these 13 students. They have done well having transitioned from the school in Mzuzu and moving 30 minutes north to Ekwendeni. We started with 15 students but 2 of them dropped out along the way. However, these men I am confident will go forth preaching Gods Word as they extend and defend the faith. Mbano and Clergynton have well prepared these men to be faithful Gospel preachers!
On September 21st the students received their Advanced Diplomas in Biblical Studies from BVBI-Ekwendeni, Malawi. The ceremony went very smoothly, and we had guests from 2 other schools of preaching and representatives from 4 or 5 of the local congregations as well as former students who made up the first graduating class. The students and all who were in attendance was very pleased with the ceremony as we enjoyed a delicious meal afterwards.
During my time in Malawi I also had the opportunity to preach in Mbano’s home village. I loved meeting these good folks and the local preacher is doing an outstanding job. He is a former graduate of Mzuzu Bible College. The churches in Malawi, although impoverished, are strong and growing spiritually. The potential is tremendous!
When I think of the work in Africa, overall, I am reminded of our Lord’s words when he said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2). I am truly thankful to all those who support me both financially and, in your prayers, as we work together to fulfill God’s purpose in saving souls. Thanks to Woodland Oaks church of Christ, Williamson Area church of Christ, Main Street church of Christ (Pikeville KY), Otsego church of Christ and Ben Creek church of Christ as well as individual Christians.
I left Johannesburg, South Africa on September 24th and returned home on the25th. I could not have asked for a better or more pleasant trip. Everything went smoothly and the weather was ideal during my time there. I am also grateful to be working with Bear Valley Bible Institute in Denver Colorado, we now have 40 extension schools throughout the world as we train men to preach the Gospel. If you want to learn more of what is happening, please visit our website at www.wetrainpreachers.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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