Though Mukhanyo has five centres and many more distance study groups, it does not mean the staff can sit back only to monitor and facilitate it all. It means more work and also more opportunities to continue as a growing academic institution with a missional heart, teaching God’s Word far and wide.
At the recent faculty forum (before the lockdown), attended by most of Mukhanyo’s lecturing staff, the principal, Dr Brian DeVries, gave a picture of the work in the year to come. Here are a few of the areas for growth:
New additions to the lecturing staff, Dr John Span and his wife Anne, were supposed to have arrived soon to join Mukhanyo respectively as lecturer and teacher. But COVID-19 put a spanner in their plans. However, they still hope to be able to join the Mukhanyo family before the start of the second semester, the Lord willing.
As visiting lectures, the Spans were giving classes and helped out at Mukhanyo in KwaMhlanga earlier this year before they returned to their home country, Canada. They enjoyed being at KwaMhlanga so much that when the Mukhanyo Board called on them to join Mukhanyo on a more permanent basis, they accepted. After most things were in order and ready for travel, the pandemic made it impossible. Now they sit and wait for the earliest opportunity to come to South Africa. God willing, they will be here soon.
With his reformational theological background, Dr John describes himself as a global mission capacity builder with three main passions: (1) to see the name of Jesus Christ held in high honour; (2) to learn, teach and build capacity; and (3) to equip people and organisations to thrive.
Dr John’s background has equipped him with cross-cultural experience and evangelistic approaches. He completed his PhD at the John Calvin Faculty in France where he studied evangelistic strategies. From 2000 to 2011 he worked as an administrator and evangelist in Guinea, after which he became vice-principal of the Alexandria School of Theology in Egypt.
His wife Anne is an English teacher, especially with students for whom English is a second language. That is what she hopes to do at Mukhanyo, in addition to work as a writer coordinator.
Let’s pray that Dr John and Anne will be able to join the Mukhanyo family soon. The biggest hurdle at this time is the lockdown on international travel.
Mukhanyo is thankful for about 25,000 books in its libraries at five contact-based centres. Now, in addition to these, a shipment of 15,000 theology books has arrived from North America and has been disembarked in Durban. These mostly new and some used books were donated by several publishers in America.
Without doubt these books will make the Mukhanyo libraries some of the best equipped theological libraries in Southern Africa.
However, there is a challenge. The books are in storage near the Durban harbour and are not as yet allowed to be transported to KwaMhlanga. Books are not a priority during the lock-down. So we have to wait, hopefully only for a few more weeks.
When the books arrive, they will be catalogued and divided between Mukhanyo’s five centres. Any duplicates beyond Mukhanyo’s libraries will be given to other colleges and libraries.
Soon Mukhanyo’s library system will be fully integrated across the five locations. At present more than 20,000 books have been catalogued and are in Mukhanyo’s library system. An upgraded system is being finalised with much greater functionality for students and lecturers.
When the lockdown was announced, all the residential students at KwaMhlanga went home – except six. They are from Kenya, South Sudan and Uganda and not able to go home on such short notice. They remained in Mukhanyo’s hostel and the only thing they could do, was to study – which they have been doing ever since.
Degree student Deng Garang from South Sudan tells the story: “We were left on the campus almost crying, not knowing how our lives will be like as our parents are far away. Truly we were feeling lonely, but thanks to God we were allowed to stay at the compound. At the moment we are thoroughly studying and seriously praying for more revival and that this Corona-virus outbreak comes to an end”.
“We are thankful for the Mukhanyo lecturers who instruct us through WhatsApp and email, enabling us to continue with our study and send our assignments to the lecturers. Things have been challenging but we know after three years at Mukhanyo that everything is in place”.
Note: This article was written just before the lockdown started in March. While many things have been delayed, Mukhanyo’s plans and vision for the greater Durban area remains strong and committed and, by God’s grace, will continue to develop.
A year ago it was an idea. Soon it became an initiative. Late last year it became a possibility. A centre manager was provisionally appointed to start doing preparatory work. And, believe it or not, in January 2020 the centre started with eleven BTh students and three part-time lecturers. Our Father in heaven blessed all the work!
Without many formalities, the orientation programme was completed in January and lectures started. An open day is planned for later in the year, once everything has been arranged and running smoothly.
Of course funding had to be found. But our Lord provides and He has done so once again. The Pharus Foundation in the Netherlands (through De Verre Naaste) will be funding a major part of the Centre’s budget for the next three years.
Durban is the third largest city in South Africa, with a population of nearly four million people. Yet despite its size, there are hardly any theological institutions in the city, and certainly none that are Reformed. Pentecostalism and prosperity-type churches dominate the city. There is therefore a big need for quality, biblically-orthodox, gospel-centred theological education to serve the churches of Durban and beyond.
The present venue is the church building and amenities of the Gereformeerde Kerk in Pinetown, some 20 kilometres from the Durban city centre. Pinetown is very central in the Durban metropolitan area, and easily accessible to most residents of the city.
The parsonage can be converted into a campus, while the Gereformeerde Kerk Pinetown continues to use the church hall for services and other activities. There is plenty of space (and parking facilities) for growth.
Students are from diverse church backgrounds including Baptist, Pentecostal, Charismatic and Reformed churches. But the modules are fully biblical in character and content.
In the first semester the following modules are being taught: Greek 1, Story of the Bible, Books of Moses, Synoptic Gospels and Acts, and Theology of Missions.
The potential impact of Mukhanyo’s Durban Centre is huge. Because of the lack of theological institutions in the city, Mukhanyo has the potential to be the institution of choice for local and regional theological study.
Let us all pray that Mukhanyo will have a significant impact on the churches of Durban by providing training that would produce biblically sound pastors who are passionate to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev Antonio Coppola is the manager of the Durban centre. He worked for the Anglican church for nine years, then studied at Westminster Seminary California from 2014 to 2017. He has a passion to see biblically-orthodox theological education taught across Africa and to see Reformed, gospel-centred churches being planted in Durban and throughout South Africa. He is currently also engaged in planting the Covenant Waterfall Presbyterian Church in Durban.
Yes, Mukhanyo, like all other educational facilities had to close at the end of March. But this did not and does not mean that Mukhanyo’s work came to a standstill. However, some things had to change quite drastically. Mutatis mutandis!
Some staff had to work harder than ever to manage, motivate, arrange and administer, all from home. Which apparently was done quite successfully.
But how did the lecturers continue teaching their students (and still do)? And did the lockdown enable them to get involved in other ways also?
Most lecturers were able to catch up with some of the work which was in arrears or neglected. And many became involved in helping needy families as well as attending to pastoral issues, also in respect of their students. Many also had time for longer devotions and spiritual growth, learning new skills and/or upgrading technology and other skills. Here follows some reports from several Mukhanyo lecturers (very summarised).
Rev Tebogo Mogale reports that he was able to keep in touch with his students via emails, WhatsApp and phone calls. He restructured his pastoral theology module and also submitted an overdue module for the Focus programme.
Dr Gerrit Heino emailed students a detailed overview of the pages of the textbook as well as 87 exam questions to be studied. He’s busy with a lot of marking and with curriculum development for a number of modules. He and his wife also started fundraising in The Netherlands for needy households in and around Pretoria.
Mrs Amanda Nel continued to develop second semester study guides. Some modules were at the last stage of formatting which requires time consuming word-for-word reading and checking. She is also able to keep in contact with her students.
Rev Paul Mahlangu had to read up about the role of women in the church because the topic was discussed in the classis. Problems with digital data made it difficult to work with the fulltime students. Distance students were doing better and they submitted assignments as Rev Paul could guide them, both from their study guides and with some WhatsApp discussions. He’s busy marking assignments and preparing lectures.
Dr Bryson Arthur contracted bronchitis soon after the beginning of the lockdown. Now he is healthy again and his online lectures have been successful. Copies of his new book, A Theology of Suffering, arrived from England, but remains locked-down.
Mr Jacques Malan was forced to learn to use digital methods like recording voice clips from his laptop and sending them by WhatsApp. He also prepared a new Focus module, including the study guide, the question bank and the assignment instructions.
Dr Greg Philip was able to prepare his exam papers and memoranda. He prompted his students with emails and WhatsApp messages, telling them what they could still do and sending them resources. He set up a YouTube account and started recording and uploading video lectures for his students. It was a challenge and an interesting learning curve, even making his own wooden lectern.
Rev Glyn Williams’ mother-in-law passed away two days before lockdown after a five year battle with cancer. Dealing with her estate was a challenge. However, he was able to catch up on several projects, including writing material for two of the new higher certificate modules, updating forms, documents and procedures for distance groups. He also started to prepare a distance tutor training programme and commenced research studies for his MTh degree.
Dr Eben le Roux reports that he had a lovely, chaotic time with three daughters needing guidance with their schoolwork, entertaining his disruptive 4-year old and a teacher-wife who had to teach to 55 kids online. When contacting his students, the problem of suffering became a reality to him. He is thankful for Mukhanyo’s strong teamwork, collective wisdom and committed leadership.
Unfortunately about a third of all Mukhanyo’s campus-based students are at home in areas with limited network and connectivity issues. So we often had to use more unconventional “online” tools to work with them so that they can complete the semester.
As one lecturer concluded: “Despite everything, God has remained faithful and has continued to provide in many ways, physical and spiritual. Soli Deo Gloria.”
The highlight of the recent graduation ceremony was of course the graduation of 91 students. But there was another highlight, and that was the Principal’s Award which was given to Given Rooi Xaba.
He completed his BTh degree and is now continuing with his BTh Honours degree at Mukhanyo. He hopes to continue his theological study journey further, perhaps with even a doctorate.
Given, 35 years old, was born and raised at Kwaggafontein in the South African province of Mpumalanga. He describes himself as a born again Christian, although born and raised in a Christian family. At the age of 15, God made him make a conscious choice of following Jesus Christ; not a Christian just by virtue of being born in a Christian family.
He started his theological study at Mukhanyo in 2016, finished his BTh degree in 2019, and now, God willing, hopes to complete his Honours degree in June 2021, thereafter to study further.
As a member of the Christian Fellowship Centre based around KwaMhlanga, he serves as an assistant pastor and is also helping with the music. At Mukhanyo he is has chaired the Student Representative Council.
When he received the award, Given attested that he learned a lot, and that he now has to stand before God, even before standing before people – always Christ-centred.
Thank the Lord with us for Mukhanyo’s gifted team of faithful employees! But several more people are still needed to serve within our growing ministry:
Click here for more information on all of the vacancies mentioned below.
Marketing Manager: This new position at Mukhanyo requires a dedicated person, to serve at least an average of 24 hours per week flextime, based in either Pretoria or Johannesburg. The ideal candidate will have experience in a various areas (e.g. newsletters, event planning, donor communication, social media, etc.) along with a passion to serve the Lord in Christian ministry.
JHB Campus Manager: This position will be responsible for the management and development of Mukhanyo’s growing Johannesburg Campus. The ideal candidate will also serve as a Senior Lecturer. The applicant must affirm Mukhanyo’s statement of faith and share our organisational values.
Lecturers in Various Areas: Additional part-time and full-time lecturers are needed by January 2021 to serve Mukhanyo’s growing student body. All Mukhanyo lecturers must affirm Mukhanyo’s statement of faith and share our organisational values. Please only apply if you meet the criteria outlined in the job advert.
Distance Regional Coordinator: Additional coordination support is needed as Mukhanyo’s distance programme expands across southern Africa. The ideal candidate will have some experience in education or education management or prior experience in distance education.
Distance Centre Tutors: Mukhanyo welcomes applications for new Distance Learning Support Centres across southern Africa. Experienced church leaders are encouraged to submit an application to become a volunteer tutor and lead a local centre
The lecturer is a master in his theological field. But does he know how to prepare a good test or examination paper?
Dr Gerrit Heino, Mukhanyo’s Manager of Education, Senior Lecturer and Faculty Coach, spoke on this topic at Mukhanyo’s Faculty Forum in January. He showed his colleagues how to set a reliable and varied test/exam for students. A proper written test/exam consists of different kind of questions: e.g. multiple choice, true-false, matching, fill-in-the-blank and essay test items.
After the theory of setting test items, the lecturers practiced it themselves in groups of four in order to extend their knowledge and experience in this field. It proved to be a fruitful event and Dr Heino emphasized that the adage of a lecturer should be ‘Life Long Learning’, one of the aims at Mukhanyo
The Graduation Ceremony is the annual highlight at Mukhanyo. On 7 March, a record 91 students graduated. Of them, 52 were able to attend a colourful day at KwaMhlanga, together with family and friends.
They came from all over South Africa and even beyond. However, some – whose names were read out – were not able to attend because they were unable to travel from Lilongwe in Malawi, mostly because they couldn’t afford the journey.
The majority have been studying Mukhanyo’s accredited Diploma in Theology through one of the 75 distance study groups. Five students completed the Bachelors of Theology (BTh) degree at the KwaMhlanga Campus.
After the packed Mukhanyo hall sang “On Christ the solid rock I stand” and “Hlengiwe limnandi lelizwi”, the keynote address was delivered by Dr Bryson Arthur, a Senior Lecturer and programme manager of Mukhanyo’s honours degree. He spoke from Luke 4:13-35 about the Emmaus travellers’ meeting with Jesus Christ who taught them that they were “foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken”. And Christ, “beginning with Moses and All the Prophets, interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”.
Dr Bryson basic message to his audience was to “read, read, read” to understand the Bible and the work of Jesus Christ, to be able to preach and teach according to God’s word and will.
In the Principal’s address, Dr Brian De Vries referred to 1 Corinthians 15: 58: “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.” He mentioned that the number of graduates was a record for Mukhanyo. But not only that, that the number of students registered with Mukhanyo this year, for the first time, was over a thousand (including distance students and teacher students). “God’s words are not in vain and should give students the strength to persevere”.
The chairman of the Mukhanyo board, Dr Lusani Netshitomboni, underlined that students graduated with the purpose to serve, to stand out and to stand up for what God’s wants to tell the world