The expectation that Mukhanyo’s distance centres would suffer seriously because of COVID-19 limitations in 2020, has been proven wrong. It has become clear that nearly all the centres were able to continue with support sessions in one way or another - either as normal or through modern technology such as Zoom, WhatsApp and other platforms.
According to the Distance Manager, Glyn Williams, of the approximately 80 centres, less than a handful had to completely suspend activities. The number of students who wrote exams at the end of last year was relatively normal, and in total 62 students should graduate in March.
It was expected that more Distance Learning Support Centres would be established this year, but that the so-called second wave of COVID-19 infections might delay these plans. However, this expectation is also starting to be proven wrong, with new centres already in the process of being registered and several requests received by other interested parties in other areas. There has also been a large number of enquiries and applications made in 2021 by potential students for the distance programme.
The Mukhanyo distance programme continues to grow, and by the grace of God will continue to do so for many years to come.
Even before the official opening of the academic year, about thirty students completed one of two intensive courses offered at the Pretoria Centre.
The first intensive course was for six full days during the first two weeks of January. BTh degree students from Pretoria and Johannesburg took the module Christian Apologetics, taught by Prof. Henk Stoker of the Theological School of Potchefstroom. Then on 12-14 and 19-21 January, Honours students were taught the module African Christian Theology by Dr Collium Banda, who recently completed his PhD at NWU.
Such intensive courses have proved to be very popular with our students. The students are immersed in these aspects of biblical studies for the duration of the module. They also benefit from the engaging classroom discussions between themselves and the lecturer.
Thank God with us for Mukhanyo’s gifted team of lecturers. But more people are still needed in these four areas:
Programme Manager: This person will oversee the postgraduate programme. The ideal candidate will also serve as a Senior Lecturer in one of the following areas: Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, or Biblical Studies. The applicant must affirm Mukhanyo’s statement of faith and share Mukhanyo’s organisational values.
Senior Lecturers: Another full-time lecturer is needed by July 2021 or January 2022 to serve Mukhanyo’s growing student body in the greater Gauteng region. Applicants must confess Mukhanyo’s Statement of Faith in teaching and practice. We welcome applicants to apply if they meet the criteria outlined in the job advert posted online. Mukhanyo also welcomes partnerships with local and international churches/agencies who can send and support a Senior Lecturer to serve at one of Mukhanyo’s locations.
JHB Campus Manager: This gifted person 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 Mukhanyo’s organisational values.
Distance Centre Tutors: Mukhanyo urgently needs qualified Christians to lead Distance Learning Support Centres across southern Africa. Experienced church leaders are encouraged to apply to become a volunteer tutor and/or lead a local centre.
A week later than planned, due to the new lock-down, Mukhanyo’s opening ceremony took place on 18 January. In the meantime, two intensive courses had already taken place and nearly all normal activities have commenced.
Good Theology for Africa
Rev. Maarten van Helden, chairman of the Mukhanyo board, referred in his opening address to Colossians 1. Similar to the time when the Apostle Paul wrote this letter, we live in an evil era, full of false prophets, false teachings and heresies. One can even expect that things may become worse. Therefore, Mukhanyo must keep the faith, be prepared and awake, and take up the challenge, not getting despondent or frustrated.
The heresy of our time is that many people believe in a god of their own making. But God reveals Himself through His Word. It’s necessary to study and teach Good Theology and to proclaim that Jesus Christ is in control. Christ must be taught and glorified as King. Africa has been and still is flooded with the prosperity gospel and many other forms of heresies. Good Theology is the only answer.
The Practical Need for Good Theology
In the principal’s address at the opening ceremony, Dr Brian DeVries underlined the needs for Good Theology, and especially the importance of training pastors and church leaders in Africa:
Therefore, Mukhanyo must continue to be an academic institution with a missional heart, as a multi-campus institution of higher education with a decentralised network of training centres across South Africa and beyond.
In current circumstances, Mukhanyo’s immediate challenge is to navigate COVID-19 distractions so that quality teaching and mentoring can continue. Another priority is to improve the technology and support systems for lecturers and students, as well as introducing additional focus areas of study such as the new education modules in the Higher Certificate in Bible Teaching. Other matters for special attention this year will be media management adjustments, increased pension contributions for paid staff, and the provision of more than R1 million for student bursaries.
Dr DeVries concluded his address by recognising that 2020 was a difficult and unusual year, but that the Lord graciously provided. We all trust that God will provide for Mukhanyo’s needs in 2021 as well. “We thank Him and honour Him because He does great deeds”.
From no identity to being worthy in Christ
Victor Vythalingum Pillay was born in 1957, in a semi-ghetto in Overport, Durban. Descendant from a family of indentured labourers on the coastal sugar cane fields and before that from Chennai, Tamil Nadu in India.
His religion was grounded in Hinduism and the practical rituals of Kavady (a procession in the streets of people under the spell of spiritism, piercings and the carrying of wooden structures adorned with flowers, brass milk containers, lime and artefacts), sacrifices of animals, the worship of icons and many other Hindu practices.
At around 9 years old he attended the Sunday School of a full-gospel church. Such was the enthusiasm that he and his friends ventured to other churches as well. They ended in a Reformed church Sunday school and eventually Victor was catechised. These early teachings made the gospel message very clear for them.
His real commitment came at the age of 20 at a youth camp. He was baptised and, by the Lord’s grace, mercy and guidance, became the only Christian at home. But after many years of toiling in prayer, his entire family came to the Lord. His dad gave his heart to the Lord at 66 years old.
After serving the Lord through all aspects of church services, the call of the Lord weighed heavy upon his heart. Sustenance was the key question for his wife and son. However, one day at about 2 AM he read Mark 4:13 ff. Verse 19 hit him square in his heart and mind, challenging all his concerns.
His theological academic journey started in 1989 at the University of KwaZulu Natal with BTh (Hons) and MTh Degrees, while serving the Lord in the Reformed Church in Africa (RCA) – Emmanuel Durban – for 27 years in lay- and full-time ministry. As the first clerk of the international executive of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod for five years, he was able to travel and minister in many countries.
Subsequently, he completed his PhD in Missiology at the University of Pretoria whilst serving the RCA Charisma congregation in Laudium, Pretoria from 2007 until today, with the full active support of his wife and two sons.
“The Lord has also granted me the privilege to serve the Mukhanyo Theological College as a part-time lecturer for a few years and from January 2021 as a senior lecturer”, says Dr Pillay. “Trusting the Lord to keep my family and me in the centre of His mission and ministry”, he concludes.