France Mookisi is Reformed, has planted a number of churches, wants to plant more churches, and has realised that a high qualification is very important because people are ready to listen and follow someone who is properly trained and recognised. That is why he is one of Mukhanyo’s promising BTh Honours students.
France is now completing his first of two Honours academic years. In some 30 years of pastoring he has concluded that proper training is important, not only to be credible, but even more so to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, thus able to preach with authority.
From 1982 to 1983 he was sent to train for the ministry by a church which was a part of the London Missionary Society. He completed a two-year theological diploma with Southern Africa Theological College. That was when he surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus. He joined the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) to preach Christ and plant churches.
Now follows a list of church planting and preaching the Gospel: three churches in North West Province; studying at the AFM’s Central Bible College in Soshanguve; planting and ministering a church in Krugersdorp; a church plant in Magaliesburg, pastoring a church in Soweto and Freedom Park.
In 1996, France met a young pastor of the AFM who had studied at a Reformed Theological College. They instantly clicked, and this started a new journey for France to be introduced to Reformed theology. He enrolled for the BTh at John Wycliffe Theological College and studied there for four years (1996-1999). In 1998 he resigned from the AFM.
Subsequently the Curatorium of the Potchefstroom Theological School of the Reformed Churches offered him a candidacy in 2001. He wanted to study at the Potchefstroom University for MTh (New Testament) but did not have the finances to do so.
With the American missionary, Dr Ed Gross, he started a multicultural church in Pretoria – Hope Community Church. From this church, six pastors were raised; two of them studied with Mukhanyo. A hospice, home schooling program, skills training courses and an orphanage were started by this church.
During this time France was sponsored by some Reformed Churches around Centurion and Pretoria. But funds dried up and France joined the Department of Correctional Services as a chairperson of the parole board. That contract ended in 2019.
During these years, however, France mentored several young men in the East Rand who were involved in church planting but had no theological training. France then decided to continue his studies. He is now enrolled for BTh Honours at Mukhanyo. His immediate plan is to plant a church – a Reformed church – around Centurion and run an orphanage again.
He is presently helping out at the Magaliesburg AFM and community on Sundays. But this is an informal, unofficial sacrifice they are doing for the Lord. He and his wife Maggy are not members of AFM and he does not hold the status as pastor, but he wants to help them out because he has a vested interest in the church he planted years ago.
“My heart’s desire is to continue to plant churches where the Lord would open up opportunities. I also want to serve rural communities, informal settlements and poor places where pastors don’t want to serve because there is no means of sustaining them financially”.
“I also realise that the Reformed church needs to experience new strategies and methods relevant to the context of ministry; to try new things they have never tried before. The Reformed church needs to look afresh at context, liturgy and strategy for harvest relevant to the context”.
Planting three churches while studying at Mukhanyo and hoping to be able to plant another three churches in the next ten years.
That, in a nutshell, is the life of Rev. Herens Nkoana, generally known as Oupa, pastor of the Reformed Church Ramotse, some 45 km north of Pretoria. With the enthusiasm of a dedicated and well-equipped activist he emphasises that if you really trust the Lord, regardless of how difficult things look, He has always made possible the many things he has been busy with. And He will continue to do so, even in times of crises such as the present pandemic.
Everyone in Ramotse, part of the larger Hammanskraal urban area, knows him and calls him Oupa (grandfather). Why? At the age of 44 he doesn’t look it, but he acts like it: the father-figure of the community, knowing just about everyone, always listening to young and old, always evangelising, pulling in and motivating people and showing the way to Christ and His church.
Rev. Nkoana started studying at Mukhanyo in 1999, received the Diploma in Theology and completed his BTh Degree in 2008 with bursaries from the Christian Reformed Church in the Netherlands. During these years he was instrumental in planting the Reformed Church Ramotse (2004), and other churches at Maubame and Carousel View (both in 2008), all in the Hammanskraal region. Today they all have their basic church buildings.
In 2009 he started his Honours in Theology at North-West University but still requires two more modules which he hopes to do next year. After that, he plans further study because he believes many more Reformed students have to be equipped to be pastors and preach the Word the way God wants it to be preached.
It was only in 2012 that he was officially called by the RC Ramotse as their minister. Today, with the backing of a few Afrikaans Reformed churches and the training of elders and several enthusiastic young church members, the three smallish congregations are increasingly active in various ways. This includes regular church services at all three churches, led either by Oupa himself or by one of his elders who he provides with notes to preach. Also catechism, a Bible study group, prayer meetings, an after-care programme for some 85 school children every afternoon, courses on evangelism, leadership and how to prepare a sermon. Training his young leaders weekly.
Through Whatsapp, Oupa has started compiling and sending out 15-minute sermons in the Pedi language twice a week, already reaching more than 300 cell phone numbers. Data to the tune of R900 per month is paid for by an anonymous donor.
Oh yes, by the way, Oupa and his congregations also have started several community development programmes such as gardening and hatching chickens at some 35 houses of church members. Not to forget about the forming of a saving group for community projects. And during the corona pandemic, much effort is necessary to collect food and help the needy.
Planting new churches imply starting with a Sunday school and children programmes as well as some community development programmes. The registering of NPOs (non-profit organisations) is in the offing to make it possible to initiate skills development programmes including computer training, starting a creche and an early childhood centre.
Work-overload? Oupa’s elders and his group of youth leaders have taken much of the work from his shoulders already. And God has made it all possible. If you put your trust in God, He won’t let you down, is Oupa’s conviction.
And Mukhanyo thanks God that this college was allowed to be an instrument in equipping Oupa to initiate and run all this. We pray that his work will be blessed and he will be able to continue for many years to come.
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 home, 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 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.