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.
Three additional lecturers will join the Mukhanyo team in 2021. But more full-time lecturers are still needed, with several positions open to start from July 2021 or January 2022.
Three New Lecturers
On 28 November, the Board of Directors approved recommendations from the Management Team to appoint three additional lecturers:
In addition to these three new lecturers, we also welcome several new part-time and visiting lecturers who now serve on Mukhanyo’s team at the various regional centres. As of January 2021, there will be more than 30 committed church leaders serving on Mukhanyo’s faculty. More information about our gifted and experience faculty is found at https://www.mukhanyo.ac.za/lecturers.html.
Mukhanyo is still seeking to fill two academic positions: a Campus Manager and a Programme Manager. These appointments were delayed by the pandemic in 2020 but the plan is to fill them before the third quarter of 2021. More information about these open positions is found at https://www.mukhanyo.ac.za/vacancies.html.
More Lecturers Needed
More full-time lecturers are also still needed to serve the students in our five regional centres. The academic selection committee will continue reviewing and testing applicants in 2021. More than 75 applications were received in the past year for teaching positions. Mukhanyo is seeking for lecturers with faithful ministry experience, consistent Christian character, and sound biblical confession.
Each faculty member subscribes to the teachings of the Christian faith as expressed in the Mukhanyo Statement of Faith and several historical confessions. The Bible, as summarised by these sources, is the foundation of our biblical perspective, our value system, our motivation for ministry, and our curricular content.
To Work for the Lord You Need to Know Him
After working for the Lord in ministry for almost two decades (1985 to 2003), Pastor Paul Mahlangu came to realise that he didn’t properly understand the Bible, hence the work he was doing for the Lord was not properly done. He then started his theological studies at Mukhanyo. Today he’s one of Mukhanyo’s fulltime lecturers.
The great turning point in Pastor Paul’s life was when he got the opportunity to study reformed theology. That was after having been involved in ministry for so many years – without a proper understanding of the work of the ministry.
Born in Bethal, he moved to what was then called the KwaNdebele homeland where he matriculated at the Mandlethu High School. He had been brought up in the Zion Apostolic Church, a syncretistic church. “That church never preaches salvation”, he says.
Upon Paul’s arrival in KwaNdebele, he came across people who were preaching salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. By God’s grace, he was converted, became a child of God and became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ. That’s where he became involved in his church’s ministry, preaching through tent meetings all across South Africa all these years. Today he’s also pastor of this church in KwaMhlanga.
While doing this ministry, he came to realise that he had been working for the Lord but without proper understanding. He needed to study. In 2004 he heard about Mukhanyo and decided to register. He completed his BTh degree in 2007 and then his Honours degree in 2009.
At present, Pastor Paul lectures mostly Homiletics modules with the diploma-level classes. He’s also involved in the new Focus programme and distance Higher Certificate classes. In addition, he’s busy with Zulu-language Bible study classes in three nearby villages. At times, he has also lectured Ecclesiology, African Spirituality and Old Testament.
What are his future plans? Pastor Paul answers, “To reduce my workload so that I can further my studies and do a Masters in Theology”.
With the death of Rev. Ben Fourie, 59, pastor of the Reformed Church Kameeldrift, on May 2, Mukhanyo has lost a unique, big and loyal friend and lecturer. He is survived by his wife Susan and his three sons and a daughter. Our condolences go to them and all the family.
Rev. Ben lectured Hebrew at Mukhanyo since 1997. But because of health problems since 2010, he found it increasingly difficult to be involved as much as he desired. He was strongly of the opinion that knowledge of biblical languages must be used to open up the treasures of God’s Word. However, his fight with health challenges did not prevent him to live fully the life God gave him.
When the doctors advised him to slow down and recommended to terminate his work at Mukhanyo, he declined to do so because, as he stated, he loved his work at Mukhanyo and its people which gave him so much joy and satisfaction.
He was a many talented man, exceptionally well-read in theology and classical languages, but also able to play nine musical instruments. Rev. Ben had a beautiful baritone voice and always enjoyed a joke. He was a leader in his congregation, at church synods, with youth camps, and in many other ways.
We at Mukhanyo will miss him as a colleague, friend and servant of the Lord. We thank the Lord for what He gave us through Rev Ben.
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.
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 Board of Directors recently appointed three new theological lecturers for 2020. Mukhanyo is grateful for its growing team of gifted and experienced lecturers. We thank the Lord for each person He has called to serve our students.
Rev. Tebogo Mogale
For many years and in many different ways, Rev. Tebogo Mogale has faithfully served within the Mukhanyo ministry. Now he has been appointed as Lecturer to teach in KwaMhlanga and Pretoria. He will also serve in several other areas, including as the chairperson of Mukhanyo’s conference committee.
Rev. Mogale (BTh, BA Hons) is a minister of the Reformed Church Mamelodi (GKSA). He graduated from Mukhanyo many years ago. Rev. Mogale has started three Mukhanyo distance groups and has served for 12 years as a minister within the Free Reformed Church (VGK-SA). He and his wife Patricia have two children.
Dr Peet Botha
We also welcome Dr Peet Botha to serve at Mukhanyo as Senior Lecturer in Pretoria and Johannesburg. He brings much experience to the team in several areas of theological education and teachers education.
Dr Botha (BA, BTh, PGCE, MA, PhD) is a minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and has served in various academic capacities, including for many years as a leader at the KwaSizabantu Mission in KwaZulu-Natal, as Registrar of Cedar College of Education, and as a Research Professor in New Testament at NWU.
Called to the ministry many years ago, Dr Botha has gained experience in various areas, including evangelism, counselling, lecturing, as well as preaching and teaching God’s Word. He has ministered in South Africa mainly among Zulu, Indian, Afrikaans and English speaking people. He also had opportunities to minister in America, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Hungary, Russia and many African countries. Dr Botha and his wife Andra have been married for 36 years.
Rev. Jonathan Holdt
For many years, Rev. Jonathan Holdt has been a friend of Mukhanyo. Now we are thankful to welcome him as a Senior Lecturer on the team! Rev. Holdt will serve in Pretoria and also specifically provide leadership in the training of preachers.
“As a sinner saved by the grace of God,” says Rev. Holdt, “it is my passion to see the gospel proclaimed, lost souls saved and the church of our Lord Jesus built up through the faithful preaching of the holy Word of God! To this end I labour, with the strength that that Lord Jesus Christ through His Spirit has given me”.
Rev. Holdt (BCom, MCom, MA, MTh) is presently the pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Lyttelton, previously leading at Hillcrest Baptist Church near Durban. He and his wife Adele have three children, and Jonathan is the son of a long-time friend of Mukhanyo, the late Dr Martin Holdt.
Several new part-time lecturers also joined Mukhanyo’s growing faculty for 2020. These men will teach in the various locations: Rustenburg, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Durban. More information about these new appointments and Mukhanyo’s entire gifted teaching staff is found at https://www.mukhanyo.ac.za/faculty-967749.html.
Foundational to Mukhanyo’s character and mission is its identity as a confessionally biblical institution. Each faculty member, together with the leaders of Mukhanyo’s supporting and governing member churches, subscribe to the teachings of the Christian faith as expressed in the Ecumenical Creeds, and the teaching of the Reformed faith as expressed in the Mukhanyo Statement of Faith. From these sources flow our biblical perspective, our value system, our motivation for ministry, and our curricular emphases.
Preaching and teaching go hand in hand. This is once again evident when one looks at the ministry of Rev. Benjamin Zulu. At present, he is Lecturer at Mukhanyo’s Johannesburg Advanced Learning Centre, and also preacher at the Reformed Church Kempton Park Mooifontein where he started a multi-cultural service in English several years ago.
Rev. Zulu, born in Zambia, is a product of Mukhanyo where he started his theological studies. He also completed his MDiv at the Theological School in Potchefstroom. Then he became a Lecturer, once again back at Mukhanyo. In 2019, he moved to the Johannesburg centre where he is lecturing New Testament and counselling modules. His qualifications include the BTh, BA Hons, Greek Hons and MDiv.
Rev. Zulu says that he is “at Mukhanyo Johannesburg because of my zeal to disciple those who would disciple others. If we disciple our students well they will disperse the seed and light of the gospel to people we never could imagine”.
He has been involved in ministry before, first at what was then the Sunnyside Multicultural Church Plant in Pretoria, and while studying in Potchefstroom he was involved with the Reformed Church Promosa.
As far as the multicultural Mooifontein Reformed Chürch is concerned, Rev. Zulu says that, by God’s grace, “things are going well. There is exposition of Scripture each Sunday (11:00) as well as prayer and Bible study during the week”. He is also involved in one-on-one street evangelism which he finds more effective than dropping flyers in mailboxes.