Profile: Richard Muhire
To run an organisation such as Mukhanyo, it would never do to have theologians only. Mukhanyo is not a small organisation anymore, with its three campuses, two advanced learning centres, some 85 distance learning support centres and well over a thousand students. So there must be well-qualified people looking after things such as administration, finance, logistics and facilities. One such person is Mr Richard Muhire, the Academic Administration Manager.
Richard was born in Rwanda, moved south with his parents and four siblings, and now lives in KwaMhlanga, close to the Mukhanyo campus. In the evenings he’s studying for a B.Com. (Financial Management) at UNISA.
Although he was born in a Christian family and did confession at the age of 18 to please his parents, he admits that he didn’t really have a relationship with Christ. However, he kept on reading the Bible and attending church services.
That was until 2015 when he, by God’s grace, was brought into a personal relationship with Christ and started living a Christian life. As he says: “It’s been a great journey”. Today he’s a member of Family of God Ministries Church in KwaMhlanga.
How did he find his way to Mukhanyo? Nothing extra-ordinary. He completed high school in KwaMhlanga, knew all the time about Mukhanyo, but worked in the hospitality industry and ran a small business on the side. Then someone told him Mukhanyo was looking for a librarian and an IT assistant, so he applied.
He was appointed: “It is a great pleasure to work for a ministry that is equipping pastors for ministry and I am glad I took that step by applying because it gives me so much joy to serve God’s children”.
From the library, he started serving as the manager of the Academic Administration Department. What are his longer-term plans? He hopes to have a family of his own, to finish his degree and to use it in serving the Lord in whatever area He will lead him.
Challenging Task for the New Librarian
Having a life-long experience in library and information services (LIS) as a metadata specialist (conventionally known as ‘cataloguer’), Tienie de Klerk was recently appointed as Mukhanyo’s senior librarian. She will be co-ordinating and integrating the libraries at Mukhanyo’s five centres with a total of some 30 000+ books, with another 8 000 waiting to be recorded onto Mukhanyo’s new integrated library management system (ILMS).
Ideally, the centralised ILMS will provide access to all five Mukhanyo libraries. The recently developed system has just been implemented. Some aspects still need to be expanded to support users – students and lecturers – with an accessible, effective and user friendly information service.
Future developments might include being linked to other libraries – within the Bible school / theological college sector, South African libraries in general, and also international libraries. As citizens of the information society, digital media resources will gradually become available in Mukhanyo’s library collection.
Though Tienie is working from Mukhanyo’s Pretoria centre, part of her work will be to train the five local librarians to use the new system, as well as introducing them to new developments in this fast developing field.
Tienie has served in libraries all her working life, first as media teacher at a Pretoria primary school, then as metadata librarian at the National Library of South Africa. She has lectured information studies subjects at UNISA’s Department of Information Science, and was involved in projects such as the merging of the huge HSRC and Africa Institute library collections. Her qualifications include a Masters in Information Science (UP), a Higher Education Diploma (North West University, Potchefstroom) and some SETA qualifications.
She is a member of her professional association, LIASA (Library and Information Association of SA), and as a UNISA e-tutor is still engaged with teaching information studies subjects. Being a librarian at heart, she has a wide field of interests, including her and husband Ben’s Scottish terriers, music, films and, of course, reading. And she is looking forward to this new challenge.
Faculty Profile: Dr Victor Pillay
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.
Student Profile: Siyanda Mbatha
Siyanda started studying our Bachelor of Theology degree at the beginning of 2020. He’ 28 years old and is a high school teacher in Umlazi, close to Durban.
Siyanda grew up in Umlazi within a Zulu family which practiced African Traditional Religion (ATR). ATR involves polytheistic ancestor worship and makes use of traditional healers.
His father died when he was 14, and subsequently Siyanda began to have questions about Christianity. His initial view of Christianity was that it was a colonial religion without any relevance to Africans.
Yet despite this, he started to read the Bible from Genesis. It was during this period, as he read John’s Gospel, that he received Christ, at age 17.
He started to attend a Pentecostal church in Umlazi and became involved in the youth and teaching adult Sunday School. Some years later, a friend told him about the diploma-level courses offered by Mukhanyo at a distance learning centre in Scottburgh, on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.
He started the diploma programme with Mukhanyo in 2019. It was through studying at Mukhanyo that Siyanda was exposed to the doctrines of grace and Reformed theology, which had a massive impact on his faith and his understanding of the gospel.
After a year of studying at the diploma level, he enrolled at Mukhanyo’s Durban Advanced Learning Centre in January 2020 for the degree. His lecturers find him an excellent student who has done very well in the programme so far. He now attends Covenant Waterfall Presbyterian Church and would like to one day plant a gospel-teaching, biblically faithful church in the Durban area.