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.