Monday, June 26, 2017

Mukhanyo Bible College 2017 Consultation

Last week, I had the rare opportunity to participate in a Bible college consultation hosted by the Mukhanyo Bible College in South Africa (from Tuesday June 20 to Thursday June 22), on the theme of “Christian Ethics for Bible Education in Africa”. This was their 7th year in hosting such a consultation. More than 30 Bible colleges from across Africa met to hear presentations on this subject and discuss how best to apply this to their own colleges. Here is a synopsis of what took place.

Attendance at the Bible college consultation
 The first speaker on the first day was Dr Brian de Vries, the principal of Mukhanyo Bible College. He spoke on “The prophetic witness of theological education”. After a survey of the Old Testament and the New Testament, he gave the example of the Geneva and New England “schools of the prophets”. He then urged us to train preachers who will not be content to pastor their churches but will also be passionate to awaken their communities with the claims of Christ.

Dr Brian de Vries
 The second speaker on this first day was Dr In Whan Kim, the vice chancellor of the Swaziland Christian University. He spoke on “Institutional ethics for Bible colleges in Africa”. I missed the lecture because I went into hiding to polish up my lecture that was to be delivered soon after.

I then spoke on “Lessons for today from mistakes of the past”. I was wearing the cap of chancellor for the African Christian University at this event. I gave 5 mistakes of the past that Bible colleges ought not to repeat. One of them was the tendency of Bible colleges to delink themselves from the life of local churches and their pastors. Often the result of this is that they become too academic and lose touch with the very people they ought to be serving.

"Yours truly"
On the second day, the first speaker was Rev Peter Manzanga, the pastor of Hatfield United Baptist Church in Harare, Zimbabwe, who spoke on “Teaching our students with integrity and propriety”. He argued for the need for lecturers to be role models to students if we are going to see graduates who will also be preachers of integrity and propriety in the world.

Rev Peter Manzanga
The second speaker that day was Prof Dr P J Flip Buys, who was the founding principal of Mukhanyo Bible College. He spoke on, “Mentoring future leaders to confront social problems.” He used statistics to paint a dismal picture of the state of Africa and appealed to Bible colleges to produce “prophets” who will confront the world’s social problems by their preaching and by their example.

Prof Dr P J Flip Buys
The third speaker was Prof. Basilius Kasera, a lecturer at the Namibia Evangelical Theological College in Windhoek, Namibia. He spoke on “A case study: Teaching against injustice and corruption.” The case study he gave was that of William Wilberforce and showed how a heart transformation through the gospel was what turned Wilberforce into a force for ethical change in society. The lesson was: We must never bypass regeneration in trying to build world changers.

Prof Basilius Kasera
On the third day, Dr David Beakley, the dean of academics at Christ Seminary and senior pastor of Christ Baptist Church in Polokwane, South Africa, was the first speaker. He dealt with the topic, “Teaching within divergent church contexts”. He said we were to do this through “ethos, pathos and logos”! As an American pastor in Africa, his illustrations and appreciation of African culture were refreshingly wise.

Dr David Beakley
I was the second speaker on this last day and spoke on “Teaching for interaction in the public sphere”. I emphasised why interacting in the public sphere was vital for the church and for preachers. Then I went on to show that Bible colleges can only produce graduates who interact there if they are trained to appreciate the sufficiency of the Bible for all matters of life and godliness. I also talked about the need for students to be taught to think critically, coherently, and clearly from the Scriptures.

Rev Isaac Maleke giving morning devotions
Prof Dr Koos van Rooy was the last speaker of the entire consultation. He spoke on “How to remain a reforming influence in Africa”. After painting a dire spiritual situation that currently pertains in Africa, he went on to encourage us to teach the Reformed Faith (the doctrines of sovereign grace) from the Scriptures. The truth taught from the Scriptures will win the day! He spent the rest of the time telling us how to do so, e.g. ensuring that our students are regenerate. He also gave us course content that is vital to Bible colleges today. He ended by saying that this meeting was going to be the last public meeting he would speak at for the rest of his life. I was told afterwards that he is about 90 years old!

Prof Dr Koos van Rooy
These morning sessions began with a brief time of devotions and were followed each day with workshops in the afternoons, which were handled by various speakers (including “yours truly”). These workshops included reviewing relevant literature on ethics, the contextualising of ethics, dealing with witchcraft, confronting social evils, mentoring for biblical ethics, dealing with all forms of conflicts, and the influence of the Reformation on theological education.

Nicholas Moore led the singing
The late afternoon was also a great time to listen to short reports from each Bible college present and each report was followed by a brief time of prayer. The colleges were going through different situations. Perhaps the most common thread for many had to do with difficulties in getting accreditation from their government bodies. Clearly, there is need for some kind of concerted effort if this mountain is to be levelled.

Mukhanyo Bible College and its management and faculty should be commended for holding such an event for 7 years in a row. It is a good time for networking and fellowship among like-minded Bible colleges across Africa. It was my first time to attend this event, but hopefully not my last!

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