Some Notes on the History of #AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC by PETER JENKINS 2 March, 2020.
- EARLY THOUGHTS ON BIBLE COLLEGE IN ZIMBABWE
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
My parents were both teachers, and I studied for an engineering degree and worked for Anglo American before going to Christ for the Nations Bible College in August 1980, so studying myself and teaching others seemed like normal things to do. They also fit well with the Great Commission and the serious lack of trained UAFC leaders that existed in post-Independence Zimbabwe. What training was done prior to 1980 was done through United Bible College, in Soshanguve, Pretoria. Although the quality of teaching was generally good, sending potential leaders to South Africa for training brought a number of problems:
- Students were selected by the Executive in South Africa, so local church relationships were not sustained in the process. In those days, successful students were ordained by the Bible College, so they returned to Zimbabwe trained and ordained, but often without a loving, supportive congregation to return to.
- Students left families for two years, often with negative consequences for husband-wife and father-child relationships.
- Students sometimes left jobs that could have sustained them and their families while studying.
- The social and political environment in Apartheid South Africa was a difficult one in which to study and grow spiritually.
So, the plan was to train students locally, which we (Pastors Ogden, Darby and I) felt would have the following benefits:
- Relationships with local and national church would be sustained during study.
- Families would not be separated for such long periods of time.
- Ordination would be through the Zimbabwean church (Executive in consultation with sending congregations.)
- Female students would be able to attend, which we felt was vital – especially for pastors’ wives – who were previously often untrained and unable to effectively minister to our female members!
- Costs per student would be greatly reduced, as transport to South Africa would not be required, and the original team of lecturers were all unpaid volunteers from Gweru congregations.
- The South African Executive agreed to these plans, and provided us with all of the UBC teaching notes. We were able to use these and the material we had studied at Christ for the Nations to start, with very little delay.
- GETTING STARTED
#AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC: Initial recruitment of students was done in the traditional way, by making an announcement at Conference, then interviewing interested candidates. Over time we became more strategic and tried to get local congregations and spheres to select and sponsor suitable students. We also recruited our first female student in year two, when Ivy (Kapofu) joined the students.
Great exploits for God don’t start with big budgets and fancy facilities. Rather they usually start with ill-equipped volunteers who are willing to sacrifice for a God-given vision. (Think of Moses, equipped with a stick and a vision; or Stephen serving Widows on Welfare…) So, with no building and no budget #AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC began in Gweru, as many people sacrificially served the call of God to raise up future leaders. There were five students who graduated from the first 1987 intake: George Simango, Gary Breaks (now a pastor in Scotland), Emmanuel Kapofu (pastoring in Wolverhampton, UK), Sidney Mpofu and Taddious Chinyerere (with an Apostolic Ministry in Masvingo and Limpopo Province in South Africa). Only three of these needed accommodation as the other two lived at home, so accommodation was sorted out by Pastor CH Kapofu! Lectures were held at New Life Centre in Gweru, while lunch was prepared and served from the Jenkins’ home.
All other costs and services were supplied by the leaders and congregations in Gweru. This is a pattern that has been repeated in other centres in Zimbabwe, Zambia, DRC and Tanzania! Of course there was a sacrificial cost for the many individuals involved, but none of them ever thought of being paid for their service. They gave generously to their Lord Jesus!
Initially most of the lecturing was done by Pastors Darby and Jenkins, assisted by Pastors Ogden, Kapofu, Jackson and Roberts. Pastor Kapofu was particularly helpful in training for practical ministry, and Pastor Darby did a lot of personal discipleship one-on-one with students. Pastor Ogden was appointed first Principal of #AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC.
- LEADERSHIP IMPACT
#AFCBC has never been an institution that has made much fuss of the Principal. It has always been a team ministry, but there have been important contributions made by different members of the team at various stages, whether or not they served as Principal!
Pastor Ogden really provided a wise father-figure to encourage and guide his young zealots in the early days. He also wholeheartedly supported the venture, even though his congregation was paying to support these men.
- Pastor Darby played a key role in lecturing and student affairs, dealing with discipleship and counselling of students for many years. Pastor Micah Mpofu has picked up much of this load in recent decades!
- Pastor Jenkins provided visionary leadership from the early days, and was responsible for multiplying the reach of #AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC to many centres in Zambia and DRC. Ksimba Mpanga from DRC then took #AFCBC to Tanzania, under the guidance of the South African GO!
- Pastor Jenkins raised funds for the purchase and conversion of City Life Centre building, which was designed to serve the Bible College and the local congregation.
He continued to raise funds for student sponsorship and facility development for thirty years.
- Pastors CH Kapofu and Mike Roberts served the students practically for many years.
- Pastor Micah Mpofu brought a whole new dimension to #AFCBC’s personal ministry to students, and keeping students connected to their congregations. He visited congregations all over Zimbabwe to promote the Bible College, and also to facilitate the integration of graduates into new and existing congregations. He was responsible for much of the innovative decentralization of #AFCBC from full-time residential, to Correspondence-plus-Short-term, to satellite Bible College Centres. With the growing amount of work involved, he also took on paid permanent staff, first as his PA, then later as Administrator (William Moyana). However, there is no question that the most valuable member of his team was “our mother”, Mrs Elizabeth Mpofu, who worked tirelessly, usually without any reward, to see #AFCBC succeeding. This team was responsible for taking forward the registration of #AFCBC with the Ministry of Higher Education in Zimbabwe.
- There have been many others who have played significant and long-term roles in the Bible College throughout Zimbabwe. Some major names over many years: Pastors du Preez, G Mpofu, E Nkomo (and Mrs), ST Ndlovu (and Mrs), and Vivian Jenkins, all of whom also taught in Zambia and DRC, helping to establish #AFCBC internationally. The Mpofus, W Moyana and D Darby are all on this international list, too!
- BIGGER THAN WE IMAGINED
The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed… Every Kingdom adventure I have been on has proved to be bigger and more influential than I ever imagined. Hundreds of students have graduated and many have key ministry positions inside and outside Zimbabwe. The way we do Bible College has adapted to suit the needs of the population and the economy, and the present (2020) model is very flexible delivering practical Bible training to future leaders in many parts of the country. With government registration, we can now train students from outside our denominational sphere, which further extends the Kingdom impact of #AFCBC – #AfricaforChristBibleCollege .
Some of this growth has been planned, though only God gives the increase! But some has been quite unplanned by anyone on the#AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC team. For instance, Jean Ksimba Mpanga came from Lubumbashi to Lusaka to attend a funeral, and found and attended our Annual Conference “by mistake!” There he heard about #AFCBC, and requested to attend. At that time passing six STBCs was required to graduate, but I thought he would just be there for one, so I accommodated him for that. But he was a man of vision and wanted training to achieve his goals. As a result he graduated six years later and, within a year he had registered the #UAFC in Congo, translated all our #AFCBC notes into Swahili, and opened his first Bible College. Since then his graduates have helped him plant more than fifty congregations in DR Congo!
- WIDER THAN WE THINK
Jesus trained twelve men who in turn “turned the (Roman) world upside down.” When people are properly equipped for the ministry wonderful and often unexpected multiplication happens. There are many testimonies about the impact of #AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC, in addition to what has already been shared, but I want to end with another story of the way God blesses faithful training:
First, there is a training chain here that starts in Gweru, goes to Lusaka where many lecturers were trained by the Mpofu’s team. In parallel with the lecture training there was an administrative empowerment as William Moyana worked with his opposite number in Zambia, Danny Mashewani (and Henry Ilunga from DRC.) Next, Patrick Wamundila and Musa Namacau took AFCBC to Senanga, and translated the courses into Lozi, then faithfully paid for and ran #AfricaforChristBibleCollege #AFCBC year after year, producing many graduates to work in congregations and church plants on the Barozi floodplain. This reminds me of the early days in Gweru, because there was no budget to do this, but they sacrificed and did the work anyway. Many years later (2015) two ministries from South Africa came to Western Zambia to help the churches in this very underdeveloped part of Africa. They began by looking for pastors who were effective and trustworthy in ministry, and drew up a list of people they were happy to partner with… and almost all of them were #UAFC, trained in Senanga. The result of partnering with these ministries has been the planting of 6 churches, building of 4 Hope Centres for training rural girls with little access to education, and the sinking of 210 boreholes near schools and our churches!
- THE FUTURE
The future of #AfricaforChristBibleCollege – #AFCBC is in your hands – the hands of the next generation of visionary leaders. I hope this story has shown you that God can take a few dedicated young men and women who are willing to sacrifice, work, and dream big, and use them to do amazing exploits. If you sit back to enjoy what others have given you as an inheritance, you will lose it! But if you rise up and seek God’s plan and favour, you will pass on a multiplied blessing to the next generation!
Some ideas to dream, but do what God says, not my ideas:
- A university to equip leaders in all spheres of life, not just Bible College!
- An associated practical skills centre that trains skilled craftsmen.
- Business ventures that bring together life discipleship with entrepreneurship.
- A chain of Christian Schools to educate our children in godly ways. This is big business in SA at present, but is not Christian.