“And the Lord shall guide thee continually. -Isaiah 58:11 KJV
When we arrived in Kuruman, Northern Cape, South Africa to serve at the House of Ministerial Formation, located on the grounds of the historic Moffat Mission, in January 2014, we saw it as our last assignment prior to retirement in 2017. We were really excited at the prospect of serving the Church- ministerial candidates from the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) in their pursuit of a theological education. Jayanthi worked as the librarian at the Moffat Mission library, organizing and cataloguing the theological book collection and assisting students with research. I, as the Director of Ministerial Formation, served as chaplain, tutor and administrator of the school. Jayanthi and I considered it a privilege to have worked in a cross-cultural and Christian setting with men and women from Southern Africa- Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, and Mozambique. We had times of fellowship and research as well as times of great joy and sadness. As said earlier, this was to be our last assignment before retirement. Nonetheless, our work as missionaries is not about “us.” It’s about serving Christ Jesus and the Church. The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa chose to close the school at the end of 2014 as part of a restructuring of its ministerial training programme. The decision both changed and challenged us.
Although we were saddened by the closure of the school, we also know that such decisions are made in service of Christ Jesus and the overall good of the Church and their ministerial candidates. Although we were all “settled” in Kuruman and believed we’d be here for the next 1 1/2 years, God chose to challenge our assumptions about service, and ministry. Yes, Jayanthi and I were drawn to those words found in the 58th chapter of Isaiah, “And the Lord shall guide thee continually.” Good decisions can sometimes be painful. However, in all things, God is with us. The former students of the House of Formation have now been placed in other educational settings. And in terms of Jayanthi and me, we have now moved to Johannesburg, where we are serving at the Theological Education by Extension College (TEE College), a distance-learning institution with a current enrollment of 3400 students across five Southern African countries. Jayanthi has been called to serve as an Academic Assistant and I as an Academic Educationalist involved with curriculum design. Yes, God has a way of challenging our hopes and plans; our complacency with maintaining the status quo or our self-interests. Nonetheless, this is a good thing and can be a catalyst to better serve God and the Church in new relationships, spiritual growth and a better understanding of what it means to be part of the Church universal. “And the Lord shall guide thee continually.”
We give thanks to everyone who has supported our ministry over the years. And ask that you keep us close in your prayers as we begin this new chapter of ministry. God bless.
James & Jayanthi Wilson serve with the Theological Education by Extension College (TEEC) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.