The Lord is the everlasting God….He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength….. they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…..”
-Isaiah 40:30b-31a (NRVS)
Everything in life, it would seem, is double-dipped. Certainly that appears to be the case for both Jayanthi and I. Our work at the Theological Education by Extension (TEE) College in Johannesburg, South Africa continues to be both rewarding and a moving experience. Most of the time, however, one is not always sure as to the results of one’s work- Jayanthi serving in the college and spending considerable time cataloguing books, assisting students who come to the college to do research and sending out resources to those individuals unable to come to the college because of living in distant place or because of work commitments. And myself- spending time in an office doing research, examining issues of assessment, and doing editing on textbooks as required…….
And then comes along a person like Tsepo, a pastor and final year student in the Diploma programme in Ministry programme…who while visiting the college, excitedly shares with the staff how much he has learned over the couple of years and has been to apply to his ministry…and says at age 63, that he now has plans to enroll in the Bachelor Theological (B.Th.) degree programme. Yes, at times like that, we are reminded of those words from the Book of Isaiah which say “The Lord is the everlasting God…. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength…” Yes, everything is double-dipped…. a combination of tiredness and excitement; in working at an educational institution, where lives are being changed for the glory of God.
After having served for almost 28 years in Africa (17 ½ years in Lesotho; 7 1/2 years in Botswana, and in South Africa since the beginning of 2014)….we really have double-dipped feelings about leaving Africa for the last time in July and heading back to North America to do itineration, visit with family and friends and prepare for retirement in 2017. Africa , and the many people who have blessed our lives here…..remain very much in our hearts and have helped us grow in our Christian faith. There are moments, when would really like to remain planted here. And yet, there is the realization that our work in South Africa is coming to a close, that we be departing on July 27, and we feel that the time to come home has arrived. As they say in Sesotho, “Hona mona, hona joale” (right here and now).
The nice thing about having worked in partnership with the Church over the years in Africa, is that the Church here is alive and well – truly an indigenous, home grown faith. We feel privileged in having been allowed to serve along our colleagues here in Southern Africa and the many friendships made.
Since the beginning of January, the TEE College has been a buzz of activity – as students and prospective students have inquired and registered for classes for the new year. Last year the college enrolled approx. 3000 students from varied countries in Southern Africa. Being a small educational institution, with a small number of personnel, the entire staff has worked incredibly hard to a make sure that everything runs smoothly and to insure that people are given “affordable and quality theological education in service to the Church and Christ Jesus. They are all very dedicated and they will be missed.
We look forward to meeting with churches when we return to North America…..not only to share about the work of the Church in Africa and the work of Global Ministries, but also to discover the many ways that the Church of North America is also engaged in in mission, sharing the Good News from our doorsteps to the ends of the Earth.
James & Jayanthi Wilson serve with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), seconded to the South Africa Synod and assigned to the Kuruman Moffat Mission. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.