Learning and Living in Botswana
Paul and Miriam Chimhungwe serve with Kgolagano College of Theological Education in Botswana.
Mission Co-Workers in Botswana
It is an honor to participate in what God is accomplishing in Botswana. The Lord called us to serve as vice-principal and librarian, respectively, at Kgolagano College of Theological Education in Gaborone, Botswana. In February, we arrived in Gaborone, the country’s capital, and immediately started our duties with joy and unbelievable blessings. Kumbirai, our twelve-year-old son, is accompanying us.
Botswana the Country
Botswana is a small—population-wise: two million people—but beautiful and slightly more prosperous country when compared to its neighbors. It has some of the world’s richest diamond deposits and abundant wildlife that has attracted even celebrities—Prince Harry and Meghan. Botswana borders Namibia on the west and north and Zimbabwe on the northeast. South Africa borders Botswana on the south and southeast. There is a border dispute between Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe over a few meters of land on the tip of the Chobe River. Angola is also involved in the dispute. Other than this minor issue, Batswana—the people of Botswana—are peaceful, hospitable, and loving. It is a blessing to share God’s good news with such people.
Miriam works as the librarian. Since our arrival, she started placing an order in the library, which had not had a full-time worker for a few years. The library has nearly 5,000 holdings that are adequate for the college’s certificate, diploma, and degree programs in theology. But some of the books are now updated. She installed steel shelves that had been in the open for two years, giving the library a new look. Uploading the library holdings onto the computer has been challenging since some books are missing, something expected since there was no librarian for years. The process has been stalled since September when Miriam’s health was compromised. She is currently getting medical attention in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Your prayers are appreciated.
Administration and Teaching
Paul’s work is involved in the college’s administration and teaching. The latter has been challenging with the college’s three modes of delivery. First are the full-time students—your usual face-to-face tutorials. Second, we have block students who attend classes once a month at the college and extended lectures and zoom meetings. Lastly, we have open-distance-learning students who receive modules and study remotely with the support of lecturers. Paul prepared detailed modules for the courses he has been teaching: The Survey of Church History, African Church History, Pastoral Theology, Management, and Leadership, amongst others. All the students have an insatiable quest for education, which motivates the delivery of quality lessons.
Most students are mature men and women preparing for ministry or working with churches. Christianity is growing in sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, it is not the mainline churches (historically Protestant churches) or what we used to call mission churches that are growing; it is mainly the African Initiated Churches, the Pentecostal/Charismatic, the Ministries, and Prosperity Churches. The latter is called “Fire Churches” in Botswana. Kgolagano College is an ecumenical college that trains all who are already pastoring or planning to pastor. Its academic calendar starts in August ending June of the following year.
Preachers’ Course and Christian Leadership Programme
Paul jointly teaches in the preacher’s course and the Christian leadership program. The six-month preacher’s course is meant for members of the laity who wants to support their ministers. Classes are offered monthly in Gaborone and Palapye—a Kgolagano center situated about 200 miles north of Gaborone. The leadership program is part of the rehabilitation and integration program for inmates close to being released. In 2022, Kgolagano held three of these leadership programs. Two in Gaborone and one in Mahalapye, about 150 miles north of Gaborone. It will be interesting to follow one of the inmates’ success stories.
Former Inmate Success Story
Gorata has a dark past but turned her life to Christ through the leadership program. She is a talented singer. She was accompanied to Kgolagano College by correctional officers to record her first album with six tracks. We expect the album to be released in March 2023, although Kgolagano College senior staff and Botswana Prison Services correctional officers have been privileged to listen to her beautiful music. Gorata was released in January this year, and she plans to open a dress-making shop. There are concerted efforts to help her raise funds to buy an electrical sewing machine. Paul had three beautiful shirts made by Gorata while she was still in confinement.
Kgolagano College was accredited in 2010 and submitted its papers for renewal in 2018, which were not adequately attended to until last year. It received adverse media reports over its accreditation, but in December, it received its registration and accreditation as an Educational Training Provider (ETP) from the Botswana Qualifications Authority. This will improve student enrollment and give credibility to its qualifications.
We are incredibly thankful for Rev Marco Cable and Kahala Cannon’s visits. Marco came twice. The first was a private visit, and the second he attended the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa general assembly. Kahala came to support our work in Botswana. All the visits were a great motivation. We thank God for these faithful children of God.
As we enter our second year with Kgolagano College, we pray that God will continue to bless us as we participate in what he is accomplishing in Botswana.
Paul and Miriam Chimhungwe serve with Kgolagano College of Theological Education in Botswana. Their appointments are made possible by gifts to the Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.