Mission Stories at Kgolagano College
Written by: Paul Chimhungwe, who serves with Kgolagano College, Botswana.
Our God is at work; we are simply participating in what he is accomplishing in his everlasting kingdom, even if we do not see exactly what he is achieving. Behind the scenes, the Triune God is transforming people’s lives.
Empowering a Parolee
Kgolagano College is an ecumenical theological college established to train ecumenical leaders who aspire to serve the church and communities. In the past few years, the college has trained chaplains from the command forces—police and prison—and traditional leaders. In the correctional services, lecturers rub shoulders with serious crime offenders who have been transformed by Jesus through our training. One of them, a lady we’ll call Anne, has been in and out of prison for the past twenty-five years.
After our training and through the intervention of God’s power, Anne made a vow to live a clean life. We partnered with the correctional services in rehabilitating and equipping her with faith and life skills to develop her resilience so that she would be able to confidently face life’s challenges. During our sessions, we also discovered that she was a gifted gospel singer. Before her release from prison, Kgolagano College assisted Anne by recording her first album with six songs that will be released in a few weeks. However, gospel singing is a crowded field that will not bring income for a budding singer, especially in Botswana.
In order to prepare her for the world, Anne learned sewing skills that will help bring a modest income to her family of five which includes three children and her aging mother. Hence, we are putting together a proposal to equip her with a sewing and overlocking machine to establish a dress-making and alterations shop. This will become a sustainable business to help support her family, especially in a country where the prosperity gospel is gaining momentum.
Training “Fire-preachers” Pentecostal Preachers
The Prosperity Gospel movement is gaining traction in Botswana. Its preachers are called “fire-preachers” and the resultant churches are aptly termed the Fire-Churches. Many young men and women are establishing these churches promising followers with material riches like money, cars, and jobs to solve social ills such as divorce, demonic powers, infertility and even promising to cure cancer and HIV/AIDS. Many of these fire preachers have been found wanting in many areas. In response to some of these questionable activities and messages, the Government of Botswana is legislating a law requiring all church pastors to have a minimum of a certificate in theology from an accredited college/university. The college is receiving applications from leaders in these Pentecostal “Fire” Churches to train them in Christian theology.
A few are now training in the college, with some acknowledging their biblical training inadequacy. Subjects like hermeneutics and studying the Bible contextually are challenging their theological stance over the prosperity gospel. Nevertheless, it is too early to judge the impact of these lessons on the fire preachers we are training since they are still new. I am optimistic these church leaders will guide their flock in accordance with generally accepted biblical interpretations. Before COVID-19, one of the fire preachers, not our student, in Southern Africa encouraged his flock to eat grass, while another persuaded his congregants to inhale an insecticide. Hence, the Government of Botswana’s proposal to have all pastors equipped with at least a certificate in theology is crucial. Kgolagano College is, therefore, meeting that demand in a humble way in sub-Saharan Africa, the epicenter of Christianity.
Sub-Saharan Africa has over 650 million Christians, as reported in 2020. There are more Christians in this part of the world than anywhere else. We thank our living God for his mighty work. Regrettably, there is a chronic shortage of trained church leaders—men and women. Kgolagano College is making an impact in this area by offering a six-month block release preacher’s training course in Setswana—Botswana’s main language. Currently, the college is training 16 men and women who will guide church members at denominational preaching points. One of the preachers, after her training, said she had been enlightened by the biblical knowledge acquired during the training. She is now the acting minister for a preaching point in a remote rural area, pastoring thirty-five Christians. God is at work in Kgolagano College as he uses us to prepare men and women who are zealous for the cause of Christ through working for justice, peace, and the equitable use of resources in our societies.
Let me close this report with a personal appreciation of the support I received from my mission co-workers and staff at Global Ministries after the promotion to glory of my wife of twenty-seven years, Miriam. She was the college’s librarian. Dr. Kahala Cannon, Global Relations Minister for Africa, and Rev. LaMarco Cable, Co-Executive of Global Ministries, each visited our family here in Botswana. We are extremely thankful for their encouraging messages and for lending us a sympathetic heart and ears. Please continue remembering us as we slowly heal after this great loss.
Paul’s appointment to the Kgolagano College, Botswana, is made possible by your gifts to the Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, Week of Compassion, and special gifts.