Encouragements in Namibia
Imagine one of the tutors at London Theological Seminary being interviewed on prime time BBC breakfast television, sympathetically and at some length. That gives you the idea of what happened on the state-owned Namibia Broadcasting Company’s breakfast programme.
One of the lecturers at Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary (NETS) in Windhoek was invited to share what was happening at the seminary, which trains men and women from a number of countries in Southern Africa for Christian ministries.
Imagine Carol Kirkwood or Helen Willetts finishing the weather forecast with the words ‘God bless our country’ — you can picture the supporters of the National Secular Society, not to mention some of the BBC managers, leaping for the phone to complain! But that is how the Christian weather presenter on NBC news often ends her report.
Scripture Union (SU) in Namibia has Ministry of Education approval to work in schools, and only lack of resources limits what they can do. When the director and schools worker visited a town in the east of the country to start up work there, they contacted six school principals, and all welcomed SU into their schools.
We two ‘oldies’ (I am a retired pastor, and my wife Lucy a retired teacher, in our 70s and 60s respectively) had the privilege of lecturing for a semester at NETS in the capital, Windhoek, while a missionary couple from Australia were on home assignment. We were with another retired pastor and his wife from Scotland, Warner and Sheena Hardie.
It was a tremendous experience to be involved in the work for five months. There was a wonderful spirit among staff and students, and we really got to know and love them.
Lucy was teaching the first-year students to speak and write English. This is the official language of Namibia, but not the first or even the second language for most of the students, who came from former French or Portuguese colonies such as Congo and Angola, as well as from Namibia itself and Zimbabwe, Zambia and Lesotho.
They had to learn to write good English, and also understand theological terms (selected from the glossary in Grudem’s Systematic theology). I lectured on Paul’s epistles to the second- and third-years. We were grateful for three short breaks during the semester, when we were able to visit two game reserves and the desert, as the work was quite intensive.
Namibia, which has just celebrated the 21st anniversary of its independence, is a republic with a secular constitution, but there are amazing opportunities for Christians, compared with the UK.
Some 80 per cent of Namibians claim to be Christian, but there is a great deal of nominalism, and also sadly many are taken in by the excesses of those proclaiming a ‘prosperity gospel’.
There is a great need for clear evangelical teaching to gain influence in the churches. This is where NETS plays such a vital role. As well as full-time students doing degree or diploma courses, evening classes are held and the distance learning department reaches several hundred students in every part of the country, including several in prisons who are doing the three-year certificate in Christian leadership.
We were privileged to attend the graduation ceremonies in two prisons, and hear the students give their testimonies in front of all the other prisoners. Do pray for the Lord to continue to bless the work at NETS and for gospel truth to flourish in Namibia.
Peter and Lucy Beale
Edited from Congregational concern (the EFCC magazine), with permission