A new Bible school serving a vast area of northern Mozambique opened in February.
Serving In Mission has been working in the Niassa province — about the size of the UK — since early 2000, seeking to reach the Yawo and Makhuwa people groups.
They are predominantly Muslim and, while the going has sometimes been slow, it seems God had already prepared the ground.
Fledgling first generation churches have been launched as the Yawo have started to come to faith in Christ.
Now these churches are in desperate need of pastors who have a good, solid Bible understanding and can lead their congregations to a deeper knowledge of Christ.
That is where the new Bible school in the provincial capital of Lichinga — the Instituto Teológico de Lichinga (INTEL) — will play a vital role, training pastors to understand and handle the Bible as well as possible.
To start with, there are just three members of staff, who will be helped by some visiting pastors, and the 50 students will study part-time in the evenings.
This will allow the students to work during the day. They will be charged less than £5 a month, which will be manageable for them but will not cover the cost of their tuition. Most of the school’s running costs will be covered by donations and by the missionary staff helping fund it.
The first year’s course will cover basic Bible teaching, because the students who come will only have been educated to primary level. There will be a special emphasis on oral Bible teaching because of the relatively low levels of literacy.
There will be a second intake of students in 2020, so the first-year curriculum will be repeated for them. For the then second-year students, a more advanced curriculum will be developed, largely dependent on how well they have progressed.
The school aims to create a truly discipling culture, so the pastors are equipped to counter both Islam and the traditional, animistic religions.
Many people spend what little money they have on buying potions from the traditional healer or asking for spiritual deliverance from evil ancestor spirits which they believe are tormenting the family.
One traditional healer even sought to justify his work by claiming that the Holy Spirit was the first ancestor spirit created by God, so it was pleasing to God we worship ancestors.
But the Bible is clear: “The truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). That is the message INTEL will drive home to its students.
That the curriculum and teaching methods will be appropriate for students who have had very little formal education.
For the staff to choose the right topics to equip pastors who will be serving among animistic and/or Muslim farmers with little education.
For good relationships among pastors and churches in Niassa, a successful opening and a good number of students.
How can I help?
The college wants to keep fees as low as possible so is looking for people and churches to partner them in prayer and financially.
£8 will buy one bag of cement to help complete a chapel and two more classrooms at the college.
£15 will buy a theological study book in Portuguese for the college library.
£25 will pay the tuition fees for one student for one term at the college.
If you would like to make a donation please go to sim.co.uk/give and quote project number 96361.