Wednesday, November 21, 2012

30 years of BBS

2012 marked the 30 year anniversary of Bethany Bible School and its predecessor Bible teaching programs, a partnership between Mennonites and African Independent Churches.  This is a presentation that we had made for the occasion.  Thanks to those past missionaries, mission office personnel, and archivists who sent us the links to many of these photos.  Thanks to Jacob Liechty for putting it all together.

Monday, November 12, 2012

graduation 2012

For those of you who have been supporting us for the past seven years, you might know that the past weekend was a benchmark of sorts for our work in South Africa.  Fourteen students graduated with what we are calling a "Certificate in Theology" from Bethany Bible School.  These are students who studied and were tested on the 24 topics that comprise our curriculum and make up our Bible conference schedule.

Overall, I believe that the students were elated.  "The history has been made yesterday.  And I'm glad to be part of it. . . . Truly it was awesome", read one graduate's thanks by text message.  They certainly loved the BBS isidanga, the ceremonial accoutrements which, in this context, seem to concretize "achievement" far more than they do in the western cultural milieu that shaped my own mindset (A whole other entry might be written about that).  In the words of one student, "People and I are so amazed, they are filled with wonder about the SASH AND THE CERTIFICATE . . ." (emphasis his).

The pictures below will help to tell more of the story.

All the rewards for our students' work.  The BBS stole was embroidered by a local Mthatha business, Handsrite, which did a stunning job.   The layout for the stole was designed by Anna's brother Jacob who is staying with us for several months and is a brilliant graphic designer.  The certificate at top, also Jacob's design, was awarded to graduates.  The certificate at bottom was a special recognition for elders of BBS, people who have been with the school since its inception which dates to 1982 (At BBS, students don't necessarily move on; even many of our current graduates plan to return to continue studying.  BBS is a Christian fraternal as much as it is a school).  This conference doubled as a 30-year celebration of BBS.  Placed at top left of the bottom certificate is a BBS pin, which all graduates received (Graduates, by their choice, paid for their stoles, pins, gowns, and mortarboards).  Finally, we also arranged to honor our elders with a BBS mug, which another local business, Rose Signs, made for us.

Friday of graduation weekend includes the Annual General Meeting (presided over by Committee members , from L to R, N Dwele, B Mbana, and WS Gumenke).  Preceding the AGM was a day full of oral examinations over the year's topics.

Our banner with school logo, courtesy of another local business, Marie's Workshop, which also made our pins (when we explained to them the work of the school, they donated the banner).  The symbol is inspired by Ephesians 4:13, "until all of us come to the unity of the faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ".  The vision is that, through the knowledge of Jesus and the story over which he is Lord, his followers will grow into his likeness.  Hence our motto, Siyakhula ekwazini uNyana, We are growing in knowing the Son.

The hall where we meet was decorated by a secondary (middle school) school which had used the hall for its own prize-giving earlier on Friday.   They didn't take their decorations down, which ended up being a gift to our gathering.

All the graduates, the elders, and us.  

The three elders we honored for their leadership in the school since the beginning.  L to R: TM Adonis; G Nombinja; J Koti.  Absent, but also honored were R Bulu and SM Mgqotho.