January-February 2014 Newsletter
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings from Ndola!
Kristina and I would like to thank you for your prayers and for your faithful financial support of our ministry. Over the past year we have seen God sustain us through the difficult times, blessing and prospering our ministry here. It is amazing to see the impact of our ministry at the Theological College of Central Africa. There is such joy in witnessing my students grow in their faith and their understanding of the Bible while at TCCA, but especially as they go on to serve God after they graduate.
The Need for Leadership Training in Zambia
In 2010 Operation World reported that “leadership development is the crucial bottleneck to Church growth.” The need is certainly great in Zambia. For example, I recently spoke with the head of one Zambian evangelical denomination who shared that less than 50 of the more than 1,000 churches in his denomination have a trained pastor.
In 1982 the Theological College of Central Africa was founded by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (an organization of over 200 evangelical denominations and groups) to help address this need. TCCA is one of the few theological institutions in Zambia (and indeed in Africa) that is fully accredited and recognized internationally.
Ministry at TCCA
It has been a privilege for me to serve at TCCA. I came to TCCA with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (New Testament), having been ordained by my home church within the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches. My training has prepared me for the amazing opportunity to minister at TCCA not just in the classroom, but also in mentoring students and providing leadership for the college through many difficult situations.
In July of last year I was appointed Academic Dean, or Vice-Principal Academic. I am now responsible to oversee the academic program at TCCA, including the curriculum (what is taught), the lecturers (who teach the courses), the library, and the registrar’s office, as well as serving on the finance committee.
Highlights from 2013
My greatest joy at TCCA comes from teaching my students. I have taught a wide range of courses, including New Testament Exegesis, New Testament Survey, the Book of Acts, Romans, Galatians, the New Perspective on Paul, Old Testament Exegesis, Genesis, Exodus – Deuteronomy, Psalms and Wisdom Literature, and Hebrew. Some of these courses had not been offered for some time since no one was qualified to teach them.
Another highlight was getting resources into the hands of my students. Last summer, with help from Calvary Baptist Church and a special discount from Logos Bible Software, 15 students were each able to purchase a base package of more than 400 books. Not only that, these students are now able to purchase more books as they are able, and already have access to more than 1,700 free resources. In other words, more than 30,000 books were distributed! I am hoping to offer the same program again this year – and I already have students asking if it will be available for them!
TCCA’s academic year follows the calendar, so our graduation took place in December. The ceremony was held on campus for the first time, and it was a big success. The President of Zambia had even accepted to attend as the guest of honour, but ended up sending a representative from his office due to an emergency cabinet meeting. Our graduates have already gone on to ministries far and wide in Zambia and beyond. Several were appointed as senior pastors of large churches in the capital city, Lusaka, while others accepted the challenge of pastoring rural churches in more remote areas. Another will be lecturing at a Bible College in Malawi. All this and more from one graduating class! It is amazing to see this and realize that my ministry at TCCA is helping to touch lives in so many places.
With the start of the new year we welcomed a new group of students. It was encouraging to see 15 students join us this year, up from 4 and 6 just a few years ago.
Finances – The biggest obstacle that prevents many potential students from coming to TCCA is finances, but we don’t have the resources to offer many student scholarships. We are also unable to pay our lecturers, relying instead on seconding agencies to provide support. This makes it difficult to attract and retain qualified local lecturers as well as administrative and support staff.
Academic – Another challenge relates to our curriculum. TCCA is still using the same model of education that was put in place when the college was founded 30 years ago, requiring students to be resident on campus full-time for three or four years. There is a great need to offer part-time classes, modules, distance education and e-learning. It will take time to develop these new programs. We are also hoping to offer graduate degrees at TCCA. To that end we have partnered with a large South African seminary to offer their programs at TCCA, but we hope in time to develop our own graduate programs.
Technology – Our sending organization, Serving In Mission (SIM), recently completed a project to computerize TCCA’s library. This has been a great blessing for the school. Nevertheless, TCCA still lacks basic IT infrastructure such as free internet access for students, a wireless network, and an intranet, not to mention more complicated software such as a learning management system to support existing courses and to develop e-learning, distance, and online courses.
Since our family moved to Zambia in June 2012 we have been involved in many ministries at TCCA and beyond.
Kristina’s primary responsibility is in homeschooling our daughters Anna (grade 11), Sarah (grade 8), and Katie (grade 6). Kristina has also been involved in a number of ministries at TCCA, including hosting student events in our home, teaching English to some of the women, and helping with some of the children’s programs. She has also been helping several of our friends explore the possibility of adopting children from Zambia. But perhaps the biggest joy for Kristina and the girls is in spending time with the children from two nearby orphanages, usually several afternoons every week.
Our son John returned to St. John’s in August 2012 and is in the third year of the B.Comm. program at Memorial University. We were blessed to have him with us in Ndola for most of his summer break. Although we miss him very much we are still able to stay in touch through FaceTime.
We are planning to return to Newfoundland in August or September for four or five months. We are looking forward to seeing many of you all when we get back!
Blessings in Christ,
Tim & Kristina Churchill