19th May 2010
Frances & Terry Watson together with Peter & Shelagh Gray and Peter & Sue Moffat have just returned from a very challenging yet profitable time with John & Celia Valentine and the work at the Ameva Bible College & Farm
We were immediately introduced to power cuts, which on many of the days, would be off from 5.45am to 10pm which made it extremely difficult to run a normal life. For us as visitors it is quite a change and not too off putting but for John & Celia it creates many on going difficulties. No water can be pumped, no lights during the hours of darkness, cooking on portable gas stoves and of course limited internet and email services. For those who may be used to a 20mb speed Zimbabwe still enjoys 28k per second.
Ameva Day Saturday 22nd May 2010
I ought firstly to update you on the proposed Ameva Day to be held this Saturday. This has been postponed. John & Celia are due to be in the UK from the middle of September for two months and it seemed a better proposition to move the Saturday to the autumn so that they could attend. I have communicated with all who have emailed me personally but if you know of any who were just planning to turn up, please pass this on.
Ameva Bible College
The Ameva Bible College has now trained over 400 students many who are now pastors of churches in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries. Peter Moffat, Peter Gray and I were involved in three of the modules of the Bible Training Centre for Pastors (BTCP) curriculum that forms the basis of the two year course. Due to the difficulties of buying food and being unable to travel, the two year Bible College programme has been divided up into 5 two week intakes over an 18 month period. Students complete all their assignments and these are marked in the UK and returned.
This year 11 students graduated and received certificates and prizes. The Pastors conference which preceded the graduation drew together over 80 delegates. Peter & Sue, Peter & Shelagh and Frances & I were all involved in the ministry which began at 8.30am in the morning and concluded at the end of the evening time around 9pm, not that we were all there during that time. Those of us who were involved in the morning training sessions were able to have sudza with meat or beans for our lunch (the basic food of the Africans). John actually slaughtered one of his beef herd and I had the job of taking it to the butchers to be cut up.
On going training
Currently there are 13 National and 6 local students in training and they have completed 8 of the 10 modules. The final two, Teaching Principles and Methods and Church History will be completed in August. These students will be graduating next May subject to the completion of all 10 assignments. In November there will be a new intake of both National & Local students. Some of these current students are pastors’ wives who have graduated from the College. The BTCP programme covers the following courses.
Bible Study Methods and Rules of Interpretation Meaning and application of Bible text
Old Testament Survey Overview of God’s self-revelation and redemption
New Testament Survey Overview of NT books and how they relate
Preaching Biblical Messages and Pastoral Ministry Skills for expository preaching and pastoring
Bible Doctrine Survey Ten major doctrines to develop theological ability
Personal Spiritual Life Concepts and principles for spiritual growth
Church Ministry, Administration and Education Principles for the effective function of the church
Teaching Principles and Methods Skills to effectively teach God’s Word
Church History Survey How influences and events formed the church
Missions, Evangelism and Discipleship Biblical principles of mission and evangelisation
We have been very encouraged by the number of brethren that have made themselves available to teach at the Ameva Bible College. Any who would feel that they would like to be included should contact me. The dates of these two-week sessions are April, August & November each year. Due to very limited accommodation lecturers would spend about two and a half weeks in Chegutu which would normally cover three Sundays.
With over 400 students graduating, many of them moving to establish their own churches, there are numerous opportunities for ministering on a Sunday. This year we were all privileged to be invited to a number of churches in the Chegutu area. Weekend trips are also arranged around the country.
There are a number of weekly bible studies. Elsie Gibson holds one in her own home on a Tuesday morning. Some of the remaining white farmers and white teachers hold regular meetings in their own homes on a Tuesday evening.
We plan to refurbish the library that is situated at the Ameva Bible College site. We are hoping to arrange for books to be made available to the students to take home so as to continue their studies. If you have any good study books that would enable them to do this please let me know.
Due to our late arrival, the Volcanic Ash cloud delaying us 9 days, we only managed to open the clinic 3 times during our stay. The patients made the most of the time and we had an attendance of over 350 people in all. Fortunately we were able to take in extra medicines to cope with this number. This does present a difficulty for Celia in knowing how to manage these numbers in the future. There was a particular flu going round but still a number of general diseases as an on going need. Please pray for this and the need for medical assistance. The hospital in Chegutu is open again but with only one doctor who is recently qualified. We took one elderly man to hospital who came to the clinic for help. This was only possible because we paid his fees and transport. We were told that the doctor is busy today. For the rest we were able to give medicines ourselves. Although food is available to be purchased it is only in US$’s which many folk do not have. There are still signs of malnutrition amongst the elderly and children
There was a possibility that a new clinic could be built on the foundations of the burnt out farm house but the situation does not allow us to do that at the present time.
Over the past two years food has moved from being totally unavailable (2008) to be available purchasable only with the introduction of the US$. During the middle to the end of 2008 inflation of the Z$ was 2.6 million%. Over this period we were purchasing food parcels from South Africa and distributing these to pastors and those who were starving. £25,000 was spent during this time. Buying food parcels was discontinued in June 2009. Now that the country has discontinued the Zimbabwean dollar and is using the US$ our food support has switched to distributing funds to those in need. Apart from the distribution of US$ our current food programme buys mealie meal (the Zimbabwean staple diet) and Mahewu (a high protein drink) that is provided for the children and orphans. Over the past 6 months £3500 has been made available for this support. If you have been sending regular support for food parcels please note the change in circumstances in the country.
There are over 150 orphans currently being supported by the Ameva Project. They receive daily food and have their school fees and exam costs paid. These fees currently cost US$2000 a term plus exam fees of US$250. The teachers receive US$150 per month from the government and are also supported by the Ameva Project which works out about US$500 per month. Transport is also provided to bring them from the town to the schools
The farm continues to tick over on a limited basis due to the difficulties facing all farmers. There are 150 beef and 25 dairy cows. A few acres of the 3500 acres are farmed so that it will not be taken away. It is now cheaper to buy mealie meal from South Africa than to grow it on the farm. None of the tractors work as there is a lack of spares and mechanics. John really needs a good local mechanic before he invests more money in the vehicles.
We will send on any further news as and when we receive it and thank you for your continuing prayerful and practical support. Much love. Terry Watson May 2010.