Tim and Beth’s passion to encourage healthy churches and strong families has led them to spend many years in Mozambique. Tim has been teaching the BA degree programme at the Sofala Bible Institute, and Beth has been working on translation projects in the Cindau language, producing Bible study and Sunday school materials.
The theologian Martin Kähler once said, “Mission is the mother of theology”. By this he meant that the New Testament was composed in the crucible of missionary outreach. As the gospel advanced from Jerusalem to Rome and Gentiles began to follow the Messiah, theology had to be applied to new situations. Kähler isn’t the only theologian to make that point. In turn, Howard Marshall found mission to be the central theme of the New Testament, and for Chris Wright, the mission of God is the key to unlocking the grand narrative of the Bible. Thus a virtuous circle emerges: mission birthed theology and now theology promotes mission.
We go to Africa as participants in the mission of God and call upon Africans to join us in this mission. The last thesis I supervised at Sofala Bible Institute was a call, by a Mozambican, for Mozambican churches to make disciples of all nations.
“We teach to equip our students to teach others. Our goal is to see Africans teaching theology in their mother tongue. Then, the Word addresses their culture and answers their questions.”
The need for theology
I heard two men excitedly telling our pastor how a friend had been to another church and had been challenged by the pastor: if he put his cell phone on the altar, God would bless him before he reached home. Sure enough, he was given a smartphone on his way home! Pastor Jeito listened and then asked, “Does your friend’s pastor preach from Job?” I was so thankful for his answer. His four years at Sofala Bible Institute had not been in vain. We teach theology to protect the sheep.
When our son was born, we took him to church almost immediately. Then we noticed that new mothers didn’t return to church for a long time. It turned out to be an application of Leviticus 12. We teach theology to help believers step into the story of the Bible, a drama in different acts that proceeds from Creation to New Creation. As beneficiaries of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus Christ, our roles are different from parents presenting their new-born to the priest at the temple with a sacrifice.
As we evangelised, striving to plant a church in a rural area, Picardo, another Sofala Bible Institute graduate, blurted out, “There is not one without two [wives] and many have three!” A discussion on polygamy ensued. In the end, we agreed that we should be like Jesus and point couples to the beginning (Matthew 19: 4-6; Genesis 1:27; 2:24). Marriage God’s way is the faithful union of one man and one woman. We teach so that marriages portray the love of Christ for the church, a love that is sacrificial and edifying.
Teaching to equip others
We teach to equip our students to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). Our goal is to see Africans teaching theology in their mother tongue. Then, the Word addresses their culture and answers their questions. We go to humbly learn from our African brothers and sisters. Africans are stunned by our secularism, materialism, and joylessness. Through the feedback we receive from them in return, we grow and together become more like our Lord and Saviour.