We are hoping to put together a team to minister in the Tsumkwe area of Namibia. The team will encourage and train local Christians, helping them reach those who don’t yet know Jesus. Surrounding the town of Tsumkwe are 35+ villages, most of which lack strong Christian witness or leadership.
We’re looking to see a multifaceted team which can minister to this San community in physical and spiritual ways. At least one member would be designated specifically to train young leaders from various churches in discipleship and evangelism. The Namibia Unit Leader is actively maintaining relationships in Tsumkwe and looking for other partners as well.
Vision and strategy
The Ministry Vision of this team will be disciple making and equipping the San people group in northeast Namibia. The San are an isolated and often intriguing people group because of their heritage and gentle community-based culture. Because of fame they have received on the international stage, they have been frequent recipients of short term outreach, some of which has caused harm. AIM are seeking, through various roles in the community like tutoring, agricultural training or community health education, to meet the people in their need. Our priority will be to clearly love and disciple believers to make disciples themselves, helping the church to become Christ-centred and able to teach and disciple believers and non-believers for Christ in the surrounding area.
The strategy of this team will be to identify, train and support local Christians to be disciple makers and leaders in their communities by modelling an active, transformed lifestyle while teaching, serving and living in Tsumkwe. (Methods like T4T, TTI, Discovery Bible Study and Storying can be utilised). The strategy will be implemented in phases. The first phase will be language acquisition and building trust in the community. The second phase will be beginning Bible studies and training, and then identifying local leaders to train and partner with, who will be able to take over and carry on the work without our presence.
Experience and qualifications
Language needed will be English, secondarily Afrikaans (or Dutch) if possible. Many people, women especially, speak only Afrikaans and the local language. Ideally, a candidate could learn some Afrikaans before arrival on site and then each member will be expected to spend a considerable percentage of his or her time during the first two years learning the local San language. This language, Ju/’hoan, is complicated and will require considerable and long-term effort to learn. Team members will be expected to keep language learning as a priority while still doing other work in the community.
Experience in Bible teaching, discipleship and church planting as well as agriculture, community health, education and youth and children’s work could be greatly beneficial. A qualified professional in medicine, education or technical specialties would be considered, but not the first choice of entry into this community, due to immigration issues in transferring professional accreditation to Namibia. Experience in arid farming or livestock care could be beneficial.
Academic qualifications. Although it may be helpful to have higher degrees in cross-cultural communication, theology, linguistics or in a professional capacity, they are not required. A Bachelor’s degree or Bible School diploma would be the minimum requirement.
The ideal team members will need to be highly motivated and flexible individuals with no health problems and fully aware that life in Tsumkwe will be complicated, language learning will be essential and difficult, luxuries will be non-existent and lifestyle must be simple. Being involved informally with community development projects such as literacy, ESL, community health, dealing with alcohol abuse, micro-lending, Farming God’s Way (or similar) or other agricultural endeavours would allow the person to have wide access to and flexibility in the community. Other options may be available for those who have a strong desire to minister among the San in Tsumkwe. All roles would be with the intended goal to build relationship, lead people to Christ and disciple them to be disciple-makers themselves as well as identify local leaders. The ideal candidate would have an ability to build deep, trusting relationships with this fragile community and communicate in a gentle manner. Patient, humble team members who are willing to wisely share their time and possessions with the San and build trusting relationships are essential. Ability to manage basic living tasks like plumbing, minor electrical work and car maintenance, while not essential, are nevertheless skills that could make life a lot easier
3-4 full time workers are required with varying capacities. The length of this position is full term, 4+ years. The San have repeatedly been objects of short-term projects and initiatives, which have either ended too quickly or failed to deliver. Long-term relationships will have the longest, deepest impact in this community. Given the complexity of the San people’s language and culture, candidates should seriously consider committing to a second term of 4 years to realise a “return on their investment” in language and cultural knowledge.
What are the living conditions like?
Tsumkwe is poor and isolated, with little fresh food available, poor internet service and sporadic cell phone service. It is hot, dry, dusty and dirty. There is a local clinic staffed by a nurse, but the nearest doctor is 90 minutes away. There are some good family physicians and a local hospital in Grootfontein, 4 hours away. Malaria is endemic but not common. Housing would be a cement house with a tin roof, possibly with a long-drop toilet. There is running water which is consistently available but may not be piped into the house. Electricity does cut out sporadically, but is generally consistent. There are no good local schools (and no childcare centre), and only small shops where one can obtain canned and pre-packaged foods. Bread is available some days.
The capital of Namibia, Windhoek, is about 8 hours away and has excellent medical care, services and supplies available. Members can find others who speak English but very few, if any, expatriates live in the community. The San are kind and protective of those they have accepted into their community, and our workers in the past have become part of San families with the benefits that come along with such status.