Deeply Rooted in South Africa: Hulisani Ramantswana
Researchers have recently declared sub-Saharan Africa the “most religious place on Earth” with an estimated 470 million Christians in 2010. Today, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life*, one in five of the world’s Christians lives in sub-Saharan Africa.
Even so, many traditional African beliefs such as witchcraft and evil spirits are still incorporated into faith. Practices such as female genital mutilation and polygamy are still prevalent, and in most countries, more than half of Christians believe in the prosperity gospel – that God will provide wealth and good health for those who are strong in faith. Clearly, training the leadership for the African church so that it is deeply rooted in biblical principles is more important than ever.
Addressing pastor training issues in South Africa is Hulisani Ramantswana, from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa., with assistance from the Langham Scholars Program. At the age of 16, Hulisani decided to attend a theological college for training to become a minister. He then was called to be a pastor in the Reformed Church of South Africa. His church sent him to the U.S. for further education in order to teach at their new seminary.
Today, Hulisani – one of the youngest scholars at 30 years old and finishing his program in just 3½ years – is sharing his time between Reformed Church Pretoria where he is a full-time pastor, and newly formed Heidelberg Theological Seminary, an institution focused on shepherding church leaders in this region. “The Reformed Church Pretoria went for the past four and half years without a full-time pastor waiting for my return,” Hulisani says. “It is a great pleasure for me to be shepherding this flock of God.”
As a new institution, Heidelberg Theological Seminary is still raising funds and establishing accreditation. Students currently take most of their courses from the University of Pretoria and Heidelberg Theological Seminary supplements. As an Old Testament scholar and member of the faculty, Hulisani is committed to establishing this institution as a cornerstone for biblical training in his home country.
Hulisani says, “These churches in South Africa still require a lot of ‘ingrowing’ in order to live out God’s purposes for His church. The process of ingrowing these churches should go hand in hand with growing these churches from the outside. Mission is to be ongoing in the life of the church both within the country and without.”
The prayer needs for Heidelberg include: a) accreditation of our program, and b) securing facilities for the seminary. Hulisani recognizes the long road ahead for the institution, but with strong leadership from pastor-teachers such as Hulisani and many prayers, the church in South Africa has a hope for the future.
*“Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa”: http://pewforum.org/executive-summary-islam-and-christianity-in-sub-saharan-africa.aspx