MTHATHA, South Africa (Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission/Mennonite Mission Network) – Bethany Bible School has provided biblical education and leadership training for African-Initiated Churches in South Africa's Eastern Cape Province since 1982. Last May, the school opened a branch in Lusikisiki and, this year, three more locations are being added in Port St. Johns, Elliotdale, and East London.
Bethany Bible School requires a minimum enrollment of 15 students from different denominations to consider a request to begin teaching in a new location.
Courses are held five times annually. Three lessons are taught during meetings in February, May, August and October, resulting in 12 courses per year. The February topics were "Introduction to Biblical Literature," "Worship," and "Reconciliation." In November, the last session of the year, students are tested, and certificates are given to those who have successfully met requirements. This means a student can graduate in two years after completing 24 courses.
The teaching rotation begins in Mthatha with 37 students the first week of the month, followed by Lusikisiki (33 students) the second week. Port St. Johns (more than 40 students), Elliotdale (36 students), and East London (15 students) meet in succeeding weeks.
Originally, Bethany Bible School followed a less intensive schedule covering a period of three years, but we discovered that some of our students were dying before graduation! Our oldest student is 94 years old! Otherwise, our student body ranges from 80 years to people in their 20s.
Mennonite Mission Network provides a small grant to Bethany Bible School. A 10-member committee, elected each year, sets policy and agenda for the Bible school and its outreach ministries. The long-term goal is to have branches throughout the nation.