Report from the Principal
II Timothy 2: 1-2
Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
PRINCIPALS REPORT Given at Graduation November 2020
Graduation is always the climax of the academic year as we recognize and celebrate the academic achievements of our students. We give thanks to God for His faithfulness and sustaining grace in the ministry of the Bible Institute of South Africa for the past 97 years as well as in the lives of the graduating students.
Please pray with us that the Lord would bless their future ministries.
The year 2020 has been a challenging one for our teaching & admin staff as well as our students. Covid-19 affected the mode of our training and in March we had to move our contact classes online. Before the world heard of coronavirus, BISA had put in place an online learning platform for the distance learning BTh students, so the transition from contact-mode teaching (in the classroom) to online teaching was not too difficult. The CLP approach was different and we were able to stream audio lectures to our CLP students via WhatsApp. By the second semester we were able to resume classroom teaching with the required protocols in place.
Our Guest Chapel services and Visiting Christian Worker classes were put on hold but we continued with a weekly Faculty-led Chapel.
I want to thank the students and staff for adapting well to the changes brought by the pandemic and diligently adhering to the required protocols. Despite the challenges, we worked as a team to ensure that training continued. All this has paid off and we are thankful to the Lord for His protection with no confirmed coronavirus cases on campus.
One of the year’s casualties was the cancellation of Ministry Week when we should have sent students out in teams to local churches for ministry. This is not a permanent casualty and by God’s grace will happen in 2021.
Open Day, due to be held on campus was also a write-off but the SRC amazed and delighted us by quickly putting together an excellent virtual Open Day with a campus tour, two mini-lectures, some Q&A time and an online meeting room.
Despite these last-minute changes, we were compensated by having one of our BISA dreams come true. At the beginning of June, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) granted registration for our BTh distance programme! This fits so well with BISA’s stated Mission to ‘equip Christian men and women in Biblical truth and ministry in order to fulfil the Great Commission in Africa and throughout the world’ and it is to God that we give the glory. Students can now undertake an accredited bachelor’s degree at BI through distance learning, from any location, even in closed countries if the Lord wills.
We still have a BTh Honours degree programme quietly simmering in the background, awaiting SAQA registration. Please pray for a successful outcome. Soli Deo Gloria.
The annual BISA Winter School ran successfully despite power outages this year. Biblical Counselling was a course taught by Dr Greg Cook via Zoom. He had to rise early in Texas to deliver his lectures to BISA students in real-time. Given that a fifth of the world’s population follows Islam, our alternate Winter School course ‘Understanding Islam’ fitted perfectly with BISA’s stated Vision for ‘the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to be proclaimed by our students past and present in every Church, market place and society.’ Gideon Beukes facilitated this in-depth training and was assisted in the IT dept by his son, Martin Beukes. These courses are open to the public every June/July and I commend them to your church workers.
The CLP successfully ran two well timed Pastors’ conferences. Dr Dale Burke of Leverage Leadership was the guest speaker in March with the topic ‘Leading with Joy and Not with Grief’. In October Tim Galage and Christo April facilitated the much-needed topic, ‘Resilience in Ministry’ where Bob Yarbrough, of Covenant Seminary, St Louis, delivered the keynote lecture via Zoom.
We also ran an online seminar with Dr Frederik Mulder, a scholar on ‘The historical Jesus and authenticity of the resurrection’. The topic under discussion, attended by 100 participants, was ‘Recognizing False Teachers’, followed by a live Q&A session on Zoom.
Relatively speaking, BISA is a small college and we regard ourselves as a family yet our commitment to the Holy Scriptures and the cause of Christ remains undiminished as does the need for men and women of God to be called and properly equipped to serve Christ in a difficult and challenging 21st century. We were happy to welcome three past students to assist at the college in 2020, Ms Hannah Phillips in the Library, Mr Herman Strydom in administration and, as a part-time lecturer, Rev Sizwe Maseti who graduated with an MTh (distinction) from Stellenbosch University. Mr David Fitz-Patrick will retire at the year-end after 33 years of service at BI. We wish him well as he leaves Cape Town in March to travel to India.
The pandemic affected many of our donors which in turn affected our funding. We had to cut staff salaries by 30%, but because of designated donations from churches and friends of the college, the Lord enabled us to give bursaries to several students.
A fact that bears repeating is the Lord’s continued goodness in sustaining BISA. Currently, we offer the Christian Leadership Programme, Gap-Year programme, a Bachelor of Theology in distance as well as contact-mode, plus our Winter School programme and Evening Classes. Our training has prepared men and women for ministry since 1923. Many students have testified that the Institute is a wonderful place to study and be equipped for service in God’s Kingdom. You will find their testimonies and stories on our past students' website, our Facebook page and our YouTube channels.
Our website provides prospective students and their parents with information about the ethos of the college and the programmes we offer. We are now on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and all of these platforms point the student to BISA’s study options that will equip them for Christian service, or lay a solid foundation for further theological studies.
Please prayerfully consider whether or not the Lord is calling YOU to be better equipped for service
In closing, we wish to thank the students at large, SRC, Staff, Faculty, Board of Directors, friends and supporters of BI for their service, prayers and support in 2020. We do not take any of this for granted. It is a privilege to serve the Lord together as partners. We give all praise and glory to the Lord for His grace, provision and goodness to us this past year.
Sincerely in Christ,
Dr Daniel Simango
Principal, Bible Institute of South Africa