Rev. J.B. Jardine
The priority of the Church of God is and must always be the preaching of the Word as commanded in the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20. The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland endeavours to fulfil this command, in part, by its missionary work in Zimbabwe. To complement and support the work of the gospel to sinners in Zimbabwe, the Church runs several schools. The Church has been involved in providing education for some thousands of children for a number of decades.
Currently we have responsibility for five primary schools: Ingwenya, Zenka, Lutsha, Mbuma and Thembiso. We hope to report on each of them over the coming months. The purpose of these schools is to seek that, in some measure, the children may be brought up under the nurture and admonition of the gospel, trusting to the promise of God’s Word: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov 22:6).
General Education. At the moment there are two areas worth mentioning: Firstly, the Zimbabwe Government have brought in a new curriculum called “Family Religion and Moral Education” (FAREME). The relevant local Mission boards in Zimbabwe, along with the Zimbabwe Presbytery, are assessing the new curriculum and looking to implement it in our schools without compromising the religious and moral values that we hold so dear. Implementation of the new curriculum will be difficult for teaching staff but they have the promise, “Them that honour Me I will honour” (1 Sam 2:30).
Secondly, representatives of the Jewish and Foreign Mission Committee and members of the Zimbabwe Board are reviewing the Bible knowledge syllabus used within our primary schools. It is important for us to strive continually to provide the best possible Bible knowledge classes while waiting on the Lord to bless the souls of the children in due season. “So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Is 55:11).
Ingwenya Primary School. Prize-giving. A prize-giving ceremony takes place at the end of each year. The ceremony begins with a Bible reading and a Psalm. As has become common in the UK, a graduation ceremony takes place at the same time, when even the youngest pupils in school graduate as they move up classes. The graduating children all receive a small gift, with special prizes being awarded to various pupils for achievement. There is also the opportunity for some of the children to demonstrate their good memories by answering questions from The Shorter Catechism and recalling from memory some of the Bible verses they have been learning throughout the year.
There is a great deal of general poverty in the area around Ingwenya. One third of the parents with children in school are unemployed. Many of the children may also be orphans, or their parents are living and working in South Africa. The school therefore decided two years ago to provide a daily hot meal for all the children. The Government are to be thanked for willingly supplying maize flour for the isitshwala (porridge). But the school remains responsible for supplying meat and vegetables, which have to be paid for from the already-stretched school funds. A newly-established kitchen garden helps in providing some vegetables. The children themselves look after the garden by digging, weeding and hoeing. This gives it added value as an educational activity. A chicken coop has also been built, through donations from Stadhouder Willem III school in Holland, and chickens are now bought in and fattened up before being used for food.
Repairs to the borehole at Ingwenya have proved necessary. A new generator has been purchased and a solar-powered energy system is also being developed. It is particularly because of situations like the current fuel crisis in Zimbabwe that the Mission needs to take a pro-active approach towards contingency planning. While we would commend the work of the schools to the prayers and generosity of our people, it is most important to pray that the children there would be saved. “And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc 12:12-13).