How much we have to be thankful for! That was the abiding message to take home from the ‘Voices of Thanksgiving’ Dumisani celebration evening that took place in St Columba’s, Edinburgh, on Friday 7th June. It was an evening filled with the message of what the Lord has done over the last forty years in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, through Dumisani Theological Institute and Bible School - and what a work He has done!
The evening was blessed with the presence of three former Principals of Dumisani, and between them (ably supported by David Meredith and Bob Akroyd) they led us through some of the history of Dumisani and its plans and hopes for the future. Rev Dr Alistair I. Wilson introduced the evening and its main speaker, Dr Jack Whytock. Dr Whytock then took the floor to offer a fascinating and uplifting insight into the last four decades of Dumisani.
Dumisani Bible School, as Dr Whytock explained, originated out of the mid-19th century ‘Bible School’ movement, which sought to educate all Christians in the Bible, evangelism and mission. Alongside this, and most exciting for us at Free Church Books, this movement also sought to provide cheap, mass-produced Christian literature for all; selling everything possible for Christian growth. In February 1979, therefore, the ‘Dimbaza Reformed Bible School’ was established by a local church partnership, and its work of Bible teaching and literature ministry was immediately encouraging. In 1987, the school moved to King William’s Town, and became ‘Dumisani Bible School’; ‘dumisani’ being the Xhosa word for ‘praise’. In the years that followed, the printing and literature work increased, and was accompanied by the introduction of higher educational degrees to run alongside the full range of Bible School classes. In this way, ‘Dumisani Theological Institute & Bible School’, as it became known, has touched the lives of thousands of people. And these people have gone on to do a remarkable gospel work in South Africa, and continue to do so today.
2019, as its fortieth anniversary year, is also the start of a new chapter of reorganisation, renewal and streamlining. Dumisani now has an indigenous Principal for the first time in its history, Wilbert Chipenyu, and is welcoming in new teaching staff and students. It is truly ecumenical, but still Biblically reformed. Moreover, whilst they are not printing so much literature themselves, they are now in partnership with The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Famine Relief; an exciting project which specifically aims to spread theological literature ever farther, and provide resources for pastoral training.
And although Dumisani may no longer be printing so much, they have still produced a wonderful celebratory book for this forty-year anniversary; ‘Voices of Thanksgiving’. Beautifully designed and carefully curated, this book brings together the stories of over 25 contributors, each of whom raises their individual voice in thanksgiving for what God has done for them through Dumisani. The aim of this book is to show that the story of Dumisani is many stories, just as in God’s Kingdom many tribes come together and become one people under Him. If we can celebrate anything, let us celebrate that.
On this high note, the evening finished in prayer from Rev Billy Graham, and in fellowship together over South African baked goods. There is so much to be thankful for in the story of Dumisani, and its future is as full of gospel promise as its past has been in gospel fruit. Do keep them in your prayers.
Over 300 copies of ‘Voices of Thanksgiving’ have been distributed in Jack & Nancy Whytock’s recent tour of Scotland, but more are still available. If you would like to receive a copy of this uplifting book, please contact Free Church Books on [email protected].
Miriam Montgomery, Free Church Books
[Main Image L-R: David Meredith, Alistair Wilson, Bill Graham, Elizabeth Graham, Nancy Whytock, Jack Whytock]