It is winter in Cape Town, and it is raining! Something to be grateful for after the terrible drought a few years back. Last week, however, it was sunny and warm for our short winter break on the Klein River Lagoon at Wortelgat, close to Hermanus on the south coast. We enjoyed five days of tranquillity in an unspoilt nature reserve. We hope you enjoy the photos of the beautiful Cape scenery and wildlife, including the friendly eagle owl.
TEDS – three years on
Almost three years have passed since we took the step to move from Kenya to George Whitefield College (GWC) in South Africa to focus full-time on the training work for Theological Education Development Services (TEDS). Our three years can roughly be divided in half. The first half involved travelling around the continent taking lecturer training to the different university and college hubs of the Overseas Council Australia (OCA) Mile Deep Strategy. The second half has been dominated by COVID lockdowns and has involved writing and delivering online training programmes for theological colleges in Africa and beyond from our base in Cape Town.
As I (Caroline) write this evening, Dick is running a week of online curriculum development training for lecturers in two Anglican colleges in Kenya who want to design and run a theological training programme for South Sudanese refugees. They are meeting in the evenings because everyone is busy teaching during the day. Then, in early July, we will run phase three of the online teaching certificate for the Tanzanian group from St John’s University and colleges. We plan to do the same for the Egypt group in August. Those who meet the course requirements will then receive a certificate of completion. In September, we will run an online course for postgraduate students and their supervisors at St Paul’s University in Kenya.
As teachers of teachers, we also need to keep on teaching students. At the beginning of June, I ran a five-day intensive course in research methods for the GWC Masters students. We were able to meet in a classroom for the week, following social distancing rules and wearing masks. It was intense, but a good time with the students. Dick will be starting a course in teaching methods for GWC students in July and then in September, we will be co-teaching a new post-graduate intensive course.
TEDS – the future
However, as we get to the end of our first three-year term with TEDS, discussions are ongoing regarding the direction into the future. OCA have developed a new programme called Local Online: A Global Strategy, which aims to support the growing presence of theological colleges around the world in the online space. There is a place for us within that strategy, but at the same time, GWC would like to run the current TEDS programme as part of their offering and expand it. Please pray for wisdom for all as we discuss the possibilities together and discern the Lord’s leading in building on the success of TEDS over the past three years.
Over the past five years or so, we have been able to do part-time work for other organisations outside of TEDS to help supplement our income. It has made life busier than ideal, but it has helped us to reach the budget goals set for us by CMS. Sadly, two of these projects have come to an end and another will finish this year. At the same time, we have been affected by a drop in giving due to the COVID pandemic, by changes in South African tax laws and changes in medical aid costs. In 2020, despite the pandemic, we covered our expenditure, but we did not meet our budget targets. With the increased costs and drop in income in 2021, together with CMS, we are trying to find new sources of income. Please pray with us that the way forward will be made clear and that we will be able to continue the important work of training lecturers for theological colleges.
Issues affecting South Africa
South Africa has hit a major power crisis. It has steadily been growing worse each year as demand increases and aged power generation plants break down. It means that we are almost guaranteed to experience power cuts during our online teaching sessions. This has caused a crisis, so we have been looking into alternatives. Living in a downstairs flat reduced our options for solar panels or a generator, but we managed to purchase a second-hand inverter that will enable us to store power in batteries to keep our computers and internet running during the teaching weeks.
Like many others, we are distressed daily by the constant violence that troubles this country. As one of our colleagues wrote in a message tonight, it seems that we live in a “world gone wild.” The loss of jobs following the hard lockdown in 2020 has certainly exacerbated the problems but is not the only reason for them. Nonetheless, we are not without hope as we bring it before the Lord in prayer.
A few weeks ago, Dick received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but I am “too young” and will have to wait until more vaccines become available. In the meantime, with only two million vaccinated in a population of 59 million, the third wave has started and is currently raging through the country. Please pray for vaccines for all the population in South Africa.
Thank you for praying and supporting the work the Lord has called us to do in Africa. May the Lord bless and keep you, make his face to shine upon you, and give you his peace.
With warm Christian greetings
Caroline and Dick Seed