Friday, February 29, 2008

Lutheran Theological Seminary- Tshwane

The focus of our experience here has been the seminary- most of our time has been spend in class or interacting with the students. Even though I had a sick day yesterday (still not quite 100% today), I was able to speak to the lone student from Sudan. Talking with my roommate before bed has been very good as well- I am learning a lot about the situation of the Lutheran Church in Africa generally and South Africa specifically.

The seminary may not be as nice we might be used to, but it is still very adequate. The library in particular surprised me- it only has about 1,000 volumes (as a contrast, my personal theological library is 230 volumes), but they really have all the essentials. Their dormitories are comparable as far as space to what students have in Ft. Wayne, and in many cases the only difference is the lack of air conditioning. The students have plenty of room for food storage and cooking. All in all, the seminary facilities are adequate for the current task.

And that is the key, because the seminary has larger plans. The student body is currently 20-30. A construction plan is in the works to build a large dormitory that can house 75 students, then a nice classroom building next to the current chapel. One of the great advantages this seminary has is that it posseses land for expansion right on the property. They have room to pursue these projects. As they continue to enhance their academic programs, this construction will help them to serve the Lutheran church in Africa even more. I'm told that the Rocky Mountain District of the LC-MS has pledged a large sum toward the construction of this facility. It is great to see how God works through His people to spread His Gospel!

One of the major problems is the plight of the students. Most cannot afford tuition, and many send their small stipend (500 Rand a year- about $70) directly to their families. Many are unable to attend because of financial issues- and political issues, as visas and governmental stuff holds many back. I will speak about this more when I return, but these students need help- both while they study and when they go out to the field.

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