Last week Friday 25 Christians graduated from the Lesotho Theological Education by Extension (LTEE), the graceful event was held in Maseru Durham Link by the Director and Principal of the institution Dr. Joseph Mpakanyane. Theological Education by Extension (TEE) is a method and a movement that appeared in the missions’ world in the early 1960s. According to Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions. TEE is a program, a strategy, a ministry; it is not an organization or a university.
Speaking at the service Dr. Mpakanyane related a brief background of the formation of the school stating that it was founded at a conference of the Apostolic Faith Mission of Lesotho when a renowned Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching when the verse from Esekiel 30:22 “God is crying for a man to fill the gap”. When was moved by the verse so much he immediately accepted the call of God to train as a pastor. The last week’s graduation ceremony was therefore a testimonial of a milestone by his ministry.
In explaining what LTTE is, Dr Mpakanyane describes it as method and movement that appeared in the mission world in the early 1960’s. However according to Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, TEE is a program, a strategy, a ministry not an organization or a university as one would expect.
Responding to the rapidly changing patterns of the church, [TEE] espoused a new form of education, which yields to the life cycle of the student, that does not destroy or prevent his productive relation to society, and does not make the student fit into the needs of a residential school.
“Ideally, TEE is designed to be a complement to residential Bible schools, not a replacement. It is to extend the type of training being done in seminaries to those pastors and church leaders who are unable to attend them,” explained Dr Mpakanyane in his speech.
Dr Mpakanyane continued his speech by clarifying further the reason for TEE existence. He said, TEE was pioneered in Central America in 1962, by a man named Ralph Winter and two of his colleagues. These three men were professors in a residential seminary in Guatemala when they came to realize that their institution was not producing enough ministers to serve the hundreds of churches springing up in their country. So these men decided that since the pastors were unable to come to the seminary, they would take the seminary to the pastors. They moved out of the city, into the rural areas, and began to train established church leaders in their own context. This is where TEE movement began and since that time it has spread all around the globe, being particularly effective in the majority world (Latin America, Africa, and Asia).
Furthermore, studies have shown that there are essentially four reasons why many pastors are unable to attend traditional Bible schools. The most common reason is finances. The sad truth is that most pastors simply do not have the money to attend a residential Bible school.
A second reason is language. Many indigenous pastors do not speak English at an academically advanced level and nearly all theological education in the world today is taught in English.
Another hindrance is location. Unlike the western world, most pastoral workers in the majority world are already established in local churches and would not take four years of their life to move into a residential seminary for training.
Finally, a fourth hindrance is education. Some of the pastors do not have the minimum education required to be accepted into a traditional Bible college.
TEE is designed to remove all four of these barriers to theological education.
In Lesotho context, TEE is developed in a similar way as in Guatemala. It began with a missionary named Dick Dunkerton in the 1980s, who began the work of TEE while he was also teaching at the seminary in Morija. He worked closely with me Dr Mpakanyane and I took over the work of TEE in the 1990s, when Dick Dunkerton retired. It was then that the LTEE Committee was formed and we secured the rights to translate material into Sesotho Language from a TEE publisher in Kenya known as EVANGEL PUBLISHING HOUSE. TEE books are written in a special way called PROGRAMMED INSTRUCTION. They teach like a teacher telling you things and asking questions, so they are good for TEE study.
Throughout the 2000s, the committee has continued publishing TEE books in Sesotho, and now, in the 2010s, with most of the curriculum published, GEM (Global Evangelism Ministries) has begun training pastors and lay leaders in TEE groups.
In ending his speech, Dr Mpakanyane thank everyone present. “We are all very pleased by how the Lord has been using TEE over the past few years and we are even more excited about where we believe God is leading us for the future. We as the TEE committee are actively planning to form new TEE groups around Lesotho.”
LTEE currently has 6 groups studying – three in Maseru, two in Leribe, one each districts in the South Mafeteng, Mohales’ Hoek and Quthing and will launch one in the district of Qacha’s Nek in May 2023. LTEE desire now is to see the TEE program become more accessible to pastors around the country.
We have several specific needs for personnel. Our first need is for someone who could do clerical work fulltime.
More volunteers who could serve as LTEE Committee members and facilitators in entire LTEE curriculum. For these leaders, we are looking first to our TEE graduates, and then, it may be anybody from anywhere who feels theologically qualified and called of God to serve Him this way.
We are trusting God for the funding of mentioned personnel. It is our desire to see this ministry passed on through generations of TEE graduates who will rise up and commit what they have learned through TEE to other TEE students “who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).
However, we are also willing to accept group leaders who perhaps have an equivalent Bible degree or experienced pastors who would be willing to study through TEE together with a group of students.
The graduation ceremony was graced by the presence of representatives from Bible Society Lesotho, LECSA, Kenilworth Christ church in Cape Town, Anglican Church Lesotho, Christian Council of Lesotho and other notable dignitaries including various church leaders.
Dr. Ann Moore from the Christ Church Kenilworth mentioned over the years they watched with excitement how the work of GEM grew from preaching the gospel in remote mountain villages to establishing groups of believers, to training leaders to shepherd the same groups and to more formal training of leaders and pastoring others in bible knowledge.
Dr Samuel Moore expressed delight in being invited as the guest speaker. “If you are drawn to God he will answer. Share your knowledge with others.” Dr Sam Moore said he was very excited by the impact the course is having in everyone graduating. Quoting a verse from Psalm 119 Dr Moore reminded the graduates that lamps and light are useful in darkness they must always remember to carry their lamps to show them the paths of their feet. They must always read the bible to become powerful to transform hearts. When the going gets tough and they feel weak, they must love and obey God, go on in faith.
On behalf of the Anglican Church Lesotho education department Reverend Dr Joseph Morenammele asked the graduates to humble themselves and ask God to renew them. He read from Timothy 2:15 that the graduates must do their best to preserve themselves to God as they serve. Adding that “All in here are followers and disciples of God. God help us that we may go walk the talk.”
Reverend David Sengoai on behalf of Anglican Church Lesotho encouraged people to never get tired of reading the bible. “Once you start reading do not stop, it is always refreshing to read the bible and we cannot do anything without leaning on God,” he ended.
In giving a vote of thanks Pastor Pheko said LTTE appreciates the graduates for having heard the call of God and answering it. He thanked the workers and servants of LTTE for having taken their time to equip the learners with translated version of the study materials and also the markers who enabled them to achieve their goals.