ZEBS Alumni Conference Report
The ZEBS Alumni Conference for this year was this past weekend. Attendance was the highest we have ever experienced in the twelve years that we have been organizing, with 133 students in attendance. This year the focus of the conference was on assisting and equipping pastors and church leaders to become marriage officers.
The law in South Africa stipulates that to be legally married, a couple’s solemnization must be officiated by a person certified by the South African government. Certification for this requires that the marriage officer write an exam regarding the policies, paperwork, and the legal requirements for the ceremony, and for the couple to be married. These include age requirements, certain types of venues, which are not allowed, and the government’s administrative procedures. Sadly, in the twenty-two years that the “New” South African government has been in place, they have not, as of yet, translated this exam into the any of the traditional African languages. The exam is offered only in English and Afrikaans. Because of this, African pastors and leaders, which are quite capable, must write the exam in their second or third language. The vocabulary of the exam is therefore difficult and outside of their commonly used vocabulary base. Very few have passed; personally, we don’t know of an African pastor who has passed in the past 8 years.
Friday night Carlene and Greg taught together on the Biblical basis for marriage. Andy Sullivan is a co-missionary with ZEMA, and a former pastor in the Baptist Union of South Africa. On Saturday, Andy Sullivan focused on equipping the pastors in these requirements. This also included some training in pre-marriage counseling, aspects of the marriage ceremony, and working through sections of the marriage officer handbook. He defined terms, explained the laws and answered questions. At the conclusion of the day, the students each wrote a practice exam.
|Andy teaching on Saturday with Nozipho Ncube translating.
||Students writing the practice exam.
On Saturday two gentlemen came to thank us for Friday night’s teaching. The first said to Carlene, “Thank you for your testimony and for the way you taught together. It was powerful to hear you teach together because we know you cannot lie when you are together -we would see it on your face. I phoned my wife last night to say I wish she was with me and could have heard! It is good for us to hear from both of you. Even though we are pastors, we don’t always understand women. So how can we lead young people to be good wives and husbands?” The other shared with Greg. He had also phoned his wife the night before to tell her that he wished she was there, promising that “…there will be changes”.
The issue these men addressed, was primarily that of love and respect from Ephesians chapter five. Greg made a strong statement to everyone in the room, promising that he “had never, and never will hit Carlene.” Carlene shared that because women are created in the image of God, she knows that she is valued in equality to Greg. She shared that the women’s emotional natures are valuable and should be valued by their husbands. Together we emphasized the roles of men and women as leaders who, by God’s plan, should compliment one another because of our God-given strengths.