On a historic weekend, the first teachers in South Africa were appointed in Johannesburg, South Africa. Neil Trollip, Werner Reyneke, Solly Kganyago, Paul Smith and Raj Chandra were tasked with the responsibility of teaching God’s word to his people. Their appointment was met with great excitement by their families and the church in Joburg, and all five are inspired by their new roles. Here’s a closer look at who they are:

Neil Trollip was baptized in Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape) in 1997 and has been leading the church in that city on a voluntary basis for 12 years with his wife Noeleen. The couple has been married for 37 years and have three children. Neil worked at a large research organization until his retirement from his secular job in December last year. A keen Bible scholar, Neil was one of the first graduates of the Ministry Training Academy (MTA) in South Africa in 2017. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the Rocky Mountain School of Ministry and Theology (RMSMT). “I am now genuinely in the full-time ministry and enjoying it immensely. I’m also excited to study further and deepen my Bible knowledge to be better-equipped to teach,” he shared.

Werner Reyneke ‘s appointment as a teacher was an early present as he celebrated his birthday this week. Baptized in 1994 while a student at the University of Johannesburg, Werner married Madelyn 23 years ago and they have a son, Martin. A civil engineer by profession, Werner also serves as a children’s ministry teacher, as a deacon of the benevolence fund and as the chairman of the church board. Werner graduated from MTA in 2017 and earned an MA in Bible and Theology from Lincoln Christian University in May this year. “I’d love to help the church grow in their love for the Bible and am humbled by this opportunity to serve my brothers and sisters” he said.

Solly Kganyago says he’s always had a passion for self-improvement and that applies to spirituality too. Baptized in the the East Region in 2003 and married since 2005, Solly works as a commercial manager and serves as a family group and worship leader. He is also on the property and financial committees of the Johannesburg congregation. Solly said this about his new responsibilities: “For me, discipleship is all or nothing. I believe in using my gifts for the benefit of others. My family was extremely excited and encouraged by my appointment as a teacher. My peers are proud and encouraged by the growth they’ve seen in me over the years, and my love for God and his church. He says the scripture that sums up how he feels about the task ahead is James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (NIV)

Paul Smith has been a disciple for 20 years and currently oversees the East Region of the church in Johannesburg. He also graduated from MTA in 2017 and is also currently pursuing a Master’s degree through the RMSMT. Paul is married to Jacqui and the father of two girls. He summed up his thoughts about the role of a teacher. “As a young Christian I was always drawn more to the ‘deeper’ side of things. God put on my heart the dream to see a teaching ministry established in South Africa, and it amazes me how God has brought that to fruition this year. I’m indebted to Mike Taliaferro, Michael Burns, Dave Pocta, Douglas Jacoby, Duncan Comrie and Justin Renton for their training over the years to realize this goal,” he said. His encouragement to anyone thinking of becoming a Bible teacher is this: “Pursue humility always (Philippians 2), gain a sober view of yourself (Romans 12:3) by inviting honest input into your life with regards to your character, strengths and weaknesses. Engage in the ministry; a good practical knowledge of working with people keeps you grounded; develop yourself through further study but don’t be eager to teach too soon. There’s a burden of responsibility that comes with this role, for which you’ll be held to a higher level of accountability. Lastly, persevere. God’s timing is always right,” Paul added.

Raj Chandra has taken a long route to finally end up in Africa. Born in India, he was baptized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US in 2001. He is also an MTA graduate and is currently serving the campus and singles ministries in the Tshwane Church of Christ in Pretoria. He is married to Angie and the father of a young boy. Raj feels humbled by his appointment. “It’s surreal even now to think I was formerly Hindu-born and would never have imagined I would submit to Jesus as King and be added into his family. He blessed me with the gift of teaching and I’m very grateful to God and all the people who poured into me. I’m looking forward to seeing how God will use this new role to help many connect with him and each other, and to build healthy communities rooted and built up in Christ.” Congratulations to all five brothers. We look forward to learning from you!