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When pastor Werner Hamukoto’s congregation in Namibia asked questions during Bible study, he had answers to give. But “it always felt as if it was the textbook answer,” he said, “and I didn’t really have the theological grounding” to support what I was saying.
Thanks to an online degree program through BibleMesh and Union Theological College in Belfast, Northern Ireland, that problem is being remedied. Hamukoto is enrolled in a Master of Arts in theology program, with plans to graduate in 2022. The coursework has increased the depth of his answers to church members and even enabled him to train other pastors in key Christian doctrines.
“What I have received [from Union] really influenced my theology,” said Hamukoto, pastor of Monte Christo Baptist Church in Windhoek, Namibia.
Born in Namibia, a southern Africa nation of about 2.5 million people, Hamukoto was called to pastoral ministry while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and chemistry from the University of Namibia. To prepare for ministry, he obtained a second bachelor’s degree from Central Africa Baptist University in Zambia before taking the pastorate at Monte Christo in 2019. He also is a contributor to the Gospel Coalition’s Africa edition.
As Hamukoto shepherded the flock at Monte Christo, a congregation of 70-80 people, he wondered whether he could find a graduate education program that combined the training he needed with the flexibility his schedule required.
The answer came when he saw an advertisement for BibleMesh’s partnership with Union: four fully online master’s degrees available, with courses featuring Union’s faculty as well as instruction from Zondervan Academic courses on the BibleMesh platform. He enrolled last year in the MA in Theology program and is on track to finish within another year.
“It is very convenient, and it’s very good,” he said. “I also like the flexibility. There’s no specific time I have to be in front of a computer. I can also be on my phone at work and quickly go through Cerego [an adaptive learning platform] sets or do small quizzes. Also with my phone, wherever I am I can go into the library and read my books.”
Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity have been among his favorite courses. Before COVID-19 lockdowns, he was able to hold Bible classes at 3 p.m. each Sunday to teach the material he was learning in his courses to fellow pastors—some of whom had no theological training beyond a high school education and were hungry for theological instruction.
The material applies to Hamukoto’s own pastoral ministry too. Monte Christo is planting a church and seeking to reach people with the gospel in a region dominated by cultural Christianity.
“There’s just so much work that needs to be done,” he said, “helping people to be solid in Christ and have a firm, Christ-centered, biblical worldview.”
This blog post by David Roach was originally published on the BibleMesh Blog on 27 July 2021.