COVID-19 restrictions delayed the Span’s move to South Africa, but we are excited to announce they arrived safely in the country as 2020 was coming to a close. Stay tuned for more news!
John & Anne began serving with Global Scholars Canada in South Africa in 2020. They have many years of international travel, education, and mission behind them already. In Guinea (2000-2011) John mentored upcoming pastors and helped to set up an association of Christian schools. In Egypt (2012-2015) John was the vice-principal of the Alexandria School of Theology. He also managed the Cairo branch, developed and taught the curriculum for the Theological English Course, and taught the Egyptian teachers how to teach adults. Anne taught ESL to all ages throughout their years abroad, as well as trained ESL teachers. The Spans are excited to embark on their newest adventure at Mukhanyo Theological College. John will serve as a Senior Lecturer in Theology and Anne will teach ESL. Both will contribute to a theological writing centre.
South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. There is a diversity of religions here, about 1/4 of the population is unemployed, and many people live in poverty.
Mukhanyo Theological College accepts Christian students of all kinds of different backgrounds with the hope to influence the way they serve God. It also trains theological students to become teachers in government schools as a way to provide for their families while influencing many young minds…
Mukhanyo has a wide reach in Africa. Presently it has students from Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and distance classes in five other African countries. That makes it a critical resource and opportunity for thousands of students…
The college is highly regarded in the community. Its 26-years of existence has already served 5,000 students.
TEACHING WITH GLOBAL SCHOLARS CANADA – South Africa
John’s teaching courses at Mukhanyo will include:
- Defending the Faith
- Outreach to Muslims
- Evangelism and Apologetics
- Systematic Theology
- Theological English
Anne’s roles at Mukhanyo:
- Teaching English as a second language
- Writing Centre Coordinator
2020 – Searching the Scriptures in John’s Christian Doctrine class
2020 – John having fun with the students
John’s Work in Muslim Relations & Missiology
John’s research into critically understanding ministry to Muslims is vital for the church today. If we are to love our Muslim neighbours, we need to engage them and their sacred Scriptures in a way that not only builds bridges but also takes our fundamental differences seriously. Dr. Span has written specifically on the subject of what faithful engagement with Islam looks like, and how the Quran might be used—or not—in bearing witness to Muslims. John’s research is incredibly important, potentially perilous, and especially relevant to the religiously divided continent of Africa.
Read John’s Articles Online
The Spans are using their waiting time in Canada wisely and creatively – they are revising a number of study guides from which they taught on their recent visit to Mukhanyo. The guides required serious editing for them to be used to teach thousands of Africans who will become future church leaders.
SPECIAL MOMENTS AT MUKHANYO
As ‘L’ was walking on a somewhat desolate road enroute to the school, just around sunset, he was accosted by thieves who stole his cell-phone and beat him up. We had a chance to sit down with his wife, who was perplexed that even he as a pastor was going through bouts of rage at this incident. From Anne’s training as a trauma counsellor, she was able to show her that this is a normal part of the grieving cycle. It was as if there was relief that ‘L’ was allowed to be a bit less than super-spiritual after this violation of his person and possessions. Stories like this can be multiplied many times over, and perhaps we ministered more in listening than in speaking.
Not that there were no chances to speak, as Anne taught ESL English to some eager learners. Among them was ‘J’ whose level was about grade 4. Here was someone weak in English, yet strong in faith; an orphan, but someone who knew the love of God the Father; recovering from a brutal beating due to being framed for a crime, yet wanting to go back and minister to the very group that had inflicted this pain. Eagerly ‘J’ related, “Dr. John, yesterday at church, I taught the first half of the book of Jude to the adult Sunday School class.” “I used the same technique we learned in class to read the Bible very carefully, and to let it explain itself.” We can be sure that ‘J’ is reaching out to his community today.
Another of this group is a young woman named ‘P.’ She was one of the students in [John’s] systematic theology class, and at the beginning of the semester she was like a closed book. Clearly, there was a defensive wall around her. On the second day of class [John] walked past her and addressed her by name. Instantly she responded. “You remember my name?” Slowly, she opened up in class, albeit in a guarded manner. She not only learned theology, but also the stories of how God had worked in the lives of our family. One day she was standing in the lunch line and nudged Anne. “Can we talk sometime?” asked Anne, knowing that there was more to this nudge than met the eye. A friendship developed between them and even on the last day of our time in South Africa, ‘P’ came to say goodbye. She delayed our departure with a deluge of questions, just as she had been asking before. Questions, such as “How will I know he is the right one?” “How do you as a couple stay in love?” It was as if she had never had a Christian couple to whom she could ask these questions.
There are a multitude of other stories, including someone who lost a father in a farm attack, another who is HIV positive, another teacher who was once a drunk lying in a gutter, and so forth. Each of their stories, has a “But God…..” aspect to it. Sure, their grandeur is not as evident as a majestic elephant, or the power of a rhino, or the strength and stealth of a lion, but the beauty of the fragrance of Jesus in his people is a wonder to behold.
John earned a Bachelor of Science (Agriculture) from University of Guelph in 1980, a Masters in Christian Studies from Regent College, Vancouver in 1985, and a Master’s of Theology (2016) and a Ph.D. in Theology/Apologetics (2019) from The John Calvin Faculty, Aix en Provence, France.
Anne is trained as an ESL teacher, and also as a trauma counsellor.