Theology: Moving towards a multicultural approach
Kindness, love and compassion. These are but some of the words in faith’s vocabulary. These virtues convey the same message in any language and this is why the Faculty of Theology at the North-West University (NWU) is ensuring that this message is heard by all.
This year the faculty implemented a new programme during which first- to third-year students studying towards becoming ministers are being taught Setswana on a weekly basis
“Normally we use a grammatical approach to teach students a new language, but with Setswana we are using a functional language approach – the Living Language method,” explains Prof Gert Breed, director of the School for Christian Ministry and Leadership. “This entails teaching the language in the same way that a child learns a language. For instance, they would learn by saying: This is a bottle and I drink water from a bottle.”
Mr Lekgetho Moretsi and Dr Chris van der Walt took up this task of broadening the language horizons of these students.
“It is somewhat of a learning curve for the students, but the enthusiastic manner in which they have embraced the challenge leaves me with no doubt that they will make a big success of it,” says Prof Breed.
This programme forms part of a greater multicultural approach. Students who want to become ministers also have to complete a week-long stint doing practical work in communities comprising of cultures other than their own.
“Our aim is to promote cross-cultural ministry as much as possible. It is imperative that the church does all it can to bring communities together through faith. The more different cultures work together, the more we can accomplish.
“It is the church’s task to facilitate more intercultural bonds and to bring about better intercultural understanding/relationships. By doing this we can pave the way towards greater reconciliation,” says Prof Breed.
Under the guidance of Dr Naas Ferreira, fourth-year students also do missionary work to see what the profession entails in practice, and to experience the unique difficulties that some of the country’s more rural regions face.
They will, for example, also work with truck drivers who stay overnight in Potchefstroom, and the sex workers who serve them.
“All these experiences serve as a real eye-opener to our students. It allows them to experience something they were never exposed to. They return enlightened.”