Antony Dandato – Ministry Apprentice Training in Zimbabwe … and beyond
Antony Dandato is a godly and gifted young man who grew up in Rusitu Mission, Chimanimani in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s regime. He grew as a leader and was given a scholarship to study at George Whitfield Theological College (GWC) several hundred kilometres away in Capetown, South Africa (2006-2008).
Antony was due to return to Zimbabwe, but while he was at College he heard about these unusual things called ministry apprenticeships that some people had done pre-GWC.
Antony could see straight away that this type of training would be a great adjunct to the time he’d spent studying theology at College.
So he asked a few questions. “Who are some of the best trainers?”, “Where did they start?”, “Can I do one?” He quickly learned that they started here in Australia. So Antony started making enquiries, which led him to Tim Thorburn in Perth through his then Principal of GWC, Dr David Seccombe. Tim had spent time growing up in Africa and knew the culture well so it was a good fit to be Antony’s trainer. Antony went on to train as a ministry apprentice under Tim Thorburn with the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students at the University of Western Australia in 2009-2010 before returning to Zimbabwe.
Antony started working in the University Campus ministry called FOCUS, which is an IFES affiliated, from 2012 onward. As a FOCUS staff worker he was keen to train apprentices in the same way that Tim Thorburn had trained him. But first he had to raise up his own apprentice.
He spent several years working at FOCUS ministry spread across 3 campuses. After a lot of vine ministry, one-to-one, and leadership growth, he met a young man named Privilege Tafirei, who became his first apprentice in 2015. Antony wished there were more and wanted to know how to set up apprenticeship training, so when he received an invitation to attend the MTS International Conference in Sydney in October 2016 – he accepted with great enthusiasm.
Antony attended the Conference with four other leaders from Zimbabwe, along with leaders from Chile, Argentina and Namibia. Four countries – all at different stages with respect to establishing ministry apprenticeship training networks.
Antony and his countrymen, Ephias Ndahwi, Gordon Dandato, and Darren & Cassandra Pickard, found the International Conference to be profoundly helpful. They returned to Zimbabwe with renewed vigour for training apprentices. In God’s sovereignty, upon his return, he was offered the position of National Director for the FOCUS ministry. His role was the Zimbabwe equivalent of Richard Chin in Australia.
From that time onward (early 2016) Antony sought to grow the culture of ministry apprenticeships.
The FOCUS staff invested deeply in vine work and growing the trellises to support that work and now, by God’s grace, ministry apprenticeships are ‘taking off’.
In 2020 there will be 12 MAT ministry apprentices training in Zimbabwe. (MAT – Ministry Apprentice Training is the MTS equivalent in Zimbabwe).
At the MTS International Conference, Antony was struck by how important Trainers were to the whole movement. By God’s grace Tim Thorburn (Antony’s own trainer) was travelling regularly from Perth to Harare to train Zimbabwe’s trainers. Tim called each cohort TOT1 and TOT2 (Training of Trainers 1). Tim has been making regular visits to Zimbabwe for the last 3 years … since 2016.
Antony’s story is one of the amazing Gospel growth stories. He was grown, he has grown others in Zimbabwe and, now, in 2019, Antony is seeking to establish MTS networks in Zambia and Uganda. And God in His providence has given Uganda a head start because back in 2007 the Katoomba Convention people began a Katoomba Youth Leaders Convention in the Anglican Diocese of North Kigezi in South Western Uganda. It is called “NextGen Uganda”. The graduates of this conference are now keen to investigate “what’s next” in ministry training, i.e. ministry apprenticeships.
Please pray for Antony. Please pray for Tim Thorburn, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda … that God would multiply gospel workers through ministry apprenticeships and ask God to give us the energy and the resources we need to support these indigenous international movements.
*Antony’s scholarship was partially provided by Australians