MTS officially began as a movement in Australia in 1978. Today, over 3,500 apprentices have been trained and over 1,100 are in vocational Gospel work – and the movement is only continuing to grow.
By God’s grace, MTS is an ever-developing global movement, with apprenticeships being conducted in Chile, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand and England. Other nations have trained trainers or attended online MTS events, including Kenya, Zambia, Singapore, Japan and Slovenia.
Recently, MTS National Director Ben Pfahlert had the great privilege of visiting some parts of the movement in Africa and the Middle East. His aim was to train and encourage those he visited, to connect with potential leaders who can grow the MTS movement internationally and to be challenged and spurred on in his own Christian walk.
In South Africa, there are a variety of places that are currently training apprentices or moving towards training apprentices. In Durban, South Africa, apprentice training is healthy and multiplying. Ben shares, “In fact, Durban started training apprentices in about 2009, and they currently have more apprentices than the whole of Queensland – and Queensland started training in 1990. It’s quite phenomenal. It is an amazing work of the Spirit.”
In addition to meeting apprentices and pastors in Durban, Ben also traveled to Pietermaritzburg (affectionately known as PMB) and Johannesburg to meet with Pastors who are passionate about the MTS Vision i.e. winning the world for Christ by multiplying Gospel workers through ministry apprenticeships.
He shares, “All the pastors in those meetings recognised that the raising up of harvest workers is absolutely essential. And they were very, very positive about apprenticeships as many of them were either training apprentices or really wanting to. I took them through ‘Six Steps to Ministry Apprenticeships’. We had wonderful, vibrant, energy-filled conversations.”
A particular challenge for South Africa is ministering in ‘townships’, which are poor communities. Many of the conversations centred around how to develop an appropriate ministry training pathway for this context. However, there is prayerful enthusiasm and optimism for this.
In Zimbabwe, Ben was hosted by friends and co-workers Antony and Vimbai Dandato. Antony heads up Ministry Apprenticeship Training Zimbabwe (MAT). One of the first things Ben did when he got to Harare was meet with Antony’s brother, Gordon Dandato. Gordon trained the first ever apprentice, Nelson Vhukani, in Zimbabwe in 2009. Nelson is now a full-time Gospel worker in Gweru (250 kms west of Harare). His main role is university ministry with FOCUS Zimbabwe and he also oversees the Gweru Independent Baptist Church alongside his wife Tatenda. Ben (and his companion Ryan van der Avoort) had dinner with the Vhukani family Saturday night. Ben preached Matthew 29:16-20 on Sunday morning and then a lunch was held with the Vhukani’s and their apprentices.
Ben shares, “When I visited Gweru, I was so encouraged by the work of Nelson and Tatenda. They now train four apprentices. And they’re
providing very high quality training.” This exciting growth of MAT/MTS in Zimbabwe meant they got to present Gordon with a gold entruster’s baton while Ben was there. Gordon is the first ever Entruster in Zimbabwe! Watch a video of him receiving his baton here.
Ben reflects, “One of the things I’d say about Zimbabwe is it’s just incredible what they do with nothing. They don’t even have electricity between 3:00 AM and 10:00 PM. They are without power for 19 hrs of EVERY day. They’re extraordinary people who trust God deeply.”
Despite their many challenges, the movement of training gospel workers is only continuing to grow through MAT, with the exciting development of Antony moving into a role leading the formalised MAT entity in the next few months.
United Arab Emirates
After his time in Africa, Ben traveled to the United Arab Emirates to meet with friends Ray and Sandy who are ministering at Fellowship Dubai. He also met with pastors from Redeemer Church Dubai, and together they had many fruitful discussions about ministry apprenticeships. Fellowship Dubai have started training apprentices in recent years. Ben says, “It’s exciting they’ve started apprenticeships, it’s a fledgling movement and we can look forward to seeing how it will develop.”
God at work through us and in us
Throughout Ben’s trip he saw God at work over and over again, and saw how he was raising up people to both lead MTS movements and train apprentices throughout the world.
Personally, he was challenged by how we in Australia live for Christ in our context – which lacks many of the challenges those he visited have. Ben reflects, “One of my takeaways is they love the gospel because they’ve got no money. We sort of love the gospel and we love money. That’s one of the things I took away. It was a huge rebuke to me and how sacrificially I live for Jesus.”
Please ask God:
- To help Nigel Richardson and friends to create a sustainable ‘Township MTS’ ministry training pathway for South Africa.
- To work through Antony Dandato and others to get an affordable Christian Campsite built outside Harare, to further the MAT ministry.
- To build up training of apprentices in churches in the UAE.
- To continue to raise up more movement leaders in each nation to spearhead apprentice recruitment.
- To give those involved in MTS in Australia grateful hearts for the conditions of their ministry, and to challenge them to be sacrificial for Christ.