Southwestern lays groundwork for future seminary in Madagascar
Hard work is evident in the progress made in Southwestern Seminary’s outreach to the remote, undeveloped island of Madagascar—hard work and, unmistakably, the hand of God. In 2012, Southwestern Seminary accepted a challenge from the International Mission Board (IMB) to adopt an unreached people group—the Antandroy people of Madagascar. This summer, Southwestern laid the groundwork for a leadership training institute and future seminary to be located in Fort Dauphin, equipping Antandroy believers to reach their nation with the Gospel.
Over the past five years, while Southwestern sent mission teams to this east African nation, Madagascar native and Master of Divinity student Nirintsoa Mamitiana was also preaching the Gospel there and preparing the country for a greater scale of Christian outreach. Now, he will be the facilitator for development of the campus, which will open under his direction. “The goal is to train people in the south, and they will reach the nation,” Mamitiana says.
A recent $5,000 gift from North Las Vegas Baptist Church was earmarked to purchase land for the school, and an additional $12,000 came from an anonymous donor at Hulen Street Church, which Mamitiana attends. These two gifts more than cover the cost of the land.
“The man who gave us the $12,000 came to my home and gave us a check,” Mamitiana says. “I asked my 5-year-old, ‘How many times did we pray for this land?’ He said, ‘So many times, Daddy!’”
After Southwestern has secured financial and time commitments from two to three “Champion Churches”—U.S.-based congregations willing to prayerfully and financially partner with Southwestern and the Madagascar seminary—Southwestern will be on a five-year track to develop curriculum for the Madagascar seminary and graduate the first class of cohorts with bachelor’s degrees. Mamitiana will be charged with translating educational resources and advising students in their journey.
“My goal is to see leaders rise and be equipped so that they can lead others, really standing on the Word of God,” Mamitiana says. “I am a dreamer. I have big visions. Not for myself, but for this. This is God’s vision, and I am humbled to be part of what He wants me to do. God opened a door for me, and I want to open doors for others.”
Though the seminary is only in its early stages of development, the ball is already rolling on theological education in Madagascar. This June, representatives from Southwestern taught classes there for two weeks, bringing lessons in Old and New Testament survey, text-driven preaching, and missiology to more than 50 local pastors, evangelists, missionaries and church planters—all first-generation Christians.
Brent Ray, director of Southwestern’s Patterson Center for Global Theological Innovation (GTI), calls the current progress in Madagascar “an incredible story of success.” While technology, involvement, long-term planning, partnerships and funding are making the Madagascar dream a reality, God is the real driving force behind creation of the school, Ray says.
“God gives us the power to do this,” he explains. “No one would have envisioned this five years ago.”
Mamitiana expects to complete his M.Div. in 2018, and his wife, Toky, is on track to graduate with a Master of Arts in Christian Education the following year. Then, the family will return to Madagascar permanently and plant a church in Fort Dauphin that will be a major partner with the Madagascar seminary. Mamitiana says repeatedly that they are eager to begin their work: “Lord, come quickly!”