Stories from the Mission Field

April 2022

Visionary church planting in South Africa

Pastor Johann Vollbracht came to South Africa in 2019 with his wife Andrea as an EBM International missionary to support the theological work of the Baptist Convention of South Africa. The Convention College offers a two-year course of study. Within this time, students complete ten basic theological courses. Since the vast majority of students are employed, whether in the church as full- or part-time pastors or in other professions, they can only study through distance learning. Johann Vollbracht reports on his work and introduces a church planter.

Theological education: part-time and in the midst of life

The mutual encouragement and enrichment in my work with students is a great privilege. For me, the enthusiasm and self-sacrifice of the African pastors are very impressive and exemplary. Despite circumstances and often their advanced age (50+ or 60+), they spare no sacrifice to study, lead churches and plant new churches.

Such dedicated church planters include Pastor Jackson Mamogobo (57) and his wife Dinah (53). They have four adult children. They both graduated from Baptist Convention College between 2019 and 2021. Pastor Jackson Mamogobo was ordained as a pastor back in 2009.


Johann Vollbracht in an interview with church planter Jackson Mamogobo

JV: What was your first church as a pastor?

JM: In 1989 I was transferred to the village of Marishane as a teacher. There was no church there. Together with two other people we started Ebenezer Baptist Church. In the beginning we met in the school. The church grew and since I had to leave the village in 1996, we called a pastor. Between 1993 and 1995 we were able to build a new church building there. The congregation currently has 70 members.

JV: In 1996 you were transferred to Mapodile (Steelpoort). What was church life like there?

JM: When I arrived there, there was no church. Together with a friend, we started Grace Baptist Church in his garage. After a few years, we bought a piece of land and put a tin shack there as a church. Then, as the congregation grew over the years, we built a new church building there. Today, this church has about 300 members and children.

JV: Your work in Mapodile hasn't just been focused on this one church plant, though....

JM: After the mother church stabilized, we started three more church plants in neighboring villages over the years in the townships of Mahlawena, Malaenen, and Stocking. Currently, we have two more plots of land available in other villages and we would like to start church plants there as well. Another plant is the "His Will" church in Driekop. The church has about 70 members and is led by Pastor Maile Moeti.


Vision: 5 minutes about the next church

JV: Can you tell us about your spiritual vision?

JM: I love planting churches. God has put this burden and joy on my heart. Christians should not be afraid to start small. We start small, but our Lord gives the growth. Years ago, I proclaimed a goal for myself and my region of Sekhukhune: People should be able to reach a church within five minutes from their home. The sad background is that there are a lot of pubs in our region. Accordingly, we have a big alcohol problem. People can enter a pub within five minutes. Our goal is that people should be able to reach a community just as quickly.

JV: Thirty years after your first church plant and ten years after your ordination, you decided to take our two-year degree in 2019. As an experienced church planter and church pastor, what motivated you to study theology?

JM: Enthusiasm without knowledge can lead you in the wrong directions. I wish I had studied much earlier. It would have saved me from many mistakes. It was important for me to acquire theological knowledge. Experience does not compensate for theological knowledge.

JV: Thank you very much for the interview.


Supporting theological education and church planting

I would like to say a big thank you to all the churches in Germany who support the work of EBM International and especially my work here in South Africa. 

Pastor Johann Vollbracht

The theological training in South Africa is also financed by donations for the area of church development, which we are promoting as part of our Easter campaign. Here is the possibility to donate online for this.