Stories Of Impact

A PLACE TO BELONG: Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastors Institute

Pastor Jimmy Moyambo

“I was at the point of giving up on ministry,” says Pastor Jimmy Moyambo, “because there was just too much struggle in all areas of my life, especially financially and in my ministry. There was no support at all. There was no one encouraging me. And as a young pastor, if there’s no one to give you encouragement, it makes you want to give up.”

Pastor Jimmy serves as the full-time pastor of Tabernacle of Worship in Tsakane, Gauteng, South Africa.


“Then I found Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastors Circle. They gave me tools and training, but most of all, they gave me encouragement and community,” he said. “I started using the first resource I received [from the Biblical Character Series] Crucible: The Choices That Change Your Life Forever. And as I preached it, God spoke to my own heart and encouraged me through it. He ministered to me and gave me inspiration to keep going. I realized that yes, God has a purpose for our lives, and when He calls us to something, He will make the way for us.” (Crucible is Walk Thru the Bible’s course on the life of David.)

Soon, the captain at the local police station asked Pastor Jimmy to share a message with the policemen at their precinct. Six police officers came to hear that first message from Crucible and David’s life, and they asked Pastor Jimmy to come back and share another message. When Pastor Jimmy went back the next week, more officers showed up. As the weeks went by, more and more officers attended, and they continued to meet until the COVID lockdowns.

Since that time, “I’ve shared all of the Walk Thru the Bible Biblical Character Series sermons with them that I’ve received from Pastors Circle, and those messages have made such an impact on them,” Pastor Jimmy said.

Pastors Institute

Walk Thru the Bible’s Pastors Institute is an initiative born out of our three-year strategic plan to double global ministry impact. Launched as a pilot program in 2019 in Johannesburg with more than 150 pastors, the initiative— originally called Pastors Circle—was interrupted by pandemic lockdowns.

Pastors Institute Langaville

But several pastors who were trained in those early Pastors Circle events utilized digital solutions like WhatsApp during the lockdowns to continue to teach God’s Word to their people. Some did street preaching and evangelism using the Walk Thru material. So Pastors Circle was effective and impactful—even during lockdowns—at engaging with under-resourced pastors (and their congregations!), resourcing them with tools and training, and supporting them with community.

After that first set of pastor trainings in South Africa in late 2019 and early 2020, Lee Helling (Walk Thru the Bible’s VP for International and Regional Director for Southern Africa) and his team made adjustments and refined the Pastors Circle pilot program to better fit the goals and long-term strategy of helping under-resourced pastors and their congregations. These adjustments and refinements are helping Lee and his team, as well as our other Walk Thru the Bible regional directors, scale the model to reach and impact more and more under-resourced pastors in other regions and countries around the world.

As Lee explains, “We have gone through the proof-of-concept phases with Pastors Circle and we are fully aware that this is a much- needed ministry for pastors. As a result, we are building on that and expanding it into what we are calling Pastors Institute, and looking for more places in our region and other regions around the world where we can serve more pastors,” he says.

“The goal with Pastors Institute is to provide an opportunity for pastors to get trained and equipped with sermon content and personal development resources,” says Lee.

“Our primary target is for pastors who are under-resourced, but it’s open for all pastors. And we’re finding, even as we are rolling it out, even though we targeted it to certain groups of pastors, all pastors are finding it helpful, whether they are resourced or not.”

Pastors Institute provides informal Bible training. It’s not formally accredited; pastors enrolled in Pastors Institute are not receiving a seminary education, but they are receiving solid, theological training and tools that they can take back to their congregations and to their communities.

Each year, pastors who are enrolled will be provided with four Walk Thru the Bible courses—taken from the Biblical Character Series and other WTB courses—with training and with tools such as translated sermon notes to help with sermon prep.

“But Pastors Institute is so much more than a content or resource drop,” says Lee. “Pastors do need that, but it’s also the notion that you are part of a family, a community, a group of people who care. We’re not just here to put pastors through a course, or even hand them a resource, and then we disappear. We are here to walk the road with them.”

In Southern Africa, Pastor Mpho Khumalo is the Pastors Institute coordinator who oversees the operations as well as the recruitment of pastors into the program by a team of equippers who report to him. He also tracks the progress of the pastors toward the requirements for Pastors Institute graduation.

Five equippers work with and report to Pastor Mpho. Pastors Institute equippers serve part time, they are pastors themselves, and they serve as the primary drivers of pastor recruitment. Each pastor that joins Pastors Institute is assigned to an equipper. Their role is to shepherd, encourage, and motivate the pastors assigned to them.

“We [equippers] walk with the pastors through the training and the process, showing them that this is a valuable and workable path,” says Pastor Jimmy, who is one of the equippers. “We also encourage them and pray with them and check in with them to see how they are doing with working through the resources and the sermons,” he says.

For a pastor to graduate from Pastors Institute, they are first trained in the content or course. After they are trained, they complete an assessment and then they are to teach the material to others at their church or in their community. After teaching the course, they report back to Pastor Mpho. When they’ve done this for one course (training, assessment, teaching, and reporting), they receive one credit. When they’ve completed the four courses (which gives them four credits), they are qualified for Pastors Institute graduation. Then the next year, four new courses will be offered that pastors can enroll in, starting the process over again.

There were 65 pastors enrolled in the first cohort of Pastors Institute, which was launched in the fall of 2023. The training was held on Thursday mornings, but because many of the pastors they minister to are bi-vocational and have a full- time job outside of ministry, they soon launched a second cohort with 25 pastors to meet on Saturday afternoons.

“We offered these two cohorts with different days and times to meet the needs of those who were full time in ministry and those who were bi-vocational and working another job during the week,” said Pastor Mpho. “Some of the pastors who attended in that first cohort would take time off from work to attend, so early on, we recognized the need for a Saturday cohort.”

Launching the second cohort made the training available to more pastors.

“There will always be a mixture of full- time pastors and bi-vocational pastors enrolling in Pastors Institute,” he says.

Generally, pastors don’t pay for Pastors Institute. They’re offered a discounted rate, or they can join for free because they’re under-resourced pastors.

The first four Walk Thru the Bible courses in the Pastors Institute curriculum of study were Chiseled: Becoming the Masterpiece God Created You to Be (a study on the life of Peter), Refuge: Finding Home in a World of Change (a study on the life of Ruth), Catalyst: Helping Others Pursue Their Purpose (a study on the life of Barnabas), and Bible Study Simplified (How to Study the Bible for Yourself).

Impact Church teaching students

The pastors gathered in their local area for the course training. The content was taught, and then made available to them on a memory stick, as well as controlled YouTube access to the videos. Currently, the YouTube videos are available in English, but the live events are taught in English and isiZulu, and in some areas, taught in SeSotho.

The first two cohorts have now graduated from the first round of four courses. And now more cohorts have been launched since these initial groups. Lee and Pastor Mpho are also looking to expand Pastors Institute into Pretoria, the capital of South Africa.

The Early Impact

Pastor Mpho and Pastor Jimmy, who both lead churches, have been preaching Walk Thru the Bible courses to their congregations for several years.

Pastor Mpho Khumalo

Pastor Mpho is affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene.  In the past, he has helped pastors within the Church of the Nazarene plant churches. In 2023, he was asked to plant a church in Soweto, which is one of the largest townships in South Africa. His church, called Impact Church of the Nazarene, is serving the whole of Soweto, a community of about 5,000 households with over 1 million residents. It’s a historically poor area, with many households living below the poverty line.

“One of the first things we did was to call for prayer for the community,” says Pastor Mpho. “Because of the crime, which is one of the social ills that come with poverty, I’ve asked the local politicians and leaders to come to the church and pray on a regular basis. I told them, ‘Let’s pray because we’ve tried everything. Let’s watch to see what God can do for us.’ ”

Pastor Mpho has also seen God workgreatly in family interventions. Many times, families break up over the ownership of the municipal houses that were originally given to them when Soweto (which stands for Southwestern Township) was first formed. When the children who were raised in those houses grow up, there are fights for ownership.

“During a weekly family meeting, we bring those families together to discuss and resolve their issues,” he says. “I’m also seeing great impact from the courses I preach on,” says Pastor Mpho. He recently taught the Walk Thru the Bible course Catalyst, based on the life of Peter, at his church. “After I preach on Sunday, we have a commissioning small group time. We ask the people to break into small groups and they meet for 30 minutes after the sermon. During this time, they talk about what they learned and how they can apply it,” he says. “When I taught Catalyst, I received very good feedback. The session called ‘Willing to Risk’ challenged the people, and the feedback was that even with their small resources, they could allow God to use them in many ways by just giving of what they have, and giving their time,” he says.

Another factor that has influenced the strategy and impact of Pastors Institute is that most pastors preach one sermon on a topic and the next week they preach on a different topic.

“When we preach on Sunday, we sometimes don’t do the material justice because we only speak on something once and then we leave it,” Pastor Jimmy says. “With Pastors Institute materials, it’s a series. The tools are in the form of a service, and we teach deeper on a particular person or subject from the Word of God, spread out over a number of weeks. This has caused greater impact and transformation in the lives of the people in my congregation.”

“If you can preach over four weeks or six weeks on one subject from God’s Word, you’re able to have a much greater impact on the people’s hearts and lives,” agrees Pastor Mpho. “But now, because of the training they’ve received from Pastors Institute, the pastors can build another whole sermon series and are able to preach it. It’s giving them a new perspective on how they can teach from the Bible. They now have extra training and extra resources they can use to serve their local church and build the community.”

Impact on Pastors

The Walk Thru the Bible courses are having an impact on pastors first. Pastor Mpho tells about a bishop who attended the second Pastors Circle cohort in early 2020. The teaching was the Biblical Character Series called Detour: Finding Purpose When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (based on the life of Joseph).

“I’ll never forget one of the bishops came up to me after the session; the session was when Joseph was betrayed by the cupbearer. The bishop told me that he was in deep pain from his local congregation because he had been betrayed by some of the people there. And as the bishop sat through this teaching on the life of Joseph, of all the betrayals Joseph went through, the bishop knew exactly what to do when left that session.”

An elder of Pastor Jimmy’s church was also struggling with forgiveness.

“And after learning about the life of Joseph, from Detour, the elder said to me, ‘After learning this here, I see that it is the will of God for me to forgive, because it not only helps that other person, but it also heals me. Because sometimes, when we don’t forgive, we are digging a hole for ourselves. Sometimes things aren’t happening in our life, and we don’t understand it. Little do we know that the bridge we build with forgiveness will mend many things.’ After he forgave, his life was transformed,” said Pastor Jimmy.

“That’s the kind of impact we’re seeing,” says Pastor Mpho. “God is really opening up their hearts and healing them, but He’s also opening up new opportunities for ministry through the work of Walk Thru the Bible.”

Stories of impact

Here are a few more stories of impact from some of the pastors who enrolled in Pastors Institute:

Reverend Oupakie Mdhlane

Reverend Mdhlane, who is from a township in South Africa called Katlehong, was just invited to speak at the local high school in KwaThema (another township in South Africa). The administration wanted him to encourage and motivate the students, and they asked him to preach the same message he preached when he was there last. The principal told him, “What you taught last year was so different and it really impacted the learners.” He says, “What I preached last year was a sermon based on the Walk Thru the Bible course Detour and the life of Joseph. After a year, they still remember what I taught, and they asked me to come back and do it again!”

Bishop Bafana Shabangu

“We are facing so many challenges at this time,” Bishop Shabangu of Tsakane says. “People are living in such poverty in overcrowded shacks,” he says. “I’m working with them and trying to help them. Pastors Institute has helped take some of the pressure off me as a pastor. I use this material in my sermons, but I also use it to minister to the youth at the sports grounds,” he says.

Pastor Joseph

“Pastors Institute is pouring into us as pastors,” says Pastor Joseph. “I have so many pressures in my life, and little time to prepare sermons. I am convinced that these sermons from Walk Thru the Bible are of God. I can take the training and the tools and run with them to influence my community. I can apply it, preach it, and bring my own story to it. This boosts me, too.”

Pastor Annah Ntsele

“These sermons have also been helpful for me personally,” says Pastor Annah Ntsele. “I have learned how God’s purposes are at work even through the difficulties in this life. It helps me to not be discouraged with the things I am going through. Even with the groups where I have taught this at church, they keep asking about these sermons. I also have been able to adapt the sermons and use them for a children’s group that I teach every Saturday. I remind the children that God will work through them,” she says.

Pastor Pro Ntsele

“Pastors Institute has changed my church! It has changed everything,” says Pastor Pro Ntsele. “Some of us pastors don’t know how to prepare a sermon. We didn’t have the chance to go to Bible school. Now I have learned how to study the Bible for myself and I understand the Word of God better,” he says. “You cannot build the body of Christ when you are alone. And sometimes, being a pastor is a lonely thing. When we meet for Pastors Institute, it helps us to work together and be united. It is encouraging us!”

Pastor M

“I have been waiting for this. It is such a blessing. I know Scripture, but today I have been more equipped as a pastor. I have experienced lots of giants, disappointments, and challenges. I had decided I was quitting. But today, after attending Pastors Institute, I got the courage to keep going,” says Pastor M.

The blessing of Pastors Institute

“The blessing of Pastors Institute is that this is the place where you as a pastor can land, be equipped, and belong,” says Pastor Mpho. “When you leave, you’ll never feel alone, because Pastor Jimmy or another equipper will be calling you and asking you, ‘How are you doing? How far are you with the courses? What’s going on with your life and ministry? How can I help you?’ And that’s really the difference between what we did with Pastors Circle pilot program and now with Pastors Institute,” he says.

“In the Pastors Circle, we shared the resources and then the pastors were really on their own to be able to go and teach and then report back. Whereas with this new Pastors Institute model that we’ve launched, which is based on what we learned and changed from Pastors Circle, is you’ve now got someone to walk alongside you, journeying with you, helping you to learn more about the resources you’ve been given and how to implement them,” he says.

“And if you’re stuck on an issue, you have someone you can call.” “As pastors, we cannot cry in front of everyone. So to me, Pastors Institute is also a place to be comforted,” says Pastor Jimmy. “This fellowship, this community says, ‘You can do it. We understand what you’re going through. We understand your struggle. We understand there are times where you feel like this is not possible to continue.’ We needed this kind of thing in our lives.”

“With this training and these tools now in our churches, the people are having a better understanding of the Word of God,” says Pastor Jimmy. “We are seeing life transformation and life impact through these tools and resources we have received from Walk Thru the Bible.” At Walk Thru the Bible, we are answering the call to train and resource pastors to faithfully lead their congregations. Because we know that when people truly, deeply engage with God’s Word, everything changes.

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