Since May 2003, we’ve been blessed to have Sydney Mhango on our team serving and leading others across campus and in our macadamia orchards. On May 31, we celebrated his 20 Year Work-versary with a special dinner, mementos, and a collection of letters and videos from across the world. In today’s post below, we’ve asked him to reflect on his time working at African Christian College.
I cannot believe it’s been twenty years already.
I first arrived in Eswatini in 2000 as a student at Manzini Bible School. Back then, students returned home for a year and then returned for graduation. Before returning home, Kurt Platt offered me a job at the college, but I refused it because I missed home and was unmarried. When I returned for graduation, my perspective had changed, so I enquired if the offer was still on the table. It was.
So my journey as an employee at African Christian College began in 2003. I was first employed as a maintenance officer responsible for plumbing, electricity, painting, and fixing everything. President Emeritus Larry (and Susan) Carter was also new to the college, and I was honored to figure things out alongside his humble and servant leadership. We worked through several organizational challenges, like the division between the campus and the Tree of Life macadamia project, especially the competition for resources.
One thing that touched me most was the commitment and willingness of the leaders to get their hands dirty. Where I came from in Zambia, leadership meant authority to command people while you sit back and watch. But these leaders did everything done by everyone – that was amazing. And that mentorship crafted within me servant leadership that was also demonstrated by King Jesus.
Life was good. I married Misozi, and we started our own family. This place is marvelous for raising your kids. Through God’s grace, I had glorious opportunities to advance my education from Diploma to Degree with the South African Theological Seminary and my MBA from Abilene Christian University. The support we received from this community was priceless.
Around 2006, I was asked to become the macadamia farm manager, promising that Larry Carter and I would figure it out together. One of the most amazing memories of those experiences is that Larry always introduced me as his friend, which was extraordinary humility since I was his employee.
The new task came with challenges but through teamwork, dedication, and trust in the Lord, we managed to outgrow them. The macadamia harvest grew yearly, and God was at work doing wonders. I recruited others, like Ndaba and Matisa to assist me, and God brought several people with different expertise that helped me and the organization grow – people like Jim & Jenene Marnach, Ira & June Hill, and others.
It has also been incredible working with students from all over Africa. Students are a blessing to this place. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy to work together. Despite occasional rumours and accusations that I’m difficult to work with, after going home and experiencing life, many students reach out to me to say, “You really helped us”. Watching students mature and make sound decisions in life makes our impact worthwhile.
If you have ever been to African Christian College, you will agree that God is at work in this place. The future of the institution shines bright. And my work here has been and continues to be a revelation of the goodness of God. Watching this place grow from being a small Bible school in a bush to an accredited institution is miraculous and evidence of the faithfulness of God. All we have to do is trust God’s leadership to take us to even greater heights.