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A South African Tale of Triumph

Mahlaola 2Joseph Mahlaola was raised in the context of traditional African religion, which for his family involved an admixture of animism, ancestral worship, animal sacrifice, and the Holy Bible. When he was in his twenties, he and his brother attended a Pentecostal evangelistic crusade, where they heard the gospel and were saved. But as they returned home, this new faith clashed with the old. Joseph and his brother were beaten, thrown out into the bush to survive, and had the police called on them by their own father.

“Whoever loves father or mother
more than me is not worthy of me”

(Matt 10:37)

Undeterred, and with a firm resolve to follow Christ regardless of the cost, Joseph soon decided to pursue pastoral ministry. He was told about Christ Seminary, but had initial reservations. “I came from a Charismatic background,” he explains, “and was concerned because it was so Baptistic. We normally considered the Baptists to be people who aren’t walking with the Spirit, so my aim in coming to Christ Seminary was actually to change the professors to see the light.”

Most students come to our training centers hoping to learn; Joseph came hoping to teach! But as God would have it, Joseph would be used mightily to teach at Christ Seminary, just not in the way he first intended.

He took his studies seriously, and was greatly challenged by them. “My foundations were shaken,” he recalls, “especially by the subject of hermeneutics [Bible interpretation]. I learned that I shouldn’t come with my own presuppositions to the Scriptures, but should let the Scriptures speak for themselves. . . . Most of all, my professors helped me to think biblically, not culturally or traditionally, but biblically! The battle is always there. Christ Seminary injected the Bible into us, forcing us to learn how to take each passage apart and apply it to our lives. That,” Joseph says with a smile, “was the greatest treasure ever given to me.”

“Your testimonies are my delight.”
“The unfolding of your words gives light.”

(Ps 119:24, 130)


Joseph excelled in his studies and now teaches at Christ Seminary, his subjects ranging from Greek and New Testament Survey to, interestingly enough, the very hermeneutics class that so impacted his life as a student. He’s also involved in ministry at Christ Baptist church, no longer considering them to be walking without the Spirit!

Joseph is a humble man who loves God and eagerly desires to serve Christ’s church. His work is phenomenal, and his impact in Africa for the sake of Christ we trust will be great. He concluded a recent discussion with the following heartfelt statement: “I’m privileged to be a part of Christ Seminary. I’ve had firsthand experience of what the seminary can do, and now I’ve been entrusted to train other men in the same way. I wouldn’t trade this opportunity for anything else. Helping these men make a difference in African pulpits is simply the greatest thing I could ever do this side of heaven.”

“Let the nations be glad and sing for joy”
(Ps 67:4)

We know that the greatest need in Africa, like anywhere else, is the word of God, and we believe that the single best strategy in delivering the word of God to the nations is the training of expositors to preach it. Link arms with us at www.tmai.org/getinvolved.