MUTARE, Zimbabwe (BNc) — On Dec. 5 the Mutare School of Preaching celebrated its 50th anniversary.

The ceremony was held in a large tent to accommodate the 1220 people who attended. Brethren from the area and other countries attended, as well as many local people who came to show their appreciation.

Through the years the three-year preacher training school has graduated more that 380 men who are now preaching the gospel in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Congo.

One of the guest speakers was Loy Mitchell who along with Dick Clark, Roy Palmer and Alex Claussen established the Nhowe Bible College in 1958. The name was changed in 1970 when the school moved to Mutare.

Another guest speaker was Fortune Mhlanga who came from Abilene, Texas to represent the Hillcrest Church of Christ. Hillcrest has supported the school since 1963 and brother Mhlanga, a Zimbabwean, is on the congregation’s foreign missions committee.

Graduation exercises were held the next day with more than 500 in attendance. Loy Mitchell addressed the graduates.

Loy and Debra Mitchell were given the honor of cutting the ribbon for the new water system provided with help from the Hillcrest congregation in Abilene.

Mutare, Zimbabwe’s forth largest city, has a population of 190,000. It is in the Eastern Highlands near the border with Mozambique. It has a strategic location on the railway from Bulawayo to the sea at Beira, Mozambique.

Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia) has a population of 13 million. Official languages are Shona, Ndebele and English. About half of the population are Christian in the broad sense.

Churches of Christ have assembled in Zimbabwe for more than a hundred years. John Sherrif, a stone mason and missionary from New Zealand, went to Zimbabwe in 1896. W.N.Short went as a missionary from the US in 1921 and served in Zimbabwe for more than 40 years. Hundreds of Christians from various countries have made contributions in education, medicine and evangelism.

Nhowe Mission was established in 1939 and serves a rural area near Macheke with its educational facilities (1500 students) and hospital (4500 patients treated each month).