What were some of the challenges you and your family faced upon arrival in the Eastern Cape?
Even though I had been to 3rd world countries before, Kathy and our six young children were in culture shock upon landing in Mthata. They had never been exposed to the abject poverty and the fact that we stood out as the only non-Xhosas in the area. It was very difficult at first not knowing the language. It was rare back in the mid-80s to find anyone in the Transkei who would be able to speak English. Under President Matanzima’s reign there was a curfew every night, where we could not go outside. We had no electricity for the first few years, so we lived on powdered milk and non-refrigerated food items. We collected water on our roof, to have water to drink and bathe in. We came to the Republic of Transkei to bring the Gospel, but we didn’t know how to share with the people about Jesus, without knowing the language.
That brings up a good question. How do you function without knowing the language?
The first year we focused on four things. (1) establishing a home where we could live and home-school. (2) Getting an understanding of the culture (which was very different from America), (3) building trust and relationship with the local people, (4) language acquisition. Every day after breakfast and before we started out home school, we would work on learning the language. When you are immersed in a foreign culture, you learn the language very quickly. Within the first year, we acquired enough of the isiXhosa language to effectively communicate. The children learned it much quicker than us.
You have established one of the largest (non-denominational) missions in the South African region. How did you start when you had nothing to build on?
Before I answer that question, I need to remind you that technically we did not live or work in South Africa. In the 80s it was the Republic of the Transkei. South Africa was south of the Great Kei River and South Africa required its own visas. But to answer your question, after we built relationships among the people, we began to receive invites to various villages that either didn’t have the Gospel or didn’t have a church. We gathered with the villagers into a crowded rondavel (small hut). The meetings would usually start after sunset and go all night. We shared a basic Gospel message of salvation. By midnight we would normally see 80-100 villagers come to Christ each night. At sunrise, we would take a break for some tea and bread, and possibly take a short rest. But when we began the day services, it was usually focused on disciplining the new converts or it would be a healing service, where many people would come to be healed. Read more on “Reaching the Unreached”
What exactly do you mean by a “healing service?”
During the all-night evangelism meeting, we would talk about the healing power of Jesus, and challenge the people to bring those who are sick and have physical infirmities to the morning services to be healed. The people believe what we were telling them and because of their faith the Lord would heal most of those who were brought to the ‘healing service’. In addition, many people were delivered of demons at the healing service. Word quickly spread, and soon hundreds of villagers invited us to bring the Gospel to their villages and to pray for those who were sick or needed healing or deliverance. Within the first few years, the Lord used us to establish hundreds of churches. And now after three decades of ministering in the former Transkei, the Lord has used us to establish over one thousand churches.
It is exciting to hear about the tens of thousands of new converts, but the great commission doesn’t say “Go into all the world and make converts of all nations.” We are called to make “disciples”. Were you doing any disciplining or follow-up to the new converts or the newly-planted churches?
That is a very good question. We had many ways we disciple the new believers, but after the first ten years of one-on-one disciplining, we realized that we needed to train up many Christian leaders who could lead the new churches and the new converts. As a result of much prayer, in 1998, we built and established Gatyana Bible College, which focuses on disciplining and training up local leaders. This is a very unique Bible college, in the following ways. (1) we don’t require a matric certificate to attend our Bible college, (2) we don’t require the students to speak a westernized language (English or Afrikaans), as classes are taught in isiXhosa, (3) it is the only Bible college in southern Africa that is completely governed by indigenous black leaders, (4) student don’t have to relocate to the urban cities of South Africa, but rather the Bible college is located in Willowvale, which is in the rural Eastern Cape, and lastly (5) we do not charge any fees to attend our Bible college.
Why don’t you charge tuition fees like other Bible colleges?
We can’t and anywhere in the Word of God where monetary compensation is required to receive the Word of God. If we can’t find a biblical basis for charging money to learn the Bible, then we can’t justify charging tuition to those who are hungry for the Word.
Where can we get more information on Gatyana Bible College?
Go to www.KellyKoskyMinistries.com or email the dean of Gatyana Bible College at SiphoMaqhinyana@ gmail.com.
What you and the missions are doing spiritually sounds great. But what are you doing to minister to the social issues facing our country?
In addition to the schools, clinics, and economic development programs that we have established in the Eastern Cape, we have built and established Grace Children’s Centre in Butterworth. This facility cares for and ministers to pre-school-aged children. We not only nurture the Xhosa children in their life skills but also minister to their spiritual development. In addition, we have built and developed an HIV/AIDS facility that ministers to over 78,000 disadvantaged people annually. We are working to transfer this project to the Dept of Health.