Brethren in Christ Church: Mtshabezi Mission

Brethren in Christ Church

Mtshabezi Mission

Mtshabezi Mission was started in 1906 in the remote Gwanda District about 75 miles south of Bulawayo.  The founding missionaries were Rev. Harvey J. and Mrs. Emma Frey who came from the Brethren in Christ’s first mission station in Southern Rhodesia at Matopo.   Rev. Henry Steigerwald, along with Mlobeki Moyo, one of Matopo’s first graduates, assisted them.

By 1908, a brick church had been build with a Sunday school attendance of 75.  The Mtshabezi Girls School was opened that same year.  Most of the first students came for refuge from parents who wanted to give them away in marriage.  A “Standard VI” Central Primary School was later opened with an enrollment of 550 students by 1953.  The Primary Teachers Training Course was transferred to Mtshabezi from Matopo in 1956. The school was moved to Bulawayo in the 1970’s due to the escalating “liberation war.”  Teacher training was not re-established after Independence.

One of the key institutions at Mtshabezi is the Ekuphileni Bible Institute (EBI), which originally began as Wanezi Bible Institute at Wanezi Mission.  The school outgrew its facilities and moved to Mtshabezi in 1968.   The change of location necessitated its new name – “Ekuphileni” meaning,  “where there is life.”  The focus of EBI is to prepare students “to lead community churches through pastoral care.”  The school’s aim is to plant “training centers in every town in Zimbabwe.”  In addition, the Mtshabezi campus is home to the Mtshabezi Mission Hospital, which has 110 beds and one doctor.


  • Mark Loomis