Brethren in Christ Church: Wanezi Mission
Brethren in Christ Church
Wanezi Mission was established in 1924 by Brethren in Christ Church (BIC) Bishop Henry P. Steigerwald. Initially, Wanezi was used as a base for oversight of BIC “out-stations” in the Insiza area. A boy’s boarding school (central primary school) was added in 1945, along with a medical clinic – now Wanezi Mission Hospital. The mission later expanded with the creation of the Wanezi Bible Institute. The Institute outgrew its facilities and moved to Mtshabezi Mission in 1968, changing its name to “Ekuphileni Bible Institute.” A Secondary School (High School) opened in 1962.
Wanezi Mission is located approximately 90 miles east of Bulawayo in the remote area of Filabusi district, Matabeleland South Province. As of 1959, mail was delivered by bus in a private bag from Bulawayo to a store at the junction between Shabani road and the road to the mission. A messenger was sent from the mission school to pick up the incoming mail and drop off outgoing mail.
Dr. Simela, who attended the primary school in 1958-59, described Wanezi as having “a reputation for being a tough but a good school.” “Wanezi Mission was an all-boys school. It was not known for gentle treatment. First of all, the idea of being away from home for three months at a time created a certain level of anxiety … As if that was not bad enough, Wanezi had a bad tradition of hazing newcomers.”
In addition to Bishop Steigerwald, BIC missionaries at Wanezi included: Rev. R.H. Mann (beginning 1926 – still there 1931); Rev. H. J. Frey (beginning 1931); Elder and Mrs. J. Paul George (there 1943); Rev. Albert & Mary Brenaman (1945-49); and Rev. J. Elwood and Dorothy Hershey (there 1958-59).
- “Struggle to the top of the mountain” – Ernest D. Simela
- Missions in Southern Rhodesia – Paul King
- Anabaptist Songs in African Hearts: A Global Mennonite History – John Lapp