Thekerani Mission, situated in the most densely populated area of the southernmost part of the country and overlooking the Shire Valley, was opened as a branch of Malamulo Mission in the early days. Large numbers of students and of converts were outstanding features of the work in this area for many years. Thekerani grew to be a big mission station under expatriate leadership. A school, dispensary, and church flourished for many years. They were later taken over by the government.
Thekerani, by 1928, operated about 18 outschools and 3 prayer houses. In 1932 L. A. Vixie, publishing director of the Union, conducted an institute at Thekerani Mission, where thirteen regular canvassers and other workers were in attendance.
Solusi University, located 50 kilometres west of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, is a co-educational institution, which was founded in 1894 as one of the first of the hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist mission stations. It was named after Chief Soluswe, near whose home the Mission was founded.
During the first decade of its existence, Solusi Mission shared in the suffering brought to the region by war and a resulting famine. Despite these hardships, the development of the Mission continued and a regional training programme was established for the development of church workers. Men who trained at Solusi Mission assisted in the development of new mission stations on other parts of, by then, Southern Rhodesia; and several of them reached beyond the borders of the country to help establish mission schools in neighboring countries as early as 1905.
With a growing demand for church workers, Solusi Mission continued to expand, and by 1929 a government approved teacher-training programme had begun. To meet the need for higher academic training, secondary school training was begun in 1948, and in 1952, the teacher-training programme was moved to Lower Gwelo (Gweru) Mission to make room at Solusi for the expanding academic programme.
In 1956, Solusi Mission Training School was upgraded to Solusi College.
The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) (in Afrikaans: Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, abbreviated NGK), was introduced to Cape Town, South Africa by Dutch settlers in 1652. Grounded in reformed (Calvinist) protestant beliefs, the Cape DRC was initially under the ecclesiastical control of the presbytery of the mother Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. It became independent in 1824, following the earlier establishment of British colonial control. DRC is one of three “sister churches,” which also include the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa and the Reformed Churches in South Africa.
DRC was slow to join the missionary efforts in Africa begun by others, such as the London Missionary Society and Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. This changed with the arrival of Andrew Murray, who was elected DRC’s “moderator” in 1862. Fueled by evangelistic zeal, Murray led the establishment of a missions committee and specifically sought to evangelize Mashonaland (in what would later become Southern Rhodesia).
Early DRC outreach to Mashonaland was conducted by African evangelists, who paved the way for the missionaries that came later and made the gospel more acceptable to the indigenous peoples. In 1890, Reverend SP Helm, accompanied by two African evangelists, was sent to investigate the possibility of a more settled and permanent mission in Mashonaland. The local population was receptive, but missionary efforts were blocked by Chief Lobengula. Entrance of the “Pioneer Column” later in 1890 created conditions favorable for DRC missionary Andries Adriaan Louw to establish its first mission station in the territory, Morgenster, in September 1891.
From Morgenster, DRC missions spread throughout Southern Rhodesia. In 1906, the Berlin Missionary Society’s (Lutheran) missions at Gutu, Chibi and Zimuto were transferred to DRC.
The Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) withdrew the majority of its missionary staff from Southern Rhodesia in the late 1970’s because of security concerns during the “War of Liberation”/”Bush war.” On 4 May 1977, after the signing of a Deed of Agreement, all the DRC’s mission work and properties were officially handed over to ARC, which had grown into a full-fledged autonomous indigenous church.