Reformed Baptist Church: Bethesda Mission
Reformed Baptist Church
Reformed Baptist Church missionaries Rev. Eric and Mrs. Nina Haywood established Bethesda Mission in 1957 as an extension of the church’s work with the Zulus in South Africa. The mission was located in the present small village of Mbembesi about 30-40 miles south of Victoria Falls, Southern Rhodesia. “Nina set up a medical clinic and ministered to the physical needs of the people while here husband preached and addressed the spiritual needs.” The Haywoods served at Bethesda until the 1970’s.
The clinic became The Bethesda Mission Hospital with the arrival Dr. Storer Emmett. Mr. and Mrs. Gene Hudson joined the mission in 1962. Mr. Hudson became school principal and Mrs. Hudson worked in the mission hospital alongside Dr. Emmett. As of 1969, the hospital was serving 1,800 inpatients and 4,000 outpatients, and the mission supported a high school. The Hudsons remained at Bethesda until 1973 when they withdrew to Bulawayo due to safety concerns caused by the “war for independence.” The mission was apparently closed at that time.
The Wesleyan Church, successor to the Reformed Baptist Church, was “replanted” at the site of the former mission in 2010 under the leadership of Pastor Mthokozisi Moyo, son of a teacher and pastor at the former Bethesda Mission. It is presently known as “Bethesda Christian Centre” and consists of a primary school. The former mission hospital remains closed.
- Nina Haywood obituary, Under Sail, The Wesleyan Church, July 27, 2012
- The Family in the Hospital; Lessons from Developing Countries – John Bell
- Bethesda Christian Centre
- Mark Loomis