Stop and listen

Renewal 2027 testimony: Anabaptists today

Renewal 2027 is a 10-year series of events organized by Mennonite World Conference’s Faith and Life Commission to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the beginnings of the Anabaptist movement. This series highlights leaders in the movement from history to the present.

Nellie Mlotshwa: A commanding teacher

Nellie is a woman who has achieved many firsts against many odds in the Brethren In Christ Church (BICC) in Zimbabwe. She has been a valued lay preacher right through life, particularly in large gatherings such as conferences.

After 25 years of marriage to Reverend Peter Mongameli Mlotshwa, Nellie was widowed while her five children were still at school and needing to be cared for.

After widowhood, she became even more actively involved in the work of the church.

Nellie was the first BIC indigenous woman in Zimbabwe to lecture at a Bible school, which she did for 22 years altogether. Formerly a school teacher, she first lectured at Ekuphileni Bible Institute in 1969.

Nellie was the first BIC woman in Zimbabwe to train and successfully complete a Bachelor of Theology at the Theological College of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 1992.

Nellie is the only woman to have been asked to be principal of a Bible school on an acting capacity (2002–2005). She headed Ekuphileni Bible Institute at the height of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, and “did her best to keep the school going despite the numerous difficulties.”

Nellie was the first BIC woman in Zimbabwe to sit in the national church executive board in the 1980s.

Nellie was the first president of the Anabaptist Women Theologians in Africa (2003–2010), related to the Mennonite World Conference.

Nellie has mentored and continues to mentor many church leaders. She is extolled as “one of the best leaders in the BICC Zimbabwe Conference.”

Nellie contributed a response, “The Place of the Holy Spirit in Local Congregations,” in Life in the Spirit by John Driver, a Global Anabaptist Bookshelf entry.

Nellie is the kind of leader who makes people stop and listen once she opens her mouth. She still participates actively in church matters, though she is over 80 years of age.

—A Mennonite World Conference release by Barbara Nkala. Barbara is the MWC regional representative for Southern Africa. She presented on Contemporary BICC Women preachers (1960s–2010s) at Crossing the Line: Women of Anabaptist Traditions Encounter Borders and Boundaries, a conference at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisburg, Virginia, USA.

Read more Renewal 2027 testimonies here

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