Ancient Oils – Myrrh

Aloe (Agar Wood)
Santalum album
Hebrew meaning: Ahalim
Scripture references: Numbers 24:6; Psalms 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Song of Solomon 4:14; John 19: 39
General properties: Relieves anxiety and brings a deep sense of peace. Aloe helps in stimulating the secretion of melatonin. It contains the fourth-highest concentration of Sesquiterpines, the oxygen bearing molecule that is responsible for deprogramming incorrect information in each cell.
Decreases nervous tension and stress
Great for cuts and wounds, acne, dermatitis
It helps in treating urinary-tract infections
Prophetic meaning:  My past has been redeemed.  Aloe highlights the gentle forgiving nature of Jesus. I love the fact it gives us all a clear message of hope. As you continue reading about Aloe you will notice that Jesus always turns our past into a purposeful future. So be blessed as you enter into the Aloe anointing.
Aloe oil is not from the typical ‘aloe vera’ plant we are familiar with. It is obtained from a fungal infection that attacks the “heartwood” of the Aquila tree. The infection causes the trunk and roots to secrete a resin which preserves the tree. The resin has a beautiful fragrance and is extremely valuable.The resin embedded wood is commonly called gaharu, jinko, aloeswood, agarwood, or oud and is valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes. It was believed in ancient times that it was the only tree descended to mankind from out of the Garden of Eden. Legend had it that Adam took a shoot from the garden and planted it where he settled and that every aloe plant originates from this shoot. Other names for it are Shoot of Paradise or Paradise Wood.
There is another mention of aloe in Numbers 24:6 “as the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river`s side, as the trees of ‘lign aloes’ which the Lord hath planted as cedar trees beside the waters.” The word for aloes in this context in Arabic means” little tents”. This word was derived from the small tent-like capsules from the lign aloe tree. The symbolic picture speaks of the blessing coming for the Bride. We, like Israel are blessed of the Lord and He comes to marry us to His Son who is preparing a tent or bridal chamber next to His Father’s house for us. This is confirmed in John 14: 1-2, “I go and prepare a place for you and when it is ready, I will return for you.” Throughout our preparation time here on earth, the Holy Spirit comes along side us and helps us to “make ourselves ready.” He does this by revealing Jesus and His perfect and complete gift of grace to us. He lavishes us with many gifts and provides us with strength to surrender into His powerful hand of surgery and healing.
An “infection” can come in many forms. We are all infected by sin and God provided the blood of His Son to turn our infection into a treasured fragrance. The Bible says that we are a fragrance unto Christ. Jesus paid a very high price for our sin….He came and took the sinful, sick, diseased nature out of us and gave us a new valuable identity. He continually transforms us to become a sweet smelling aroma unto God.
“Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15. We often experience seasons where our choices and decisions influence our lives negatively, or the sovereign hand of God allows us to go through trials and tribulations for the purpose of strengthening our faith in the finished work of the cross. God understands our human limitations and the daily struggles we are challenged with. The solution to this “re-infection” is to bring it under grace. God’s plan is to keep us in relationship with Him. He took our sin that was destine to destroy us, and placed it all upon Himself. We should never allow the trials we are challenged with to overcome us. We have been given everything we need in Christ to be more than over-comers. As I reflect back upon my life, I realize that I could have allowed the “re-infections” over the course of my life to have destroyed the greater purposes God had waiting for me. Allow me to encourage you; Jesus came to give you life, abundance and fulfilment in all you do. Continue reading and discover the wonders of His great love.
Aloe is mentioned 4 times in the Bible:
Numbers 24:5, 6″How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. He shall pour water from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters.” We are like aloe trees planted by the Lord. He created us as His master pieces and is constantly restoring us back to our original state. We are watered by Him and can only survive in and through Him.
Psalm 45:8 “All your garments are scented with myrrh and aloe and cassia” This piece of scripture is preceded with, “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, Your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness more than your companions.” The love we are encouraged to have for Jesus will instil in us a walk of righteousness. It will be a relationship filled with gladness because we become aware of the magnitude of His grace toward us. Once the reality of our destiny without grace becomes fully known to us, we cannot help to be in awe of His mighty hand of love toward us.
Proverbs 7:17 “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon” A bed is a place of rest. We enter into the anointing of His peace and rest, through learning to trust Him in all circumstances.
Mark 20:39 “….bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloe, about a hundred pounds . . .” Jesus was embalmed with aloe, signifying that He came to conquer the effects of the “infections” that come to steal and rob us. He overcame the curse of death on our behalf. This is why the “infections” we experience in life will offer resurrection life to us if we choose to surrender our lives to Him.
Aloe reminds me of my own life in many ways. I remember desperately searching for love, acceptance and recognition. I made unhealthy choices in relationships. I compromised my moral standards which lead me to feel more and more guilt and dislike of myself. Have you ever looked into the mirror and wondered who you are looking at? I knew that I was doing harm to myself, yet shortly after deciding that I would never allow myself to walk this path again, I found my footsteps tracing back into the same direction. Have you felt like you are going around the same track over and over again? Have you noticed a pattern in the way you have lived your life?
To enter into the aloe anointing, means surrendering into God’s plans for your life. It requires trusting God to turn your PAST into a FUTURE. Only God can turn the ‘infection’ into a sweet smelling balm. Nothing you have tried or are hoping to try will satisfy the thirst you have for meaning and deep gratification. Only the unconditional love of Jesus, who took me into His loving, and forgiving arms, even though I felt ‘dirty and unlovable’, was able to change my life forever. Everything else I tried only gratified my flesh for a season. Jesus came and took me as I was, and gave me hope again.
You may experience days of weakness and find yourself falling back into your old patterns. Remember, God is patient and kind. He will pick you up and allow you to try again. He is always willing to go the extra step with you. People may say you are ‘hopeless’, or you will never make it. God says, “When you are weak, I am strong, when you can’t, I can”. The Bible teaches that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the desires of the flesh, but after the Spirit. God sees your heart and knows the ultimate plans He has for you. God has intended you to be a winner and so you are in Him. Allow God to come and overcome the infection of temptation. You are safe with Him! I know that making a choice to change unhealthy habits is easier said than done. I made so many new, New Years’ resolutions and failed dismally. This only made me feel worse and more of a failure. In Numbers 24:6, God describes Israel as aloes planted by the Lord! “Like valleys that stretch out, like gardens by the riverside, like the aloes planted by the Lord, like the cedars beside the waters.” Aloes is one of the eight trees in scripture mentioned by name, which the Lord has planted.
The anointing of aloe encourages me, because I am reminded by the Lord that it is He who has planted me. He has planted me securely in Him, to be adorned in His robe of beauty and gladness. Psalm 45:7, describes this garment of joy as having a fragrance of aloe, cassia and myrrh. The aloe anointing, amongst other properties, grants comfort, freedom, victory and the mantle of praise.
I received enormous peace as I began anointing myself with aloe, because the revelation of God planting me for a purpose, gave me rest from trying to create my own destiny. I realized that I was planted by God for His pleasure. In the new covenant we have been made righteous and so my own efforts to become more worthy or make myself feel better before God were all in vain.
The aloe trees infection becomes the most precious oil or balm. This is hard to understand when we try and apply this theory to our own lives. Most of the time we try so hard to keep our pain hidden and away from others. I know from my own life, I was embarrassed about my self inflicted illness of anorexia and also the embarrassing path of failed relationships, and two unsuccessful marriages. My life was not an attractive tapestry, yet God looked at me through His eyes of love and much greater potential. As you are reading this, perhaps you are feeling as though your life has nothing to boast about or perhaps you have achieved all you have dreamt of, but are dismally unhappy. God has made a plan for you, and it is a plan that requires no ‘work’ of your own. It only requires a relationship of trusting Jesus and the finished work He has done for you.

A Prayer of Purification:
Father, I surrender myself to You. I declare that I have been planted by You as an tree of righteousness, to display Your splendour and not my own. Forgive me for trying to achieve my own sense of worth and recognition. I surrender my successes and my failure to You, and ask for You to turn my ashes into beauty and give me a crown of beauty for Your honour and glory. Father please come and reveal the deepest lies that have held me in bondage, so that I may surrender to You everything that has kept me from receiving the fullness of Your gladness and joy. I receive this anointing of truth into my life and declare that the truth according to God’s word shall set me free. Thank you for your truth and I receive Your blessings which You have stored up for me in heavenly places. In Jesus Name Amen
 -Naomi Sheneberger

What is the Illuminati Conspiracy

If one were to attempt to summarise the Illuminati conspiracy, it would read as follows: The Illuminati began as a secret society, later a council of five men, one for each of the points on the pentagram, formed what was called ‘The Ancient and Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.’

Who makes up the Illuminati?
They were high order Luciferian Freemasons, thoroughly immersed in mysticism and Eastern mental disciplines, seeking to develop the super powers of the mind. Their alleged plan and purpose is world domination for their lord (who precisely this lord is varies widely).
The Illuminati are alleged to be the primary motivational forces encouraging global governance, a one-world religious ethic, and centralised control of the world’s economic systems.
Organisations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the [World Council of Churches] are seen as tentacles of the Illuminati.
According to the Illuminati conspiracy, the Illuminati are the driving force behind efforts to brainwash the gullible masses through thought control and manipulation of beliefs, through Hollywood, the press, the educational curriculum, and the political leadership of the nations.

What is their purpose?
The Illuminati supposedly have a private board of elite, interlocking delegates who control the world’s major banks. They create inflations, recessions and depressions and manipulate the world markets, supporting certain leaders and coups and undermining others to achieve their overall goals.
The supposed goal behind the Illuminati conspiracy is to create and then manage crises that will eventually convince the masses that globalism, with its centralised economic control and one-world religious ethic, is the necessary solution to the world’s woes. This structure, usually known as the ‘New World Order’, will, of course, be ruled by the Illuminati.

What does the Bible say?
Does the Illuminati conspiracy have any basis from a Christian/Biblical perspective? Perhaps. There are many [warnings and] prophecies in the Bible that are interpreted by most to point to an end time one-world government, a one-world monetary system, and a one-world religion. Many Bible prophecy interpreters see this New World Order as being controlled by an Antichrist, false messiah.
If the Illuminati conspiracy and the New World Order has any validity and is indeed occurring, for the Christian, there is one fact that must be remembered: God has sovereignly allowed these developments, and they are not [beyond His ultimate control].

God is in control
God is in control, not the Illuminati. No plan or scheme the Illuminati develop could in any way prevent, or even hinder, God’s sovereign plan for the world.
If there is indeed some truth to the Illuminati conspiracy, the Illuminati are actually pawns in the hands of satan, tools to be manipulated in his conflict with God.
The fate of the Illuminati will be the same as the fate of their lord, satan/lucifer, who will be cast into the lake of fire, to be tormented day and night, forever and ever (Rev 20:10). In John 16:33 Jesus declared, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
For Christians, we need to understand the Illuminati conspiracy in the light of the words of 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
– Peter Hammond

Nick Vujicic – No Hands, No Legs, Big Heart, Big Smile

Imagine being born without arms. No arms to wrap around a friend; no hands to hold the ones you love; no fingers to experience touch; no way to lift or carry things. How much more difficult would life be if you were living without arms or legs? No ability to dance, walk, run, or even stand. What would you do? How would that affect your everyday life? Meet Nick Vujicic, pronounced ‘Vooy-cheech’. Born in 1982 in Brisbane, Australia, without any medical explanation or warning, Nicholas Vujicic came into the world with neither arms nor legs. Imagine the shock his parents felt when they saw their first-born brand new baby boy for the first time, only to find he was what the world would consider abnormal.

Struggling with life’s issues
A limbless son was not what nurse Dushka Vujicic, and her husband Pastor Boris Vujicic had been expecting. How would their son live a normal happy life? What could he ever do or become when living with such a massive disability? Little did they or anyone else know that this beautiful limbless baby would one day be someone who would inspire and motivate people from all walks of life. Throughout his childhood, Nick dealt not only with the typical challenges of adolescence such as bullying and self-esteem issues; but also struggled with depression and loneliness.

 Victory over his struggles
He constantly questioned why he was different than all the other kids surrounding him; why he was the one born without arms and legs. He wondered what the purpose behind his life was, or if he even had a purpose. According to Nick, the victory over his struggles throughout his journey, as well as the strength and passion he has for life can be credited to his faith in God. His family, friends and the many people he has encountered along the way have also encouraged him.

Finding his purpose
After school, Nick went on with further study and obtained a double Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Accounting and Financial Planning from Griffith University in Logan, Australia. At age 19, Nick started to fulfil his dream of being able to encourage other people and bring them the Gospel of Jesus through motivational speaking and sharing his testimony about how God changed his life and gave him a future and a hope. “I found the purpose of my existence, and also the purpose of my circumstance. There’s a purpose for why you’re in the fire.” Nick wholeheartedly believes that there is a purpose in each of the struggles we each encounter in our lives, and that our attitude towards those struggles, along with our faith and trust in the Lord can be the keys to overcoming our challenges.

Finding hope and new love
Today, this limbless young man has accomplished more than most people accomplish in a lifetime. Nick moved from Brisbane, Australia to California in 2007, where he is the President and CEO of a non-profit organisation, Life Without Limbs. Since his first speaking engagement, Nick has travelled around the world, sharing his story with millions of people, speaking to students, businessmen, churches and even the homeless in New York.
He has ministered in South Africa a few years back and recently married his sweetheart, Kanae, in February this year. I recently interviewed Nick who has just released a new book.
Nick, you came to Christ at a young age; have you ever felt
despondent enough, even as a believer, to take your own life?
I gave my life to Jesus at age fifteen when I read in the Bible that Jesus knew that the works of God would be displayed through the blind man in John 9.  However, before having faith in Jesus, I was angry at God and blamed Him for my lack of limbs and the fact He didn’t seem to care. The reason why I thought He had forgotten me was because He didn’t answer me when I asked with much faith for limbs miraculously. Because of being bullied at school and experiencing a lot of negative attention, feeling like I was a burden to my parents and not seeing a right future, I attempted to commit suicide by drowning myself in a bath tub.
As I was in the process, the thought of leaving my parents with much grief helped me to not go through with the suicide.  It was by God’s grace that I am still here, and I can hear the words ring true in Jeremiah 29:11-14:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord…”

What advice can you offer to other people who are mentally or physically disabled, and feel like their life is pointless?
Any negative lies and thoughts that come to you are not from God if the statements are not in-sync with the Word, the heart of God. Pray daily that the Lord guards our heart and minds as we warfare through this battle of principalities and powers of darkness. Remind yourself of the truth of your identity, purpose and destiny in Christ. Put on the full armour of God. Ask God for the gift of faith to believe every loving word of the Bible and the discipline to have time in worship or prayer or reading of the Scriptures to grow of your faith. 
Take one day at a time. We all have a fear of being lonely. Some have been abandoned, but Jesus is with you. Trust Him, and if you don’t know Him, seek Him.

Describe an average day…
As a teenager, I wanted to prove to myself that I could be independent, and it would take me an hour to get ready, brush my teeth, shower and dress myself. These days I like to focus on what gives me more joy and save my energy for the things that are truly rewarding after proving to myself that I could be independent. So, I have caregivers who take care of me and get me ready, especially when travelling.

How did you meet your wife?
Kanae and I fell in love at the top of a Bell Tower in Texas. I was addressing 16 people at a function, after we watched the Butterfly Circus [a movie Nick starred in]. I shared about my ministry’s goals and heart in reaching the world. Fireworks were in our minds and hearts when Kanae and my eyes connected that night…and for the rest of the story…get my new book!

What attracted you to her?
She is my best friend, and I adore her. She has unimaginable grace, love, patience and meekness. She is such a focussed and gentle giver. We are very excited – she is pregnant with our first child will be born next year. We can’t wait to begin a family and look forward to having many more children in the near future.

Where do you live/attend church?
We live in Southern California but having travelled quite a lot over the years, it has been difficult to find a home church that we truly see our children growing up in for the long term.  But we genuinely enjoy the fellowship of the Apostolic Christian Church in Pasadena.

What inspired your latest book?
Since finishing my first book ‘Life Without Limits,’ I experienced two major life-changing experiences – I went through a personal crisis in December 2010 and shortly after met my wife and started courting her at the end of 2010.  I love how God lets us go through difficult challenges to help each other and encourage one another. That’s what family is for. In my new book, ‘Unstoppable’ I want to communicate a message of hope and love that continues to evolve as I walk closer to Jesus. I trust it will inspire other people too!

You minister around the globe; what message is on your heart?
In such a world and generation where there is so much vicious pressure to be someone you’re not or to get something you don’t have yet, my message is to preach the truth. To know our true worth and knowing that we are all loved and we are here for a greater purpose. 

By- Jackie Georgio

Surviving your Wilderness

Not all ‘wilderness’ experiences are the same. Some are caused by sin or disobedience, and some are Holy Spirit training exercises. We must know what kind of ‘wilderness’ we are in so we can know how to respond.

Sin can cause our wilderness
Sin can reroute us into a spiritual wasteland. When the Israelites rebelled against the Lord, He multiplied their years in the desert: “You will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have Me against you,” Num 14:34. Most of Israel’s wilderness was a ‘wilderness of opposition’ – God’s opposition to their disobedience and unbelief (Hebrews 3:17-19).
Sin is an evil power that stands contrary to God. When we allow unresolved sin to grow and become habit, not only do we experience a wilderness of separation, but also of Divine resistance. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God?…That is why Scripture says: God opposes the proud…” James 4:4-6.

How do we get out of that place?
Trying to walk against the stiff headwind of God’s resistance is an unnecessary, exhausting and futile activity. It is the wilderness of opposition. How then do we escape?
James continues, “But He gives grace to the humble. Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
“Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:6-10. In other words, James is saying, “Repent. Forsake your sin and turn fully to God.”

Repent and turn away 
Contrary to popular opinion, ‘repentance’ is not a bad word. It is not the voice of spiritual tyranny or the rant of an angry street preacher waving his Bible and spewing insults at passers-by. Repentance is not legalism. It is not the demand of controlling leaders, bad religion, or an irate God. In fact, repentance is a total reshaping of mind and lifestyle that centres on Jesus Christ.
Genuine repentance is not as much a matter of turning from sin as turning to Jesus. “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22.
If my destination is north, but I am travelling northeast, it does not help to make a complete U-turn. Making a U-turn is a radical response to finding out I was headed in the wrong direction, but it does not send me in the right direction. It sends me southwest, not north. Change according to my own wisdom is not enough, however radical my new direction may seem to be.

Get re-aligned with Christ
If repentance were always about making 180-degree U-turns, then it would only be for people who live in the most flagrant, vicious sins, moving in a direction precisely opposite to Christ.
Such repentance would have no relevance for those who walk with the Lord, aim to please Him, but get slightly off course. But when we realise that repentance is less about turning from sin than turning to Jesus, we learn that repentance is something that we can do any time the Spirit convicts us even of the subtlest sin. So if we’re only a couple degrees off – maybe an attitude, or mindset, gets out of sync with the Spirit – we can recalibrate so that we’re once again aligned with Christ.

Extended wilderness periods
This is a very important principle. Many have prolonged their wilderness by focusing on the wrong thing. They’ve been dwelling on their failures and shortcomings. They beat themselves up, living under a constant barrage of condemnation and shame.
“I will never overcome this issue. I’ll never be able to live like a true Christian…” Time and time again they try to turn away from their sins, but with no victory. The sense of guilt, shame and unworthiness has even caused some to turn away from Christ. Thus they extend their wilderness indefinitely – a far worse situation than their original struggle.

There is hope for breakthrough
When we turn from sin to Jesus Christ everything changes. Jesus is the beauty of holiness (Rev 1:12-20). Jesus is the baptiser in the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11), who empowers us to live victoriously (Rom 8:13). Jesus is the great high priest who sympathises with our weaknesses and helps us when we’re tempted (Heb 4:14-16). Rather than thinking about how much we’ve failed, let’s focus on Jesus Himself. That’s what repentance is.
If you find yourself in a wilderness caused by sin, rebellion or disobedience, put your eyes back on Jesus and turn to Him with your whole heart. Move in the direction of Christ and you will find your way out of the wilderness of opposition.
-Daniel Kolenda

The need for Christian Universities

The original formation of universities, as centres of learning, was a Christian idea despite most modern universities being distinctly secular institutions. It was the early church fathers who nurtured the idea of assimilating and integrating early classical philosophy into learning, giving Christendom a rich heritage of intellectualism and scholarship.
In medieval Europe and Britain, universities arose with the involvement of the Church and in America the first universities were founded as Christian centres of learning.

The Christian foundation of learning
However, this all began to change with 18th Century Enlightenment when reason became a central concept and the primary source of authority, giving rise to secular academies with Biblically and theologically-independent methods of acquiring true knowledge. This loss of the overarching theological universals, combined with new faculty who cared little for the faith, led to division between different learning disciplines and to islands of knowledge and learning. Today faith and reason are no longer entwined in the search for truth and these institutions have little or no desire “to think God’s thoughts after Him”. They now consider themselves merely sources of knowledge (or expertise) and moral wisdom, meaning and purpose have become largely passé with little rationale for character development.

Growth within Christian education
Today the argument for Christian universities is compelling as they can again be centres of comprehensive learning where the fear of the Lord, and theology, once the queen of all sciences, can be integrated into the beginning of wisdom and moral character. Different worldviews may be explored and articulated as components of developing of the authentically Christian mind.
Considering Christianity’s historic role in fostering education it should not be surprising that the number of Christian universities is rising around the world in the wake of the unprecedented Church growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, the historically most educationally disenfranchised region of the world, the demand has continued to grow.

The benefits of private education
As higher education comes under the strains of needing to accommodate expanding numbers of students and the costs associated with education, the temptation is to take a reductionist approach and simply provide information and expertise at the expense of the combined formation of character in serving God, the common good and the welfare of nations.
Here, private education is most at risk to being driven by cost-cutting enterprise; this is where Christian private higher education is uniquely positioned to be a blessing in providing a value driven education.

The looming crisis in government tertiary education
Since the advent of public schooling about two hundred years ago, education systems all over the world had to grapple with two challenges: one is provision and another is delivery of teaching and participation in learning.  Very few education systems can cope with these two challenges equally well and our country is no exception.
We do not have to look very far to see that education in South Africa is in a mess. Any assumption that we need not be concerned will be quickly washed in the sea of anomalies provided by the plethora of evaluations, assessments and other comparative constructs that emerged over the last ten years. We lag so far behind in almost any measure of achievement in the important areas of numeracy, mathematics and literacy. The recently published Annual National Assessment (ANA) results provide further evidence:
• We are a very high-cost but low-performing education system
• South Africa was the worst scoring country out of the 40 countries on the 2006 PIRLS (Progress in International Literacy Study)
• In  the SACMEQ (The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality) South Africa was place 9th out of the 15 countries participating in Mathematics and Science – and these are countries which spend less on education and are not as wealthy as we are
• In the ANA of 2011 Grade 3 learners scored an average of 35% for literacy and 28% for numeracy while Grade 6 learners averaged 28% for literacy and 30% for numeracy.
It is clear that we are in trouble and that it will take a long time to turn the ship around because the problems are deep. South Africa consistently spends about 4.5% of its GDP on education compared to 3.1% and 2.9% in developing and sub-Saharan countries respectively and three times more than Latin America spends on each learner.
Our problem is rather poor returns on investment. In addition to poor learner performance, the South African education system seems to do poorly on basic systems of efficiency indicators: the learner dropout rate almost trebles from 1% in grade 2 to 2.7% in grade 7 and further burgeons to 11.8% in grade 11.  In 2009 only 60% of the population up to 23 years of age completed grade 11 and only 44% completed grade 12.
Higher education has to deal with three intertwined challenges within this context: access, massification (expansion) and quality.

Challenges for higher education
Given the interest in higher education and the intense battle for the limited number of places at public universities, it is clear that there is no poverty of aspiration among our school leavers. We see the intense struggle for admission at some of our universities every year.
Secondly there is the challenge of massification: there are plans to increase the student numbers at public universities from about 850 000 to 1.5 million over the next 20 years and at FET colleges it is hoped to increase the numbers from 400 000 to 4 million in the same period.
Thirdly there is the important issue of quality. It is unfortunately the case that although there are some pockets of excellence, the majority of public schools do not fit any definition or description of a quality school. If there is one word that describes what we see in most situations, it would be dysfunctionality. Dysfunctionality in school is directly linked to weak leadership and management. If this capacity is not there, then simply to add resources or teachers will not bring about the necessary change.  Universities are facing a tremendous challenge to be flexible about entrance standards while remaining rigid about exit standards.

Training citizens for life
One important consequence of the focus on the immediate need to provide learners with the knowledge, skills and competencies to participate in an economy of the 21st Century, is that we forget to ask ourselves the more fundamental question: What kind of people do we want to see coming out of our school system as the citizens of a transformed and admirable society? And universities have to ask the obvious follow-up question: What kind of teacher, curriculum and educational ethos will be needed in order to produce such people?

The need for Christian universities
The South African tertiary education landscape is dominated by the 23 public universities that in 2011 enrolled nearly 900 000 students (nearly 300 000 in UNISA alone). Although enrolment figures are not readily available for the 117 private tertiary institutions that are registered or provisionally registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training, it is safe to assume that students in private tertiary institutions comprise less than 10% of the total. Among the 117 private institutions in South African, approximately 23 (20%) identify themselves as Christian institutions. However, only a handful of those offer subjects other than theology.

A need for Christian education
Suffice it to say, although we have a long tradition of top quality private schools in South Africa that are grounded in the Christian tradition, the concept of a Christian university is still rather unknown in South Africa. In fact, other African nations, such as Uganda and Kenya are further ahead of South Africa in the development of Christian Universities. For example, Uganda Christian University boasts five campuses and more than 11 000 students.

Offering a Biblical worldview
Are Christian universities really needed in South Africa? Most definitely! Unlike public universities, Christian universities provide the opportunity for students to study a range of academic disciplines from a Christian worldview. It is understandable that a public university, which is in a secularised environment, must not favour any one religion.
A Christian university, however, is able to offer academic programmes that see all truth as God’s truth and, therefore, bring a Christian frame of reference to their teaching of all disciplines.

Imparting Biblical values
This is usually maintained by the practice of hiring only Christian faculty, by cultivating a Christian ethos and by designing curriculum that reflects a Biblically-shaped and Christ-centred worldview. Such an approach to higher education provides students with a solid Christian foundation for their chosen field of study.
Christian universities also provide the opportunity for students to reinforce and further develop alternative values to those generally accepted by society. For example, one could expect that discussions of ethics in a Christian university would be informed by a Christian value system rather than a utilitarian or humanistic value system.
This difference in values is often evident even in the way Christian students approach higher education. Many of them have a clear sense of a call to service, whether through vocational Christian ministry or through service in another career.

Excellent education standards
Christian universities provide a supportive environment in which such students can be encouraged to see such vocations as an extension of their Christian commitment, giving of themselves in service to God by serving others.
There are a handful of Christian higher education institutions in South Africa that offer academic programmes in disciplines other than theology. Although these insti tutions are small in comparison to public universities, they must meet all the same quality assurance requirements as any other higher education institution in South Africa and often deliver a quality of academic programmes on par with or surpassing the standards of public universities.

Consider Cornerstone Institute
For example, Cornerstone Institute in Cape Town, which offers psychology qualifications at the bachelors and honours levels, recently had one alumni and one current student accepted into a psychology masters programme for 2013 at one of the public universities – out of only six candidates accepted into the programme!
Such an achievement is a clear indicator of the academic quality that Christian universities in general – and Cornerstone Institute in particular – are able to provide.
Christians looking at varsity options should consider the programme offerings available through such institutions. Churches and Christian individuals can also make a real difference in society by supporting Christian universities through donations and/or support of deserving students. In these ways the whole Christian community can be involved in reshaping the worldview and values of our society.

Holistic Christian higher education
Within educational circles there is an oft-repeated expression, “head, hands and heart,” referring to a holistic approach to education. Such an expression underscores the fact that knowledge is not only about thinking, but also about doing and being. A head-hands-heart approach focuses on humans as tripartite beings, comprised of mind, body and soul. Teachers that adopt such an approach focus on engaging the head (mind), hands (body) and heart (soul) of the learner.

Teaching learners to live like Christ
Admittedly, it is much easier to measure the achievement of outcomes that focus on knowledge and actions (skills) than those that focus on feelings or choices. But it is possible to design curricula that provide opportunities for students to engage in learning activities that incorporate all elements. Thus at Cornerstone Institute lecturers are encouraged to design learning sessions that not only stimulate students’ minds, but also their other faculties.
In the context of Cornerstone, this is done by addressing spirituality as a subject throughout the curricula of various programmes. But spirituality is also developed through a weekly chapel experience for both staff and students, through providing counselling and mentoring opportunities, and through shared meals.
Holistic Christian higher education should ultimately lead not merely to an academic qualification, but to a life that is increasingly reflective of Christ.

Contact details to register
For more information or to register please call Jonéll on 082 626 1269 or 021 671 3506 or visit 