Throughout his academic career, Zimbabwean, Keith Chigondo, was always very good with numbers. In fact, as a high school senior, in 2003, he was awarded a Gold medal for winning the Mathematics Olympiad in Zimbabwe. Keith had lived a normal teenage life throughout high school and had simple aspirations. He planned to attend university, find a good, well-paying job and live happily ever after with his girlfriend and future wife. This plan seemed ideal at the time.
In 2004, at age 19, as Keith waited to go to university, his mother came across an advertisement in the local newspaper offering undergraduate scholarships to study in Russia. Although Keith preferred to remain in Zimbabwe and to maintain his relationship with his girlfriend, his mother was persistent. Keith decided to apply for a scholarship to study statistics; something he hoped would help him secure employment in field of Actuarial Science. He was awarded the scholarship and made arrangements to move to Russia.
"The scholarship was as a result of a bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and Russia. The Russian government paid for my academic fees and accommodation, while the Zimbabwean government gave me upkeep stipends for my living expenses. My government bought my plane ticket and sent me out in September of 2004," Keith shared.
After completing his first year of studies and learning the Russian language in the city of Voronezh, Keith was transferred to St. Petersburg to continue his education. Upon his arrival in St. Petersburg, Keith met two other Zimbabwean students at the train station. During their conversation, the two invited Keith to their church, and Keith happily accepted their invitation. It was at the church that he met Carrie Pickett, the Director of Charis Bible Training Center in Russia (an extension of Andrew's Charis Bible College).
During their introduction, Carrie shared a word of knowledge with Keith and encouraged him to be attentive to the Lord because she sensed that He was about to do something significant in Keith's life. Carrie also invited Keith to check out CBTC. A short time later, Keith enrolled at the Training Center; like many foreign students, he managed his university studies during the day and went to Charis at night.
The time Keith spent at CBTC impacted him in a significant way. After his second year in Russia, and his first year at CBTC, Keith lost interest in pursuing a career in statistics, and instead he desired to plant a CBC campus in Zimbabwe. Although he wanted to leave school to focus on ministry, he would have lost all of his scholarship and government funding, which would have forced him to leave Russia. Keith said, "The love and friendship I got there, as well as the Word, changed me and my desires. By the end of second year, I no longer desired the big life I had planned, and I wanted to spread the Gospel message." Although his heart was focused on ministering the word, Keith forced himself to complete the requirements so he could stay in Russia and study at CBTC. His diligence paid off and he earned his bachelor's degree in Statistics.
While finishing his degree, Keith was not content with studying the Word for three hours each evening at CBTC; he also spent his free time downloading and listening to Andrew’s messages. He listened to all of them continuously. As a result, his whole approach to life changed. Reflecting on his time in Russia Keith said, "I figured attending Bible school would keep me busy, but never knew it was God’s plan. When I look back at things, I see the real reason I went was to attend CBTC, even though I only thought it was for Statistics. The greatest thing that transformed my life was realizing what the Gospel message is all about. Through the many teachings, mainly by Andrew, I got to understand that God’s desire has always been to make us His children. That alone gave me a new way with which to look at life and I decided to live for the One who died for me."
In order to honor his sponsoring government, Keith returned to Zimbabwe after graduation and took a job as an agricultural statistician. A position that would have been satisfying at one time, but after experiencing God's Grace, he had no peace about his work—the desire to share the Gospel consumed him. "The Lord put the scriptures in Haggai on my heart to build him a house and to focus on setting up CBC," said Keith.
Unable to contain his revelation, Keith began to lead Bible studies after work. Eight months passed, and he received a call from Zimbabwean, Ottilia Nyagura, a CBC-Walsall (West Midlands) graduate. During the call she shared her desire to collaborate and launch a CBC campus in Zimbabwe. Over the course of the next several months, the two managed to put the necessary pieces together to launch the school. Their efforts to get the new extension campus off the ground were helped by generous donations from the staff at both CBC-Walsall and CBTC. CBC-Zimbabwe opened in Harare on October 3, 2011.
Although the school opened with only two students, both Keith and Ottilia were committed to seeing the school succeed. Keith was confident in his calling, and as such quit his job as a statistician. This caused no small stir in his family as they had expected him to be a successful career person. His fiancé could not accept his decision and the uncertain financial situation that accompanied Keith's choice—she walked away from their relationship.
After 15 months of pouring their hearts into two students, Keith and Ottilia decided to put an advertisement for the school in the local paper. The response was tremendous; within three days, CBC-Zimbabwe fielded more than 100 calls and emails from people interested in enrollment. One week later the school opened with 10 students in class, and today they are up to 106 students participating through correspondence!
This response is due, at least in part, to Andrew's recognizable presence in the region through GOD TV, TBN, and Daystar—the viewers in Zimbabwe want more of what they see on TV every day. As word continues to spread about CBC-Zimbabwe, the class sizes are sure to expand exponentially. This could be why the Lord chose a mathematician to plant the school—to turn large numbers of students to the One.
Classes meet Monday through Friday at 51 Churchill Avenue, Alexandria Park in Harare. To find out more about CBC-Zimbabwe, contact Keith via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0772 486 956.