New solar-powered tech brings training to rural Zimbabwe

Langham Preaching is partnering with Harare Theological College to provide an innovative solution to costly or non-existent internet connections in Zimbabwe.

Even before the Covid pandemic struck, the Langham Preaching team were exploring ways to reach rural communities where electricity supply and connectivity is poor.

John Bell, Zimbabwe’s movement coordinator, explained how the new technology works:

“Harare Theological College (HTC) has developed the ‘chatterbox’, which is essentially a mini computer, the size of a cigarette packet.

This is the single board micro computer, which is the engine room for the chatterbox. [Photos from]

Training more available

“It’s loaded with a learning management system. They’ve developed it so it’s attached to a solar panel and is completely independent of both electricity and internet. It generates its own intranet. They’ve loaded onto it the courses from HTC.

“Because of our good relationship with them, we’ve also loaded the full Level 1 Langham Preaching course, videos and manuals, embedded in that. So theoretically wherever that chatterbox unit is in the country, the Langham Preaching course is available.

“At the moment HTC has made about 20 chatterboxes and they’re being slowly distributed across the country.”

The micro computer is attached to a solar panel, which is left on the roof of a church building or community gathering place. [Photos from]

Langham disrupted

The Langham Preaching team hopes to find people willing to facilitate the course using the chatterbox. This means training could be held in hard-to-reach places. Basic tablets are used as the interface to access the videos and other resources.

Covid-19 has disrupted Langham Preaching in Zimbabwe because running virtual seminars during lockdowns is impossible.

Verengerai Mavesere, the outreach coordinator, said that it’s very difficult for those in rural communities to access the internet because of the extortionate cost of data bundles. A huge number of Zimbabweans are unemployed or living below the poverty line.

A basic tablet is used to access the Langham Preaching training materials. [Photos from]

WhatsApp Level 1

Verengerai and John are piloting a ‘WhatsApp’ version of the Level 1 course. WhatsApp is widely used across Zimbabwe.

18 videos have been recorded then compressed greatly to work on the platform. John says they would love this to succeed, as it would expand the possible footprint of Langham Preaching there.

Please pray for the success of these new initiatives in Zimbabwe. Watch an interview with the Langham Preaching team in Zimbabwe for more prayer points.

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