Wheaton grad student returns to Zimbabwe with a library of books

June 26, 2020

At Wheaton, Tarcisio Magurupira received an M.A. in Systematic Theology and several thousand books to start a library at the Evangelical Theological College of Zimbabwe.

New Degree, New Library


When Tarcisio Magurupira came to Wheaton College, he expected to return home to Zimbabwe two years later with his M.A. in Theology. What he didn’t know was that he’d also be accompanied by 172 boxes of theological books—enough to start a library at the Evangelical Theological College of Zimbabwe, where he works as an academic dean. 

“I am excited,” Magurupira said. “God has provided a way.”

Magurupira and his colleagues at the Evangelical Theological College of Zimbabwe had been hearing for several years from Zimbabwe and Malawi pastors who wanted more education and accredited degrees without travel as far from home.

“Today, our young people are coming out of universities with their master’s and Ph.D. degrees,” he said. “As pastors, we need to meet them where they are.”

Magurupira and his colleagues took this request seriously, understanding the importance of pastors being able to minister to both the spiritual and intellectual needs of their communities.

After approaching the Zimbabwe Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Magurupira’s colleagues were given three requirements for accrediting the Evangelical Theological College of Zimbabwe and its degrees: 1) all of the college’s professors must have either an M.A. or a Ph.D. from an accredited institution, 2) the college must meet a series of other higher education standards, and 3) the college must have a theological library.

Coming to Wheaton was a start in fulfilling the first requirement, though Magurupira is quick to say that his decision to pursue an M.A. at Wheaton was far from just checking a box.

“I was excited to study in a global context where I could learn more about the challenges that the global church is facing,” he said. “Wheaton is a global school. The other graduate students and professors come from different backgrounds and denominations, so that made it perfect for me.”

When he came to Wheaton in 2018, Magurupira couldn’t help but notice the riches of books surrounding him. At the Lord’s leading, Magurupira said he simply started asking people if they had unused or excess theological texts. Maybe, he thought, he’d also be able to fill the Ministry’s second requirement for accreditation?

He asked Wheaton professors, fellow graduate students, local churches, and even area publishers.  Almost everyone he approached had books to spare. The publishing company Crossway, for instance, donated 50 boxes of books. Wheaton’s Buswell Library donated more boxes. Word started spreading. A retired missionary had been praying that his own library of theological books would find a second life and was thrilled to connect with Magurupira.

By the end, Magurupira had 172 boxes of books, or roughly 4,500 theological volumes which he stored in his small Wheaton apartment, but he still had one major challenge—how to ship them from Wheaton, Ill. to Harare, Zimbabwe?

“I didn’t know what to do,” Magurupira said. I knew it was going to be very expensive, but I knew that God was going to provide a way.”

The way God provided was through Dr. Gene Green, Professor Emeritus of New Testament in the Graduate School. Green connected with Magurupira with the Theological Book Network, which agreed to ship the books to Zimbabwe for free.

A man standing by several boxes of books

Although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed both the delivery of books and Magurupira’s own flight home, he is looking forward to them both.

“One of the things I am praying for is to have computers for the library and also to have full-time workers in the library,” he said. “There are a lot of things we still need, but I am just excited about everything that has happened here.”—Emily Bratcher