A Mother's Day Tribute to the Central African Republic's First Female Ph.D. in Theology, Rev. Antoinette Yindjara-Beanzoui: Mother, grandmother, wife, and pastor
Despite all the bad news coming from CAR lately, there are a few bright spots. One of them is the success of a special woman—and mother—Antoinette Yindjara-Beanzoui. Next month Pastor Antoinette will receive her doctorate in theology from the Protestant University of Central Africa (U.P.A.C.) in Yaoundé, Cameroon. She will be the first woman from CAR to achieve this distinction and only the ninth woman to be granted a Ph.D. from this institution, which has been training pastors in the heart of Africa since the 1960's.
Antoinette is the mother of eight (four biological and four foster children), and recently became the proud grandmother of a baby girl. Yet somehow with all these responsibilities she was able to earn both a master's and a doctorate—an astounding accomplishment in a country where it's estimated that only a quarter of girls attend any school at all, and those who do, usually leave after only a few years of elementary school to help out at home or to get married.
Although she hails from northwestern CAR, her parents sent her to Bangui, CAR's capital, to complete high school. While there, her pastor, André Zoulé, encouraged her to enter the Lutheran Theological School in Baboua to become a pastor. She followed his advice, graduating in 1998. She and her husband, Pastor Felix Beanzoui (who graduated together with her) then served pastoral internships at St. Timothy's Lutheran Church in Bangui.
Following the internship, she was admitted to U.P.A.C. where, thanks to a full scholarship from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) she earned a master's degree in theology in 2004. In that year, she became the second woman to be ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of CAR. In 2008, she returned to U.P.A.C. for doctoral studies, again with a grant from the ELCA. After more than four years of hard work—including a semester abroad in Montpelier, France, she successfully defended her thesis this past December. She has returned to CAR, amid all the turmoil resulting from the recent coup and has joined the faculty at the Lutheran Theological School in Baboua, where she is teaching practical theology and sociology.
She is expected to receive her diploma in June. Join us in wishing Pastor Antoinette a wonderful and well-deserved Happy Mother's Day!
Deborah and Joe Troester
ELCA Missionaries to the Central African Republic
Temporally relocated to Ngaoundéré, Cameroon
Photo: Pastor Antoinette holding her new granddaughter.
Deborah and Joe are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, CAR. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides safe drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation for villagers. Their daughter, Christa, is a sophomore at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.