We place the utmost importance on ensuring those who work with us abroad are able to receive a quality biblical education that will equip them to work alongside us to serve the poor and marginalized. We want all of those who partner with us in ministry to be on the same biblical page, understanding how our practice is a result of Scripture. We believe that local representatives whose lives have been transformed by the power of God is the best hope we can give to others that such is possible in their lives as well.
To ensure ongoing biblical education in our absence, we’ve sent recordings from our Institute classes, which continue the values they receive during Bible seminars and conferences. Our cooperatives have been faithful to learn, despite it being their second (or third or fourth language), and the class not being targeted directly to them. They have been “grafted in” to something that was already happening here in the States.
Due to their hard work and diligence, that distance education has paid off. Francis Lubega, Peter Kimbugwe and Lawrence Ssemakula all function as lead instructors at our Institute for G.O.D. East Africa. Within their community, they are known for their knowledge of the Scriptures, possessing a competence that surpasses other local pastors and teachers.
However, our cooperative development is beginning to grow amongst all of our international regions. Not every region has an Institute (yet). So, this semester we launched our first solely international Bible class: “Biblical Foundations for Ministry.” While still transferred abroad, this class is no longer an Institute class that international students are listening in on, it is taught solely for the international students—our partners in ministry.
The course, taught by Gregg Garner, is composed of modules where students watch a video, complete a homework assignment and then participate in an online discussion forum with students from all of the regions where we work. (The internet capacity in each of our regions is also a helpful upgrade of our former DVDs, transferred by travelers.) Just imagine all the varied cultural experiences that people have to offer in these discussions! Gregg is able to respond in the following lecture to specific questions they've submitted.
Students are responding to the class with such excitement. Francis Lubega commented, “I am so glad to be a member of this wonderful class and I am also grateful to the spirit of God who revealed the necessity for this class.”
Lawrence Ssemakula remarked, “Not many people receive the kind of revelation we receive in the Word. For me serving as a teacher in a primary school, my senses have been recalibrated to the degree that I see things I used not to see before, being more sensitive to the needs of my students than ever before.”
Lorena Mejia, of El Salvador, ‘ate the whole class’ in our translator’s words. Her husband, Antonio, never thought he would be doing full-time ministry, or learning the things he is learning from the Bible. He used to see kids as a nuisance, interfering with his goals and plans. Recently, a little boy from the area ran up and hugged him. Instead of shooing him off as he was trying to work, he teared up, realizing that his mind is being changed. He realizes that children are the ones he needs to focus his attention towards—something the lectures helped him with.
These are just a few short examples, but it has been an exciting semester. We’re thankful to be able to facilitate this special class and look forward to the fruit that learning God’s Word can produce in our friends who are already serving him. This education will ensure that what they do is accountable to God’s Word—the best way.