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Missions 101

Some Statistics

Sep. 26, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Here are some statistics from Philip Jenkin's book The Next Christendom:

  • At the beginning of the 20th century, Europeans dominated the world church with 70.6% of the Christian population.  By the end of the 20th century, the percentage had shrunk to 28% with Latin America and Africa providing 43% of the world's Christians.
  • In 1900, Africa had 10 million Christians representing 10% of the population.  In 2000, there were 360 million Christians representing 50% of the population.
  • The number of African Christians is growing at around 2.36% annually.
  • In 2050 Christianity will chiefly be the religion of Africa and the African diaspora.
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Missionary Mommy Wars

Sep. 23, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Jonathan Trotter writes:

So here’s to the missionary mom, the one in the trenches with the toddlers.

The one who raises kids abroad and then sends them “home.”

Here’s to the missionary mom, far away from pediatricians and emergency services, who lives with constant awareness that help might not be coming.

Here’s to the missionary mom who lives in a glass bowl, aware of the stares.

The one who liked shopping when shopping was simple.

The one who would really like a Starbucks coffee. Like, right now.

Here’s to the missionary mom whose children experience more goodbyes than most.

The one whose kitchen looks more like Bear Grylls than Martha Stewart.

Here’s to the mom on mission, the one who rocks the cradle and changes the world.

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The Impact of TLI in Four Minutes

Sep. 22, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio
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Theological Education for Women in Africa

Sep. 20, 2016By: Philemon YongAuthor Bio

Several years ago, while teaching at a seminary in Africa, this question often came up: Should women be pastors? If not, why are they in seminary? Some pastors took this to another level, and one Sunday a pastor preached against women seeking admission into seminaries. They are not to do so because it is for men. While this may sound ridiculous, it is important for the African church to address.

There are two recent events that lead me to say this. First of all, I was teaching in Cameroon a few weeks ago and in my class were a few women who are seeking to be involved in Christian ministry. During the course of the class, some of the men raised the question whether it is proper for women to be in seminary. Second, I met a respected Christian lady who declared to me that she has a problem with the Bible because it is against women. It encourages men to take advantage of women and not allow them to hold positions of power. Two things stand out: There are some pastors who do not see the need for women to seek any theological education, and there is a growing number of young educated women in Africa who are increasingly becoming unhappy with the Bible because they are being taught that it is against women.

I agree that we ought and must give women in Africa the best theological education possible. Here I provide a few biblical reasons why African women should pursue theological education in preparation for Christian ministry.

First, according to Genesis 1:26-28, man as male and female is created in the image of God. This means that man and woman are equal before God in the sense that both bear the image of God. Both were given the command to rule over creation, and if it is important for men to be educated to rule, so too it is for women.

Second, the great commission is for men as well as women. The commission is to “make disciples of all nations” and the means to making disciples is by baptizing and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. Carrying out of the Great Commission necessarily includes teaching people to obey the things that Jesus commanded. If then women are to teach in obedience to the Great Commission and the content of their teaching is what Jesus had commanded (as we find in the Bible), it would be foolish to argue that women should not get the best theological education possible to prepare them for such an honorable task. Therefore, seminaries should prepare women and men in the best way possible for service in the progress of the Great Commission. We train both men and women to bring glory to God by faithfully and effectively making disciples by baptizing and teaching. 

Third, we will look in vain for information on Jesus excluding women in his teaching ministry. From the account in Luke 8:1-3, we cannot say that each time Jesus was teaching the twelve, women were excluded. The evidence seems to suggest that even though the 12 are mentioned in particular, women were also present when Jesus was traveling and teaching. Yet, it is important to note that the 12 in particular had a more unique task, a task which not everyone (man or woman) shared. It also becomes clear to us that in his teaching ministry, Jesus taught women (a counter-cultural practice) not for the purpose of them getting a particular job and not because they had received a particular call but simply for education’s sake.  Two examples of Jesus not discriminating in his teaching are the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-45) and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). In the case of the Samaritan woman, we see that Jesus was engaged in providing a Samaritan woman a good theological education. She had wrong views on theological matters and Jesus corrected them. He taught her well and treated her with respect. Her questions were answered well. The results of this work were immediate. Was she not in her response carrying out the Great Commission just as the twelve and the 70 and the 72 had done? But she needed to have the right beliefs in order to do the work well.

So, from the ministry of Jesus, we can see that he taught both men and women. There is no indication that he thought of women as not deserving of theological education. He gave his full attention to teaching them, though his actions were counter-cultural. We are indeed following in the footsteps of Jesus as we continue to provide quality theological education for women today for the purpose of good Christian ministry.

While these are some reasons from the Bible why we should continue to provide solid theological education for women in Africa, there is also a pressing and potentially very destructive reason that should cause us to push this issue even harder. It is the women-empowerment movements that are not only addressing social issues among women in Africa, but that go further to tell them that the root cause of their oppression is the Bible.

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Pray for TLI This Week

Sep. 12, 2016By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

We have a lot going on this week and would appreciate your prayers. In particular are two things of note:

  • Our board meets this Monday. We have a great board, filled with men of character and wisdom. The board makes decisions that impact the vision and mission of TLI. Pray we make good decisions.
  • We are hosting our first ever benefit banquet. For many who are coming, it is their first introduction to TLI. John Piper and I are speaking along with three people who have been directly impacted by the work of TLI at various sites. This is a time of celebration for what the Lord has done with TLI since 2009.
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