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Missions 101

Two Stories from our Short-Term Trips

Oct. 1, 2013By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio


Among our African class, we have students from many different countries. One particular student is Emanuel from Ghana. He has lived in Athens for many years and has held leadership roles in his local church. He has sensed a call to pastoral ministry and was eager to begin the TLI classes when they began in January of 2012. After taking the first three courses, he went back to his home in Ghana to visit family. Upon going to his home church, he told his pastor that he was taking theological training classes in Athens. He happened to have his "Biblical Theology" student workbook with him. His pastor was so happy to see the maturity in Emanuel that he invited him to preach the very next Sunday.

Emanuel was nervous as this would be his first opportunity to preach and he would be doing so in front of many friends and family members. (In sharing about this occasion, Emanuel pointed to a pulpit and said, "I had never been behind one of those before and I was nervous!") But the Lord impressed upon him to put together a message based upon something which he learned in the Biblical Theology course. At the close of the message, three people repented of their sins and placed faith in Jesus Christ! Emanuel shared with us that he had heard later in the year that each of them were baptized and he gave God the glory to have been able to be used by the Lord. Emanuel exhibits a very strong teaching gift and an eager mind to grow in his theological understanding for the purpose of ministry. Currently, Emanuel has completed four TLI courses and is eager to complete the entire program.


In our course on Genesis, we had pastors from different tribes in Cameroon. During one of our discussions, the topic of honoring your ancestors came up and students were asking how Christians can honor their ancestors. They were arguing that we must honor them since failure to do so would be dishonoring the dead among the living. As the conversation continued, one pastor put his hand up and shared how they honor their ancestors in his tribe. I asked him to explain and he said, “we dig up the bones of the dead” as a way to honor them. I was shocked to hear that coming from a pastor. I asked him if Christians in his tribe do that as well and he said yes. I then asked him, where do you find that practice in the Bible? He immediately quoted to me Genesis “Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’” This pastor believed that what they were doing was in keeping with Scripture and therefore not wrong. This shows why theological education is so needed in these parts of the world. These people read something in the Bible and decided to do it because it fits their context. In the end, that incident opened up the door for us to talk about the dead and the resurrection of the dead and its implication for the practice of digging up bones of dead ancestors.

Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International.  As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter

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