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Missions 101

The Story of TLI (Part 3) - Sending, School Planting and Staff

Jul. 8, 2015By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio
This is the 3rd post in a 5 part series. 

In the summer of 2010 we received enough donations to sustain my family. Of course, it never came in all at once, but was like a drip off a kitchen fountain. Slow, steady and unending. 

In the fall of 2010, Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary asked if we would send them missionaries. Having no idea what it meant to send missionaries, I said yes. We were not large (just me) and did not have the red tape larger organizations have. We sent a Presbyterian and a Baptist family to serve there. It went about as smooth as expected.

Af the end of the year we also received our first grant - we put it to the website, seeking out new locations and creating brochures. Early that February, one day after our board meeting where we prayed for God's provision, the foundation called me because they had found a request that I had made 18 months beforehand, but it was buried under a pile of documents on a desk. Eight months later they awarded us the grant.

In February of 2011 I hired my first two staff members. Dr. Philemon Yong, who was to head upOur First Hire - Howard Foreman School Planting and Curriculum Development and Dr. Howard Foreman, who was to head up any ministry in Africa. Both came with loads of experience and wisdom, something we needed! The three of us would end up meeting 2-3x a week for the next two years.

That winter I was invited to go with Leadership Resources International (who had no idea the part they played in my conceiving of TLI) to Brazil to see what they were doing. While I was there I was asked if I knew any ministry involved in starting theological schools. I blurted out that we did, not knowing what that even meant. 18 months ago we opened that school and the man who approached me about it is joining our staff later this year.

In 2011 we also appointed Ben Stafford to oversee short-term trips and Ethan Larson to teach with us. We also hired two seminary students part-time -  Mike Littell to interact with donors and Daniel Viezbicke to process our donations. Up until the fall of 2011 I planned and recruited for all the trips, oversaw the missionaries, taught on the majority of trips and  processed all donations. It was too much, but it was necessary. I traveled overseas five times in 2011 – Brazil, India, Greece, Kenya and UAE. We sent out 11 teams to various locations around the world. We were in Brazil, Burundi, India, Greece, Uganda, Kenya, UAE and Bhutan and began writing curriculum for many of these sites.

We were also accepted into the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability. In 2009 we had received $37,315 in donations. In 2011 we were over $421K.  We were growing. 

Our family still lived month-to-month. In October of that year a doctor offered us the opportunity to abort our son. They thought he had a tumor on his heart. He ended up just as the Lord intended him to be. He has boundless energy - more than our other four children combined. 

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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