I came to the School of Pastors at PIBA (Primeira
Igreja Batista de Atibaia) to help seventeen young pastors make connections:
connections between key biblical themes (creation, the temple, the son of God,
and the kingdom of God), connections within the recurring pattern of Scripture
(chaos, creation, commission, test of obedience, judgment), and connections
between Biblical Theology and pastoral ministry (including preaching,
counseling, and missions). As this was my third time to teach twelve of the
students, I found unexpected connections.
It was clear
that the students have been well trained, as many of the topics we covered in
the course were familiar to them. At times, I wondered why I was teaching them
and what I could offer. However, one student came to me after the last day of class and mentioned how the class had helped
him put together many of the things he knew about the Bible. Instead of seeing
parts of the Bible in isolation, he now could see the Bible as a unified whole.
The result was an increased understanding of Scripture.
weekend, I had a similar conversation with another student, who also served as my host and translator. He mentioned that TLI’s course on Biblical Theology had enabled him to gain
insights that would be useful to him in addressing objections to the Christian
faith. He also mentioned the impact on his personal faith.
night, a visit from another student included a
request: that I serve as his mentor for his thesis project, which he plans to
do on a topic from Biblical Theology. As the students wrap up their training in
March 2017, they are required to do a thesis. And for that they need a mentor
to guide them. I was humbled to be asked.
In each case—and
others as well—I was amazed to see the impact of coming back three times.
One of the students asked me on the last day of class if I was coming back before they
completed their studies. The three students who dropped me
off at the airport, asked the same question. I do not know the answer. But I
hope to by the will of God. For these students have become dear to me.
So, as I leave
for home, I look forward to seeing my family. But, as I leave, I leave behind
not only students, but friends. Connections truly have been made.