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Brazil August 2015

Sao Paulo, Brazil August 15-29, 2015

TLI is partnering with PIBA to teach courses in their church based seminary. Mostly, teachers will go by invitation. Requires seasoned pastors and teachers to go.

Follow along as teachers in the field offer their experiences as they share theological training with local church leaders.

Field Notes   Brazil August 2015

Aug  31st,  2015Connections


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.

Over the 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.

On Friday 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.



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Aug  20th,  2015Carried by Grace

My father-in-law told me over the phone tonight, “if it was too easy you would not be relying on the Lord.” Well said. 

Markus is from the northeast region of Brazil. He and his wife have moved 1000 miles away from their families, friends and everything familiar in order to attend EPPIBA (The Pastors School of the First Baptist Church in Atibaia). Marcus is in the first year of a four year residential program designed to give the students both academic biblical training as well as being mentored in hands-on work in the church. 

In the wee hours of the morning I was pleading with God to grant me sleep so I would have the mental capacity and physical energy to help Marcus and his fellow class mates learn more about the Bible they love. After preaching twice and leading a Sunday school on Sunday I knew I needed rest. God did not answer my prayers in the way I had hoped. After only a few hours of sleep on Sunday night I taught 5 hours of class on Monday. 

This senario was replayed on Monday and Tuesday nights as insomnia robbed me of slumber. I did not know how I would survive teaching 9 hours each day on Tuesday and Wednesday on such little sleep. Wednesday night I fell asleep rather quickly but was awoken by the pain of an intense headache at 2:30am. Seldom have I seen my frailty so keenly. While pleading for relief the pain only intensified. At around 4:00am my prayers were answered in a way I had been hoping and the pain began to subside. I slept a few hours before the last day of class began early Thursday morning. 

Each day I pleaded with the Lord for his strength. These students were sacrificing a great deal to be here. Our team of supporters in the U.S. had sacrificed a great deal to send me here. The thought of all that sacrifice being nullified by my inability to think coherently weighed heavily on me. 

God did not remove the thorn in my flesh and his power was made perfect in my weakness. The grace I needed for each day was supplied and the feelings of fatigue would leave me while I was teaching. Training pastors is not something that happens because of my strength and abilities. I was at the end of myself by Tuesday afternoon. God’s grace carried this frail jar of clay right to the end of class on Thursday afternoon. 

Sola gloria Dei.

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