We just finished our second day teaching on The Attributes of God here in Digos City in the southern Philippines. It’s been a long, exhausting two days, but as always filled with encouragement as we begin what will become a three-year journey with these students, training them to study and teach the Bible.
After long trans-Pacific flights, our group arrived in the bustling metropolis of Manila late Saturday night. Josh and Joe flew through Tokyo while Dick, Gil, Dan, and Bob flew through Seoul. After relatively few delays, we all arrived safely at our hotel where we met Dr. Philemon Yong, another TLI staff member who was leaving the Philippines after teaching at a seminary for two weeks. The world of global theological education can be a small world.
After a good night’s rest and a leisurely breakfast, we were back at the airport for the two hour flight from Manila to Davao where Levi, our national partner met us and drove us south for a little over an hour to Digos. With Mt. Apo on our right and the Pacific Ocean on our left, it felt like we’d be teaching in a tropical paradise for the next week.
Since English is the national language, most Filipinos have an ability to understand and we are teaching without translators. In one sense, this frees us up to teach without the staggered delivery that comes with interpreters, but it also creates a great difficulty because many of the students can only nominally speak English and in my class it has seemed like 75% of the students are catching about every fourth word I say. The other 25%? Seems like much less.
But global theological education requires patience perhaps more than anything. In my experience the first few days - and even this first trip - are preparatory. TLI doesn’t just drop into a location and never show up after a week of teaching. We’ll be here nine or ten times over the next three to four years. In the course of those visits, trust will be built, effective teaching styles will be developed, and our students will grow in their ability to handle and teach God’s Word.
This is the first TLI trip I’ve taken where I’ve been able to teach with an air conditioner. It’s also the first time I’ve taught through an earthquake (just a small 4.6). Please keep us in your prayers as we develop these relationships and launch this new TLI site. There is much need in the southern Philippines for faithful ministers of God’s World.