For over a year, I was asking God for direction in how to
steward 35 years in ministry. I wondered: How can I build up the church? How can
I be part of the Gospel going to all nations?
The answer came through a longtime friend, Tom Brown. He
challenged me to be part of Christ building his church by training her future
pastors in other countries. That is why I have chosen to serve as a regular
short-term instructor with TLI.
TLI has their eyes on the wider world. Their leaders know
that the future of the church in the world does not rest on the church in the
USA – but on the church in other countries – like Brazil. And those churches
are served when their pastors are well trained.
When I arrived at EPPIBA in Atibaia, I was wonderfully
surprised to find a school based in a church. I saw a rigorous academic program
combined with hands on ministry. Philemon gave me the history of the school as
we took some long walks. I heard about the needs of Brazil and vision of Pastor
Mendez of Primeira Igreja Batista de Atibaia and TLI. I saw that vision being
lived out, just four years later.
For two weeks I, along with Philemon, Daniel Souza and Tom
Stellar, have been part of equipping future pastors with the tools to be
faithful workmen. In my class we studied the four Gospels. Together we
discovered the portraits of Jesus painted by each writer. Then we moved to the
Book of Acts and saw the work of God in advancing the Gospel to all nations.
Some of these men will be part of that.
Over meals I heard these brothers talk theology with
maturity and discernment. Midway through the week I was a guest at a breakfast
in honor of the students who will graduate this year. At the end of the meal
they shared their stories. Even with an interpreter whispering in my ear, I was
captured by the ways God has shaped and transformed them during their days here
in Atibaia. Even more than that, I saw their fellowship, their sense of
brotherhood – one of the side benefits of going through their work together. I
thought about the kind of fruit that will be borne when there are hundreds of
men trained and sent out. That will surely affect this country and the world.
I am grateful to be part of the work of TLI and to have
served at EPPIBA. My students were hungry and diligent. I found in them
faithful men who had received solid doctrine, and were ready to pass it on to
others. It has been a joy-filled two weeks.
With Philemon Yong, Tom Steller, and Daniel Souza