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Brazil May/June 2016

Sao Paulo, Brazil May 30 - June 10, 2016

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 May/June 2016

Jun  9th,  2016This ministry for this nation and all nations

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.

 Mark Lauterbach

With Philemon Yong, Tom Steller, and Daniel Souza 







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Jun  6th,  2016Has Brazil Been Reached by the Gospel?: A Reflection from a Brazilian Pastor

After 28 years in the United States, I (Daniel Souza) moved back to Brazil (my birth country) in August of 2015 after graduating with an MDiv from Bethlehem College & Seminary. I moved with my wife and five children to pastor a small church plant in one of the capital cities of Brazil. There is so much that I have learned in my short time here and so much that I have yet to learn! But one of the tragedies I have witnessed firsthand is the drastic distortion of the gospel throughout the country. Depending on what statistic you read, Brazil is 15-20% evangelical Christian. As a result, Brazil is most certainly considered by most missiologists as a nation that has been “reached” by the gospel. However, the question that has often come to my mind in the past several months is, “reached with what gospel?” There is so much syncretism that it is often hard to discern what gospel is being preached. 

 For these reasons, this past week (teaching at EPPIBA for TLI) was a great encouragement to my soul! It gave me great hope to see a church-based seminary that is striving by God’s grace to buck this trend in Brazil. What I saw this past week was a group of young seminarians eager to learn how to rightly divide the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), to learn how to watch their life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16). I saw church leaders and teachers who are eager to train the next generation of pastors how to love and shepherd people well under the authority of God’s Word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And on a personal level, I met like-minded brothers in Christ who made me feel a lot less alone in the effort to see the gospel of Jesus Christ going forth in this great nation. 

 I cannot describe what a joy it was for me to teach (and learn from) these brothers in my mother tongue, about one hour away from my place of birth. I thank God for this opportunity. I thank God for the gospel movement that is happening and the passion and hunger for God’s Word that is being stirred up in this country. And I thank God that He is building His church in Brazil and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)! 


Daniel Souza

With Tom Steller, Mark Lauterbach, and Philemon Yong

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Jun  3rd,  2016What Does it Mean that TLI “Plants Schools?”

This is the question that I have often pondered. Philemon Yong and TLI have been engaged in this work in Serbia and Brazil, with other school-planting opportunities around the world pressing in upon them. Knowing Philemon and TLI for many years I had no doubts that they were engaged in a vital work. But it wasn’t until I was invited to teach with Philemon at Escola de Pastores (EPPIBA), a church-based seminary at Primeira Igreja Batista de Atibaia, that I was able to see with my own eyes the value and the substance of this work.

 From the moment I arrived and met Pastor Antonio Mendes who has pastored PIBA since its inception thirty-five years ago, Pastor Abmael Araujo Dias Filh (Director of Christian Education), and Pastor Jeremiah Davidson (Director of EPPIBA), I felt at home. PIBA is a vibrant Bible believing congregation and the church-based seminary felt surprisingly similar to Bethlehem College and Seminary. There is something very special about seminary training that is organically connected to a local church.

 The school began 4 years ago after Darren Carlson became acquainted with Pastor Mendes and the ministry of this church and heard of their desire to do serious church-based theological training. Then Eduardo Mendes and Philemon Yong did their magic and humbly guided them in the formation of a 120 credit Master of Divinity Program. This cohort-based program has 17 students who are combining their original language, biblical theology-oriented curriculum with hands on pastoral training. Three years of intensive residential study and a fourth year of an in-depth pastoral internship and final course work is producing biblically-saturated and pastorally gifted men of God who will impact thousands through a life-time of preaching the Word, tending the flock, and reaching out with the love and justice of Christ in dependence upon the Holy Spirit.   

 What a privilege to have taught a two week course on Romans to the 4th year cohort with Daniel Souza who recently graduated from Bethlehem College and Seminary. Daniel grew up in Brazil then moved to Texas where he became successful in the insurance business. Then God surprisingly called him into ministry. His Portuguese has wonderfully revived while pastoring a church five hours away from EPPIBA. To watch him passionately teaching what he himself learned in a church-based seminary several thousand miles away from where he was trained fills me with joy!


May God plant many more schools through the ministry of TLI!  


 Tom Steller

Team members: Daniel Souza, Mark Lauterbach, and Philemon Yong


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