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Trips

Liberia August 2017

Undisclosed Location August 3-12, 2017

We received over two hundred initial inquiries when we agreed to train pastors and church leaders just north of the Monrovia. Our local partners, Center for Leadership Development, have worked to identify one hundred key leaders from those who expressed interest whom we will be training. Church leaders are desperate for training to help them in their ministry and are committed to pass along what they are learning to others. (MDiv required - see below) Teaching: Attributes of God

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

Field Notes   Liberia August 2017

Aug  17th,  2017In Their Words...

It is difficult to believe that our time of teaching in Liberia has already come to an end. The TLI team and our national partners have put many hours of study, planning, preparation, and prayer into this past week. The time passed quickly and it seemed far too abrupt when our team had to load into the SUVs to leave the students and campus we had come to love so dearly. These pastors and church leaders have inspired me and strengthened my faith. They have been humble, joy-filled, and eager to receive the things of God.

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 One of the greatest highlights of the week happened when we gave the students in our class an opportunity to share on the final day. They each took a turn relating how the teaching on "The Attributes of God" had impacted their own lives and ministries.  Here is a sampling of some of their responses.

 One student shared that he had never known how to think about the wrath of God. He said he always thought that wrath was wicked or evil, but now he understands how God's righteousness requires his holy anger toward sin. It was a joy to see him and the other students rejoice in the fact that Jesus satisfied God's wrath by taking our sins on the cross.

 Another pastor humbly confessed that he has often-times been teaching things in the Bible that he didn't understand himself. He was so grateful to have a true knowledge of God and a better understanding of the gospel. He shared that he is eager to teach the things that he has learned to his own people.

 There was another pastor that confessed that his understanding of grace was revolutionized through our study of God's Grace. He shared that he had not been gracious with many in his congregation and he intends to go home and pursue restoration with members that have left his church.

 Several pastors informed us that their understanding of prayer was radically challenged and corrected. One pastor in particular shared that he now understands that the purpose of prayer is to conform his will to God's will. Prayer is not man’s means of commanding God to do what he wants.

 Another young pastor shared that God had taught him so much! He said that before this week he had always thought that he had to continue to do good things in order to keep his salvation. He said that he now understands the good news of God’s grace in Jesus. He was full of joy knowing that Christ had completely done everything necessary for his salvation.

 There were countless other testimonies that were shared in the classroom and in private conversations. One elderly pastor shared that attending a Bible College was a lifelong dream. He asked that we would pray that God would give him strength and that he might live long enough to finish the modular courses offered by TLI over the next three years!

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 My heart is full and I praise God for all that he accomplished this week. I know that these pastors and church leaders are being built up in a right knowledge of God and a true understanding of the gospel. I know that churches in Liberia and throughout West Africa will be strengthened as these leaders return home and share these truths with their people.

 

To God be all the Glory,

Brian Wiseman

 

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Aug  11th,  2017The Fatigue of Day Four

Our team has finished day four of teaching The Attributes of God here in Monrovia and the best word now for describing us, as well as our students, is fatigued.  I think we are all feeling drained, but I can see it in my students as well.  Their brains and hearts have been working hard to absorb all that we would like to give them.

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My students have amazed me.  They have made earnest effort to get here, they have slept here all week, they have sat in class all day, and then completed reading assignments in the evening.  In all of this, they have remained attentive, talkative, and full of questions.  They are so excited and thankful to have this kind of training available to them.

Because this is the rainy season in Liberia, some of those who enrolled were not able to get here.  Others made it around the washed-out roads, but came a day late.  The roads in SE Liberia are impassable in some places.  Others have made great financial sacrifice to be here.

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Short-term mission workers can easily think of themselves as heroes—seeing ourselves as people who are sacrificing to come into a foreign place and provide a needed service.  But the more I get to know these students, the more I realize they are the heroes.  They are the ones who have really sacrificed for this week and yet their gratitude toward God and us is abundant.  

We have one day to go and we want to finish strong.  Please pray for us and our students that our communication would be unhindered, that our bodies would have stamina, and that God’s Spirit would lead us into discussions designed by Him.

Larry Stromberg

Short-term team member

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Aug  10th,  2017Solid Ministry in Meeting Needs of Hungry Students

Here it is Wednesday already and our ministry in Liberia is rapidly rushing to a close. Each team member is full of praise and thanksgiving for the good things God is doing in our classes and at Grace Life Center as we teach the attributes of God to nearly 100 students from at least two countries.

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I have a class of 14 Liberians. Most are pastors (6), one is a deacon, two are youth directors, one is a Sunday school teacher, one is looking to go into the pastorate, and one, the only lady in my class, is a secretary for a woman’s assistance program. This is a rousing class of excited, hungry pastors and church leaders. It is a delight to see them grow in their understanding of the things God has revealed about himself through his Word. Many times they walk out of the room for a break or at the end of the day holding their heads between their hands indicating that their brains are about to explode in trying to comprehend something of the immensity and wonder of God. He is so much more awesome and immense than any of us can imagine!

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 So far in my class we have covered such attributes as the knowability of God (he reveals himself to us and we can know him truly), the incomprehensibility of God (so while we can know him, we cannot know all there is to know about God), the unity (God is one) and triunity of God (God is three persons), God’s independence, unchangeableness, eternality, omnipresence, and omniscience. I’m a little behind in my class, but this has been in part due to so many questions and ensuring discussions that get intertwined in our study together. I welcome these questions because it helps me see areas that need more clarity and allows me to address matters that I did not think were issues that needed to be included in my teaching notes. In the end, so far at least, these questions and discussions have allowed me to teach most of the attributes we want to cover in this course just through dealing with the real-life situations these leaders bring to the table. This is a good way for them to learn!

One and a half days remain. I still have a lot of ground to cover, but in doing so I am looking to God to continue to give me (and each team member) the strength, wherewithal, wisdom, and insight to continue communicating the whole counsel of God in a manner that is practical, edifying, cross-cultural, and meaningful to these blessed students. We know that as they grow in their understanding of the various characteristics of God, they will grow in their own faith and worship and will be able to return to their church ministries excited and ready to pass on the lessons we have taught them. I praise God for the privilege to serve these students and am excited to be part of God working to build his church in Liberia!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Mark Highman

Short-term team member

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Aug  9th,  2017Do I Need to Yell When I Preach?

“Some pastors yell when they preach. Do I need to do that?” asked one of my students during a break in between sessions.He sincerely wanted to know the answer to a practical question he’s been wrestling with for some time. Peer pressure appears to be strong among Liberian pastors.

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As I finished up Day 2 teaching the course, The Attributes of God, in Monrovia, Liberia, I am beginning to grasp the weightiness of our team’s mission while here. Without a firm theological mooring, these dear pastors are being tossed to and fro like a dinghy in a storm unhooked from the dock. Instead, we have made it our single aim to train them in an accurate view of the biblical God whom they serve so that they can develop a God-centered and God-exalting philosophy of ministry.

Their answers to our questions, and better yet, their questions to our answers are revealing godly leaders who long to know God more deeply. Then with that knowledge, they’re desperate to lead the churches they shepherd to know Him better as well.

They continue to receive us warmly, respect the authority of the Scriptures and grapple with their quickly expanding perspective of God. In the process, our hearts have been knit even closer to them on this Day 2.

It’s hard to imagine time better spent and a cause more needy in this region of the world. We pray the seeds of this week’s ministry will take root and grow into decades of eternal fruit for Christ’s sake.

 And, “No, you don’t need to yell,” I softly told him.

Bryan Johnson

Short-term team member

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Aug  7th,  2017Tired But Invigorated

“I am physically tired but spiritually invigorated.”

That one statement sums up our first day of teaching The Attributes of God in Liberia. The students are motivated and engaged in class, they bring questions and insights to the discussions, and they are all there to learn as much as they can in one week. Under National Leader Pastor Dyonah Thomas’s superb organization and leadership partnering with our TLI team leader Weymann Lee, we got everyone organized and ready to start class.

 Today being the first day, we made introductions and explained the TLI program. These necessary opening activities cut a little into teaching time, but enabled us and the local pastors to start getting to know each other. Additional introductions were made in class after we divided into six separate classes to keep class sizes manageable.

 The initial registration was for 100 students. Unfortunately, some could not make it due to transportation or road issues. But since we had more than 100 people interested, Dyonah was able to reach out to those on the waiting list and hopefully get them in to take the remainder of the course beginning tomorrow.

 Most students are from Liberia, but Pastor Dyonah has a bigger vision that encompasses all of West Africa. He is seeking to start churches in other countries and training pastors for that purpose. The TLI program is helping to equip pastors that can impact Liberia and beyond. God is on the move!

 Yesterday (Sunday) our team divided up to preach in area churches. Some churches are thriving and growing, some are small but working hard, and some have suffered attacks. The church I spoke at recently lost their property to the government. They lost their land and their building, and have had to start over in a temporary facility. While the upheaval caused them to lose a lot of people, they are looking to God for renewed direction and growth.

 After church our caravans reunited us and brought us to Pastor Dyonah’s house for lunch. We got to meet his wife and some of his family, and enjoyed excellent fellowship before returning to our hotel for rest and preparation for the teaching time.

 So after a brisk shower and early breakfast, we were off to Grace Life Church to begin our classes. Because of the national accreditation, we need to give quizzes, reading assignments, and other activities that make this class more than the standard course. This additional effort on everyone’s part should help reinforce the concepts taught.Our goal is more than just knowledge, though. We want to see them draw closer to God and use this knowledge to help equip their congregations.

 Today we covered foundational topics, including what is an attribute of God, the knowability of God, the incomprehensibility of God, the unity of god, and the Tri-unity of God. We emphasized that because God has revealed Himself to us through creation, His Son, and Scripture, we can know God truly. But because God is beyond our comprehension, we will never know Him fully. This was a great start to what is hopefully a blessed week.

 Here are some ways that you can pray for us:

-    Finish well.That we can build on this great start and see God work throughout the week

-    Health. That we stay strong and healthy as the week’s activities wear us down.

-   Team Unity. We have drawn close already, but that we stay close and build deeper relationships as we minister together.

-   Impact. That what we do and what these pastors learn have an impact far greater than this week.

Terry Magee 

 

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