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Serbia Sept 2017, BTS School

Novi Sad, Serbia September 21 - October 1, 2017

Within the Baptist Union of Serbia, the Baptist Theological School has been operating since 1939. However, with the chaos of the Balkan wars and changing country geographies, the school has undergone much upheaval. The Serbian Baptist Union, in strong cooperation with TLI, is working to rebuild the spiritual legacy of the Baptists in the former Yugoslav countries. This can only be accomplished through rigorous teaching and high standards of theological education. The desire and goal is to see the struggling fruit of Evangelicalism start to grow again in this hungry and gospel-needy area. Classes: OT Exegesis II: Daniel Spiritual Disciplines OT Message & Background I

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

Sep  28th,  2017Impressive Students

I don’t know why but I was of the opinion that when teaching in Serbia I would be dealing with students of a lower academic level than I had experienced previously ministering with TLI.  But, to my delight, I found out soon enough that these third year students of Baptist Theological School were definitely not lower academically.  In fact, the majority of those in my Bible Content class were an academic challenge both in their previous knowledge and their ability to reason and debate in the classroom. 


Our discussions and responses were very lively and took on an atmosphere as the Bereans, “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”  I also found it exciting in the process that there were those students who were carrying out the TLI mandate of 2 Timothy 2:2 in their personal ministries. So their education was not academic alone but being put into practice as well. PTL. It is always a joy and refreshing, to see young (and some not so young) being obedient to the Word of God and to the commission we have received in Matthew 28:18-20.    

Prof. Norm Helfers


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Sep  28th,  2017Third Day Reflections.

We’ve just finished our 3rd day of teaching here at BTS (Baptist Theological School) in Novi Sad, Serbia. The team of 5 professors are engaging in a week of instruction with new and returning students. Alongside our wives, this week has been full of connecting with students, seeking to know and love them while teaching and applying theology in the classroom, over meals, and in everyday conversation. 
Each professor is responsible for teaching a different course. In addition to preaching at a youth conference at the church that is attached to the BTS building (hosting students from all over Serbia) the weekend before classes began, I am teaching an “Introduction to Theology” class for 1st year students. 
My course is divided into 3 main sections: 
  1. The Study of Theology
  2. The Source of Theology 
  3. The Subject of Theology
On Monday, we considered the first section and, after providing a definition for theology, we sought to answer “why” and “how” we study it. We approach the study of theology with the goal of knowing God and being equipped to make Him known. A posture of humble, prayerful, Spirit-dependence coupled with deep thinking and a desire to “love the Lord with all our mind” is required in this pursuit, with a view toward worship and obedience. 
On Tuesday, we tackled the second section. We spent the day discussing general and special revelation, with most of our time spent opening up the doctrine of Scripture, focused on its authority, trustworthiness, certainty, sufficiency and usefulness for life and ministry. This was designed to give the students confidence in their theological study and that their time and effort is not wasted. 
Today, we began the largest section of our course (which will carry use through the rest of the week). Here, we are looking at the various categories of theology, exposing students to the disciplines of exegetical, biblical, systematic, historical and practical theology, with a major focus on theology proper (the doctrine of God and the Trinity) and the person and work of Christ. 
It has been very rewarding being here and I feel deeply humbled to be teaching these students. The students are exceptionally attentive and desirous of soaking in the content. In addition to teaching, at the end of each day, I have students write and share "daily reflection reports" that include their summaries and takeaways from that day's session. These, in addition to the quality questions from the students, has been revelatory of God's obvious blessing. Thank you for praying. Your prayers are being heard and answered. 
May the Lord continue to make His face shine upon this needy country as these students are equipped for every good work through the work of BTS. It begins with training these leaders, that they might go and teach others - in their spheres of influence that generations yet to come might set their hope in God. Our God is able to do so much with very little - pray that this would be the case with the “fish and loaves” we are placing in the hands of Jesus this week.
To this end we labor (Colossians 1:28-29), 
Mark Redfern


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Sep  25th,  2017Serbia STM Trip - First Day Reflections

The teaching team’s first day at Baptist Theological Seminary (BTS) in Novi Sad was intense, amazing, and profound.  What a commitment these men have made to raise up disciples and equip gospel-centered leaders in Serbia who honor Christ!  


As anticipated, the first day was packed. And, leading up to this first day, God has obviously planted in the hearts of every man on the team a desire that the students at BTS be Christ-followers going deeper in their pursuit of the pleasures of God in Christ.  By His finished work, He has purchased for us so much more than what is offered by the false promises of the world and its religions; and all that He is stands in stark contrast to the utter emptiness of life without an intimate relationship with Him.  

Continue to pray for each member of the teaching team, as well as for their wives, all of whom are also here working at BTS also (see the bios on the team page).  The schedule is very full, and we will perhaps grow weary as the week progresses.  But, we all knew that before we got here.  Pray with us that it may be found true of us that we “will most gladly spend and be spent” (2 Cor 12:15) for Christ this week.  He is more than worth it.  

Some personal difficulties have been involved with this trip for several of us, including recent funerals or medical issues for some, scheduling difficulties for others, and even a stolen i-Phone on our arrival day.  So, on this first day of teaching, the Spirit seemed to remind me several times – as I want to remind you, our prayer-partners – that “this light and momentary affliction is producing for us a weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:17-18).  Or, as the first memory verse in the class I am teaching declares, we who follow Christ are called to “[e]ndure hardship as discipline; God is treating [us] as sons” Hebrews 12:7).


On a personal note, I am, after day one, simply stunned by Christ’s glory, as the Spirit unfolds the manifold layers of the operation of God’s sovereignty.  This group of brothers and sisters seems such a perfect mix of personalities and styles, which itself reveals yet another aspect of the rich complexity of God’s grace at work in this place.  Dwayne Baldwin, who administers BTS under the auspices of TLI, is a marvel of easy-going humor and energetic intensity.  He and the TLI staff have brought this team together in what can only be described as miraculous.  The preparations and behind-the-scenes foundation laid by TLI and the BTS staff clear evidence of the hand of the Lord upon this week.

Please keep the entire enterprise in prayer.  The sense that we are doing an impossible work is almost palpable.  The hopelessness of the general population lays like a fog upon the land.  Pray.  Pray mightily, pray expectantly, and pray much.  There is not a single thing we can accomplish for the Kingdom of God here unless He pours out His Spirit.  And the Good News is this:  He is pouring out His Spirit.  Ask Him to continue.  Ask, ask, and keep on asking.  

Together with you, with BTS, with TLI, we expect Him to keep on answering.

Soli Deo Gloria!

John Roberts, First Baptist Church, Sterling, Colorado




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Sep  25th,  2017Training To Strengthen the Church in Serbia

Even though we each came from different states, God has brought us together in  Serbia to teach at the Baptist Theological School (BTS) in Novi Sad. The school had been in existence before World War II but struggled and eventually closed its doors.  In September 2015 the school reopened under the leadership of Dr. Ondrej Franka who invited TLI to help him establish a solid, theologically sound (reformed) training institution (seminary) in Serbia.  The evangelical churches in Serbia are in terrible condition with either poorly equipped, unequipped or unsaved pastors.  So the ministry of BTS is vital to the growth of Christ's church and the advancement of the gospel in Serbia.

TLI has sent Dwayne Baldwin to be the Academic Dean at the school and is continuing to send teams of teachers (pastors and seminary professors) from the US four times a year to teach at the school.

Our team of four teachers, Mark Redfern, Norm Helfers, John Roberts and myself along with our wives arrived safely in Novi Sad and began our week of teaching this morning. We are teaching Introduction to Theology, Bible Context, Spiritual Disciplines, Old Testament Background & Message I.  Dwayne Baldwin is teaching Bible Overview.  It was exciting to see a new set of first year students at the school along with the returning 2nd and 3rd year students.

Monday Opening Session

Pray for our team of teachers and our translators and students. Pray that the Lord would use our team to impact the lives of our students.

 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 

2 Timothy 2:2

Weymann Lee

Trip Leader, TLI

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