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SovGrace Project March 2017

Undisclosed Location March 3-10, 2017

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

Mar  7th,  2017Singing the Psalter


Travel and teach enough internationally and you’ll have some amazing experiences. I’ve seen lions and elephants in the Serengeti, swam in the ocean off Filipino islets, and taught the New Testament in the shadow of Mars Hill in Athens. Those are no longer empty boxes on my bucket list.

Then there are those completely surprising moments like we had this morning. We’ve been teaching a group of pastors from a closed country. These ten men oversee hundreds of small Christian communities in the villages around them. As we’ve been studying the Attributes of God, the first of TLI’s core nine curriculum modules, we’ve started each morning with a devotional message from God’s Word and the pastors then join in a memorized song together. Over the first two days, we noticed that each of these songs was always one of the Psalms. Did the regulative principle make it’s way into these churches?

As I got up to teach on God’s omniscience, truthfulness, and faithfulness, I asked the pastors if they knew a song for every one of the 150 psalms. “Yes, of course!” they answered. To which I quickly and quite suspiciously said, “Really? So if I mentioned any number between 1 and 150, you’d be able to immediately sing that psalm?”

“Yes, of course!” they answered.

Each of the songs they’d sung had a different beat, a unique melody, and had been sung with enthusiasm, passion, and worship of our living God. I seriously doubted that they’d be ready with a random and spontaneously chosen number. So Scott pulled Psalm 32 out of his proverbial hat and I was ready to see them stumped. Within seconds, though, hands began to clap a rhythm, a drummer began to beat on the table, and voices joined together:

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, 

whose sin is covered.

Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, 

and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”

Game. Set. Match. If these brothers had a mic, they would have been fully justified in dropping it after singing this version of Psalm 32.

As I continued to ask them about their knowledge of the psalms, I was astounded. As these men travel to remote villages and isolated, persecuted Christian communities, they’re teaching the Word of God to the people of God by singing the chorus book inspired by the Spirit of God.

Amazing. These brothers’ ministry mirrors Paul’s description of his ministry: “on frequent journeys, … danger from robbers, danger from my own people, … danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, … danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:26-28). They’re leading small Christian communities with the Word of God and we now have the joy of teaching and training them for further ministry in the Word. It’s quite likely that we’re training martyrs.

Right now, a group I’m in at church is required to memorize three verses every two weeks. I’ve made excuses, fallen behind, and generally struggled with this. After hearing these faithful servants sing Psalm 32 on cue, I will never complain again. It’s now time for me to play catch up with my Scripture memory assignments. I’ll have to work on the 150 psalms later.

For His glory,


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Mar  5th,  2017Arrival and Day One

Scott Teaching on Knowing God

This one’s different than any other TLI training site. Normally, we go to the location where the church leaders are serving and need training. In this case, we couldn’t so 10 pastors and 3 teachers have gathered at a neutral site in what is essentially a giant shopping mall on the edge of the desert. Some of you would love this city. Others of us, who aren’t easily enamored with the mall, are unimpressed.

But we can do here what we couldn’t do otherwise. We can train pastors who wouldn’t have access to theological education.

Howard, Scott, and Josh arrived via Amsterdam at midnight on Thursday, checked into the hotel at 2am, and then headed back to the airport at 6am to greet the trainees. They arrived, but their luggage did not, so at 4pm, Josh and a few of the trainees headed back to airport one more time. Finally, at 7pm on Saturday, everyone was at our hotel with all luggage accounted for.

We enjoyed a few leisurely meals together on Saturday as we got to know each other and recovered from very early mornings or long trans-oceanic flights. On Sunday morning, we were at our host church’s facility (they gather for worship on Fridays here) to start our training. This training has seen a lot of prayer and logistical preparation. As Howard welcomed everyone, it was a time to give thanks.

The men we’re training this week oversee numerous small churches and tell stories of persecution that bring tears to our eyes. A young man in one of their churches was killed recently. A few years ago, one of these pastors watched from his rooftop as numerous homes were attacked by a mob. A father had been shot and seven members of his family burned alive in their home. We’ll hear stories like this all week as every one of the ten trainees this week face this sort of persecution as a painfully normal part of their life. But despite this pain, there is joy as we talk about knowing the Lord. TLI’s first class is entitled “The Attributes of God”. It’s an examination of the characteristics of God. As we talk about God’s greatness and his knowability, as we talk about the work of each member of the trinity for our salvation, as we talk about a God who reveals himself, there is joy in the Lord.

May God use this week to strengthen his suffering church for his glory.

On behalf of the team,



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