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Trips

India / Highlands Spring 2014

Undisclosed Location June 14-28, 2014

We will be training pastors in India and a closed country. The pastors we work with serve in difficult situations.

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

Jun  23rd,  2014Reflections at the End of a TLI Training Day

Here I am in a big, bustling city in the North Highlands.  I’m the one woman on this team, here to connect with women and children and support my husband -- and today I think I also attracted all the mosquitoes so the other team members didn’t get bit.  (Could you hand me the anti-itch stuff, honey?)

Picture dirt roads lined with tiny storefront shops with one right next to the other -- some selling fish buzzing with flies, another with a butcher chopping meat, another offering native candies, another selling local clothing, and hundreds more.

The roads are a little wider than one of our freeway lanes -- with traffic going both directions (on different sides of the road than we are used to), people walking on both sides, motorcycles weaving between cars, the air thick with dirt and exhaust, and lots of honking.

At first you think it’s completely crazy and everyone’s going to get killed, but after a while you see that they are excellent drivers who can maneuver in ways you never thought possible.

It’s people, people, people everywhere you look.   But not just any people.  It’s lost people.  Unreached people.  People who have never heard the Gospel.  People living in darkness.

Which is why we are here -- to encourage and train pastors who are seeking to advance the Gospel in this needy city.

So this morning we took a taxi to a house that was rented for the four days of teaching.  The men arrive on bikes and motorcycles.    They join in songs of worship, pray fervently, and then divide into two groups to study Genesis 1-11.

Their native-language Bibles are opened.  They are working on reading carefully to understand Moses’ intended meaning.  The teachers ask questions, and the translator translates.  The men share what they observe in the Scriptures.  They take careful notes, and ask excellent questions.  I am humbled by their kindness and their dedication to learning God’s Word.

They have hard lives.  They pastor small churches in a resistant country.  Many have endured persecution.  They want to honor God with their lives.  I am amazed at their perseverance -- and their joy in Christ.

For a while today I felt overwhelmed at the size of this city, and the number of lost people who live here.  But then I remembered that while the task is huge, we serve an all-powerful God. 

I will pray for these men, their churches, and this city when I return.

Jan

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Jun  22nd,  2014Lessons Learned in Vijayawada

Here are some of the lessons God taught me while in Vijayawada:

  • The people in Vijay’s church gather several times during the week for prayer meetings and have regular rhythms of more intense prayer meetings. The question I came away with is: How might God be calling me to be more faithful in prayer?
  • They people in Vijay’s church are desperate for God to help them through physical sickness, large or small.
  • God’s word is living and active and cuts between ethnic and linguistic boundaries. God’s word cannot be chained. This is a lesson that you learn by experience. It is one thing to believe the truth of Hebrews 4:12, it is another to see God fulfill the promise. Even different translations of the Bible and working with a translator could not stop God in moving through his word.
  • There is a great need for theological education – both among the pastors and people. The pastors were familiar with the stories of Genesis 1–11, and were surprised how much they learned given their familiarity. There are still many basic skills to be learned (e.g., how to find a main point of a passage for oneself). A few days of theological education helps, but what is needed is long-term partnership. I am comforted leaving knowing that God will continue to use Vijay and his team and TLI to train these pastors.
  • The pastors that we taught are men who love Jesus, work hard for the sake of Christ and his gospel, and have often suffered greatly because of it. I was challenged by their example to, once again, take up my cross and follow Jesus wherever he leads.
  • Hospitality for outsiders is a way to make known the love of Christ. The team here was treated with such care, provision, and love. We all felt God’s love poured out on us by the way that our brothers provided for us while we were with them.

Joe

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Jun  20th,  2014Feasting on God's Goodness

Monday evening we arrived at the Reach All Nations compound.  The rest of the team had flight delays, and would not arrive until late Tuesday, so it was just my wife and me.  It was hot -- we were dripping -- but we soon forgot that as we met the 25 pastors who had come for the training.

These men lead churches in difficult areas.  Many of them face danger and public opposition.  To come for this training, some had travelled over eight hours through difficult roads.  As they greeted us their faces lit up with love for Christ.  We immediately felt right at home.

Tuesday morning, after a bucket shower (a bucket of water and a dipper -- what more do you need?) and a breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast, and Nutella, the training started.

We met on the second floor of an unfinished school building in the compound.  There were no walls, just pillars holding up the floors.  It was open on all sides, so from where I taught I could look out and see buffalo grazing, thatch-roofed huts, and women cooking over fires.

All the students sat at tables with their Telugu Bibles open.  The interpreter and I sat at a table in front, facing them.  We prayed for God’s help, and then I taught the first class giving some background for understanding Genesis 1-11.  We also talked about how the Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament, and how the book of Genesis is the foundation for the Old Testament.

Then we looked at Old and New Testament passages which show that Moses was the author of Genesis, and how what Moses wrote was for both the nation of Israel, and the church today.

I ended with an overview of Genesis 1-11 -- showing how Moses describes God’s goodness in Creation, Adam and Eve’s sin, and the spread of sin and God’s curse throughout the world to set the stage for God’s promise that through Abraham’s seed he will overcome the curse and bring the blessing of salvation to every people group on the earth.

Then after a break, we started the second session -- on Genesis 1:1 - 2:4.  We explained that our goal was to see what Moses is saying in this passage, by reading carefully and noticing what he repeats and emphasizes.

Then we worked on the passage, by having a student read a section out loud in his Tegulu Bible, talking together about what we observed in the text, having another student read the next section, and so on.  We saw how Moses wants us to understand that God created everything by his sovereign power.  They also noticed how often Moses repeats the word “good,” showing that the God who created everything is good and does good.  We rejoiced together in this God who is perfectly good, infinitely powerful, and flawlessly wise -- and talked about how he deserves our complete trust.

Then after a lunch break we studied Genesis 2:5-25.  Again, we read through this passage verse by verse, working on reading carefully, noticing what Moses said, and trying to understand his flow of thought.  We saw that one point was to explain the origin and sacredness of marriage -- which gave us an opportunity to discuss the importance of loving our wives, and how we must not let the ministry cause us to neglect our marriages.

It was pure joy seeing these pastors studying their Bibles, carefully reading God’s Word, and rejoicing in the God they saw displayed.

Then after another tea break we tackled Genesis 3.  We saw how Adam and Eve stopped trusting God’s goodness (and how one way to fight temptation us to read Genesis 1 and 2, focusing on God’s goodness).  We saw how sin brought God’s curse into the world, but how God promised to raise up one of Eve’s descendants who would crush the serpent’s head.  As we celebrated this prophecy of Christ’s victory over sin and Satan -- the men burst out with Amen’s.

That wrapped up the teaching for the day, so we went back to the house we were staying in.  Soon we were joined by the rest of the team, went to a local restaurant for dinner, and then back to the house.  I went to sleep thanking God for a day of feasting on his goodness.

Steve

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Jun  14th,  2014How To Pray for Us

How to Pray for Us

Today our team officially departs for our trip to India and the Highlands. I say “officially” because half of our team left earlier this week for another ministry opportunity on the way. We will meet up in an airport before reaching our final destination. We are excited about the prospects to serve the church in these two regions as we go to teach pastors how to preach Christ from Genesis.

From Isaiah 40-45, here are ways you can pray for us these next two weeks:

  • For our team and our students to hold fast to the enduring word of our God (Isaiah 40:3-8).
  • For our team and our students to behold the greatness of our God (Isaiah 40:9-25)
  • For our team to be renewed daily with the strength to meet every challenge, from travel to heat to teaching (Isaiah 40:28-31)
  • For our team to be fearless in the midst of each unexpected challenge, knowing the presence and power of the Lord by faith (Isaiah 41:10, 14; 43:1-3)
  • For our team and our students to rejoice in the Lord (Isaiah 41:16)
  • For our team and our students to see the sovereignty of God in creation (Isaiah 41:20)
  • For our team to ponder and proclaim the beauty of Christ in the gospel, for God alone saves (Isaiah 42:1-4; 43:11)
  • For our team and our students to give glory to God alone, which is why we were created (Isaiah 42:8; 43:7; 44:6-8)
  • For our team and our students to be always singing of the goodness of God (Isaiah 42:10-13)
  • For our team and our students to be satisfied in God’s forgiveness (Isaiah 43:25)
  • For our team and our students to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 44:3-5)
  • For the folly of the idolatry of our hearts and of the nations to be revealed (Isaiah 44:9-20)
  • For those we encounter traveling or on the streets or in ministry opportunities to turn to the Lord and be saved (Isaiah 45:22-23)

For the team,

Duane

 

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Jun  14th,  2014Departure Day

The India/ Highlands trip departs today! 

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