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Ghana Summer 2014 with Community Life Church

Undisclosed Location June 19-29, 2014

We are partnering with Community Life Church to train pastors in Ghana.

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

Jun  26th,  2014Wednesday Updates

Update for Wednesday from Ethan Larson (Post delayed due to technical difficulties)

I arrived Tuesday afternoon from London in time to teach the afternoon session. It was good to be able to jump right into the work. The students struggled with the hard, somewhat abstract material material in the opening chapters but as we begin to flesh out those concepts in practical examples and work through specific texts, the material is beginning to come together for them. 

One of the greatest challenges is to handle and interpret individual passages in relationship to the larger structures and themes of the whole book. Seeing and understanding those relationships takes work, and it takes time. One of my repeated points today was simply to slow down. Slowly reading the text and asking questions, not immediately drawing conclusions. 

We also spoke a lot about humility. We should not be surprised that we do not understand a passage. We should expect to work, and to learn, and to need help from resources and from others.

We have a really full day tomorrow as we have to teach three lessons rather than the regular two. But since it is a half day Friday, we will only have time for one lesson in the morning.

We would appreciate your prayers as we finish up the interpretation part of the class tomorrow, and as we introduce expository preaching of the text on Friday

Thank you for all who pray for us and those who have sent us here to serve these servants of God.

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Jun  24th,  2014Day 2

Day 2 of class was our first day to rotate to another group of students – I (David) rotated to those taught by Randy yesterday, Randy to Paul’s prior students and Paul to those I taught Day 1.  I had a great group of students today, most of whom I knew from the January 2014 classes.

Today our first session covered Lesson 3- “What is the Bible? The Doctrine of Scripture and Biblical Interpretation.”  The class participation was excellent. The questions, comments and dialogue made the subject quite interesting.  It started with the first passage, 2Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is breathed by God and profitable….”  The question was asked, “To what scripture was Paul referring?”  It was a very interesting discussion – in particular we reviewed that Timothy was raised Jewish, knew the scriptures and had access to them.  Thus they realized Paul was referring to the scriptures they both knew – Genesis to Malachi. Everyone was quite excited until the TLI lesson author confronted us with David’s 23rd psalm.  It was interesting to watch how they worked through this.  I gave a little input, but it just did not click for them.  Learning to interpret scripture is just that way – here a little, there a little.  The example of Jeremiah, “and the word of God came to Jeremiah saying…” helped get things moving again.  The conclusion was Jeremiah wrote what he heard from God, while David wrote what it meant to him.  Both authors were inspired by God himself, personally.  We were off to a great start and completed Lesson 3. 

After lunch we dove into Lesson 4, “Critical Questions to Consider in Biblical Interpretation.” Maybe it was lunch, the heat or the subject matter, but we became bogged down.  Possibly they expected the lesson to be invigorating and fly by like Lesson 3.  Things opened up as we discussed the example of Daniel.  This was a good lesson, but the details and learning curve required strict attention.  Our discussion on Daniel and other similar verses, carried us to the finish line. The lesson was a little tough on us, but PTL!

For Lesson 5&6 tomorrow, I am trusting the Father for a continued move of the Holy Spirit! Without His revelation, our learning curve is much steeper.  Continue to pray for us.

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Jun  22nd,  2014Sunday

On Sunday all of us preached at different churches.  All of them have pastors who took our first class (Attributes of God) in January and will return to hear us teach on Hermeneutics this week.  The church I (Paul) preached at was a gathering of three churches that were closer to each other.  The church was filled past capacity, people sitting on the stage along both walls and the middle where blue plastic chairs had been set up.  They would not have passed fire code.  There were even those who were standing outside and listening in through the windows because they could not fit inside.


The congregation was a stark reminder of why the class we will teach this week, Hermeneutics, is so critical.  Due to illiteracy, the remoteness of the church, the newness of the Christians who are in what is a church plant, and the poverty of many members I would guess only about a fourth of the adults owned Bibles (a fact later confirmed by one of the people who attend there who I asked).  When you do not have access to a Bible yourself, you become increasingly dependant upon the pastor's preaching for knowledge about God and the Bible.  If pastors and church leaders cannot rightly interpret the Bible, those without Bibles will never know.  So it is doubly important for the pastors of these congregations to be able to faithfully read, understand, and preach the Bible.


We will start teaching Hermeneutics tommorow (Monday).

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Jun  17th,  2014Our Partnership with Ghana

I hope that everyone will continue to pray for the teaching team as we approach our departure date for Ghana (Thurday, June 19th).  I (Paul) asked Randy from Community Life Church to briefly share how he saw taking time off to teach in Ghana as fulfilling the mission of his church:


Community Life Church was founded in March of 2006.  It was during that year that part of our leadership team had the privilege of meeting Pastor Stephen Aputara at a conference in Little Rock Arkansas.  Over the next few years, as our friendship grew, so did our interest in traveling to his homeland of Ghana.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect when we arrived on our first trip but quickly learned that God wanted to expose us to the ministry that was happening all across the northernmost part of the country.  Churches were being planted rapidly and the gospel message was spreading at an ever increasing rate.


As we celebrated the great thing God was doing through His church in northern Ghana we saw an opportunity to create a partnership.  Although there were many new converts willing to proclaim the message that led to their salvation there was a true deficit in educational opportunities.  There was plenty of zeal but no venue from which to gain knowledge of both faith and practice.


Our vision at c|Life (Community Life Church) is simply this:  connecting people to God and one another.  From our vantage point the people in Ghana would benefit greatly from having access to a quality education.  This education would equip them and encourage them in their ministry of connecting people to God and one another. 


Philosophically, our approach to missions is to develop strategic partnerships and serve inside of the partnerships for the long haul.  Ghana seemed like a perfect fit so 2 years later the Community Life Bible College in northern Ghana was born.  They chose the name…...


Our partnership with TLI has been invaluable.  We had the desire and the resources to make this endeavor possible.  The only thing we were missing was the curriculum and knowledge of how to be effective at training leaders in an international setting.  Our long term goal is to see a self sustaining Bible College/Ministry Training Center in northern Ghana that will equip proclaimers of the good news for generations to come

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