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Trips

Southeast Asia June 2015

Undisclosed Location June 19-30, 2015

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

Field Notes   Southeast Asia June 2015

Jul  9th,  2015They are getting it!

I intended to upload this post last week, but there is something about two days of air travel and eleven and a half hours of jet lag that can really undo your to-do list.

The pastors were noticeably anxious as the week progressed because they knew they would be preaching their first expository sermon. In fact a few of them even suggested that we replace the preaching practicum with additional lectures. Pastor Tom gently reminded them that TLI’s curriculum scope and sequence revolves around expository preaching and that we were not expecting perfection.

Pastor Tom and I spent almost sixteen hours over the next three days listening to and evaluating their sermons. This ended up being my favorite part of the trip. It allowed us to see each student in new light and it enabled us to see how they were interacting with the material. Each sermon debrief involved three basic questions. What is the main point of the passage? How does the text support that point? And how can you apply this passage to the needs of your church? As we progressed through the sermons the student’s demeanor began to change. Their mood lightened and they began to offer feedback as well. It was so encouraging to see them pressing one another into the text and offering cultural insights that we could not provide.

As we wrapped up our final session and walked over to the dining hall for our last meal together, the pastoral training coordinator stepped up beside me and said with a smile, “they are getting it!” And as we sat down to eat his observation was quickly confirmed. The former General Secretary pulled up a chair and asked if we could double our class size to 30 pastors after this group completes its coursework next year. 

Mak Kernan, International Trainer

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Jun  25th,  2015Aiming For Multiplication

The sense of privilege of pouring into these dear Kachin pastors only grows each time I am with them. In January our team taught them two courses: The Attirbutes of God andPastoral Theology. One of the men had to miss class yesterday because he is teaching the Pastoral Theology course he learned in January to young men preparing for pastoral ministry at the Kachin Theological College about twenty minutes from here. It is this multiplication of discipleship that we are earnestly praying God will cause to happen. So to see it beginning to happen is witnessing a clear answer to prayer. These men came to learn and to study to be better equipped to preach and teach. They are humble and hungry.

It’s a double pleasure for me because I am also watching Mark Kernan (TLI International Trainer and MDiv student at Bethlehem College and Seminary) as he pours his heart out in teaching Genesis 1-11. His giftedness as teacher and the seasoning of his 18 years as a pastor in Alaska are combining together to greatly bless these men and, we trust, to the people in the churches they are pastoring. Though Mark has been my student, I regard him as a colleague who is being gripped with the same passion I have felt for years for the advance of God’s Kingdom among the Kachin and through the Kachin. He is drinking deeply of the partnership being enjoyed by the Kachin Baptist Convention, Bethlehem Baptist Church, and Bethlehem College and Seminary. I am so thankful it is in his heart to serve this partnership.  

Tom Steller  Pastor for Leadership Development at Bethlehem Baptist Church and Academic Dean of Bethlehem College and Seminary.

 

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Jun  23rd,  2015Starting the week in Southeast Asia.

Modern travel to Myanmar is not for the faint of heart but it is an unimaginable luxury when compared to the steamships and canoes that brought the first missionaries to Burma 200 years ago. Missionaries like Adoniram Judson who translated the Bible into Burmese and Ola Hansen who pushed into the far North to work with the Kachin people and translate the Bible into their language. I was reminded of this luxury when our team was forced to change planes in Yangon because the air conditioning unit failed before takeoff.

 In fact, our travel to Myitkyina was simple when compared to the pastors in our class as well. Some of these men traveled days from remote villages bordering Tibet and China, while others had to slip through areas consumed with military conflict.

 Mark opened our week of instruction on Monday by reviewing the principles of expository preaching because the students will be preaching their first expository sermons this week. The discussion was lively as the pastors processed this style of preaching. He then transitioned to his primary course, Genesis 1–11, explaining the importance of Genesis and its connection to the entire story of redemptive history.

 After lunch, Pastor Tom introduced the book of Ruth explained its structure and highlighted its redemptive themes. Students were noticeably engaged asking numerous questions about the story’s development.  Today he asked the pastors to talk about their own preaching. They freely admitted that preaching through texts of Scripture (called expository preaching) is not something any of them has ever done. They are used to preaching topical sermons that are focused on addressing behaviors that need changing. Both Tom and Mark are trying to press home the importance of heart transformation and a God-glorifying life that flows out of a vibrant trust in Christ and His Word. The students are working now on preparing an expository sermon to be preached in class later this week.

 

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