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Trips

India / Highlands October 2015

Undisclosed Location October 10-25, 2015

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.

Oct  21st,  2015Your Word is Truth

“Sanctify them in the truth, your word is truth.” — John 17:17

This is my second trip to India and it is just as invigorating and captivating as the previous visit. There is a sense of familiarity yet I am still learning customs and cultural nuances.  Here in India the culture upholds religions that are hostile to gospel ministry and exalt false gods.  Our brothers face a daunting task of ministering to people who wage war against God in their souls and persecute his beloved as a result.  Yet, by God’s grace our brothers (and sisters) are united and strong in the Spirit. It has been heartwarming to reunite with them.  They hunger for God’s Word.  Their joy in Christ overflows as they proclaim God’s greatness and goodness in their villages.  

It is humbling and encouraging to be part of a ministry that seeks to train pastors in theological education.  I am able to witness firsthand the pastors’ faithfulness, desire to study, and willingness to proclaim Christ in a culture that is antagonistic toward the Gospel.  These brothers are focused and determined to learn more about Christ through his Word, and TLI is playing an important role in providing the opportunity.  

I have been able to see the Living Word change the hearts of some of the pastors.  One pastor in particular, who was very much into deliverance and the prosperity gospel on my previous visit, has completely changed his focus and preaching.  When I first met him he was antagonistic toward contextual study and exposition.  Through several curriculum provided by TLI this pastor is now grateful to learn the treasures and depth found in Scripture, and has committed to exegetical study.  Another pastor here has been preaching for 35 years.  He mentioned that he has learned a lot this week—how to study, how to search for the main point, and do expository preaching.  Through TLI, the Lord is helping our brothers to embrace and proclaim rightly the truths in his Word.  

I ask that you continue to pray for the pastors in India and for the endurance of our team.  The days are long and our visit is short.  May the Lord continue to reveal more of himself to our brothers and strengthen their faith for his glory here in India.  God bless

Jim

 

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Oct  20th,  2015Why Information Isn't Enough

This has been my first trip with TLI and has been an amazing learning experience. When I was preparing for this trip, I was asked why TLI doesn’t just send a video curriculum to train the pastors. That question had been ringing through my ears as I prepared for the trip. I didn’t have a good answer at the time. 

We are currently half way through our second week of training, and the answer has become very clear. Videos can only feed information, they cannot interact with pastors, they cannot gauge the pastor’s understanding, and cannot address areas of error in their thinking. This has been evident as we have been teaching through the Gospel of John.

One of the passages that has raised the most interesting discussion is John 5, which records Jesus’ healing a lame man. The question we have been constantly asking the students is ‘What is John’s main purpose in this text?’ When I came to this text, I taught the main point, which is that Jesus is healing on the Sabbath and claiming to be equal with God, which is made clear in 5:18.

After teaching this passage, I gave an example of someone preaching a sermon on this passage and making the main point of their sermon that God wants to heal all people if they would only have faith. When I asked the students whether that sermon was faithful to the text of Scripture, they all said, ‘Yes.’ This shocked me when I taught to the first group last week, and shocked me more when the same thing happened as I taught a different group today. I didn’t want to just give them the answer, so I asked, ‘What is John’s main purpose in this passage?’ After a minute they all agreed it was to show that Jesus is equal with God and to introduce Jesus’ conflict with the Pharisees.

So I asked them again, “Would a sermon focusing on faith-healing be faithful to John’s purpose for the text?” Suddenly I saw the lights turn on. After some more discussion, one of them said, “I taught this passage recently and my main point was that Jesus wants to heal you if you would just believe. I now realize that was wrong, that is not John’s purpose at all.” The man who said this was one of the most educated in the group, so I was greatly encouraged by his humility to admit that and his desire to be more faithful to the text.

This and many other interactions have taught me that it is not enough to just dump information on students. They need to be challenged to think critically and think biblically. That cannot be done through a video series. Praise God for the opportunities available to interact with these men and encourage them to be more faithful stewards of God’s Word.

Tyler

 

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Oct  20th,  2015India Celebration

Yesterday we started our training in India. We have a great group of pastors here who have been through 6 classes with TLI. They are sharp and know their Bibles and have great interaction in class. 

Mid-day we took a break from classes to celebrate baby “Tedi’ turning six months old. Her parents are part of the Reach All Nations staff. Six months is a big deal in India, and it is celebrated by giving the baby her official name, and by the first feeding of solid food. Did I mention this was a big deal?
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The meeting hall was packed with people from the village and the Church and the whole place was decorated for the occasion. I was honored to be asked to give a devotional and participate in the ceremony. I started by saying how it is good to celebrate God’s gift of life and the milestones along the way, then spoke about how the Scriptures use babies and children as common metaphors for our relationship to God as our Father. What could be more helpless than a newborn baby? Their utter dependence on their parents is a picture of the reality of our helplessness and dependency on God. But just as Tedi’s parents have loved, cared and protected her, God our Father cares for us in hundreds of ways that we are mostly completely unaware of. And just as she trusts and looks to her parents in her need, we to can trust God implicitly and fully. He always knows and does what is best for us even when we don’t understand it and cry because of our discomfort or pain. God is a faithful loving and trustworthy Father.
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The center of the ceremony is then for the child to be given her first taste of rice. It actually went pretty well! She is fed first by her Dad and Mom and then by all the members of the extended family. What a picture of how we are fed and cared for by the Family of God. Our team was also invited to be a part of the family and feed her. What an honor.
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