“April showers bring May flowers”, so says the old adage, but I’m not sure how many flowers will be found around our place. Most of the needed rains have passed over us here in Jackson, Tennessee for most of the month of April. But God’s showers of another sort have been coming regularly on the BVBID foreign extension program.
I just recently received a phone call from Brent Smith who checked-in to let me know he had landed safely in Atlanta having completed his visit to Chimala, Tanzania to teach two short courses at the Chimala Bible Institute (CBI). Brent is not only an outstanding Bible teacher, he is also a capable evangelist, preacher, and dedicated family man with a loving wife and four precious children. I’m very thankful to the Trenton church of Christ for letting us borrow Brent on occasions to teach the eager students at CBI. I’m looking forward to hearing how his trip went. Last year Brent threw a little feast for the students with bar-b-que pig. I got a hint from Brent that he was planning to do the same thing again this time. Wish I could have been there!
Chimala is one of those places where the travel time is long and its destination is hard to reach. But once you’re there and spend a little time getting to know and love the people, experiencing the surrounding culture, and absorbing the unmatched rugged beauty, you’re “hooked” for life. Just ask any of our teaching guests: Brent Smith, Denny Petrillo, Keith Kasarjian, Michael Hite, Denny Landon, Bill Stewart, Josh Barnett, Gary Fallis, Tim Rolland, Jeff Bell, Garry Hill, and Wayne Burger. Not all of them have returned, but all of them want to; and hopefully, one day they will.
As for me, my tentative plans are to return to Chimala in early November to teach a couple of short courses and to participate in the graduation exercises for the second-year class. It is always a highlight of the year to witness the joy and smiles on the students’ faces as they bring to completion two years of Bible study and Christian training. The time spent in the classroom and actual teaching/preaching experiences will hopefully remain with them long after they have returned to their home villages.
Many continued thanks go out to all of the good people who support preacher-training at the Chimala Mission—as well as all of the extension preacher-training schools. I have always felt there was no better bounce-per-ounce than what is accomplished in the foreign preacher-training program. Compared to the expense of the same training in the States, the extension schools are the most cost-effective means of training indigenous people to take the gospel to the lost world that I know of. In view of the ever-expanding population of the world (exceeds 6.8 billion!) I can think of no better use of the Lord’s money than extension preacher-training.
As I have often said in my presentations, “There are just some places you and I can never go, but the people we train can go!” This is nothing new, for Jesus said long ago, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12). We don’t do “greater works” in quality—no one can ever exceed Jesus! But by means of time and opportunities, the gospel is put into our hands to be disbursed as broadly as is effectively possible. Thank you for your partnership in the greatest work on earth! --Howell
The time is fast approaching for my next visit to Gorlovka for the work at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Ukraine (BVBIU). The tickets have been booked for the dates of May 21 – June 11 when Mary and I will be making this trip. Some of the items I will be packing include graduation diplomas, graduation shirts, Bear Valley portfolio organizers, and BV T-shirts for all the students. The date our second-year students will graduate is Saturday, May 26th.
Traveling about the same time will also be Gary and Sarah Fallis. Gary is the head of the graduate department of the Bear Valley Bible Institute extension program and is planning to teach a couple of graduate classes during his visit. There has been a lot of interest in the master’s program with several of our former undergraduate students enrolled. Normally, these classes are offered twice yearly—in the spring and fall. All of our current teaching staff has received their master’s degree from BVBIU. Sarah, who is an experienced teacher by profession, has also taught ladies classes on several occasions in Ukraine.
One other instructor, Denny Landon is currently in Ukraine teaching a short course at BVBIU. Denny has always been willing and able to teach courses in Ukraine, Tanzania, and in a number of the other extension schools in addition to the courses he teaches in the graduate program. It has always been a blessing to have Denny’s ready-to-serve flexibility and his continued association and friendship. All of the extension schools have benefited wherever he has traveled and taught. --Howell
On the Home Front
Some of you reading this may or may not want to know what’s been going on with family. If not, you can stop reading now and go back to watching the ball game. If so, here are a few details.
Our daughter, Sarah and her husband, Jeremy are in the process of moving to Franklin, TN where Jeremy has taken a new position as preacher for the Millview church of Christ. The web site is http://millviewcoc.org/. Sarah, who is expecting twins near the end of August, will be graduating with her master’s degree the middle of May. She and Jeremy will be resigning from their positions at FHU, selling their house and are now looking to buy a house in the next few weeks. Other than that, they don’t have much to do. J
Seth continues to work with the Westside congregation in Brownsville as the associate minister. As all ministers soon learn, the work can be sad at times. Especially we have all felt the sadness when Westside’s preacher, Larry Sweeney lost his dear wife, Emily. It was a hard time for all, but I’m glad Seth was there to be of help. It was good for Larry and Westside, and it was good for Seth.
You may remember that Seth had given some consideration to moving to Chimala to work as a missionary. In fact, he even visited Tanzania with us in January. However, after weighing all the factors he has decided that such a move may be a little premature at this point in his life.
Nathan is continuing his studies at FHU completing his junior year this month. We watched him and many other FHU students perform at the annual “Making Music” production. He is also a missions major but has no definite future mission plans at this time.
Last but not least, Mary continues to be the constant helpmeet God intended a wife to be. She has always been a stabilizing factor in whatever pursuit of success I have had. Without her I would not be writing this newsletter. She travels with me constantly, and her advice and insight are invaluable. She has made the pursuit of God’s will a true joy! --Howell