One of the areas of ministry that I believe is important in the spread of the gospel is through the printed page. I have emphasized this to students I’ve had the privilege to teach, and have tried to practice it in my own ministry for the past few years. People are just so busy these days. And while few people, it seems, will give you an “ear” to discuss spiritual matters, they may actually come closer to reading what you write.
In our work of training men to preach the gospel, it just makes sense to me that we couple our teaching efforts with a good biblical publication. Chad Wagner who has recently moved his family to Chimala to become the new mission administrator is discussing plans to begin such an effort in connection with the Chimala Bible Institute. Here is what Chad had to say about it in his June newsletter:
“We have been talking about the need for preaching in SW Tanzania. I told the Bible faculty that a preacher can preach the Gospel using a pulpit and also the pen. Preaching the Gospel with the pen enables the Gospel preacher to visit many more places at one time than he possibly can. What is written with the pen can be read and re-read many times to teach the congregation and area preachers. After discussing with Garry Hill, CBI Dean, we are going to start the ‘CBI Bible Digest.’ This publication, written in Swahili, will help encourage the local preachers in the preaching effort and also help to fill the need for sound Swahili material.”
A great challenge in all of our extension schools is obtaining an adequate library. For schools that are taught in English, it is not quite as difficult. But for schools in countries whose mother tongue is not English, it can be quite a challenge. Since CBI is made up of about half English and half Swahili students, anEnglish library leaves the program lacking as a whole. Many times while teaching at Chimala the students have come to me complaining about the lack of Swahili books. After telling them “pole sana” (very sorry), I normally use the opportunity to tell them that they don’t have good biblical material in Swahili because they are not writing any. And if they want to solve their problem then they need to start writing.
In preparation to my introduction to graduate studies class, I remember reading, “A writer learns to write well by practicing his craft. Like most other skills, writing is best learned by practice—in this case, by the act of putting words on paper.” Among other obvious things (reading, studying, praying and perspiring), they just have to put forth the effort and do it! Hopefully, Chad’s recent arrival and permanent presence at Chimala will help them to do just that. For now, the students write their essays and research documents primarily with pen and paper. Slowly but surely, newer equipment is making its way to Chimala. With the arrival of useable computers in the near future, we hope good writing will come forth. Howell
Why Extension Schools?
It is good to be reminded why we are involved in extension preacher-training schools. As it has been said before, we believe the extension program puts in place a program to perpetuate the work of preaching the gospel after missionaries have left. We believe that time will show this to be one of the most successful works among many good works in the brotherhood. Here are some of the basic concepts:
• We are able to train more men, since they do not have to raise expenses to come to the US.
• We are able to train them more inexpensively. Frequently we are able to fully support a man and his family for less than $100/month.
• These men are being trained in an environment conducive to learning. They are surrounded by their countrymen who have the same cultural background, same problems, etc. They help each other and work in each other’s congregations. When a man leaves Bear Valley to go into a mission field, he is virtually alone. This solves that problem.
• In our 40 years of training men, we have frequently trained men from foreign countries. Sadly, two results regularly occurred: (1) The men married an American and stayed here – never entering the ministry; (2) The men became ‘accustomed’ to American life/wealth and wanted to maintain that level when they returned home. This resulted in envy and strife among the very people they were trying to win to Christ. Now these men receive the full program offered here at Bear Valley, and never get accustomed to another way of life.
• We are able to develop a curriculum that specifically identifies their ministry needs.
• We are able to provide similar quality of education our students receive in Denver. The teachers in these extension schools are men who have advanced degrees and are Biblically sound.
About three weeks before Mary and I embarked on our trip to Ukraine, the congregational minister at North Jackson, where we have our home membership, announced his resignation and decision to relocate. We have grown to love Brian and Beth Giselbach and their family, but this was a change they felt was best for them. They have surely been missed.
About the same time, the North Jackson elders asked if I would act as the interim congregational minister until a permanent replacement could be found. I have been serving in that capacity along with my regular duties as the stateside coordinator for the two BVBID extension schools in Chimala, Tanzania (CBI) and Gorlovka, Ukraine (BVBIU). I will have more to say about this in next month’s report. Howell