Tale Of Two Schools...

We had a dream in northern Tanzania—a dream of training faithful men in their own country, in their own language and in their own culture. In keeping with Paul’s statement in 2 Tim. 2:2, our purpose was to teach men that they may teach others also. This has been proven to be one of the most effective means in evangelizing the world.

We realized this dream in 2001 when the first students arrived at the Andrew Connally School of Preaching (ACSOP) in Arusha, Tanzania. Their lives were filled with long nights of reading, writing and memorizing of Scripture and their weekends with teaching and helping the Arusha congregation. After two years of intense study of every book of the Bible along with many topical studies, they graduated in 2003 and began teaching the gospel of Christ in East Africa. This first class began planting churches that now stretch throughout Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

More than 150 congregations of the Lord’s body have begun throughout East Africa and neighboring countries. The Tanzania 2000 mission team and the Andrew Connally School of Preaching in cooperation with the Bear Valley Bible Institute along with hundreds of faithful friends and supporters have contributed to this work of God. The Andrew Connally School of Preaching has been the key to the growth of the church. American and African teachers have prepared 125 evangelists with a head filled with the knowledge of God’s word and a heart filled with love and zeal to preach it to others.

Charles Ogutu, an example of many ACSOP graduates, went back home to preach the gospel in Kenya. He began six different congregations. He also saw the need to train others to teach just as he had been taught. Therefore, he began a small preacher training school in Kenya to meet the needs of this rapid church growth.

During this same time, African and American brethren saw the need for a school of preaching on a larger scale that could train preachers in Kenya just as ACSOP had done in Tanzania. The Bear Valley Bible Institute agreed to be a part of this worthy work as it had done in Tanzania. The Kenya School of Preaching met its first class Oct. 1, 2012. Charles Ogutu was selected as the director of the school. Elias Omolo, another graduate of ACSOP, is serving as Dean of Academics. Other faculty members are graduates of ACSOP, having received both their Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Bible from BVBID.

In the beginning, the dream was to train men who in turn would teach and train others. The Lord now has a “second generation” school of preaching being led by men from ACSOP in East Africa.

To witness this and to be a part of this amazing growth is a true joy and blessing.

How has all this been made possible? As our late brother V.P. Black once said, “what God controls, grows.” This is God’s work, working through a united team of men and women toward a common goal. Thanks be to God. He alone is worthy to be praised. 

Cy Stafford

When I began with the Bear Valley Bible Institute in 2002, I was responsible as Coordinator of the Andrew Connally School of Preaching in Arusha, Tanzania. Though I now serve as Coordinator of the Master’s Program and travel more widely, I have probably taught more than half of the 125 ACSOP students who have graduated, both on the undergraduate and graduate level.

I am always happy to return to my first home away from home. On this occasion I taught the Scheme of Redemption to the English speaking class. ACSOP now has a two-year course of study for English and Swahali speaking students. Four ACSOP students who completed the Master’s Program teach the Swahali students.

In addition, I delivered the commencement address for the graduating classes. Nine students graduated from the Master’s class and six students from the undergraduate English program. Public meetings do not move fast or on time in Africa. People in Africa are not as time conscious we are. The program featured speakers representing the school as well as the community. The village chief and the local government administrator each spoke. These men of varying faiths or no faith were impressed with the quality of the spiritual training as well as the impact for good it has on the country of Tanzania. The valedictorian of the Master’s class and Bachelor’s class had their turn. The Directors of the Swahali and English programs then made presentations. Chad Wagner, who is the director of the Chimala Mission in southern Tanzania, had an opportunity to say a few words. I heard a lot of people before I finally got up to speak. However, I didn’t cut my lesson short since none of the others did. My subject was “Your Purpose,” from the book of Ephesians.

I preached in the Arusha congregation on the first Sunday and was thrilled to be present for the baptism of a man and his wife. I later had the opportunity to go to their home and study with them regarding the significance of their faith in the Lord. We all sat in their home—one room of clay construction where five people slept. The house had no conveniences such as indoor plumbing or electricity—things that we often take for granted. Their possessions were meager, but what they did possess in abundance was faith in God and joy in their salvation. This couple had been studying their Bible for a long time, knew a lot of Scripture, and had been worshipping according to what they knew. Like Apollos (Acts 18:24-28), when they learned the word of God more perfectly or accurately, they quickly and happily obeyed the Lord. They are an example of seekers—people of a “good and honest heart” (Luke 8:15) all over the world, who believe that Jesus is the source of eternal salvation who all who obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9).

I was there over Thanksgiving, the fourth time I have been there at that time. I did not have warthog and wildebeest as before, but an American feast of ham and turkey. The meal was at Cy Stafford’s house. He had invited two men who guide him when he hunts and shoots his own food. My big game hunting would probably be chicken.

Tanzania has been a peaceful country and is good ground for the gospel. As with any country, there are traditional primitive religions, the religion of Islam and various forms of “Christianity.” Some need to know the true God is not to be identified with the spirit in an ancestor, a tree, or a mountain. Those of the Muslim religion need to know there is truly one God, and that He is worshipped only through Jesus Christ according to His word, the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Still others who follow some aspect of Christianity need to know the whole truth of God and the gospel (Acts 20:27; Gal. 1:6-9).

In the land of the spectacular Mt. Kilimanjaro, God has a spiritual mountain, a symbol for His Kingdom or church that is even more spectacular (Isa. 2:1-4; Heb. 12:22-23). While we admire the beauty and grandeur of God’s physical creation that towers almost 20,000 feet into the air, may we remember even more His eternal creation that will remain when the physical is no longer (Eph. 3:20-21).

Bible study in the homes of people has been has been a major avenue of conversion since Jesus and the apostles walked the earth. Jesus frequently taught in people’s homes (Matt. 8:14, 9:10, 23). Luke says of the apostles, “Daily in the temple and in every house they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). The apostle Paul taught publicly and from house to house (Acts 20:20).

When the church of Christ in America was growing rapidly in the 1950-1960’s, Christ was being taught in the home. Christians were teaching their neighbors either in their homes or the homes of others.

Africans in the 21st century are doing what Americans did in the 20th century. The houses themselves are normally huts made of clay with a thatched roof, or blocks with a corrugated roof. Floors are often dirt. Space is cramped. But what is taught in the house to eager eyes, attentive ears and receptive hearts is the same as in America 50 years before or the early church 2000 years ago.

Public preaching is always necessary and important. On the first day of the week, Christ is proclaimed in the assemblies of the saints (Acts 20:7). The sermons often center on Christian living to challenge and build up the members. Some nonmembers may be present; therefore an invitation is always extended.

However, most people who need Christ in their lives do not come to the church building. This is certainly true for those who see no need. They are lost but don’t know it. Even those who have some interest or feel some need may not attend for many reasons.

This is the reason to get to know your neighbors in America or in Africa. Show an interest in their lives. Win their confidence. Then appeal to them to study the Bible. Some may resist or resent this appeal to study in your home or theirs. But far more people are converted on Monday- Saturday in the course of their daily lives than in a church building on Sunday.

One reason the African church is growing is because they search the Scriptures in the homes of others. This is generally less threatening and more personal than a public assembly.

This is the reason the Andrew Connally School of Preaching is training evangelists, not just pulpit preachers. An evangelist will preach on Sunday from the pulpit, but he will also teach in homes, on the streets or in the work place. His pulpit will be wherever he finds an audience.

—Gary Fallis

Below is the latest monthly report from Gary Fallis. See Gary’s report with pictures by clicking here.

Posted on January 20, 2013 .