Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Lord is Faith-E-Ful

One of the common songs sung here is about God's faithfulness. Picture if you will, a large gathering of African believers singing in an accent - "The Lord is Faith--E--Ful." It has a sense of present distress and a longing for God knowing that He is faithful to His children.

This thought has stuck with me through this trip. I am sitting here thinking back on a whirlwind of a trip and what keeps running through my mind is this song I heard on Sunday. The first line keeps popping up - "Every day and every hour, you are Faith-e-Ful oh Lord." I have seen this faithfulness time and time again on this trip. As I finished up with my teaching, I was overwhelmed by how many people came up and thanked me for being here. They even wanted me to thank my family for letting me come. Over and over again they told us how much we impacted them and how the Bible just opened up to them. I am so thankful to have been a part of that training and I look forward to seeing how God will use Thomas.

One thing I am certain of is that the Lord is Faith--E--Ful to complete the work He has started in them.

I'll probably post one more time when I get back with a summary of thoughts. Thanks for reading and praying. Continue to pray for us as we travel some 36 hours back home.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When the Lights Go out

We have had a very busy schedule of teaching, each one of us averaging about 6-9 hours of teaching a day. The way this training conference is set up is about 90 or so people divided into three groups. I teach each of these groups 4 times for 3 hour blocks of time. Today, I finished one group completely, walking them through the Gospel of Matthew. One of the biggest challenges of my day was teaching about the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit in Matthew 12 and Binding and Loosing in Matthew 16-18 to a group that primarily has pentecostal theology. Needless to say, it was a brain drain by the end of it. I was impressed by their teachability and their desire to learn. At the end of it, they were challenged to be able to back up what they believed with Scripture. I am so blessed to have this chance to work through that myself.

The last class of the day, the late afternoon class, we walked through Matthew 4-12 and looked at the temptations of Christ, Sermon on the Mount and the first part of chapter 12. It was a great class. An hour before class ended, the power went out and we were in darkness. Instead of stopping and leaving, they brought me a flashlight and all of them took out their cell phones to use to read the Bible. I was overwhelmed at seeing that. How many people would stick around in the dark to learn the Bible?

Another lesson learned. I am teaching them, yet feeling like the one being taught in so many ways.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Africa Day and a Long Post

So today is Africa Day. We rode to the training center and it was noticeably different in terms of traffic and people. Not many were awake and out and about for this holiday. Yet here I was, headed to train for 9 hours. And even more than that, 70 plus pastors, wives and church leaders were getting ready to hear teaching on Matthew, John, Psalms and Genesis from 7:30 am -6:00 pm.

I am grateful for the opportunity but am exhausted after two days of 9 hours of teaching plus all of the other things we are doing. What makes this worth it all the more is watching this group soak up the teaching and want more. It is so exciting to teach people who are hungry for the Word. In fact, we had a break for "tea" while they were doing observations on a passage. My class stayed behind to finish discussing the passage rather than stop and get tea. I know me...I would be the first person getting that "tea" break. Yet there hunger and excitement for learning new things from the Word kept them in their seats...I am humbled by that.

Yesterday, I went through how to study the Bible, using the principles of observation, interpretation and application. One of the biggest challenges here is shallow, allegorical and out of context preaching. Many don't know better since that is what has been modeled for them. Recently on this trip, I heard a 40 minute message from the book of Job that was so out of context, it actually supported the exact opposite of how it was being taught. I am told that it is typical here and among those at the conference where we are teaching. So each trainer is taking the time to teaching on correct hermeneutical principles and how to use them on the book they are teaching. I can only imagine how challenging it must be to realize that you have been doing something wrong.

Yet these people are humbly taking in the teaching that is correcting what they have been doing for years... and for the most part, they are eating it up. Maybe tomorrow I will share some stories. Time and time again, I have had numerous people come to me and thank me repeatedly for taking the time to help them understand the Bible. They are so thankful and want more and more teaching. it reminds me of how blessed we are and how blessed I am for the privilege of studying the Word under Godly men, for having the privilege of attending seminary and for all of the resources that I have at my fingertips. Each one of these people would love to have even a small amount of what I have in theological training. And yet, I get the honor of investing in them.

Pray with me as I pray for them. Pray for me as I teach them. Pray for me as I learn from them.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The end of the Mini Conference

There is nothing more exciting to me than to see people hungry for God’s Word. Watching these pastors , their wives and other church leaders be excited about God’s Word and eagerly writing notes has been a highlight. Today we covered topics like Man’s condition, Temptation, Jew and Gentile Salvation and Why Christians still sin. The last topic was mine and I took them through Romans 6-8, looking at the fact that the power of sin has been broken (Romans 6) but the presence of sin is still a battle (Romans 7) and ended with the provision for living a sanctified life found in the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). It si a great reminder to myself even as I preach to others.

Tomorrow starts the more difficult stuff in that we will be teaching about 9 hours each. I’ll be teaching on the Gospel of Matthew. Carl Hargrove will be teaching on the Gospel of John and Hermeneutics, Thomas will be teaching on Genesis and Eric Chou will be teaching on Psalms.

Each session is a 3 hour block of time and we have about 3 sessions each tomorrow. Looking forward to how God will again answer prayers…especially your prayers. Continue to pray with/for us. It definitely makes a difference. It is amazing to see so many of you praying and keeping up. I wanted to go to bed right away, but thought that I should give an update first. It makes it worth it when people read these. Until next time…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Preach Until You are Hungry

"Preach until you are hungry, then we go to lunch." And with that, my day started.

I was scheduled to preach at a church in the morning, then I was the last speaker for a mini conference in the evening. Flexibility, that is the key word for missions. Well, I was told to preach, not given a time limit other than my own hunger pains and off to the races I went.

We first visited a school for orphans that was being built by a local pastor. They were making their own bricks. It was quite a sight to see. Plus, the school house they were using was very dilapidated. It reminded me of how blessed most of us are in terms of just our education.

Then we went to the church. It was a church plant, vibrant African worship and very friendly. I was told at the last minute that there would be translation, so I had to edit on the fly. Preaching and translation can be an interesting combination. Plus, it was a rural area with limited, what I had prepared wasn't gonna fly the way I had structured it. So I had to make some last minute editorial changes. God is good and reminded me of prayer and dependence.

For you that read and pray, thank you! It was evident that people were praying for me.

Tonight went well. I spoke to a group of pastors and church leaders on Sin and the Gospel. It was a topic assigned to me as part of the conference theme. I took them through Romans 1-3 and highlighted 1) the problem of sin and 2) the provision for sin. It was a great reminder to me of the essentials of the Gospel and our need to keep the "essentials" the "essentials!"

Tomorrow, I am the last speaker in a long day. Please pray for all of us, including the pastors/church leaders as we all learn. My topic is "Why Christians Still Sin." It is an important topic so please pray with/for me.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A fun day in Africa

Today was a down day before the crazy schedule starts. It was a sort of restful day, even though I am still very tired. I did get a decent night’s sleep. We went to a game park that was a mix between a safari and zoo. The first part, we drove in close to lions who were about 4 feet from us. They were huge and sleeping. It was cool to be that close with the window down.

Next we went to the zoo part which had all sorts of animals. My absolute favorite was playing with a couple of lion cubs that were 6 months old and about 120 pounds or so. I got to hold one. The male tried to bite me and the female swiped at me…no wonder the sign read “enter at your own risk!”

What amazed me was how awesome yet terrifying it was to be so close to a lion. It made me think of the “Lion of Judah!” How amazing it will be when He returns for those of us who know Him and yet how terrifying it will be for others who have rejected.

Tonight we will have a meeting with Harare Theological Seminary to discuss some potential partnerships with Thomas.

Tomorrow we will be splitting up and preaching at a couple of churches in the morning. Then we will get together for lunch. After lunch, our mini conference will start and we will be speaking on several topics. I’ll be speaking on the nature of Sin and Salvation. Please pray for us.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Back to Zim

We made it safely to Zimbabwe. I was thankful to get off of planes. Sitting for that long drives me crazy but I was able to sleep a little. Funny moment on the plane. After two 11 hour flights, we boarded the third flight, a short 2 hour skip from Joburg to Harare. Before we actually got in the air, they handed us Customs forms. As I filled mine out, my pen decided to pour all over my hand, leaking everywhere. The lady next to me handed me a couple of wetwipes...boy am I glad those things were invented. So, I call the flight attendant over and said to him, "My pen just exploded..." And he just looked at me like I was a terrorist or something. Pretty soon, I was in an interogation room....okay, that part is not true. But his face was priceless as he looked at my pen. Then my face must have been something to see as I realized that there are some words you just don't say on a plane....ever! So I quickly backtracked and restated that my pen leaked on me.

On another note, the team is pretty tired. We have a dinner tonight, then we are headed to a Game Park. Maybe I'll see a Rhino!

Sunday, we start the mini conference. I just found out that not only am I teaching at the conference on Sunday, but will be speaking at a church that morning. Glad I packed a few sermons!

I am very thankful for this opportunity and am very thankful for your prayers. My prayer is that we would be a great encouragement to these men. See ya with another update soon

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Leg

We made it to Munich. I got a little sleep on the flight. Now it is waiting for a 4 hour layover until our next 11 hour flight to South Africa. For some reason, my cell isn't working but I found an internet station. Gotta love the World Wide Web!

Thanks for keeping up with our journey. Hopefully I can update when we land.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The "Why" and "What" of Zimbabwe

If you are reading this, then most likely you are interested in keeping up with my trip.....or are bored and saw a link from facebook.

So here is some info:

Our church is getting ready to send out a "home grown" missionary to Zimbabwe. I will be going with him to teach at a conference for pastors. He is looking to train pastors in his home country. I am humbled that I get to go and train 100 pastors who are hungry for God's Word. There will be four trainers all together.

We have a two day flight. 11 hours to Frankfurt. 11 hours to Joburg, South Africa. Then 2 hours to Harare. Long flights and I don't really agree all that much.

We will be doing a mini conference once there on Sunday and Monday. I will be speaking on two topics: "Sin and the Gospel" and "Why Christians still sin."

After that, we will have 5 days of training these pastors in various topics. I will be training for roughly 40 hours in this 5 day span. I will be teaching the book of Matthew.

Then after the training, I'm back on the plane again for a loooooong flight home!

Please pray for:
1. Saftey in Travel - Zimbabwe can be quite dangerous at times.
2. The pastors who will be trained. That they will be built up and edified.
3. The trainers. It is a rough schedule. We will definately need your prayers!
4. The effects of the preaching and teaching, that it would impact Zimbabwe for kingdom!

Headed back to Africa

It has been way too long since I posted on this blog. Tons of things I've wanted to write about but not enough time. Seems like I am barely keeping up with real life =)

So I started this blog in April 2009 to update people while I was in Zimbabwe. Well, I'm going back and figured I'd use it again to do the same. So, if you are interested, I'll try and post on here during my trip - May 18th-30th. That is, if there is a decent internet connection.

If this is your first time here, Enjoy!