​Multiplying Ministry Through Theological Education

November 23 2015

You should teach people whom you can trust the things you and many others have heard me say. Then they will be able to teach others.

—2 Timothy 2:2 (New Century Version)

As a young person, R.K. was trapped in the poverty and sectarian violence in his native state in India. However, Jesus has given him new life, hope, and a calling to return to his home to invest in the lives of young children. His studies and ministry experiences at the OMS-founded Allahabad Bible Seminary are preparing him to multiply himself by investing in more young men and women, who one day will, in turn, multiply themselves for others.

From our founding, One Mission Society has emphasized leadership development through theological education. Theological education serves to “furnish and equip” the minds of men and women to reflect scripturally, historically, and sociologically on personal spiritual formation, the life and ministry of the church, and the impact of the Gospel on society in local and global contexts. Such reflection provides rich soil for multiplying healthy, growing disciples, leaders, and churches.

As part of this commitment, OMS partners with the 3 seminaries and 10 regional Bible schools of the Evangelical Church of India, like Allahabad Bible Seminary (ABS). These schools not only provide students with rigorous academic preparation to serve as evangelists, church planters, and pastors; they also give students significant practical ministry experience that shapes them and makes a tangible difference in the surrounding communities.

ABS students and faculty minister with leaders of more than 20 house churches in nearby villages, with plans to launch churches in 10 more villages this year. As these churches have grown, the seminary has helped to build 5 church buildings in the region. In addition to the house churches, ABS provides weekly targeted ministries to women and children in the villages.

In addition to the 167 current residential students like R.K., Allahabad Bible Seminary is equipping more than 2,000 individuals for ministry and leadership through its extension program. Allahabad is just one example of how the ECI schools are working toward the vision of 100,000 churches and 10 million believers by the denomination’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2056. It is our great joy and privilege to come alongside these brothers and sisters in Christ as they equip young men and women to “go about in the power of the Spirit, announcing and embodying the Good News of God’s righteous rule and reign upon the earth.”

Did you know …?

Arun* runs an OMS partner school. He also leads a house church started through the school. On four occasions his church has attempted to construct a worship facility, only to have it destroyed by opposing groups. In 2011, he and his congregation were herded into a room and the doors locked. Only the arrival of security forces prevented them from being burned alive. Today, Arun continues to serve Jesus and his church as a pastor and educator.

*Name changed for security.

By Dick Freed, One Mission Society Theological Education Team

Tags: india, theological education, eci, schools, seminaries, story,

God’s Revelation Vs. Voodoo

November 20 2015

An OMS Haiti missionary had finished evangelizing several families living on a remote hillside in Haiti, where there are few roads in the area. As the missionary and his guide walked down the footpath, suddenly the guide stopped and looked back up the trail. He pointed out a small piece of paper under a rock and explained to the missionary that the paper was a witchdoctor’s curse.

The missionary asked his guide, “Why would a witch doctor put a curse here?” The guide responded, “This kind of thing happens all the time. We call it health-trade or wealth-trade. This is probably what happened: “Some unfortunate person was sick (or poor or fearful, etc.), probably because of a curse. So, she or he probably gave a witchdoctor a chicken and asked for healing. First, the witchdoctor killed and ate the chicken. Next, he scribbled some lines on that scrap of paper and promised that the chicken-giver’s illness would be traded for the health of an unfortunate passerby. It’s a reasonable trade for us.”

The missionary asked, “Is it possible that someone gave the witch doctor a chicken to put a blessing on the path so that travelers on that path would be well, wealthy, and happy?”

Stunned, the guide looked at the missionary as if he had lost his mind. He thought for a long moment and then burst out laughing, “No! That’s impossible. Why would anyone give the witchdoctor a chicken to do something nice for a stranger, perhaps even an enemy? In the best case, it would be like trading a perfectly delicious chicken for nothing. In the worst case, it could cause your death because of strengthening your enemy. The chicken-giver would still be sick and have one less chicken.” The guide then asked, with a slight hint of condescension, “Does that seem reasonable to a missionary?”

In contrast, God revealed his glorious paths of righteousness and life, which are found through his Son Jesus. God revealed his life-giving way through his holy apostles and prophets. We diligently search the Bible for those messages. One way to discover those treasures is through a set of skills, sometimes known as Inductive Bible Study. The contrast is stark. On one side are the writers of the Bible. On the other are voodoo witch doctors who scratch random scribbles. On both sides, there are contrasting methods, purposes and outcomes. We choose life.

Training through One Mission Society’s Theological Education helps equip pastors and other church leaders to minister in truth situations like this and many others. Rev. Leopoldo Oyola, director of the OMS-related seminary in Guayaquil, Ecuador, received his training at the OMS-related seminary in Colombia. It was there that he learned about inductive Bible study from OMS missionaries. Leopoldo was so transformed by this way of valuing and applying the Bible, that when he returned to Ecuador, he immediately implemented IBS in his church. He has now trained many in his congregation, and they, in turn, are now teaching others, including students at his seminary.

Tags: haiti, voodoo, witch doctor, inductive bible study, theological education,

​God’s Revelation Vs. Voodoo

November 20 2015

An OMS Haiti missionary had finished evangelizing several families living on a remote hillside in Haiti, where there are few roads in the area. As the missionary and his guide walked down the footpath, suddenly the guide stopped and looked back up the trail. He pointed out a small piece of paper under a rock and explained to the missionary that the paper was a witchdoctor’s curse.

The missionary asked his guide, “Why would a witch doctor put a curse here?” The guide responded, “This kind of thing happens all the time. We call it health-trade or wealth-trade. This is probably what happened: “Some unfortunate person was sick (or poor or fearful, etc.), probably because of a curse. So, she or he probably gave a witchdoctor a chicken and asked for healing. First, the witchdoctor killed and ate the chicken. Next, he scribbled some lines on that scrap of paper and promised that the chicken-giver’s illness would be traded for the health of an unfortunate passerby. It’s a reasonable trade for us.”

The missionary asked, “Is it possible that someone gave the witch doctor a chicken to put a blessing on the path so that travelers on that path would be well, wealthy, and happy?”

Stunned, the guide looked at the missionary as if he had lost his mind. He thought for a long moment and then burst out laughing, “No! That’s impossible. Why would anyone give the witchdoctor a chicken to do something nice for a stranger, perhaps even an enemy? In the best case, it would be like trading a perfectly delicious chicken for nothing. In the worst case, it could cause your death because of strengthening your enemy. The chicken-giver would still be sick and have one less chicken.” The guide then asked, with a slight hint of condescension, “Does that seem reasonable to a missionary?”

In contrast, God revealed his glorious paths of righteousness and life, which are found through his Son Jesus. God revealed his life-giving way through his holy apostles and prophets. We diligently search the Bible for those messages. One way to discover those treasures is through a set of skills, sometimes known as Inductive Bible Study. The contrast is stark. On one side are the writers of the Bible. On the other are voodoo witch doctors who scratch random scribbles. On both sides, there are contrasting methods, purposes and outcomes. We choose life.

Training through One Mission Society’s Theological Education helps equip pastors and other church leaders to minister in truth situations like this and many others. Rev. Leopoldo Oyola, director of the OMS-related seminary in Guayaquil, Ecuador, received his training at the OMS-related seminary in Colombia. It was there that he learned about inductive Bible study from OMS missionaries. Leopoldo was so transformed by this way of valuing and applying the Bible, that when he returned to Ecuador, he immediately implemented IBS in his church. He has now trained many in his congregation, and they, in turn, are now teaching others, including students at his seminary.

Tags: haiti, voodoo, witch doctor, inductive bible study, theological education,

Building in the Midst of a Storm

November 13 2015

In October, I travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, on my first trip as the OMS theological consultant for Africa. I attended Every Community for Christ’s Africa Summit. While there, I met Kris Kappler, OMS’ new international regional director for Africa, along with six of the seven ECC regional supervisors.

These men represent OMS ministry in more than 20 African nations and literally hundreds of churches. Some of these churches are not churches as we think of them, but small groups who meet under trees or in homes. The stories of God’s work told by these men were inspirational and challenging to all of us who listened. And the situations these men and their coordinators and trainers face are not easy. Challenges face them on many levels, including spiritual, social, and political.

One supervisor named Thierry lives in the Central African Republic (CAR). CAR is one of THE most war-torn countries in present-day Africa. A Bible college there named FATEB has been turned into a refugee camp with 3,000 suffering people. (Pray for the president of this school as he ministers there.)

In the midst of this turmoil and war, Thierry has the courage to dream. God has laid it on his heart to build a school. When he heard from God, he began to plan and prepare. He wrote a proposal, made a site plan, and even made arrangements with FATEB so that his Bible college could give accredited classes. At this point, some Africans would seek assistance from a Westerner to help pay for this type of dream. Not Thierry. Using his own resources and connections, he found property, built a wall around it, and has begun construction on two buildings.

When Thierry shared this story with me, he told me that he did not want help to build buildings, but shared that he could not do it all alone. He needed help in getting books for the library and help with computers and setting up the software. Thierry wants to focus on online theological education. And he wants this seminary to become an OMS seminary.

This is the type of man I am excited about partnering with; a man who is willing to build and prepare for the future of God’s kingdom in the midst of a storm. Your donation to the theological education fund allows OMS to partner with men like Thierry to help him complete his vision. Would you consider donating to account #408126 so OMS can move forward more strongly in the areas of theological education? Click here to give.

This is the kind of kingdom-building opportunity we have all around the world through OMS Theological Education. Your support of this ministry makes vision like this become reality.

By Rod Dormer, One Mission Society Theological Education Team, Africa

Tags: africa, theological education, ecc, training, small groups,

An Example for the Believers

November 10 2015

Sitting around a dining room table with cups of tea, walking along the Dnieper River, or going on a retreat at a camp outside Kiev, young Ukrainian believers are learning to minister to one another as they grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. Each week, they meet together in homes for Life Groups to encourage one another in Christ. They take turns sharing responsibilities, preparing ice breakers, leading Bible studies, selecting songs, and praying for one another.

Everyone has busy schedules with either university studies or full time jobs. Finding ways to equip these young believers with knowledge and skills for ministry is a creative adventure in theological education, working in partnership with the OMS missionary team in Ukraine. Just as the Ukrainian believers follow the early church model of house churches, we are following the example of Paul’s methods for leadership training and discipleship. Paul wrote letters to teach and to encourage the new believers. We are also writing. Rather than letters, we are developing a series of lessons that give biblical answers to questions such as: “What will happen at the end of time?” “Who is the Holy Spirit?” “What is worship?” “What is sin?”

Paul traveled and made personal visits to encourage new believers. In October, I had the privilege of making my third trip to Ukraine to share in a weekend retreat. I was asked to teach about developing our friendship with God through the practice of spiritual disciplines and to lead a discussion on what it means to be community in Christ. Each time I return, there is a deepening bond of trust. We discuss joys, questions, and concerns over cups of tea. This is the life-on-life model of theological education that Jesus modeled with his disciples.

These young believers represent the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives through their personal testimonies and outreach to others. They represent the hope of things to come as the kingdom of God extends across Ukraine. As Paul encouraged Timothy, let’s pray that they will receive and live out these same words of encouragement: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity” (I Timothy 4:12, NIV).

By Colleen Fitch, One Mission Society Missionary and Theological Education Consultant for Europe

Tags: ukraine, youth, community, retreat, theological education,

Investment Not in Vain

November 4 2015

Deer in the headlights—that was probably my look many years ago the first time I was translating in front of a large audience. A seminary leader from Ecuador was giving a testimony to a full house of One Mission Society friends and supporters in Hughes Auditorium on the campus of Asbury University. He was expressing gratitude for the many people whose partnership through scholarship funding had made his own studies possible and those of the current generation of seminary students. All was going well. I was understanding him clearly and able to translate his words and ideas into smooth English—until it happened. All of a sudden, he dropped the bomb that every translator fears, an idiomatic expression that I’d never heard before. Although I understood the literal meaning of his words, I was left silently grasping for their significance in this particular context.

What he said was, No han echado la semilla en saco roto (“you have not thrown the seed into a torn sack”). What he meant was, “Your investment in me (and in the other students) was not in vain.” Those words were rolling around in my brain during the recent trip to Ecuador. Every day of those two weeks was a gift—daily glimpses of not-in-vain investments, strung together like a string of precious pearls. I saw the fruit of seeds that had been sown, seeds that had not been tossed into torn sacks, but into receptive lives. Former students are now teachers, pastors, and denominational leaders. Women who were mentored are now mentoring. People who were prayed for have become powerful prayer warriors. Words that were spoken under the direction of the Holy Spirit are continuing to be formative.

God wastes nothing, especially not our investment into the spiritual lives of his children. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul writes, “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (NRSV). That is a promise we can count on! Let’s go—let’s make those investments for eternity!

By Rachel Coleman, OMS Missionary, Theological Education Team

Tags: investment, students, theological education, ecuador,