Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Theologians Without Borders: Who’s Helping Who?

From My Inbox
I wanted to share with you a portion of a letter that I have received recently.

It contains a request for help but it has prompted me to think more about how we identify priorities with regard to Theologians Without Borders and to ask: “Who’s helping who?”

In order to preserve anonymity, (as in many cases, the writer is working in a country where freedom to worship and assemble are not always maintained), I have omitted names.

Preamble
After introducing himself here is the lead in to his call for help:

“I live in XYZ, and God has given me a vision to reach my own people, which represents a language group in the world with a total population of more than 250 million and less than 1% who are Christians.”

“I work for a church planting organization situated in ABC. So far we have planted more than 300 house churches in 10 years. We have a Bible School where we offer two specialized courses, one a 9 month residential training both for men and women and a non-residential course for lay people. Every year 25 students are being graduated from the former and 40 from the latter. These students are a tremendous blessing in the field ministry and in the church.”

“In our survey it is revealed that there are 3000 churches in this state where there is no pastor and each denominational pastor commonly looks after 8 to 10 churches each. Therefore, lay people are actually doing the ministry. They are very active and have a heart to serve the Lord but they do not have any formal theological training. These lay pastors are preaching two or three sermons repeatedly for years hence there is spiritual poverty in the church and the church is not growing as it should.”

“We have a VISION 2020 which means by year 2020 we would like to see 20% of the total population transformed to the life of Jesus. This means we need at least 19 million people and 20 thousand churches. For this we need to reach out, establish new churches as well as training and equipping the saints.”

“My earnest request to you, if possible is, ‘please help me…’”

RSVP
My initial reaction was to think that this man doesn’t need help! He needs to be helping others!

But after identifying areas of strength he does name the areas where others might come to help—in the way of visiting to train, encourage and to serve as a consultant.

Mutuality is the Key
I was inspired to read of this man’s immense vision, his well-thought out and long term strategy and his undaunted spirit in the face of massive numbers and numerous difficulties.

This is the way it usually is with TWB—not the expert coming in with lectures to teach the ignorant but coming in with humility and discovering that in the giving there is so much more that is being received.

Can You Help?
There is a need for people to assist with short term (one week) intensives in a number of subjects related to the training of pastors. High theological credentials are not required for this task.

Also there are opportunities to assist in the equipping of their lay leaders who are doing a terrific job but are running out of things to say to their people.

Do write to me (geoffpound@yahoo.com.au) if you would like further details in assessing whether you could make a contribution to this great vision.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Sometimes our work appears like we have huge mountains to climb. This is a picture of the mountains around Digne-les-Bains, France.