Thursday, October 30, 2008

Seminaries With No Internet and No Power

Further to the subject of ‘Technology Advancing Theological Education’, JT writes:

“I'm learning a lot from this conversation. However, my original post included the words 'wind-up' because 2 of the colleges I visited this year had no internet link and no dependable power either. Villages and towns in X and Y (the two countries involved) often have re-charging booths (primarily for mobile phones), but these are time consuming and costly by local standards. So what about where there is no power and no internet? BTW teaching was in English at these colleges.”

We are thinking about needing different types of technology for different types of seminary. One of Jennifer’s key phrases is ‘dependable power’.

In one seminary where I taught recently the power went off unexpectedly each day. In another country they had the concept of ‘power sharing’ where for 45 hours per week the power would go off for 2-3 hours at a time but the authorities kindly provided a schedule so you could plan cooking and emailing accordingly.

Which of the technologies that we have been discussing would work best where there is no power or dependable [electric] power and where there is no Internet connection?

For those teaching in many parts of the world where there is an erratic power supply and the Internet is still a dream, this subject of technology is of great importance. For those teaching where power supplies are dependable and Broadband Internet comes to your desk and classroom via wire or even wireless, this subject will help you to realize how fortunate you are!

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Teaching theology with no or little power!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Linking Together for Mutual Support

Lurking
I recently received a good letter from a person who described himself as one who “has been lurking around the TWB web site for some time.” I laughed because I lurk around many web sites without leaving my card or a comment.

Linking
Another letter from a Dean of a Baptist seminary noticed the Link List on the side of this web site and said, “The name of our seminary is not in your list but we want to formally identify with the vision of Theologians Without Borders. May we have our seminary linked to the TWB site?” I wrote back to tell him that it was ‘Done’.

I would love other seminaries and training organizations to do the same regardless of your denominational affiliation or interdenominational character. TWB has no membership as such but a link on this site is a show of your interest and the list provides a growing directory and a quick way for others to discover web addresses and contact details of your seminary.

Please would you put a link to the TWB site on your personal web site (or Blog Roll) and the site of your seminary and/or church?

Darren Rowse, a former student of mine at Whitley College, is one of the foremost bloggers in the world and on his popular ProBlogger site he has oodles of articles on the promotional value of establishing Links with other sites. Darren has many more tips if you are looking for ways to make your web site effective.

Lurking to Linking
Do write to me (geoffpound[@]gmail.com) with the name and web address of your seminary or training institution so that it can be placed on this site.

Make the jump from lurking to linking in support of the visions of each other.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Linking in support…”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Further Thoughts on Technology Advancing Theological Education

Michael Hanson, who is Vice Principal of Living Stones, a Church-based School of Leadership in New Zealand, has been following the recent conversation on this TWB site.

We have been recognizing the paucity of books in many seminaries and offering suggestions that bypass traditional books, including the use of inexpensive laptops, MP3s and reading books onto audio books by way of programs such as Librivox.

Michael wrote to me in these words:

“I was interested in your latest post about the OLPC (One Laptop Per child) project. My background has been in technology and I am passionate about education - particularly theological education, so I see the OLPC project as particularly exciting as a way to bring all this together.”

“I was at a presentation recently that was discussing the use of OLPC and Moodle. I expect that you are familiar with Moodle (www.moodle.org). It is an opensource learning management system that is being used around the world by both large and small organisations for education and training. The project that is underway at the moment is exciting. Moodle is now part of the OLPC project and an area of development that is currently underway is to make Moodle available for offline learning. As you will be aware one of the challenges with the OLPC is that it is being used in areas where internet access is often unreliable and slow. This would make the normal approach to online learning that Moodle uses unworkable as it needs a good internet connection. The off-line Moodle project will allow Moodle to be used for learning purposes even if there is no internet connection. It will use similar technology to that used in the GoogleGears project (http://gears.google.com/) to provide the core functionality of Moodle with or without an internet connection.”

“The application to theological education is exciting. Good quality material and learning could be made available through Moodle with or without an internet connection. If internet was available then interaction could occur through discussion forums etc but when no internet is available then individual learning can still occur. I know that many Bible Colleges and Seminaries currently use Moodle so to make course available would be very easy. Some work would need to be done to contextualise the material but I can see great potential with this.”

“I look forward to hearing if anyone has any direct experience with using the OLPC and how they see it working.”

I also look forward to hearing responses from readers.

Thank you Michael for your contribution.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Moodle, Google Gears, OLPC—part of the new technology that may enhance the cause of theological education.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Theological Education Through Books, Laptops, Librivox, MP3s and…

I am keen to keep a conversation on the boil, hence the resurrection of this buried ‘Comment’ and its transformation to new life in an article.

Tim Bulkeley responds to this post and this, which may be good to read to pick up the conversation thread:

IF you can buy the laptops at $200 AND IF it costs $20 for someone to transfer the data (say 500 books) to the laptop, AND IF it costs no more to transport the laptop than it would 6 printed books AND IF the six books cost < $35 THEN your pastor has 500 books for the price of 6.

Duh!

But then half the village are illiterate, and the pastor is not highly literate either. So, why not record someone reading the books - like Librivox - then people will be able to bypass getting literate.

BTW I noticed this week that reading a quotation that uses complex language aloud to my class made it easier to understand, even for literate students...

An MP3 player that will hold 200 audio books costs only $50, and transporting 4 costs less than one laptop so you could provide 200 "books" to 4 pastors...

Double duh!

The question is can we convert the Western fettish for "books" into something more useful?

Thanks Tim! I think we are on the cusp of something important.

To read an expansion of this contribution check out Tim’s statement and the conversation bubbling on one of his sites entitled ‘Watering the Desert of Books’.

Do cast your vote in the TWB poll on the right-hand panel.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some suggestions for transferring theological knowledge. Got any more?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Postscript to Sri Lanka Request

Further to the earlier request for a teacher in Sri Lanka, Jonas Kurlberg has advised that there is some flexibility in timing:

“The dates are flexible from mid-November to early December 2009.”

Please would you pass on this request to people you know who teach Biblical Hermeneutics.

Dr Geoff Pound

Friday, October 24, 2008

Specific Request from Sri Lanka

This is a follow up on an earlier request and posting at this link—check this out for more information.

Location
Jonas Kurlberg (pictured), a teacher at the Colombo Theological Seminary in Sri Lanka, is looking for a volunteer who can teach a course in Hermeneutics.

Level
The level is Masters as this is for an MA in Biblical Studies.

Dates
6th of Dec – 13th of Dec 2009.

RSVP
If this is your specialty, you are free in December 2009 and you sense that this assignment has got your name written on it, do write to me at geoffpound[@]gmail.com

Have You Voted Yet?
Have you cast your vote at my TWB poll yet? It is anonymous and will be more exciting than voting for the next US President! It is on the right panel and will take 10 seconds. No standing in queues for three hours!

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Jonas Kurlberg, administrator of the MA Programme. Jonas is from Sweden, he grew up in Nepal, has worked in the UK in Youth Ministry and is now teaching in Sri Lanka.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Transferring Knowledge in a Desert of Books

I am posting this recent comment to an earlier article on Creativity, Books and Theological Education as I do not want it to lie buried and unconsidered in the archives of this site.

The comment comes from JT who has contributed an article or two already to this site:

“In the three Theological Colleges I have visited this year the libraries were very sparse, due both to shortage of funds and lack of materials in the local language, though I was able to make good use of the Africa Bible Commentary (2006) which is in English.”

“It has occurred to me that one more long term answer may be to skip to the next generation of knowledge transfer and make use of something similar to the cheap wind-up laptops now being developed for distribution in third world countries by putting at least commentaries and classics in English on their hard drive. This would have the added advantage of getting more to the village pastors for whom TEE materials are the only resource.”

Many thanks for your thoughts JT. Anybody want to interact?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: A happy user in the One Laptop a Child Project (OLPC)

Monday, October 20, 2008

TWB Gets Poll Position

Have a look at the poll I have posted on the right panel.

It is related to my most recent post, Identifying the Barriers.

I am asking the question:

“What is the biggest barrier for you about being involved in a short term teaching assignment?”

There is a place where you can add a comment.

I would love you to take part.

Dr Geoff Pound

Identifying the Barriers

In a letter this week a person asked, “Does Theologians Without Borders have travel scholarships?”

I said we don’t have scholarships at this stage but I have been receiving financial donations and I am hoping for gifts of Air Miles.

A doctoral student in the southern hemisphere also wrote this week about TWB saying:

“I would be more than willing to teach in a needy country, but I would have a problem affording it financially. If… theology schools would pay for such trips to needy areas, I would be happy to go wherever to teach.”

Going to teach in a needy part of the world may not be your cup of tea. Not everyone is comfortable with cross cultural teaching but I am keen to identify the major barriers.

Chris Guillebeau in a post entitled, ‘Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel Around the World’ lists some of the barriers against such a proposal:

* I don’t have money to travel
* The rest of the world is dangerous
* I like staying at home
* I’ll do this kind of stuff when I retire

Which of these factors (and others) rise high as barriers as you consider the possibility of a short term, volunteer teaching assignment in a needy country?

Or adapting the words of the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8: 37), “Here is an opportunity! What is preventing me from going to teach?”

As I get ready to embark on a visit to North and South America sharing the vision of TWB, informing people about the needs, challenging people to teach or support somebody else to go, I want to get a clearer idea of the factors preventing people from going to teach.

Can you post a comment or drop me a letter?

In particular, I am keen to know to what extent money is a barrier and, if an airfare was available, whether this would encourage you to volunteer your time and teaching talent.

Dr Geoff Pound
Email: geoffpound[@]gmail.com

Image: “I am keen to identify the major barriers.”

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Web and CD Rom Resources for Theological Education

In an earlier post on the TWB site I spoke about the paucity of library books in many seminaries around the world and I asked what is being done to overcome some of these challenges.

I was heartened to receive an email and later a CD or two to review from Dr Bob Utley, a retired Professor of Hermeneutics at East Baptist Seminary in the USA.

There are many web resources that Bob has posted but he has put most of these in a nicely packaged CD Rom.

The web site is at this link:

Bible Lessons International

I have asked two biblical scholars (Tim Bulkeley from Carey College in New Zealand and Keith Dyer from Whitley College in Australia) to have a look at these resources and give a brief review.

Review by Tim Bulkeley
Bob Uttley is a Baptist Pastor from Texas, who trained at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and after nearly two decades of pastoral ministry prepared a DMin at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with a focus on hermeneutics. He has taught in a variety of contexts in the USA (and elsewhere as a visitor) most recently at East Texas Baptist University (Bible Interpretation, Old Testament, and Evangelism).

Over the years he has prepared written notes, audio and video recordings of Bible teaching sessions on almost all parts of the Bible. This material focuses on standard interpretational cues: Historical Setting, Literary Context, Grammatical Features, Choice of Words, Genre and Parallel Passages. Dr Uttley has tried to make these materials usable by students of different viewpoints and backgrounds, thus he tries to avoid endorsing particular viewpoints (on the whole, at least in the written materials – since the videos are addressed more directly to Southern Baptist audiences), while presenting evidence from the text which students can interpret for themselves.

In the Old Testament materials I looked at samples from Genesis (the book I am teaching this semester), Amos (on which I prepared the Hypertext Bible Commentary http://hypertextbible.org/) and Jonah on which I am currently working. The first chapters of Genesis provide a good strong test of his intention to avoid contentious conclusions.

The written notes are fairly thorough and detailed, and would provide a good resource for students. The audio and video resources are often recordings of teaching in churches and offer a simpler introduction to each book. These media have a folksy American tone, which may make them less useful in non-American contexts, while the written materials are more neutral.

The written materials are also deliberately neutral in their attempt to avoid contentious interpretations. So, for example in discussing the “days” of Genesis 1 (pp.18-19) seven possible meanings are discussed in a neutral way: Literal 24 hour period; Day-Age Theory; Alternate Day-Age Theory; Progressive Creation-Catastrophe Theory; Eden Only Theory; Gap Theory; Sacred Week Theory.

There are the minor inaccuracies that one should perhaps expect from an attempt by one person to prepare study material on the whole Bible. So, for example it is not true that “Amos 7:10-17 is unique because… it is written in the third person while other sections of the book are in the first person” actually only the vision accounts and the words of Amos quoted in the narrative in question are first person, the rest of the book is in the third person and speaking in the first person is reserved for the divine voice.

There will inevitably also be many places where any particular teacher will disagree with Dr Utley’s reading of the text. So for example I am quite unable to read Jonah as sympathetically as he does, and am convinced that the psalm in Jonah 2 is a thanksgiving, and therefore that “At this point he [Jonah] did not know that the fish was his means of deliverance.” But that is the case with any work which one points students to, unless one has written it oneself ;)

In summary this is a collection of helpful material that many teachers could find useful to give to their students, or indeed in contexts where library resources are scarce in preparing their classes. It suffers from the problems inherent in such course notes, it has not been peer reviewed, and so contains some mistakes. The work is copyright, so any teacher planning to reproduce the material ought to email for permission, it is a pity that a Creative Commons license was not used which could have permitted various sorts of defined use without the need to seek such permission. I would suggest that Dr Uttley consider granting a Creative Commons license (see below) to his material if he is serious about wanting to see it used more widely.

In view of the comments above I suggest:
· This material, at least the written notes, will be useful to many seminaries in situations were books are in short supply.
· There is other material of similar potential usefulness. E.g. http://www.biblicaltraining.org/
· A peer reviewed list of useful material would be a helpful starting point. Metasites (like http://ntgateway.com/, http://itanakh.org/ & http://otgateway.com/ ) are really well prepared and extensive, but not focused on material which can be useful for teachers in seminaries in non-Western contexts.
·

Many teachers will have such (though in most cases more specialized and less extensive) collections of material. If it could be made available with a Creative Commons license allowing reuse, and collected in one “place” allowing easy access, what a resource that would offer to supplement the occasions when a person can travel!
· The ideal license seems to me
o Attribution: ensuring the originating author and school get credit
o Noncommercial: ensuring the material could not be sold at a profit
o Share alike: allowing adaptation to different cultural, social and ecclesial contexts.

I realize that the last suggestion may seem utopian, given the fear many of my colleagues have of their work being “stolen”, however, I remain convinced that the terms of a CC license would ensure that any seminary which copied institutions like MIT (the first to adopt such an approach) would gain in reputation and “reach” in ways that would far outweigh any potential commercial loss. What is more such an approach would be more consistent with the Christian gospel and the social vision of the Hebrew Bible than is the current “what’s mine is mine and you must not use it” attitude!

Review by Keith Dyer

Some brief comments on the web/CD resources of Dr Bob Utley.

I think it would be fair to describe these resources as "conservative evangelical" in origin, rather than fundamentalist. Dr Utley speaks of Biblical "infallibility" rather than "inerrancy," but he also takes a very scholarly approach to the task of interpreting the Bible. He takes seriously the need to understand the context of the original text, and to attempt to put aside our "culture" and biases when we interpret the Bible for today (though we need to engage with that same culture also).

So it was a bit of a surprise for me to read the following statements about the Bible by Dr Utley.

1. I believe the Bible is the sole inspired self-revelation of the one true God. Therefore, it must be interpreted in light of the intent of the original divine author through a human writer in a specific historical setting.

"Sole inspired self-revelation of the one true God"?? -- doesn't the Bible itself teach us that God is also revealed through creation (Ro 1), through Jesus (supremely -- the Word) and through human conscience (again Ro 1)?

4. I believe that every passage (excluding prophesies) has one and only one meaning based on the intent of the original, inspired author. Although we can never be absolutely certain we know the original author’s intent, many indicators point in its direction.

Why insist on "one and only one meaning" whilst also confessing that "we can never be absolutely certain we know the original author's intent." Why not rather affirm that God's Word is a Living Word (2Cor 3), creating new meaning for each new reader in each new context. Why should we try to limit God to only one true meaning (and who determines which one it is)?

Apart from these reservations, I'm sure there is much of value in Dr Utley's on-line and CD commentaries -- particularly on the area of historical and grammatical analyses.

Thanks
A sincere thank you to Tim and Keith for their responses and to Bob for sharing some of his creative work on making commentaries available and accessible.

Further
What other ways are you acquainted with for making theological books available, especially to people teaching and learning in poor and restricted areas?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr Bob Utley

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Further on Zimbabwe

Further to my recent article is a letter from Asafa received today, (16 October 2008):

Dear Geoff

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and your thoughts about Zimbabwe especially at this time.

It was refreshing catching up with the memory of our time in Prague and the Z$50 billion dollar bill.

When I came back from Prague, there was introduced a new Z$100 billion dollar bill which lasted only for half a month before 10 zeros were slashed off reducing it to new currency Z$10 and the Z$50 billion dollar to new currency Z$5.

Since then inflation has skyrocketed to over 400 million percent. Two months ago we could buy a loaf of bread with the new currency Z$10. Today we need new currency Z$15000. I have never seen or heard anything like this in my life or read of it in history.

Your prayers for us are greatly appreciated and I have also enjoyed your articles and I am linking some of the BUZ theologians with the Theologians Without Borders website.

The Lord bless

Asafa

Image: Worthless.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Theologians Without Borders Addressing Poverty in Education

Today, October 15 is Blog Action Day when thousands of bloggers around the world are uniting to discuss one single issue—poverty.

When I decided to address the issue of poverty today I thought of my friend Asafa who is a church leader in the country of Zimbabwe.

I caught up with Asafa at a conference in Prague in July. He was there only because he was given a scholarship to attend and he with another delegate from Zimbabwe spoke about the crisis that their country is in when the conference turned its attention to some of the trouble spots of the world.

One morning in the hotel lobby Asafa showed me photos of his family and church people. Then he showed me pictures of supermarkets where the shelves were completely empty of stock.

He had pictures of wells with members of his family queuing up, with scores of others, to get fresh water.

Asafa spoke of the people in his churches who were hungry and experiencing great fear amidst the political turmoil of this country.

Finally, Asafa gave me a gift. He took out his wallet and gave me a $50 billion note (pictured). Initially this was exciting! I have never held a billion dollar note in my hand before, let alone a 50 billion dollar note. Then he told me that this note would only buy a cup of coffee. In July 2008 the annual inflation rate had soared to 231 million percent. This note is worth even less now.

I keep this $50 billion note in my wallet. When I go to make a purchase I am confronted by questions about whether this purchase is absolutely essential. I am reminded that my woes, even the recent global financial crisis that has stripped away my savings for retirement, are nothing in comparison to the grinding poverty faced by Asafa and his countrymen and women every day.

Theologians Without Borders is a matter of justice. It seeks to balance up the resources of the world as they relate to theological education and access to learning. It is a way of enriching the lives of people and finding in our service how rich we become.

Since watching the Dow Jones index plummet to a record low last week I have wondered how this crisis might affect TWB and people’s willingness and capacity to travel to teach in a needy part of the world. I confess to experiencing feelings of paralysis, wanting to play it safe and maintaining the status quo rather than undertaking extra teaching tasks.

Yet, my $50 billion dollar note from Zimbabwe put my life into perspective. I am reminded that the Great Commission stands for all times, not just in times of material affluence.

One positive to come out of the financial crisis is that it makes us stand back and consider those things that are most important for our investment. Our faith, as Harry Fosdick reminded us, was ‘born and bred in a briar patch’. The upside down message that is ours can lead us like those Macedonian churches who were granted the grace of God, “for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Cor. 8:1-2)

RSVP
As always, I would love you to write to me, filling in the details of your Expression of Interest to serve as a short term theological teacher. This does not commit you or me but it is the first step which then may lead to exploring opportunities, places, dates and teaching subjects.

Extra!
Check out one of the most compelling questions in recent days that came out of such an unlikely arena.

It is posted at my Stories for Speakers and Writers site that offers regular resources for anyone in the communication business.

Do take up my invitation to subscribe to that site my clicking on the Subscribe button.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: $50 billion dollar note from Zimbabwe.

Further to this article is this letter from Asafa received 16 October 2008:

Dear Geoff

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and your thoughts about Zimbabwe especially at this time.

It was refreshing catching up with the memory of our time in Prague and the Z$50 billion dollar bill. When I came back from Prague, there was introduced a new Z$100 billion dollar bill which lasted only for half a month before 10 zeros were slashed off reducing it to new currency Z$10 and the Z$50 billion dollar to new currency Z$5. Since then inflation has skyrocketed to over 400 million percent. Two months ago we could buy a loaf of bread with the new currency Z$10. Today we need new currency Z$15000. I have never seen or heard anything like this in my life or read of it in history.

Your prayers for us are greatly appreciated and I have also enjoyed your articles and I am linking some of the BUZ theologians with Theologians Without Borders website.

The Lord bless

Asafa


Monday, October 13, 2008

Karen Bible School and Churches Marking Important Anniversary

Further to my recent post on the displaced Karen people on the Thai-Burmese border is this update and invitation to all to attend some special meetings next year.

Rev. Dr. Saw Simon, of the Mae La Camp writes:

To all our dear brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Greetings to you all in the most precious name of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from all of us here at the KKBC in the camps and the IDP areas.

Thank you so much for praying for us. The Lord answers our prayers and by the grace of God we were able to have our KKBC Board of Management Mid-year meeting successfully held from October 8 to 12, 2008 and concluded with a consecration /dedication service on Sunday, October 12, 2008 at 6:00 pm.

We are pleased to inform you that we are planning to have our Silver Jubilee/the 25th Anniversary celebration of the KKBC and the 23rd Graduation Exercises of the KKBBSC held from March 25 to 29, 2009 and would like to humbly and cordially invite you to come, visit, encourage and join and rejoice and celebrate with us during these special occasions and see what the Lord has done, is doing and will be doing for our Karen people. We want to be channel of blessings to others as we have been receiving God’s bountiful blessings throughout the years through our brothers and sisters around the world. May God bless you all and use you all mightily for the spreading of the Gospel and God’s Kingdom and for the ministry of helping the poor and needy brothers and sisters around the world.

“Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9.”

Thank you all so much and may God’s richest blessings rest upon each and every one of you.

Sincerely in Christ’s Service among the displaced people in the camps in Thailand and the internally displaced people in our own Land/Country (Kawthoolei).

Rev. Dr. Saw Simon

Principal of the KKBBSC/Secretary of the KKBC
Mae La Camp

This is a good opportunity for friends of the Karen and people who have not visited the camp to accept this invitation and remember the more than 150,000 displaced people who have been living in camps for over twenty-years.

Image: People walking across the bridge at one of the crossing points between Thailand and Myanmar.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Issues Facing Theological Educators Around the World

Eron Henry’s article on the Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE) is one of the many articles in the new digital magazine of the Baptist World Alliance. It puts into focus some of the common and particular issues that theological educators are facing around the world today.

In this article entitled,
BICTE: A HIGHLIGHTING OF CHALLENGES, Eron Henry writes:

The Baptist World Alliance held its seventh Baptist International Conference on Theological Education (BICTE) in Prague in the Czech Republic in July 2008.

Papers were presented covering various subjects, including the environment, and at-risk women and children.

Among the highlights of the meeting was the discussion on the state of theological education.

The gathering in the Czech Republic was a representative sample of mainly theological educators, but also authors, pastors, and denominational leaders. A number of the conferees wore two or more hats – some serving as pastors and seminary teachers, or as pastors and denominational leaders, some being all three and more.

It is clear that theological education is experiencing severe stress. In the United States, theological schools are closing, downsizing, or merging. The sheer cost of running a theological school and dwindling enrolments in some schools and programs are leading to retrenchment.

Yet, in other parts of the world – in South, Southeast and East Asia for instance – there is a lack of opportunity for training, and where there is opportunity, there is shortage of space.

Geoff Pound tells of the hunger of Christians in China to do theological work, attend theological school, and engage in ministerial training, and the creative approaches employed to ensure that students in this country get the training for which they yearn.

One Latin American theologian reported that the lack of formal ministerial training is so grave that 12,000 churches are without a formally trained pastor. Seventy-five percent of pastors in the region are not trained, and only 1,000 or so pastors graduate from theological schools each year.

Click here to read the ezine, 32 pages of news and information about the Baptist family around the world.

Please note that you will need Adobe Flash Player to view the ezine. The player can be downloaded for free here.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: One of the conference photos against one of the stately buildings of IBTS. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Karen Marking Twenty-Five Years of Witness in Refugee Camps

Many of the readers of this web site have visited Mae La or one of the other refugee camps on the Thai-Burmese border and some of you have taught in the Bible School.

I thought readers would be interested in the meetings going on at present and the plans for the recognition of twenty-five years of meeting as churches in the Karen refugee camps.

Letter from the Karen Camps
Principal of the Bible School, Dr Simon, writes:

To all our dear brothers and sisters in the Lord around the world:

I am pleased to give you the following information about our Churches and would like to humbly request you to pray and help us in ways and means possible with you.

The Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Churches Board of Management Mid-year meeting will be held starting from October 8 to 12, 2008.

Praise the Lord that in spite of all the restrictions, difficulties and hardships we are facing as displaced people or refugees, the Lord opens the door for our pastors and church leaders from the IDP [Internally Displaced People] areas and more than 10 of them have safely arrived to the meeting place, the Kawthoolie Karen Baptist Bible School & College in Mae La camp.

Please pray that the Lord will bless our meeting as we will be planning for the celebration of the Silver Jubilee/ the (25th) anniversary of the establishment of the Kawthoolei Karen Baptist Churches in March 2009. We will also fix the date/s for the celebration and will let you know when it is fixed so you can come to visit, encourage and rejoice with us during this special occasion.

The Theme we have chosen for our Celebration is Genesis 50:20 – “As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Please come, visit, encourage and join and rejoice with us during our Silver Jubilee celebration.

Sincerely yours in Christ’s ministry among the displaced Karen people in the camps and the IDP areas.

Rev. Dr. Saw Simon. KKBC/KKBBSC, Mae La camp.

RSVP
Whether you have been there or not you are invited to attend the meetings in March 2009. The people cannot easily leave to come to your church and conferences but the presence of others at their gatherings will help them to remember that they are not forgotten and could serve as an act of love, hope and encouragement.

If you cannot attend, a letter of best wishes would be gratefully received. Do write to me for their email address if you have not got it.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Dr Simon at the entrance to his home and the school.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Teachers Requested for Sri Lanka

2009 Courses
A request has come this week from the Dean of the Colombo Theological Seminary.

He says:
“We need two teachers. In particular we are looking for someone who can teach a course in Hermeneutics. Other topics that we are interested in covering are Marketplace Theology, the Synoptics or Anthropology.”

The dates that he is looking at are:

17th of Oct – 25th of Oct 2009

6th of Dec – 13th of Dec 2009

Situation in SL
Jonas continues: “Things are well in Sri Lanka. The political situation is still unstable with the war raging in the North, but here in the South we have been spared major terrorist attacks in the last few months.”

CTS
To get a good feel for this seminary go to the seminary web site, to this link or take a look at this link with the articles, photos and videos that Tim Bulkeley from Carey, NZ posted during his recent assignment at CTS.

RSVP
To express an interest or request more information, do send me an email at geoffpound[@]gmail.com. Tim (at the above link) is also happy to tell you firsthand what the experience in SL was like for him.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: A Group at CTS.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Further Key Players Aiding Theological Education

Further in a recent series on this site about key players in the TWB task is another group of people—those who go overseas on short assignments to teach English to theological students.

I was reminded of this by a person in NZ this week who wrote. “I met with a friend recently who went to Myanmar to teach English to theological students. The group who organizes this takes groups for 6 week at a time 2 or 3 times a year. I'm thinking of putting my name down for next year.”

The group does this under the auspices of Leadership Development International NZ (LDI), a group that Paul Windsor from Carey College, NZ is joining.

The ‘TESOL opportunities’ link on their web site reports on how this happens and opportunities to do this in the next few months in Yangon (16 teachers needed) and SAIACS in India (6 teachers needed).

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Teaching English in India (Google Images)

See other articles in this series:
Supporters
Interpreters

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Needing a Teacher in Church History?

I had a note this week from a retired teacher in Church History who continues to teach, research, write and preach.

He is an excellent teacher who makes the study of church history enjoyable, interesting and related to the present times.

He has taught classes where students have a basic grasp of the English language as well as courses from diploma through to doctoral levels.

He said if I hear of a seminary that is in need of a person coming to teach a course in church history or Baptist history/theology please run it by him.

There are many seminaries around the world where the faculty is small and teachers who are qualified in biblical subjects and theology have no great expertise in church history but have to cobble together a course to cover the need.

The offer of a church historian to visit and teach a course is a wonderful gift.

Do let me know if you have a need for a teacher in church history for a short term assignment.

Dr Geoff Pound

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Books across the Borders

The library is often referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of a seminary as it represents one good measure of a seminary’s riches.

Unfortunately one of the first things to be cut in a seminary at the time of a money squeeze or financial crisis is the budget item called ‘Books’ or ‘Library’. The cost of the books and journals is steep but the shipping prices usually put the prospect well out of the park.

It concerns me when I visit seminaries in needy parts of the world to see how small the libraries often are, how much literary junk they contain, how many of the books appear to be the cast-offs from the personal libraries of former teachers and how few the number of books that exist in the first languages of the students.

A recent visit to a country and College put this issue squarely in my focus. Normally one of the advantages of attending a seminary rather than studying by distance is the chance to learn surrounded by scores of books and magazines, to be able to surf via the Internet the libraries of the world and to learn to do research by yourself.

So when money is tight seminaries get along as well as they can and it is amazing how much many do with so few resources.

It is good to see individuals and groups banding together to send books to needy seminaries and to stock the shelves of leaders. [Check out these posts and the comments]

What more is being done to address this problem?

What could be done to overcome borders of finance, language and copyright?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Photo of the library in a College where I visited this year.