Note to the faithful readers: Ryan pulled a Jeremiah Johnson on me, so I guess I’m temporarily in charge…
My dad, Bob, just got back recently from Cameroon and I wanted to share a very exciting aspect of his trip. Dad works with ITEM to train African pastors how to better shepherd their flocks in a biblical manner. Many of the local church leaders suffer from limited resources and bad training. Because of this, there are many issues of concern for the African church such as the wealth and prosperity doctrine and syncretism.
Dad has been to different parts of Africa many times, but there was an exciting new wrinkle in his last trip that just goes to prove who is really running the show. Prior to Dad’s trip a friend of the family who is a deacon at my church felt led to accompany him to Cameroon. Bob typically travels to French-speaking areas because of his fluency, so Tim was thinking he would go along as a source of encouragement and support.
As the departure date came closer, the details crystallized and Dad let Tim know that they would actually be going to one of the few English-speaking areas in Cameroon. While this was all well and good for Tim, what didn’t sit as well was when Dad told him that he could now teach some of the sessions! This wasn’t what Tim signed on for, but being the good Christian soldier that he is, he accepted the challenge and began preparing to teach the African pastors and leaders.
There is always good response to the seminars that Dad is involved in, but Tim brought a new dynamic. For the leaders attending the seminar, seeing Tim teach alongside my Dad was an eye-opener to them. From their perspective, the pastor teaches, and the other leaders (deacons or elders) simply help keep up the building or take care of administrative duties. They couldn’t believe that Tim wasn’t a pastor and that a “layman” could be so capable in handling the Word of God.
This challenged the men who weren’t pastors to take a greater responsibility for their knowledge of the Bible. There were many comments along the lines of “I want to be like Tim!” I take for granted the safety I enjoy in my own church body of a deep aptitude for Bible study in our membership. It is much, much harder for any “strange doctrine” to make headway when so many of us are well versed in the fundamentals and how to search out the scriptures. Imagine the strides that could be made against false doctrine in Africa if the pastor wasn’t the ONLY one responsible for teaching and discipleship in the church!
As I reflected on Tim’s original plan, his nervousness upon learning he was going to teach, and the effect it had on the attendees, I could help but rejoice that our God is smart. He knows what He’s doing, and He knows how to do it in a way so that He gets the glory. Thank you Dad and Tim for your faithfulness and obedience, and thank you God for your magnificent plan!