By Andy Samuels Chief Executive Director SDB Missionary Society
We’ve Heard the Cry
Jesus has a master plan for transforming the world. His plan is that through the power of the Gospel, disciples are to be made of all nations. And He modeled that plan by teaching, training and prepar- ing a dozen men who would then exponentially do the same with others, so that through the process of multiplication, like wildfire, the message of the Gospel is spread to the ends of the earth. That is the Great Commission. In our global travels as Directors of the Missionary Society, one of the most prevalent needs that we both observe and hear expressed to us is the urgency for theological and ministry training for the pastors and leaders of Seventh Day Baptist churches around the world. These men and women who are engaged in ministry at all levels, and doing the best they can with their limited resources and opportunities, are hungry for the empowerment, equipping, coaching, teaching and training that will help them to be even more effective in their calling as ministers of the Gospel. So, projected to begin in April 2021, the Missionary Society is initiating a ministry training program through a Bible school for our conferences in central, eastern, and southern Africa. As many as thirteen African conferences could benefit from this initia- tive. The program has many similarities to what has been called the TIME program, utilized in several parts of the world in the past. Designed to be carried out over a two-year period, it will involve students engaged in 12 modules of study reinforced with a face-to-face seminar at the end of every other mod- ule. The modules include Spiritual Formation & Leadership Development, Bible Interpretation, Biblical Beliefs, Old Testament Survey, New Testa- ment Survey, Evangelism & Church Planting, Preaching & Worship, SDB Distinctives (History & We’ve heard the cry. We’ve seen the need. We’ve sensed the compelling demand.
Polity), Sabbath Theology, Church Administration, Introduction to Apologetics, and World Missions.
Qualified instructors from sister conferences world- wide are being recruited to share the teaching load, including travel to the seminar location in Africa. Whereas most of the instructors for this initial batch of students will probably come from outside of the continent, it is our intention that as the cycle of study is repeated for the future, there will be a passing of the baton so that eventually all the instructors will be native to Africa. That type of succession planning and discipleship is important to the philosophy of the Missionary Society. It is an application of 2 Timothy 2:2 —“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” is that we are strategically beginning where it makes most sense. Let me explain. Of the approx- imately 45 countries in the world where Seventh Day Baptists exist, about half of them are African countries. Africa is by far the fastest growing region of the world for Seventh Day Baptists. Malawi in central Africa is the country with the largest number of Seventh Day Baptists, with about 150 churches and 15,000-20,000 individuals. So, it is prudent to make this type of investment in our people there at this time, while looking for other open doors to make it available in other regions. I hear you asking again, “So, what is the cost of this investment?” I’m glad you asked. Our estimate is that close to $70,000 will be needed to make this spiritual investment in the lives of about 30 students over this two-year period. Each student will be asked to make a small personal financial invest- ment, and the bulk of the rest of the funds will come from the generous donations of others. We are “But, why do this training in Africa when it’s needed in other places as well?” you may ask. The answer