Dear ITEM Partner,
It’s been a tough couple of days for me. That’s why you haven’t heard from me. I arrived in Cameroon on Friday. There was no wifi where I am staying and there was some delay about how to get me online. So, I had no internet Friday once I left Kenya. We got things set up on Saturday afternoon. But that is the logistical issue.
Soon after arriving in Cameroon, I developed a minor sore throat. It quickly turned into a major head cold/flu, whatever you want to call it. It delivered to me a “haymaker.” I went to bed feeling miserable Friday night. And I didn’t sleep much for the third straight night. I took some meds I had and made it through the Saturday meeting and as the day progressed the situation worsened again. All of that to say, I have not been up to the task of reporting on the Saturday meeting. It’s now Sunday, just past noon, I skipped church choosing to rest up for my trip back to Kenya tomorrow.
SATURDAY’S MEETING IN YAOUNDE, CAMEROON
This was my first meeting with the team here. They have been together for almost two years but two previous attempts to get here were scrubbed because of visa delays while working with other country’s embassies.
I started our time together by introducing myself and telling them about my family and ministry history, including the history of ITEM and how God has brought us to where we are today. Then I had them give brief introductions of themselves. What I found was a group of men who are formally trained and eager to get started. They are men who have already completed our two seminars but are awaiting participating in a mentoring group.
I was encouraged to learn that all of them were already committed to and practicing “expository preaching (chapter by chapter through an entire book).”
Our day was spent reviewing ITEM distinctives and discussing topics they will be confronted with. Spirit baptism, the filling of the Spirit, signs/miracles/wonders, healing, prophesying, revelation, etc. It is important that we are all on the same page so that we are speaking with one voice “out there.”
What seemed to be the case was this. Most of them knew what they believed but when pressed, weren’t prepared to defend their view scripturally. And quite honestly, some of their assumed beliefs could easily have been challenged.
In today’s so called “Christian world,” it is not good enough to think you know what you believe (by what you have been taught). With so many false teachers on TV, radio, and standing pulpits using verses taken out of context, we need to be able to reason from the Scriptures while defending our doctrinal positions. Helping these pastors know how to answer from Scripture questions about these controversial and dangerous teachings is part of what ITEM is doing.
BEGIN BY DEFINING YOUR TERMS
I told them that they must first define their terms ad agree on a definition before discussing controversial issues. One example is the spiritual gift prophecy. Depending on how you define the word, you may or may not agree with someone else on its function in the body of Christ today. We talked a lot about “defining your terms” before discussing what the Bible teaches on the subject. (A good lesson or all of us to learn.)
As the day rolled on, two challenges kept resurfacing. First, was the challenge of dealing with people in the church who say they are “saved” but do not want to grow spiritually or get involved. I assured them it was the same everywhere. We ended up agreeing that we should “move with the movers” and not waste a lot of time trying to stir up the “un-stirrable.”
The second was money. In general, IN GENERAL, Africans have not been taught the biblical grace of giving to support the pastor expecting him to find some other way to support his family. Like so many things here, they need to be taught what the Word says and then encouraged to obey.
A third one came up once. One pastor remarked that the church doesn’t want the pastor to continue his education at seminars or schools or anywhere because they fear he will become elevated in status too much above them.
The answer, in my mind, is usually the same. “People need to be fed from the Word and then helped to apply what it says. And each time something like this came up, one pastor always said, “And we have to model it!” To which I say, “AMEN!”
These men will be filling out the ITEM Lecturer Exam, signing a doctrinal statement, and begin going through the mentoring syllabus as a group all in preparation to begin doing seminars and mentoring with their fellow pastors.
- Pray for these men as they follow through on these next steps. Pray that they will be adequately equipped.
- Pray for my health and strength as I launch a very aggressive travel schedule.
>Monday Cameroon to Kenya
>Tuesday Kenya to Tanzania for an afternoon meeting.
>Wednesday Tanzania back to Kenya.
>Thursday Kenya to Rwanda for a meeting Friday.
>Saturday Rwanda back to Kenya.
Thanks for your prayers. And please consider a gift to help these pastors get the equipping they need to be used of God to see their churches transformed by the knowledge and application of His Word.
I uploaded many pictures that I took as we drove from the airport to the guest house where I’ve been staying. They are in the “Friday” section of the album.
By His grace,