Gary: I spent most of September crossing back and forth the length of a certain Caribbean island. [click Leave a Comment, above, if you want us to send you more details] Imagine traveling to from New York to Chicago and returning, and mainly on bad country roads. I got in touch with 20 of the our seminary students.
These students are the island’s future Bible College professors. One leader tells me: They need to finish up, because I am counting on them to teach our Bible college courses in September 2014. I assure him that it’s doable, if they apply themselves to it. Their final projects are an investigation of how the Bible speaks to their local problems: how Daniel relates to the persecution of the church; how Ruth speaks to women at risk in the cities.
In the past, I’ve been a teacher in this program, and now God has allowed me to bear witness as the many years of sweat come to fruition.
The seminary does not admit people who would like to know more about the Bible for their own spiritual growth. They come to us only on the say-so of their denominations: These are the ones whom we want to teach our people. And so the students I speak with are men and women in their 30s and 40s, people who are already fully engaged in the Lord’s work and with a solid character.
I sit down for hours with each one, to see how they’re doing academically, but also to give them a sense of where we stand in history. “You will have a major impact on the church. It’s imperative that you finish the course.”
One by one they arrive at my desk, nervous, wondering what I will tell them. Later, they leave, smiling and telling the next one in line that “It wasn’t so bad!” I joke that it’s like waiting in line for the dentist – each one strains to hear if the patient ahead of them is screaming.
And the in-between images are burned into my memory: the one campus with a beach on the Caribbean, where students and professors enjoy their afternoon swim; it’s also a small farm, with pigs, chickens, horses, turkeys, sheep, tilapia pond. The seminary’s 9-seater Mitsubishi van full of 12 passengers with their luggage. Sitting in a circle with advanced students in another campus, talking for 3 hours about points of Greek, theology and life in Christ. Preaching to 75 people jammed into a living-room church, my pulpit the kitchen counter. On the road, passing hundreds of horse-drawn carriages and oxen plowing the fields. The hitchhikers that crowd every crossroad, waiting for hours or days for a ride. Street-witnessing in the middle of the capital. And the stories: of poverty, of tribulation, of dreams and disappointments; of faith in God.
Please Lord, watch over our students. May they graduate in good time. May they be sturdy warriors in your army. May you give us wisdom as we watch over them.
(In a few weeks we’ll tell of Karen’s trip to Honduras)