Believers in closed countries risk it all to study Scripturecomment (0)
October 3, 2013
Paul is a former Muslim who has come to know Christ. In his home country, converting to Christianity is illegal. He was recently imprisoned, released and re-arrested for continuing to evangelize.
The second time he was arrested, the authorities took the deed to his house and his identification papers, which they kept until a harsher punishment was meted out. Strangely, through a clerical error, his papers and his house were returned to the family before his sentencing. Paul took that as confirmation from God that he should leave his home country and seek asylum somewhere else. He is currently in a safe place.
Bob is a Christian worker overseas. He has begun a training center for men like Paul in the country where he lives. His biggest challenge is creating theological training for men who are living in life-threatening conditions.
“We have to take a lot of security measures in order to have classes. Even here in this country where Christianity is legal, there are spies from closed countries that make our contact with those believers very dangerous,” Bob said. “If we can keep them out of jail, we have about four students that are pretty active.”
Currently they have one other student missing. Bob said he assumes he is in prison or at least under so much scrutiny that he is immobilized.
Paul is a key player in Bob’s vision for the training center. He plans to go to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C., and get his education so he can come back to his region of the world, be a full-time teacher and preacher and train his own people at Bob’s training center. His experiences and perspective will be invaluable.
“Americans aren’t always answering the theological questions our nationals are asking,” Bob said. “We need resources (men like Paul) from countries that better match the environment from whence these men and women come.”
The training center currently partners with SEBTS to help these men get a master of arts in intercultural studies. The ultimate goal is to have a national on staff at the seminary to serve as an adjunct professor and help the students with their language. It is difficult to convey spiritual truth in a second language.
For this reason Bob is building the center with a three-generational vision.
“The first step will have to be in English because working with an accreditation board limits our flexibility with the kinds of classes offered. Those guys are the struggle generation,” Bob explained. “The vision is to have those guys turn around and teach the next generation, which won’t need the language or cultural understanding. The third generation will be more cultural and indigenous.”
Regardless of the difficult environment the home country offers, these men and women are relentless in their efforts to share their faith. Bob said people are coming to faith as a result of dreams and visions and as a result of reading Scripture. He wants to ensure that, as new believers read the Bible, they have the tools to understand the original languages and preserve the integrity of the text.
“You can’t teach what the Bible means until you know what the Bible says” is Bob’s mantra in class. He wants to teach these followers of Christ what the Bible means.
Please pray for Bob and his ministry to persecuted church leaders. “The time of persecution is really intense right now. It has led to a significant exodus of church leaders, leaving a tremendous void,” Bob said. “There is still a great deal of response to the gospel, but getting leaders trained and put back in place to operate safely and effectively is quite a challenge.”
Pray that Bob can identify the right people to come out for training and that it will not alert the authorities.
Pray for Bob’s team as they are seeking to expand their partnerships to help leaders get what they need to be Kingdom effective.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Names have been changed for security purposes.