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Why is theological training important overseas in missions?

March 8, 2019

 


        Imagine being asked to teach at an institute training Pastors in a remote village in Latin America on a short term trip. At the end of the first day, you give a test. Not one student passes the test. The questions were not severe. Right next to the questions you even put the verses where the answers could be found. You think to yourself; you can’t come here and shake everything up by flunking these students. You barely even know anyone. So you decide, you will give an extra credit question. If they pass it, you will give them all a passing grade. So you ask each one to tell you how they became a Christian. And to your sorrow out of the fourteen only three were able to do so.

       Almost all of the students had no idea what you even meant by the question. Lots of thoughts come flooding through. Why do these students want to be Pastors? Am I just a terrible teacher? What is going on? And the list of questions keeps coming. What if I told you this was a true story?

      “BRINGING THE GOSPEL TO THE UNREACHED AND UNENGAGED" is a particular missions trend these days. I do believe this is a nuance found within the great commission, but in my opinion it is not the great commission in and of itself. Why do I say this? Because I do believe there is a particular danger as of late in having an over-emphasis of focusing on the unreached and unengaged. The danger is that missions agencies and churches are sending less and less people, some even refusing to do so, to places that are considered reached.

       Many missionaries are even be pulled out of reached areas, to focus more on the unreached. It is my belief just because a people group is statistically considered reached doesn’t mean that it is. One of the main forms of the gospel that is spreading in the world these days is the prosperity gospel, which is really no gospel at all. No one, no matter if you call yourself a Christian or not, truly worships God if they reject Jesus as he really presents himself and is presented in the Bible. (John 5:23; John 5:42–43; John 6:45; John 8:19; John 14:23-24; John 15:5-16; 1 John 2:23; Luke 10:16; Romans 1:5-6)

       I have been personally ministering in Guatemala for about fourteen years. By all accounts Guatemala is considered the most reached country in Latin America. Joshua Project states that 95.5% of the country is Christian. Some believe there are over 18,000 churches in Guatemala. "The point of all these numbers is to say that we can’t trust the numbers. Numbers don’t prove that the people in those churches are marked by the qualities of true believers: reliance upon Scripture, ongoing repentance and spiritual growth, a mission-minded responsibility to make disciples, or a lasting dependency on Christ.” (https://bit.ly/2Hnt2XS)

       Missions Professor Davids Sills once said, “The tragedy of the world is not that it is unreached but that it is un-discipled.” By many of today’s standards those students in class who could not explain how they became Christians would be considered reached because they called themselves Christians. But shouldn’t you at least be able to explain what the gospel is and how it has become personal to you. Our Lord didn’t tell us to just go into all the world and read our Bibles. No. He told us to open up our Bibles and teach others. The moment we do anything more than merely reading a passage and start delving into what it means and how it is applicable, we are doing theology.

       Theology is seeking to understand and live out what the Bible teaches. And theological training is helping others along in that pursuit, with a goal of equipping them to go and be able to do the same thing. For for this my friends, there is great need to see more of in the world, both here, there and everywhere.
     

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