Tuesday, June 12, 2012
1. A big number.
2. Some individuals.
1. A big number.
The number is 671. That's the number of MOCLAM exams that are currently being sent to me from the famous Island C. Over the past couple of months we've had a bit of a 'catch up on your exams' campaign going, and it seems to have worked! Of course this is really great news. It means that a whole stack of pastors (many will have done more than one exam, so I don't know what the number of students is) have been busy studying their Bibles and course notes, which can only be a good thing for their churches.
It is also great news that 98 of those exams have already been marked by tutors who I've been teaching over the last couple of years. I'll moderate some of their marked papers, but I am sure they will be fine - they certainly have been in the past.
So it is great to see that under God's hand, the effort we are putting in to teaching and equipping tutors is bearing fruit.
2. Some individuals.
Andrew Cox is a CMS missionary working in Bolivia. One of the things he does is teach MOCLAM courses. He teaches a couple of classes locally, but also teaches a class in another city of Bolivia using skype. In Andrew and Paulina's latest news, they share some reflections from their students. In the context of throwing around big numbers, to read the personal testimony of these amazing Bolivian people is encouraging, and also an important reminder of how important individuals are.
I'm quoting from Andrew:
"I have never preached directly from a book of the bible and only heard it done two or three times. I've been learning a lot and the congregation are more keen than ever to know God's word." (Local pastor)
"Discipling like this is the key to our denomination's survival. I've never had this sort of encouragement in my Christian life - even in seminary." (Local pastor)
"I've been a Christian since I was a teenager but I never realised how much God is sovereign and that the Bible is actually about him. I want my children to learn this!" (MOCLAM student)
"I was studying at a national seminary but now I really feel like I am learning from God's word through these courses - there is so much I didn't know before." (MOCLAM student)
I wanted to make a comment about the importance of long term missionary workers for these people, but Andrew does it better than I can, so over to him again.
"Each of these comments represents a person whose life has been enriched through relationship with the Lord of life in his word. In Bolivia, such discipling normally comes about through a believer's long-term faithfulness in personal relationship. There are no short-cuts to building this trust and respect; it cannot be developed by remote-control. It is necessary to send well prepared, servant-hearted sharers of the word."
I hope that you are encouraged by reading this. In the midst of our struggles, the heat, the difficulties and our tiredness, we are.
We're also really encouraged to know that there are many people who see this work as something really valuable, and you give generously so that we can continue doing it.
If you're encouraged, but aren't yet giving to CMS, can I encourage you to start doing so today. We can only be here doing this work because people like you give money. Andrew is right. Well prepared, servant-hearted sharers of the word are necessary for long term relationships, and that costs money.
If you'd like to give, this month is a great time to do it because the CMS annual appeal is on. The target of $1.4M is slowly being chipped away - as I write something in the order of $470K has been given. But that means there is still a way to go and June is well and truly underway.
Please visit https://lastinghope.cms.org.au/ today and give generously and cheerfully, so we, Andrew and Paulina and many other CMS missionaries around the world can keep working with individual people.