Thursday, February 27, 2014

A new job (and I'm keeping my old one)

I've got a new job! (as well as keeping my old one).

I'm now the President and Executive Director of Latin America for Christ Inc., a Texas based non-profit organisation.

LAC (as it is known) has been established for the purpose of raising money to fund theological education in Latin America. This is a huge need, because the majority of pastors and church leaders have little or no theological training, and therefore have to face the responsibility of teaching and leading their congregations without some of the basic tools that pastors in other parts of the world take for granted.

This leaves the pastors very susceptible to burnout and frustration, and they often look to the latest fads or trends for a "quick fix" - which on many occasions takes them away from the gospel, rather than to it.

We've taken the deliberate decision to identify and fund theological education that happens in, or near the home country of the pastor, rather than giving them a scholarship to go and study in another country (like the United States). There are several reasons for this.

- To send someone to a foreign country and study is a very expensive exercise - tens of thousands of dollars. Local education is always much cheaper and therefore we get more "bang for our buck".

- Experience has shown that those who receive scholarships to study overseas often do not return. This is particularly the case in the United States, where there are plenty of churches who want to employ well trained Spanish speakers. This results in a "brain drain" for the local Latin American church.

- Moving to another country is an enormous ask (I know!) If we can train people in their home context, it is often a much easier proposition to "sell".

- Local training means the leaders can stay connected to their home ministries while they are studying - which is particularly important for Latinos.

And so - given all that - we're trying to raise funds to allow Latin American pastors to study in Latin America.

At the moment we are concentrating on funding MOCLAM courses in countries where the students do not have the resources to pay for themselves, and we are also investigating the possibility of providing scholarship for students who are studying in seminaries that we are connected with, for example the CEP in Chile.

If you would like to find out more, or contribute to this fund, please visit our website and/or contac me through the website.

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