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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Training — Knowledge on Fire

By Dick Nicholson
Jan. 6, 2013

The fourfold mission of Assemblies of God World Missions — reaching, planting, training and touching — distinguishes our missions movement from many others. Of these four facets of our mission, the emphasis on training is particularly remarkable. We do not seek to merely communicate facts and truths. We believe firmly in the power of the Holy Spirit and depend on Him to energize our efforts and set our knowledge on fire.

Around the world today, 2,015 Assemblies of God Bible schools and extension programs exist, with just over 110,000 enrolled. Many students attend night or Saturday classes, using whatever time they have available to receive ministerial training. Students and faculty alike are devoted to building solid biblical foundations and perpetuating the Pentecostal experience.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, we are blessed to build on solid foundations laid by people who believed in ministerial training. Veteran missionary Melvin Hodges gave us The Indigenous Church, a book that clarifies the need for encouraging self-reliance among churches and fellowships. He instilled in our forefathers the idea of propagation. Ralph Williams and a host of others picked up that banner and waved it for all of us. They knew that the missionary call is not just to win all nations, but also to disciple all nations.

The results of Spirit-empowered teaching are evident across Latin America. Some 600 missionaries and missionary associates serve in Latin America and the Caribbean today. They are helping to influence and prepare more than 1,000 Latin American missionaries who are supported by national churches. These national missionaries are following God’s call because someone inspired them and modeled missions for them. Someone came and talked to them, taught them in a Bible school, and challenged them in missions services.

Biblically sound training is the best way to multiply our effectiveness. We have freely received and must freely give! We will do everything we can to help build a strong national Fellowship. But if national believers do not, in turn, inspire and train others to win the lost and plant churches, then we have failed. If we are committed only to what we ourselves are doing and are not training others, all our efforts will come to a screeching halt.

We believe that each believer must be trained from the cradle to the grave. Without solid training, negative effects are inevitable. In Latin America, this has become evident during the massive wave of church growth that has taken place in the past few decades. The formation of megachurches produced a few casualties, including the omission of Sunday schools. Cell groups and home fellowships began to replace systematic Bible studies. These groups met some needs, but not all.

The need for freshness and originality is legitimate, but the latest and “coolest” is not always the most productive. We must attend to the essential need of training and discipleship and be intentional about providing sound doctrine.

Thankfully, an expanded emphasis on teaching has begun in Latin America. In 2012 more than 900 people attended two educators’ summits. One was held in Peru, the other in Costa Rica.

Bible schools are burgeoning. Thirty students live and study in a brand-new Bible school complex in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nearly 4,000 students are enrolled in a nonresident Bible school program in Cuba.

One of our strongest Bible schools is in a suburb of Buenos Ares, Argentina. Approximately 1,300 students attend, and graduates from the school are in ministry in some 40 nations around the world. Both current students of the school, who often travel for ministry on weekends, and its alumni, who are spreading the message of Christ and Pentecostal fire worldwide, are inspiring examples of training resulting in multiplication.

A massive alliance to evangelize the unreached is forming among Latin American believers. Spanish speakers are branching out to reach postmodern Europe, which in turn can reach the Muslim world, which in turn can reach the Buddhist world, and so on. But in order for this propagation to stay strong, it must be rooted in sound doctrine.

The need for biblical training is the same throughout the entire world. Replication, reproduction and multiplication must be practiced. But we cannot adequately teach the next generation unless we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The future of our worldwide mission depends on sound doctrine set ablaze by Pentecostal fire.


DICK NICHOLSON is Latin America and the Caribbean regional director for Assemblies of God World Missions.

 

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