Well-trained church leaders is the most critical need throughout the global south, where the Church is growing fastest. I recently traveled to Liberia and Colombia, countries in which Tenth has long had a commitment to help equip church leaders with a strong foundation to reach their fellow citizens.
In Liberia our team of three (Elaine Pennel, Sam Kent, and I) celebrated Rock Spring Presbyterian Church’s tenth anniversary, a church Tenth helped to establish. I baptized 20 people (one of them has since died in the past week). The pastor, Sabato Kehdon, was supported by Tenth to attend a local seminary and will graduate this month. The following two days I led training in theology and church government for 51 leaders, hosted by the second Presbyterian church plant outside of Monrovia, pastored by William N’Gafuan. They were excited to be learning so much new material. Among them were some young men we had supported from the orphanage Tenth sponsors.
Robert Luqui, another student Tenth sponsors at African Bible College University, co-founded a large youth ministry and a farm the youth planted to provide support. I spoke to the youth organization at the college on Christian leadership as well as to the student body in chapel on “Christ’s Church Triumphant.” Robert is making plans to plant a church in an unchurched village in the north of the country upon graduation. With these men in preparation, the vision is to establish a presbytery that will continue planting churches throughout the land. We currently have other young men hoping to enter formal training for the ministry. This month another minister from the United States is continuing to lead the training I began with the same group.
In Colombia I spoke at the Sixth Reformed Theology Convention in Medellín. About 800 church leaders from a dozen countries attended. It was organized by Gospel Through Colombia (GTC), of which I am a board member. Additionally, thousands throughout Latin America watched the convention via webcast. It was a wonderful time of encouragement in the Word and through fellowship with like-minded believers.
The Reformed movement has been growing in amazing ways throughout Latin America each year, as many are disillusioned by extreme Pentecostalism and the false prosperity gospel.
We were reminded by Richard Pratt to avoid the extremes often seen in North American Reformed churches that have led to dead orthodoxy, an over intellectualizing our faith with lack of prayer and evangelism, and loss of our first love for God and one’s neighbor.
I spoke on “Justification by Faith Alone,” which is a hallmark of the true gospel, as opposed to worksoriented sacramentalism and evangelical easy believism, which supposess one can be saved without being a disciple with Christ as Lord.
I was encouraged to see several of my former students from previous years in the Latin American Reformed Seminary (USRL) who are now taking leadership to plant churches and direct and administer a Reformed missionary training institute called New Providence. I encouraged and prayed for two Presbyterian denominations (PCA and OPC related), with whom we partner, to join together as one. At the convention some of these leaders met and agreed to work towards that goal for unity. Continue to pray for that.
Some of the church leaders who have become Reformed have suffered greatly for their stand for the doctrines of grace, being kicked out of their denominations and losing their church property, and in some cases losing many church members as they turn from Arminianism and Pentecostalism.
As the Church appears to wane in Europe and among the majority of North Americans, we are seeing signs of the beginning of a revival of true gospel faith throughout Latin America. The Spirit has created a great hunger for God as people see that all else has failed. In fact, next year’s convention will move from a hotel to the Medellín Convention Center!
Tenth has an important calling in all of this. In addition to supporting nationally-led churches and ministries through Global Outreach, we have a responsibility to pray for these brothers and sisters. And pray not only for reformation and revival in Latin America and Africa, but for our own land as well.
The work of partners in Colombia and Liberia, as well as other global partners, is funded by the Outreach budget. If you’d like to encourage our global partners in person and/or are traveling internationally for work, contact Kari at [email protected] or 215.735.7688 (x240) to discuss the possibilities.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Bruce McDowell. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org