For several years, Serena and I have had 2 Timothy 2:2 as our life verse: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (NIV).
While serving as missionaries in Honduras, we filled many roles—board members, teachers, field director, field treasurer, etc. We always felt most fulfilled, however, when we directly trained Hondurans with the skills and knowledge that God so freely gave to us.
Now that we are in northern Mexico, we see a real need for more leaders. The small churches consist of regular, everyday people who have families and need to work full time to live. Their best opportunity to learn more about God’s Word and the skills they need to share it is through our theological education program, PETE (Programa de Estudios Teologicos por Extension).
Under this program, students receive reading and homework assignments one month before the class. The eight-hour, once-a-month class is used to supplement the reading, answer questions, and dive deeper into God’s Word. A year ago, the mission set a goal to have four PETE centers open by the end of 2014. God blessed, and we now have six PETE centers with around 50 students, and five of our churches are pastored by PETE students or graduates.
Felipe and Maria came to know the Lord several years ago. Felipe was following his father’s example of alcoholism, while Maria was a strong community leader within the Catholic Church. When they heard the story of Christ’s sacrifice for them so that they could be free, they repented and were wonderfully saved. When we came to Mexico two years ago, they were leaders in a local church. Their pastor encouraged them to start a cell group, so they opened up their small home for a meeting once a week. They often have 50 people (both kids and adults) crowded into their small garage and living room where they teach what they have learned from their studies.
It is fun and fulfilling to have them, along with their daughter and son-in-law, in PETE. They ask questions that are not hypothetical but practical: “What does God mean when He says that…?” and “What do you suggest that I do in this situation?” They are the “reliable people” who are already teaching others, just as Paul mentioned.
GIVE: Do you want to invest in the life of one of these leaders? You can be a part of their training by giving to the PETE Scholarship Program at www.wgm.org/dunbar.
GO: A theological education professor is needed to teach classes on theological education and pastoral and leadership training. Learn more about this need at www.wgm.org/go.