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Bible Institute Update

The biggest news-worthy updates in our work here in 2017 revolve around the Bible Institute. If you have followed the bigger narrative of the gospel’s advance in this part of Tanzania, you may already know that the Bible Institute has been refitted to be the primary vehicle for helping existing churches grow in spiritual maturity and viability. While there is much more work left to be done, we are glad to report that God has already done great things out of these efforts.

Story of the Bible, March 2017
Story of the Bible, March 2017

Testimonies We Have Heard

The students and their pastors share with us how God’s word is being proclaimed and heard, and how people are being changed. Here are some of the things we are being told:

  • “I have never seen a church with this kind of love and participation.”
  • “Your church actually teaches the word of God!?”
  • “Thank you for teaching my wife,” says one student. ”It used to be that I would drag her to church. Now she is dragging me!“ The same wife later described how she sometimes has trouble making quick trips to the market. She has found herself in gospel conversations for multiple hours there.
  • “I thought I knew the gospel. Now I realize that I didn’t and that there are so many churches here full of people that don’t know the gospel.”
  • “Every day [in class] I discovered how I don’t have anything before God whereas I had thought I was something before. Every day I was emptied and filled up again [with truth].”
  • “I visited an older man to share the gospel. He responded with surprise, ‘I’ve been worshipping at this church since you were born and I’ve seen your behavior when you were younger. And now you want to preach to me the word of God.’ I went home and prayed and another day returned to share the gospel. He listened to the gospel and was convicted of his own sin, asking how he could have never heard these things all the years he has been attending another church. The next Sunday he started coming to worship God with us.”
  • Observing how the students have faithfully shared the gospel, one pastor said, “We’ve become used to seeing new people come to church each week.”

Class Lineup

In 2015, after witnessing various trials come to a head in the churches, the Bible Institute was recast to include all interested church members. The teaching format was adjusted so as to uncover practical implications and invest more time into equipping students for obedience.

The video above documented the first class which came out of these changes. “The Story of the Bible” is a week-long study of the gospel and training to share the gospel. Since February 2016, more than 100 students have taken this class over 4 offerings.

The second class picks up where the first one finished. “Spiritual Growth and the Word of God” equips students to deliberately pursue being more like Jesus by reading or listening to Scripture and responding accordingly. We taught this class in September last year and April this year. See the following (new) video for more about what the students learned.

The third class, “Being God’s Church,” teaches students how to be faithful members of their local church. This class has been taught once, last month.

The last class of this set intended for all church members will address family relationships from a biblical perspective. “Christian Family” has been scheduled for next month.

What’s Ahead

While these first four are all the classes intended for any interested church member, there is much more planned to follow. Another level of classes is being planned to equip deacons, teachers, and leaders of small group ministries. And a third level of classes will be intended for elders, pastors, and church planters.

The challenge now is keeping up with demand. The most recent class on the gospel exceeded 50 new students while others were turned away until next year. Thankfully, we aren’t starting from scratch. Furthermore, several pastors have seen the benefit of the classes and have volunteered to teach alongside us. Hopefully they will soon be able to lead the teaching themselves.

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