Up to this point, much of our attention in life (and on this blog) has been focused on the logistics of getting our family moving toward the field. And while we would love to be on the ground getting started in ministry already, this time we have been given in waiting has provided us an opportunity to focus our hearts on the work to which we are headed. Much goes in to preparing for simply doing life on this field, but we must remember that we are not simply going there to “live,” we are going there to “work!”
Most of you know that our primary task in Zimbabwe will revolve around the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe (BTSZ). Our goal will be to come alongside those who are leading this institution to help continue building a convictional theological education and ministry training center from which hundreds (dare I say, thousands?) of men and women will be launched into Kingdom service through church planting and mission work all over Zimbabwe, Africa, and to the ends of the earth. We believe God is up to something amazing on this campus and through its leaders. Faithful national brothers with the support of steadfast missionaries have labored for years to bring this seminary to a place where it is firmly rooted in and built upon the inerrant word of God. This is precisely the kind of institution God blesses and uses to blaze the light of His Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.
Along the way, there are many US partners who have thrown in considerable effort to help make this institution what it is today. To list them all, there would be too many to number, but here are some for which I am especially grateful. First, the teams from Redemption Hill Baptist Church and Trinity Baptist Church who have come to do physical renovations on the seminary campus in recent months. This is not only an immense practical help, it is also a huge morale booster to those who are laboring to build the school organizationally. There is still much work to do and many needs that can be met on this front, but these faithful workers have made a huge dent in the task to be sure.
I’m also incredibly thankful for the books recently provided by many donors through Book-Link International to the theological library of BTSZ. I was just informed this week that the crate containing thousands of volumes of theological and ministry materials has arrived on the campus and is now being processed into the library. You may recall from an earlier post the divinely orchestrated circumstances of this partnership. What a blessing this partnership has been and I am confident God will continue to use Book-Link and Olin Williams in phenomenal ways to equip those around the world He has called to preach His word and shepherd His people.
Another huge piece of this puzzle has been the steadfast labor of the folks at World Hope Ministries International. God is working wonders through Stuart Sheehan and his team to establish World Hope Bible Institute programs all over the world, but particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the past 3 years, the institute in Zimbabwe has served to bolster the training BTSZ offers, generate new interest in the seminary’s programs, and also forge partnerships that I am confident will bring health and vitality to seminary, the Baptist Convention, and all Kingdom work in Zimbabwe and surrounding areas in the future. By God’s grace, we will celebrate our first graduation of diploma students through this institute in mid-November 2015.
Lastly, I want to mention and thank my alma mater, Southern Seminary. Without the investment of SBTS in me personally and also in the work our family is being sent to do, we honestly wouldn’t even know where to begin. From collecting book donations for our library, sending students on short-term trips to teach, helping raise awareness and prayer support, and even laying ground work for future partnerships between our seminaries, SBTS has been behind us all the way. And for this we could not be more grateful. Though an ocean away, the impact of SBTS on BTSZ will be long-lasting and palpable. Soldiers of Christ, we part to meet.
BTSZ has a long road ahead of her, but with the investment and partnership of faithful brothers and sisters like these, I know God is going to do great things in and through this school. One of the privileges and responsibilities of serving overseas with our company is that of being a “mobilizer” for our stateside partners. I am thankful for folks like this who have made our job much easier because they are already “in motion” and making great strides toward our goal of building one of the premier theological schools and ministry training institutions in all of Southern Africa.
Pray for these 2015 students of BTSZ and those who are faithfully teaching and leading them. And please continue to pray for our process of getting to the field and joining these faithful ones in the task!