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Why Train Indigenous Church Leaders? (Part 1)

There is a tremendous unfinished task before the church of God. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Jesus does not ask, however, that we pray for the development of strategies; rather, He asks that we pray for the development of men (Matt 9:37). In this series of articles, we will explain why we at The Master’s Academy International (TMAI) direct our time, energy, and the resources invested by donors into the training of men—specifically of indigenous church leaders who live in areas of particular need around the world. This is more than just a well-reasoned strategy. There is a theological context for the seriousness, urgency, and origin of such an initiative.

Reason #1:  The Bible mandates it.

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Nightmarish persecution provides the background for 2 Timothy. Paul wrote this final letter during his second imprisonment in Rome. In it we see hints of one of the darkest times in the history of the church. He is bound in chains for the sake of the gospel, deserted, abandoned, and facing imminent execution. One Roman historian, then a child of ten and writing fifty years later, described the era with these words: “A vast multitude were not only put to death, but put to death with insult, in that they were either dressed up in the skins of beasts to perish by the worrying of dogs or else put on crosses to be set on fire, and when the daylight failed, to be burned for use as lights by night. Nero had thrown open his gardens for that spectacle, and was giving a circus exhibition, mingling with the people in a jockey’s dress, or driving in a chariot.”

The horrors of the time give point to Paul’s last recorded letter. We understand why he exhorts Timothy not to be fearful of men or ashamed of the testimony of Jesus. We feel his tenderness toward those few who did not abandon him. We soberly receive his warnings about suffering, hardship, and persecution. And we weep with joy at his triumphant farewell: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (4:7).

But before the Apostle came to his final adieu, he wanted to ensure that his message would carry on. Though he was just an earthen vessel, he had been granted for a short while the task of carrying around a treasure of immeasurable worth (2 Cor 4:7). Paul knew all too well that he wouldn’t be around for much longer, but that the ministry must go on. So, at the end of his life, he establishes the ministerial precedent for the church, and the divinely sanctioned strategy for gospel perpetuation—“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses,” he writes to Timothy, “entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2).

This is why we exist and what we do. This biblical principle, wrought in the furnace of persecution, fueled by the urgency of fleeting human existence, and established upon the unashamed confidence in the eternal Word of God, provides the theological heartbeat of TMAI. It is a simple, yet powerful apostolic plea to see men training men in the Word of God amidst great hardship. In upcoming articles, we will expand this idea and provide a series of explanations with rich examples to support why we train indigenous church leaders.

We would love to hear your feedback. Please contact us at info@tmai.org.

[Read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4]