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Why Train Indigenous Church Leaders? (Part 3)

Reason #3: Sustainable Ministry, Enduring Impact

Russia0043 300In 2000, just a decade after the fall of communism, Samara Center for Biblical Training (SCBT) was established in Samara, Russia with the goal to train up indigenous leaders who would carry on the ministry into the next generation. In the ensuing years, nearly 400 pastors and church leaders from around the country were equipped to plant new churches or return to their home churches to lead and shepherd the flock. Also during this time, a select group of gifted Russians were identified as “faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2)—the men who would eventually be given the mantle of leadership at SCBT. The faculty thoroughly invested themselves into the lives of these men. They were discipled, tested, and trained, with the prayer that they would eventually lead the ministry for themselves.

In 2014, the window for ministry unexpectedly closed in Samara and each missionary was forced out of the country. Jonathan M., the last missionary to leave, recalls the difficulties that he faced with the local authorities. This is not an isolated experience, but is sadly far too representative of the geopolitical instability around the world. But even though Jonathan and his family had no choice but to go, he was able to confidently hand over the keys to the men who would carry on the work, knowing that the ministry was in good hands.

Visa issues, diplomatic volatility, the impermanence of missionaries, and the historical reality that gospel ministry is always opposed all illuminate the great need for biblical wisdom in missions. Were it not for the training of the new Russian leadership, the ministry would have closed its doors when the last missionary left. Part 2 of our series tells the sad story of one such tragedy. But what could have been a horror story in Samara turned out to be one of the most precious reflections of God’s faithfulness. Because of the Pauline emphasis in raising up indigenous leaders, the training and equipping of Russian pastors carries on unabated to this day.

The baton has been passed. By God’s grace, Russians are now training Russians. This is the TMAI method. This is why we train indigenous church leaders.

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