News from the Edge

First Diploma in Theology Session: Advancing the Gospel through Pastor Training!

The first session of the 2-year Diploma in Theology Program for 20 pastors/church leaders was held April 8th-11th. We are happy to report that it was a positive and uplifting experience for the participants, Chosen People International staff, and Hope of the Pokomchi staff.

The teaching was very beautiful. There were many things that, in my entire life, I had never heard before. The teaching strengthened my spiritual life. I can further guide my wife and children in God’s Ways. Also, I have been strengthened in my ministry, so that I can be a good pastor and share God’s Word well. With this knowledge of the Bible, I can share with others what I am learning – Pastor Participant

This represents the consensus of the other participants.

Starting this initiative wasn’t easy. It’s been a 2-year struggle that at times seemed impossible. Those involved remained faithful, knowing that God had given the vision for this. We are also thrilled to be partnering with Chosen People International. They are a ministry in Guatemala that is committed to preparing and training pastors, so that congregations and communities are transformed by profound theological Truths and are spurred to fulfill the Great Commission of making disciples. The program they have designed is for pastors and church leaders who have little or no theological training, like those we are working with.

In a blog post from their website, their President Brett Lamberth explained 5 qualities of their curriculum which has the underlying theme of “Shepherding God’s people to live faithfully on God’s mission”:

  1. ACCESSIBLE: Education is provided to them locally, at an affordable cost, so they can still serve their families and ministries. Our participants have commented positively on the cost and location accessibility.
  2. MODULAR: Delivered in small, manageable pieces so that participants don’t miss a lot of family and ministry time. It also gives them time to “digest” what they have learned.
  3. DYNAMIC: Designed so participants work in small groups with lots of interaction, which helps to create a healthy learning atmosphere.
  4. STRUCTURED: A coherent framework is provided so that pastors can be aware of what is and isn’t Biblical truth.
  5. CONTINUAL: Many pastors and leaders don’t have adequate theological resources. Participants are given a Study Bible, Bible Dictionary, and other theological resources (13 resources in total). The participants will then end up with their own personal theological library for the rest of their lives.

It’s also important to understand a bit about the pastors’ and leaders’ realities:

  • Ages range from 25-58. The average age is 43.
  • Experience as a pastor ranges from 1 -27 years. The average years of experience is 8.
  • Language – Their mother tongue is either Pokomchi or Q’eqchi’, Spanish being their second language. The training is taught in Spanish.
  • Basic education level ranges from 1st grade to high school. Their average education level is grade 6.
  • They come from 5 different municipalities in the department (State/Province) of Alta Verapaz, also from a municipality in Baja Verapaz and Izabal, which are neighboring departments. Many of them traveled hours and hours to attend.
  • They come from 3 different evangelical denominations.

Why is this Bible training so essential?

  • The pastors and their congregations have a great hunger for God’s Word. They feel spiritually starved for the Truth.
  • Chosen People International states that many Guatemalan congregations are suffering from “Gospel malnutrition”. It is estimated that 85% of the evangelical churches worldwide are led by pastors with little or no formal theological training.
  • This being the case, the vast majority of congregations around the world, including Guatemala, are at risk of hearing incorrect teachings and misunderstanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pokomchi Church Congregation

We thank you for your prayers for these pastors and church leaders!

We ask you to cover them in prayer not only during the education sessions, but also while they are applying what they are learning and going about their daily lives. They face challenges that the power of prayer can overcome. As the pastors themselves expressed, they face: illness, lack of economic resources, inaccessibility of academic studies, spiritual weakness, conflicts between home and church life, discouragement, criticism, complaints, and lack of obedience from members.

Besides your prayers, we also ask you to prayerfully consider donating your funds.  The cost for this year has been covered by many generous donations. We still need $3,315 U.S. for 2020.

Please realize that the impact of the Gospel, through these 20 pastors, extends to over 4,664 people!

For those of us who have come to know Jesus and his Gospel, the stakes have never been higher. Souls are on the line and we have been commissioned by our Lord to GO and make disciples. – From Chosen People International’s website

 I thank God for blessing the supporters and that they do what they can to contribute to this activity. To pay them back we will share God’s Word further, to places where the Message hasn’t been received yet. -Pastor Participant