August 17, 2008

Training thoughts from the past few weeks

This past Saturday, I tested for my brown belt at my real-life dojo, Leadership Martial Arts. It was a physically as well as mentally demanding 90 minutes that I had been planning for and getting in shape for for a while now (though I still missed a few things during it and didn't do as well as I'd have liked). Brown belt is the rank just beneath black belt at our school and the curricula is a mixture of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), Judo, Taekwondo, kickboxing, Jeet Kune Do, stick-fighting and wrestling. Needless to say, a black belt at LMA is no small feat! So testing for my brown belt was something I had been looking forward to for months now and I'm anxious to find out how I did.

The week before my testing week, as many of you may know, I was in Nairobi, Kenya for 10 days working with a team from Good Shepherd at the Jubilee Children's Center. The JCC is an orphanage for children, most of whom were orphaned due to HIV/AIDS, that is supported by GSUMC and a number of other churches. In the mornings, I helped with the Bible lesson portion of the Vacation Bible School we did and in the afternoons, I worked with the teachers on studying and interpreting the Bible.

The children at the JCC were an absolute treasure, no doubt God has great things in store for them. But what was most rewarding for me was seeing the hunger with which the teachers approached the study of Scripture during our time together. Two of them, Solomon and Raydon, both in their 20s, shared with me that the biggest need in Kenya right now is training and resources for the pastors. Even simple things such as a Bible dictionary or basic Hebrew language training are extremely hard to come by for the average rural pastor. This really brought home to me the amount of wealth, both financially and informationally, that God has blessed many churches in the West with...as well as how little we do with it--focusing instead on gobbling up top-10 bestsellers which are often nothing more than spiritual cotton-candy.

I was able to test for my brown belt Saturday because I have access to an amazing instructor, a fantastic dojo, and a group of fellow students equally committed to sharpening one another's skills. The teachers and pastors I met in Kenya do not have the equivalent of this when it comes to their training and instruction in wielding "the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Yet, they continue to minister faithfully with what the knowledge they have, and in the grace of God poured out in proportion to their faith (which dwarfs that of most churches in the West, I would suspect). I pray that God stirs up His people whom He's blessed abundantly with resources to take or send those resources to where they are needed most throughout the world...beginning with us at GSUMC.

Training daily,
JMS

1 comment:

BEE said...

Do you have a list of books/resource material that the teachers of JCC need? Maybe we can put together some donations specifically for this purpose and ship them out? I'd also be interested to know if you have a list of names of the teachers...so that we can pray specifically for each and every one and/or maybe drop a note of encouragement to them? Maybe they would be uplifted knowing they're not 'fighting the good fight' alone. :)

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