“God is at work in the world of equipping. He is raising leaders from the whole church for works of service that He has prepared in advance for them to do.”
Readers of testimony are well aware of the great work that PAOC International Missions is doing in the area of equipping ministries. In partnership with national churches we have established Bible colleges so that church leaders—pastors, evangelists, and more recently, missionaries—can be launched into the work of making disciples everywhere. This world has really been my entire life, starting with a move at age five with my missionary parents to an isolated station outside of Kitwe, Zambia, in the late 1960s. That small Bible college grew and became what is now Trans-Africa Theological College. Later, our family moved to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) to serve at Pentecostal Bible College, now Pan Africa Christian College (Harare). I was 11 when, out of sheer curiosity, I sat in on my first course at PBC. Scores of wonderful Pentecostal pastors and church leaders have come out of those two schools, and I feel a sense of connection to each of them.
The PAOC continues to work in partnership with these colleges that focus on raising church leaders, as well as many other similar institutions around the world. As a mission we remain committed to institutional theological and ministry training. However, pastoral training is not the whole story—we are learning more about God’s plan for gospel transformation in all sectors of society, and the potential to see the whole church take the whole gospel to the whole world.
In 1999, God opened doors for our family to serve at Pan Africa Christian University in Nairobi, Kenya. PAC University has a great history of raising quality church leaders, and we were excited to be part of the training continuum. One day, John Okello, a second-year student, visited my office. John shared how his concern for the street children in Kisumu had compelled him to go out to his rural community and take in as many AIDS-affected orphans as he could so that they wouldn’t end up being exploited on the streets. What started as a handful of rescued children in his own home we now know as Village of Hope Kenya. Today you will find a fine school, medical clinic, several homes for children and a church. What makes John’s work transformative is his laser-like clarity about the fact that it is only the truth of the gospel that will bring about transformation and address a culture given to practices that allow AIDS to wreak havoc.
In a similar manner, Bethuel Kivuya shared his vision to reach an unreached people group of pygmies living deep in the forests of the Congo. He returned after an exploratory visit, and after sharing his stories and pictures, it was clear that his vision for holistic transformation had multiplied. His report was direct and specific. “These people need Jesus so that everything can change. It will take a church with a vision to become a station of hope in all the areas where brokenness needs to be replaced with completeness.” That ministry is now well established. Both John and Bethuel are great examples of how equipping can build capacity for leading social change as part of God’s redemptive work. There are many other students who have become living examples of the verse that is strategically placed on a sign at the front of the PACU campus: “Equipping the saints for works of service that God has prepared in advance for them to do.”
We continued training and equipping in Indonesia, serving as missionaries in a foundation established to transform young leaders through holistic Christian education. New elementary and secondary schools were established in remote locations each year. The foundation is also very committed to staffing each school with well-trained Christian teachers. The Teachers College at Universitas Pelita Harapan (the university where we served) graduates and places approximately 300 Christian teachers every year as part of this mission. These students, like Irene (pictured), are selected because they have a clear Christian testimony and a call to serve as a Christian teacher. Our investment in their lives through training, mentoring and sharing life together was richly rewarded. These schools are often in communities resistant and even sometimes hostile to Christianity, but over and over we see the personal and social transformation that comes through the service of these teacher-missionaries.
Another student, Ayu, met with us in great distress because she had been posted to a very remote and challenging school. As a modern city girl she was quite certain she couldn’t make it in the “backwards” village. We encouraged her and committed to visit and support her as much as we could. We did visit and were so touched by the love she had come to have for her students and the community where she lived, and how God had helped her to adjust to a very different way of living. She was so proud of the fact that she could now “haul water” all by herself, and because of her perseverance and the way God changed her heart, she had great impact in a dark place, an impact that went beyond the children in her class and touched the entire community.
We currently have the privilege of serving in Eastern Europe at LCC International University, a wonderful Christian university with students from over 25 post-Soviet and Soviet countries. Unlike many Christian universities, the majority of our students do not have a living faith. Many are from Catholic or Orthodox backgrounds and are studying with us because they desire to do so in English at an accredited EU institution. There are a significant number of Muslim students from locations like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Albania who take the required Bible courses, join small groups and see the Christian faith lived out in love over the four years they are with us. Equipping in this context is redemptive relational evangelism. All of the faculty and staff are Christians who integrate faith and learning in the classroom, create a loving and caring community, and let students get close enough to see the grace of God lived out by their example. Together with the students who are followers of Jesus, they are ministers of reconciliation.
God is at work in the world of equipping. He is raising leaders from the whole church for works of service that He has prepared in advance for them to do. The call to make disciples is all-inclusive. Equipping for this purpose must continue to be Bible based and Spirit filled, but must also find expression and opportunity in the broader scope of human experience. We are stewards of a gospel with power to transform in all dimensions of a needy world.
Kirk Kauffeldt is the director of GlobalEd, the equipping arm of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.