On one of my first trips to Tanzania over twenty years ago, I had the privilege of leading a week-long conference for Tanzanian pastors and nearby students from a Bible college. As the week wore on and the participants grew more comfortable, some expressed interest in private sessions after hours. These visits proved very enlightening.
Some wanted to share their hopes and dreams for ministry, like the young man desiring to preach in Muslim areas of his country. He told me, “Every time I have preached amongst the Muslims, some have been converted to Christ.” Exciting!
Others shared vexing personal problems, like the newly married man who borrowed money to pay the “bride price” to his wife’s family, an African tradition. He could not pay it back. He said, “I cannot even pray, my debt comes up before my face.” Here, I made some inquiries as to culturally appropriate action, and he received help.
I talked with another pastor whose difficult ministry problem stayed with me. This pastor hailed from a remote village on an island in the great Lake Victoria. He told me how he came to the Bible college with a promise of regular financial support for his family. This promise came from his home church. At the time we spoke, the church had written to say they no longer would send support. Upset, he did not know what to do except abandon his studies and return home without the cherished theological education he desperately needed.
This story lives as a catalyst for me, to return to Africa again and again. It compels me to get resources out there to equip pastors and ministry leaders. Authenticity Book House caught the same vision, setting out to publish bite-sized books to educate and equip. They seek to create libraries of small but extremely useful manuscripts that easily travel to such pastors, many of whom will never receive formal ministry training.
It is often impossible for an African in a rural and remote setting to pull up stakes and study at one of the few and sometimes expensive Bible colleges in his country. So let’s bring the resources to them.
ABH books come in a shape and size useful to such pastors, written on their level, in their language. A newly formed committee now thinks through what a well-shaped curriculum might look like: books on prayer, books on preaching, books on sound doctrine, books on ministry, books on pastoral counseling – all small in size to facilitate travel and use, but packing a punch in terms of equipping hungry pastors for ministry.
No, the books are not the sum and substance of all ministry training, but I can attest that they will be used and even devoured by pastors who have few other resources. Sounds like a good idea doesn’t it?
Sadly, I do not know what became of the village pastor who first opened my eyes to the difficulty of obtaining ministry training in a third world country. The next time I returned to that Bible college I did not find him there.
So, let’s bring the books to him. Let’s bring books to the many others like him. Good things can come in small packages!