Two curates were talking

Oliver: Do you remember John Apulyo[1].

Rupert: Yes wasn’t he a student of engineering who attended our church a few years ago?  I think I remember that after he had returned to his own country he had problems relating to his church pastor and went off to study at a Bible college in another Western country.

Oliver: Yes that is right. I had a message from him the other day to say that he had now returned to his own country and wants to start church planting.

Rupert: Who is he going to work with? Has he been reconciled with his Pastor?

Oliver: No that was the point of his message. Since attending here and studying at the Bible College, he has become convinced that the Pastor is not preaching the fullness of grace in the Gospel. He is not an expositor of scripture and John feels the call to plant proper Gospel churches throughout his country.

Rupert: Did he ask for our prayers or advice?

Oliver: It was rather more than that. He said that he had personal financial support from other students who believe in the priority of Bible preaching. He was asking us whether the church would partner with him. He would like us to contribute to preaching courses.

Rupert: So do you think we should look at this request? I know there are some interns who would be interested in helping John. And then there are students finishing at the theological college who are uncertain about taking up roles in our denomination and might be open to overseas service if it were possible.

Oliver: John assures me that it is possible to get visas and that the cost of living is quite low. And our Vicar believes that what we are doing here is transportable elsewhere and would really advance the Gospel in the world. But I am more doubtful. The Pastor of John’s church is a well-respected man who was greatly influenced by the revival in the neighbouring country 10 years ago. John says he is a charismatic who doesn’t preach the Gospel, but I think that he is really a spirit-filled man who is a passionate follower of Christ although he does not have John’s background or academic training. But what really bothers me is the suggestion that we should go from the West, with little understanding of the local culture, and set up a rival ministry to the existing Gospel churches. I think that there is a danger that we become a new evangelical imperialism that tries to make every church like ours and undermines all the indigenous leadership that has been developed over the years.

Rupert: So what do you think we should do as a church?

Oliver: We will have to talk to the Vicar, but I wonder whether we could get a team together and go to do some training for the group that he has gathered around him. Whilst we are there I think we should try to see if we could meet with John’s former Pastor and see if they could work together. Division between Christians does sometimes lead to increased church growth – as happened when Paul separated from Barnabas – but isn’t it sad if brothers can’t work together and show in practice the reconciling power of the Gospel?

Rupert: Let’s talk to the Vicar tomorrow and find out what he thinks.


[1] A made-up name not intended to reflect any specific culture

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

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Ray Porter

Ray Porter

Chair of Global Connections Board
Ray retired from full time lecturing in 2013 and his main Oak Hill roles are now in supervising dissertations and keeping an eye on some aspects of the Theology for Crossing Cultures course. Ray's major ministries have been in two blocks of 14 years with OMF: one in Indonesia where he pastored and established churches, and the other as a regional director in the UK where he recruited and encouraged missionaries and mission support. Shorter slots have been as minister of a UK church and as New Testament lecturer at Belfast Bible College. Ray also is the former Chair of the Global Connections board.
Ray Porter

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