Last year I began a ThM program in Baptist history, which later turned into a New Testament focus. I had wanted to do the coursework this year and the thesis next year during our furlough. As the months have continued to move along, I finally realized that I would not have the time necessary to complete the program. As a result of much prayer, I have realized that I have often struggled to pour myself into the ministry in which I am serving because I’m distracted by the “next thing,” which in this case were further studies. I contacted the seminary to let them know of my desire to focus fully on the church planting ministry here in Santa Marta and discontinue any further plans of study with them. This decision was not easy, but I believe it will be a blessing for my family, our people here, and me. I also decided to stop studying French, as that was motivated by the ThM.
I wanted to mention that these detours have proven to be blessings. For example, I learned a lot about John Gill and the 18th century Baptists through my studies in church history. I learned more about the glory of Christ in Luke-Acts through my initial research towards the thesis I was to write on that topic. In three months of study, I reached a point in French where I can understand about 70% of your average journal article in that language. Nothing goes to waste in the ministry.
Now the question remains, how should I continue to learn in a non-formal way? I wanted to mention two new resources that have proven to be very helpful.
First, I’ve been listening to many lectures and debates in which James White has participated. He can be found on www.sermonaudio.com, if you search for his name. His lectures on Islam are very helpful! (Just a note to our prayer warriors out there… after our last prayer letter I met the first Muslim I have known in Colombia, and he already sat in on one Bible study!) You can also listen to many of his debates on youtube. I think that listening to debates is a great way to learn about theology and different religions. Plus it’s almost always interesting.
Second, I wanted to point your attention to Justin Brierley’s British radio show Unbelievable? His show is dedicated to debates between Christians and non-Christians and also between different Christian positions. Brierley does a great job of moderating these debates, and if you look at the topics I’m sure you’ll find some that will interest you.
Why do I mention these resources? So that you too can continue learning about our faith and how to engage with people of other worldviews. May the Lord help us to make an impact in the world through a clear, loving, and insightful presentation of the gospel.