Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Calvinist Armenian and the Man from Madagascar

Two men from The Master's Academy International stayed with us and shared in our church last Sunday. One of them, Faly Ravohangy, just arrived in the US with his family from Madagascar early this year; the other, Bryan, is a descendant of Armenians who fled the Turkish genocide.  (But he is not an Arminian Armenian.) 
From left to right: Faly, Bryan, Jim (our pastor, praying for them)
The mission of TMAI is to establish training centers for pastors around the world.  The English speaking world has an abundance of resources for pastors who want to learn how to teach the Bible better: books, videos, schools, seminars, and conferences.  Many third world pastors barely have a Bible in their own language.  This makes it very easy for false teachings to capture individual Christians, churches, or even whole nations.  Moreover, most third world pastors cannot afford to come to the US, learn English, and study in a good seminary.  So TMAI is taking the training to them.  So far they have 17 training centers in various locations around the world.  Bryan spent 5 years in TMAI's center in Samara, Russia; Faly aims to start a training center in his native Madagascar when he graduates from seminary himself. 

One thing that initially worried me about TMAI's approach is that their training is intellectually rigorous, which limits the number of students who can successfully complete their training.  There are far too few pastors in the world already, so wouldn't it be better to give a simpler education to a larger number of men?  But after meeting and hearing Faly and Bryan, I understand now that it is not an "either/or" choice.  We need to do both.  All men need to be filled up to their educational capacity with knowledge of how to teach the Bible well.  Some can go further than others.  But without training some at very high levels, if everyone is receiving only a Sunday School education, the church will remain immature and vulnerable to theological wolves and winds of false doctrine. 

Thus, TMAI is strategically aiming to capture the intellectual mountaintops of theology in the countries they serve.  Where the headwaters are pure, the river of Bible teaching will bring life as it flows down to the masses in the valley below. 

I encourage you to watch the video below and consider inviting TMAI representatives to share in your church.

The Most Strategic Way of Doing Missions from TMAI on Vimeo.

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