You’d think after 30 years of church planting among the Prai people of north-central Thailand, Dave Jordan would know what he’s doing.
And he does.
But “there are so many pitfalls,” he says, for him and his wife, Fran, and their Prai co-workers, Dee and Shy. There are a lot of different things they could do with the maturing Prai church, so many different avenues they could go down, most of which are good. But many of them could take the church in a wrong or at least distracting direction.
That’s why NTM missionaries with experience in church planting come to visit regularly, assess progress, suggest future steps and teach Dave and his co-workers.
“I’m still being equipped,” Dave said.
And it’s not just in church planting. Next month an experienced Bible translator will visit and check the revisions that Dave is now making in the New Testament translation. She also will continue Dave’s training.
Even after years of experience in Bible translation, it’s still possible to get bogged down or overwhelmed, confused or just plain stumped.
Most people aren’t aware of NTM’s training program, but it just makes sense that missionaries go through extensive training to establish a church in an alien culture and a foreign language. We expect pastors to have extensive training to lead an established church in their own culture and language, don’t we?
So NTM provides two years of Bible training and a year and a half of missions training. That’s followed by on-field training, which covers the language of the country where the missionary will work, the culture and other issues specific to working there.
But even people who know about NTM’s training are often surprised to find out the process doesn’t end there. All through the process of establishing a church, the training never really ends. Each challenge a missionary faces has likely been faced by other missionaries in the past, so why re-invent the wheel?
Experienced NTM missionaries help locate a good place to begin a ministry; assist with understanding the culture and learning the language; steer a course through translating Scripture portions and lessons; and help missionaries determine the best way to start Bible lessons and work through them.
Each step of the way, an NTM missionary is never alone. Help is near, and training never ends.
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