This is a guest post by Bryan Conard
My name is Bryan Conard. My wife Martha and I presently live in Senegal, West Africa, with our three children where we serve as missionaries with Ethnos360.” My life today is incomparably different than I ever imagined it would be growing up in the ghettos of South Carolina. My parents were not believers, and my home was not a place where God’s Word was taught or valued. It wasn’t until I was 19 years of age, incarcerated for my 5th time, that God, His Word and work on the Cross became significant to me. In jail, at the age of 19, I finally became a Christian.
After literally escaping a long prison sentence, I was released from jail and sentenced to a Christian Discipleship Program called the Haven of Rest. It was in this program that I became acutely aware of how particularly important it is to understand God’s Word! It was in the Haven of Rest – where my life was still raw with limited understanding of truth and a worldview still heavily shaped by my previous life’s way of thinking – that God was convincing me that I needed a deeper understanding of the Word. It was here also that I first heard from a missionary with Ethnos360 that around this staggeringly large globe there were, and are, still millions of people without access to the gospel!
Given my limited understanding of the Word, my desire to understand more and my newly founded interest in being a part in seeing those without the gospel reached, I enrolled at Ethnos360 Bible Institute (EBI) where I embarked on an incredible journey in God’s Word and in another very new community. Now, it’s important to mention here that before moving to Michigan as a student at EBI, I had never traveled outside of my little,troubled community in South Carolina. Moving to Michigan was an incredibly exciting and intimidating leap of faith.
However, I was – and still am – convinced of two key realities: I deeply and desperately need to know God more and, as His ambassador, it is indeed my responsibility (along with all of His Church) to take the Good News of Jesus to those [who have] yet to hear. Even with this conviction, I still had no idea how to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task. There also were still massive misconceptions of the Scriptures and immaturities that needed to be shaped and cemented in truth; and just as important, I still had almost no understanding of the nuts and bolts of seeing the task [completed] of reaching the unreached!
In conclusion, while at the EBI monumental shifts happened in my thinking. There were things I thought I was convinced of from the Word that, after receiving some basic tools of hermeneutics, I realized weren’t just underdeveloped; they were entirely wrong and needed reshaped. But after two years at EBI and continued education at Grace School of Theology, I still had essential missing links – I still needed the “nuts and bolts” of day-to-day living in a cross-cultural setting! It was at the Missionary Training Center in Missouri that God met this need as well. All this to say, I can’t imagine living where I am today in Senegal, West Africa, learning French and living in a totally different world, without a solid foundation in God’s Word and some simple tools for learning language and doing ministry. The training was necessary for the ultimate goal of one day seeing a maturing Church among those still yet to hear the simple, life–changing message of the Cross that I once heard in a little jail cell many years ago.
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