‘So, Ray, what does it mean to be born again?’ said the young man as he settled down on our settee in the living room. His question has remained a vivid memory to speaker and hearer alike for over 40 years.
That conversation proved to be one of the final stages in Bob’s search for salvation. A few days later he met the Lord in a church prayer meeting.
Bob and his girlfriend, Dorothy, had passed our church on a bus a few weeks before. Dorothy liked the look of the building and expressed a desire to get married there. As a result, they spoke to the pastor and he encouraged them to attend the services. They did so and the preaching awakened them to their need of a Saviour, after years in spiritualism.
Dorothy’s conversion soon followed Bob’s and they grew spiritually under faithful preaching. Bob felt a call to pastoral ministry and, after taking some courses by distance learning, went to the Toronto Baptist Seminary. After graduating, he was called to pastor a church in Canada.
In the meantime, the present writer, to whom the original question had been directed, had been trained at the London Theological Seminary and taken up his first pastorate. We kept in touch and visited each other’s churches. Following years of pastoral service and after taking postgraduate studies, Bob joined R. C. Sproul in Ligonier Ministries.
The burden for training men for church leadership had grown over the years as he had developed more contact with overseas agencies. As a result, in the late 1990s, Dr Bob Penhearow founded Carey Outreach Ministries (COM) and invited various ministerial colleagues to join him in ‘training spiritual leaders that shape the church and influence the nations’. The present writer was one of those he invited and the first country we visited together was Romania.
Other countries soon followed. During my second pastorate in London, a Filipino student was on placement with us from the London Theological Seminary. He met Bob on a visit to our home and an invitation for COM to work in the Philippines was issued and accepted.
The area to which most of our energies have been directed in recent years has been the Far East. We currently work in four areas there with the possibility of two more opening up. The co-ordinator for this region is Jonathan Bayes, who contributes regularly to the Evangelical Times.
Jonathan works full time for COM, being supported in partnership with Grace Baptist Mission. His association with COM began 14 years ago, when he responded to an article in ET by the present writer. He has been full-time with COM for the past nine years.
COM operates by sending suitably qualified lecturers, often in pairs, to an area that has requested our help, for one or two weeks. The courses are intensive, being made up of 20-30 sessions each.
This modular approach enables the students, most of whom are serving pastors, to be away from home for a relatively short time. The curriculum is made up of the same traditional subjects that are found in most other Reformed Bible colleges.
The training COM offers is provided by the Carey International University of Theology. It is able to offer accreditation for degrees through the Florida Council of Private Colleges.
To accommodate the different standards of education found in the receiving countries, three levels of training are offered; certificate, diploma and degree. Attendance is monitored, examinations are set, and research papers are required, so that students can gain credit and receive their awards after completing the full course of studies.
Practical arrangements are all made by a local organiser and most teaching is done through translation. Each lecturer is responsible for his own expenses, but suitable accommodation is provided at each venue. COM makes no charge for its training and sometimes is able to subsidise needy students.
One lecturer recently sent this report: ‘It was a joy and privilege to be with this group of Cuban pastors. I was very impressed with their knowledge of the text and their desire to learn. Listening to the students share about some of the hardships they have experienced as a result of persecution for their faith, I was deeply moved by their commitment to Christ’.
Some student responses to the teaching received are: ‘Subjects taught are thoroughly biblical and Reformed in perspective. Tutors are well equipped, enabled and gifted men. They are mature persons displaying Christ-likeness of humility and passion for Scriptures’; ‘I hope and pray that this kind of outreach will continue and expand throughout the whole world and especially the Philippines, because your teaching based on the Bible is what the pastors need today’.
While this is the main work in which COM is engaged, it has parallel ministries. The Carey Printing Press (CPP) produces course books to enhance the curriculum, which are also available as Powerpoint presentations.
Eighteen courses are available in this format. They can be downloaded from the website free of charge and retained by students as a record of the courses taken. Five courses are available for purchase on DVD, which are a visual presentation of the lecture. Three of them can also be viewed on the website by Vimeo (www.careyouteach.org).
The other main priority of CPP is to produce basic Bible commentaries and theological books. Only three titles have been produced so far, but these are available as virtual downloads or in hard copy. These titles are being translated into several languages, including Spanish, Chinese, French and Arabic; and other English titles are in preparation.
The church planting project has seen 20 new congregations established and 10 new buildings erected by Carey students in the Philippines. Glory Grace is a sister organisation, providing humanitarian aid to widows, orphans and street children.
By 2016, COM had worked in 19 countries and is currently serving in nine. Within the next couple of years, we expect to be working in South Africa for the first time.
The total number of courses provided by COM across its different venues increases each year, with 67 being taught in 2015. We are also negotiating to start a work in Spain, but cannot fulfil all the invitations we receive.
In addition to the 15 transatlantic faculty members, from the UK Gareth Crossley, Bill James and Peter Law have all given their time to lecture on behalf of COM and Robert Strivens will be going to the Philippines in 2017.
As the ministry of COM continues to expand, additional help is needed to support the church in the developing world. We are always in need of more lecturers and would welcome the interest of any men of Baptist persuasion with more than 10 years’ pastoral experience and an MA as a minimum academic award.
If you have any questions, please contact Jonathan Bayes, [email protected]
Who knows where your question might lead you?