A new theology school graduate steps down from the bus that has brought him home. Behind him are several years of study in which he has been challenged; his thinking has changed, the experience has revolutionized his views and his understanding of key aspects of the faith. He feels this new perspective almost as a burden, a weight that will press on him until it is successfully passed on to others.
In front of him are his home and the people who know him. He feels the burden even more acutely as he contemplates the difficulty in passing his knowledge on to them, while at the same time he does not have the benefit of a single reference work to help him in this task; even his Bible is falling apart.
This is the situation faced by many graduates of South Pacific Nazarene Theological College, according to the school’s chancellor, David Kerr. Due to the lack of quality materials in English, many students do not even have access to textbooks while they are in school, let alone after they complete their studies.
“Currently, when our students graduate, they get a handshake and a piece of paper, and they walk into the harvest field with their bare hands and the Bible (likely well-worn and falling apart),” Kerr wrote in a recent newsletter. “So I was thinking, how could we get them a new Bible when they graduate?”
The thought process gradually expanded until Kerr dreamed of giving each graduate an e-reader or tablet device loaded with all four years of textbooks and resources used during their studies.
The Church of the Nazarene’s Global Mission Office approved a scholarship program to fund the purchase of tablets that contain not only the Bible, but also commentaries, dictionaries, textbooks, reference works, and the JESUS film in the local language.
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More than US$1,000 has already been raised toward this need, and Kerr is confident and enthusiastic about the way this can be used to strengthen local church ministry — better initial training, better sermon preparation, better teaching, and more local involvement.
The initial plan is to order 120 tablets at a cost of $160 each, which covers the device, a cover, a 16-megabyte memory card, customs and shipping, and potential copyright fees.
Ephesians 4:11-12 states that pastors, or “shepherds,” are charged to “equip the saints for works of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
“If they are to adequately prepare the saints in their community for works of service, then they need to have a better understanding of how to do that using God’s word,” said Steve Sharp, Nazarene missionary.
The purpose of South Pacific Nazarene Theological College is to “provide leadership training to people who feel called to pastoral ministry in their community.” In other words, to teach people how to use God’s word to equip others, so that the body of Christ will be built up; so that the kingdom of God will expand in the areas that it serves. In accordance with this, the college seeks to train real shepherds. It is essential, therefore, for them to have the knowledge and ability to apply the word to people’s lives.