As a precursor to the online classes, we are posting Coffee Chats--short online talks about one doctrinal issue in answer to common questions.
Dear support team,
In the future, when we look back on 2020 we want to say, “Wow! Look what God did. Look how He showed up in Peru. And how we’ve all (that means you, too) been a part of it and grown in faith.”
Of course, the big thing will be the 2020 Vision plan: 20 bible institutes (or seminaries, as they are called here) in 20 locations throughout Peru in the year 2020. That's the game plan: the same 2020 Vision that we’ve been telling you about since 2016. God has developed it so that it's even better.
One thing God has shown us is dead seminaries all over Peru. We went to one and had a meeting with its caretakers. The building and grounds were beautiful. Some church from the U.S. raised the funds and built it. They sent teams to teach classes regularly, but they didn't understand the culture and they taught through translators. We’ve talked to several graduates who weren’t able to answer questions about basic doctrines, even though they had passed classes on these things. Currently, no classes are being taught there--the seminary is dead. Although some of the caretaking group was interested in having us teach classes there, other members were seemingly suspicious that we were trying to take over their building. No agreement was reached, and no classes are being taught, although the grounds are well taken care of. We've found this same attitude in many places
Another thing God has shown us: those graduates who do go to seminary are often no longer interested in pastoral ministry. Take the case of Jorge (not his real name). He was sent by a local congregation to study in Lima, where there really is a very respectable seminary with a good academic reputation. Jorge actually returned to his hometown, which is unusual. Once students go to Lima they get used to life in the big city and don’t go back to the provinces. However, Jorge found that he couldn’t really communicate with people in his local congregation anymore. He also didn’t want to visit the sick and preach at funerals, etc. etc. He just wanted to study and talk about academic subjects. The church concluded that he was lazy, and he felt that the congregation was ignorant and uninterested in spiritual things. In the end, he went to another place to teach in yet another academic seminary, and the church continues without a pastor.
So although our original plan was to establish 20 conventional small seminaries, God has shown us that we need to make these church-based seminaries. Local churches will belong to our ministry network and receive course videos, downloadable class materials, and training for the local facilitator who will guide the class through the videos and the class materials. Both the videos and the printed materials will be in simple language. The pastor will usually be the facilitator, but if there's no pastor we will train a facilitator. This way there is no brain-drain, no disrespect for the existing pastor, and no suspicion of foreigners or city folks trying to take over the church. We are starting recording videos now and are planning to launch in March 2020.
Even as we are pushing to make this happen we want to get you more involved by regular progress reports. Right now we are relying mostly on email and Facebook. Please let us know if you would like to be updated in another medium, such as Messenger, Whatsapp, or snail mail. Comment if you are reading on Blog or Facebook, or reply to the email if you read it in email.
If you’re reading this you’re already part of the team. We want you to see that God is glorifying Himself here in Peru, and we want you to understand that you are really part of that. We challenge you to get more involved this year. Maybe pray more, maybe give more, maybe write to us. You do you. Understand that, humanly speaking, we wouldn’t be here doing this ministry if it weren’t for your prayers and gifts. If you’re more involved, you’ll be encouraged by seeing how God answers prayer, and you’ll appreciate your own blessings more. You'll have a bigger awareness of the part you are playing in what our glorious Lord is doing in the world.
So go team!
Let’s press on …
To make disciples…
To the uttermost parts of the earth.
Yours in Christ,
Mike and Tammy Riggs