Three years ago, the pastor at a church in China had to leave for migrant work and the church was left with no one to preach. A man was asked by the pastor to take over the pastoral leadership of the church. Up until that time, this man had never spoken in front of the congregation. His prayer to God was this, “Help me please, or I will only cry on the podium!” At this time, the Seminary on the Air (SOTA) program was being introduced by the district pastor. This brother was only too happy to register. He studied very hard, paying attention to every course for the next two years. He practiced his preaching by using what he had learned from the courses. For many years, the speaking at this local church had been very weak. Sometimes, all they could do was to read the Bible together and then share from their own experiences. There was no one who could interpret the Scriptures and draw out practical applications or lead meaningful discussions. After this brother learned and taught what he had learned to others, God’s Word became evident through his speaking. Encouraged by his wonderful testimony, other co-workers have also enrolled in the SOTA program including a few with very limited literacy skills. Together they learn as a group. SOTA has become part of this church’s discipleship training program. – Testimony from a church leader
SOTA has been recognized by house churches as a valuable training tool for their lay leaders. Recently, house church networks have begun expressing a desire to formalize the training by providing education that is equivalent to a theology degree. TWR Canada’s Chinese ministry team is working with one such network in China that has approximately 5000 Christian workers, of which over 400 are already enrolled in the SOTA program. There are two to three million believers in this one network alone.
There is a need for more to be trained. To meet this need, TWR Canada’s Chinese ministry team is now laying the foundation for a Seminary on the Air (SOTA) degree program.
SOTA staff are working to meet the requirements of this network so that graduates can have the opportunity to fill official pastoral roles in the church and to have their training recognized as the equivalent to a degree in theological studies. The requirements include the addition of more courses, the preparation of documents, assignments, and upgraded exams. It also includes the addition of an e-library, making many resources accessible to students. Finally, agreements with house churches will find suitable opportunities for internships. The network has a formal training program that they work through but they are unable to meet the demand of students to be trained. If SOTA can meet their requirements, they will use the program to train leaders and will officially recognize them as pastors.
Pray for our teams as they write and prepare the required documents and materials for the degree program, for new staff that will be required to launch the program in September, and for a location to record new course material.
TWR Canada will not run E-Updates for the next two weeks;
we will be back the first week of September.