When two of our young missionaries in 2012 found themselves face to face with the effects and reality of untrained and undiscipled Church leaders especially among the existing church in Southern Chad, they were overwhelmed about this reality and wondered if it was a giant that could be tackled. The result was that there were churches everywhere but no Christians. The churches had people attending services every week, but there was nothing Christlike about them. Neither the people nor their leaders knew about the life they were meant to live as Children of God. Things that were meant to be elementary to the faith sounded alien even to people who had spent years in Churches and were now leaders. Church was fast becoming a social event and anyone who could put people together and keep them coordinated passed as a pastor. Many pastors were appointed or transferred to villages under a denomination but are left to do as they deem fit without any form of supervision, feedback or evaluation and many of these pastors had given up in despair. Some of them were genuine and wanted to make a difference but had no idea how. They couldn’t give what they did not have. This reality seemed like one problem that could not be engaged head on, and if anyone was going to respond to it, not these two young inexperienced missionaries.
The way they felt was only natural. David was naturally not fit to engage Goliath in a fight, neither were the Israelites naturally fit to engage the established tribes in Canaan as Joshua and Caleb proposed, but when the Lord is set to do a thing, He only seeks for available hands. With the help of our training office back in Nigeria, a very lean and basic bible course curriculum was put together into bible study formats and was launched with a few church leaders by the end of 2012. The response was unanticipated. Many of the pastors had never seen anything like it. They now had where they could come on Saturday and learn what they would preach in their churches on Sunday. Now they could engage with scriptures, ask their questions and find encouragement and answers to their questions. We quickly adopted a name for it – ‘the Portable Bible School’ basically because we could carry it with us to any location and run it tailored to the needs of the people there. The initial response cut across denominational barriers and was just a move of God.
It’s now been almost three years of running the Portable Bible School (PBS) in different locations and we just want to make it known that God has taken what looked like an amateur response of some passionate young men and is now using it as a major tool for the discipling of Christians and leaders across borders. The PBS is basically developed in French and has run in more than 6 locations in Chad and Cameroon now.
We run the Portable Bible School over a period of two weeks with each contact, and based on the availability of the people, we could come back for another contact in either 6 months or one year, until we have completed three contacts. The results are amazing. More people are having a personal indepth journey into the scriptures like they never have before. More leaders now feel they have some level of preparation and equipment and faith in their ability and call to lead is being restored. Entire denominations now request the PBS to be run for their leaders. It’s not an academic bible school, its just an indepth transformational experience with the scripture, and this tool that looked like it came into existence by ‘chance’ putting together existing works of other people has now become a major tool that God is using to build disciples.
Never despise what inexperienced but surrendered tools can become once in God’s hands. Today, the Portable Bible School is a major programme and activity of CEMP (Centre d’Equippement en Mission Pionnier) our French Missionary Training School based in Doba, Chad.