Kwong Pastors' Training  #1

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In December 2003 we held the first Kwong pastors' retraining workshop at Chageen. The idea is to work systematically through the Kingdom of God materials which we have developed over the past few years in the Kwong language. We called it "pastors' retraining" but it was really basic discipleship, and we invited a large number of lay people to attend as well. In all, about 40 men and women attended the workshop.

Teaching men to read

We began the workshop with four days of teaching the men to read and write. They all came with some notion of reading in French or another language, but were unfamiliar with some of the conventions of the Kwong alphabet. 

Francois holding forth

Each morning, Francois, who we sponsored through the French seminary in N'Djamena for the past three years, preached on one chapter of book 1 of the Kingdom of God series. This book (an English annotated outline is on this website - click here) begins with the glory of God, and moves into the Trinity - heavy stuff, but essential to understanding who God is and more particularly who Jesus is. The men seemed to thoroughly enjoy the studies. Francois stumbled a couple times, but overall did a fantastic job. Each evening, he would come over to our home to sit with Mark to go over the next day's lesson. In the end, Mark had to do only minimal teaching - mostly just standing up after Francois' messages to add a little commentary to what he had already said. It was a pleasure to see the fruit of many years of careful writing and translating and discipling of Francois all coming together so that Mark was able to sit back and watch everything just "go".  

Mark organized the conference and filled in the gaps in Francois' teaching 

Luke and Joseph, our translators, led the men in a program of Bible memorization and each day, they also had 4 or 5 catechism questions drawn from the lesson to memorize. As it turns out, the catechism, far from living up to its historical reputation as dry and boring, was a big hit with the guys. It enabled them to seize the main points of the lessons clearly, and, since we tested them on the previous day's questions, gave them opportunity to exercise their newly acquired writing skills. At times, to our surprise, reciting the catechism out loud was what can only be called a profoundly spiritual experience.

Written tests helped solidify what the men learned
Larry and Laurrent, his translator

We are always concerned with these seminars, that they don't end up being just another little intellectual adventure for the guys - a mere opportunity to add to their collection of cool theological facts that they can then trot out when they need to make themselves look good. So we invited our fellow missionary Larry Gray and his wife Jan to come and preach each afternoon on Psalm 23.  When Larry preached, he is tenacious. He will not let his hearer's any peace so long as he has the least inkling that the message of the gospel has not penetrated their souls and made them react in some way or other. Platitudes and pleasantries - let along merely cool theological facts - are death to Larry, and he believes they are death to people as well. We knew this was Larry's style when we invited him, and we were not disappointed in the results of his time with us - and neither were the Kwong pastors and lay people who heard him. His wife Jan was a great help for Diane in the kitchen, and a great support for all of us in her prayers. They will be back in April for the second training session (April 5 to 17) and we are looking forward to it.

Diane having a jam session with some of our Kwong musicians

When the Lord does things, he like to add his own special touches that show it was truly He who put the whole thing together. In our case, the icing on the cake was 5 Kwong songs written to indigenous Kwong tunes by the men during the conference using the texts of Psalm 23 and other passages which figured prominently in the workshop. Diane was the moving force behind the composition of these songs. For years she has been painstakingly analyzing Kwong folk music with the idea of exploiting it for the furtherance of the gospel. The 3 sessions she taught and the work she put into getting several gifted men to work together to produce these songs were in a real sense the capstone of her labors over these years, not to speak of the capstone of the whole seminar. 

Mark and Diane shelled out about $500 to keep all the students well fed
Diane and Janet Gray kept Larry and Mark well fed 



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Last modified: May 25, 2011