When God closes one door… He opens another. It’s not always as quickly as we’d like or just the way we’d like it. But it’s in just the right time, and better than we could have planned. God has closed the door for work in China with PIONEERS at this point in time. He has opened a door for us to work with an agency called Training Leaders International (TLI) and for Evan to work towards completion of a PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
What is TLI’s vision?
Throughout the world there are millions of pastors who are doing the difficult work of leading the church with little or no sound theological training. Moreover, there are thousands of people groups in countries which American missionaries cannot access, yet there are national churches in those countries asking American missionaries to train them how to cross a culture and evangelize an unreached people group. Christianity is exploding around the world. Every year 50,000 new churches open their doors. Every day 174,000 people become Christians…but few are trained to lead them. In the developing world there is a serious lack of trained, theologically educated leaders. TLI hopes to bridge that gap by: 1) Sending pastors, seminary professors, and grad students on short-term trips to offer theological training to local leaders, 2) Sending long-term teachers overseas to teach in Christian colleges and universities, 3) Starting theological schools and training centers in places where formal and non-formal training is most needed.
Why a PhD?
Evan has been encouraged to pursue doctoral work by our former missions leader in China and by two of his former professors in seminary who have served as missionaries. Having worked with Evan and seen his gifts, they urged him to specialize in a Bible/ministry-related subject because such credentials and specialization would open numerous formal doors for significantly influencing leaders, pastors, and missionaries around the world who could spread the gospel in closed unreached countries.
What will our ministry with TLI look like?
Evan will be serving as an International Trainer, traveling overseas two times a year to train pastors in modular course settings. He will also closely mentor pastors and seminary students in the US to help them become better cross-cultural communicators. Kristie will serve as an editor for all of TLI’s blogs and social media outlets. One potential project on the table includes helping translate TLI’s seminary curriculum into Chinese so that it can be used to train house church pastors at a training center located just south of China’s Yunnan province, an area God has laid on our hearts in the past.
Where will we be located?
While Evan begins his PhD studies, we will remain in Spokane, WA, working for TLI and serving at our supporting fellowships here. Because the PhD is modular, we will probably be able to move and start ministry overseas before the program is completed, but it is still too premature to determine those details. We should know more soon.
What about going back overseas?
We plan to move back overseas as soon as we can, maybe even next year. As Evan travels with TLI, he will be able to consider the long-term options.
Will we return to China?
It is likely we will not. One reason for this is that it is impossible to formally train Chinese pastors while living in China. Another reason we will not likely return to China is because of the twins’ asthma and the fact that the least polluted city in China is still more polluted than Los Angeles. But we still desire and pray to reach the unreached peoples of China by helping the Chinese church whether we end up moving to a training center just south of Yunnan province to formally train Chinese pastors/missionaries or whether we end up teaching at a seminary in Southeast Asia where many Chinese come to study.
How will we be supported?
We will continue to be supported by the generous and faithful giving of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will continue to rely on the Father to provide for the work of the gospel through the sacrificial giving of His saints. Our support needs will remain similar to what they were when we served with PIONEERS. We pray that our support team will prayerfully join us in this transition to serving with Training Leaders International. Beginning now, funds can be given to our account at TLI. As of June 30th, fund can no longer be given to PI. All funds in our PI account have been transferred to TLI. See the very bottom of the blog page for information on how to support our ministry through TLI.
How can you pray for us during this transition?
- Pray that we continually make knowing and enjoying God the work and delight of our lives.
- Pray that God would be glorified in the exaltation of His gospel truth through the training of pastors and missionaries around the world. And that He would strengthen us to serve this cause however and wherever He sees fit.
- Praise God with us for His incredible, wise hand leading us through this time of waiting and opening the door for us to serve the unreached peoples through the training of pastors and missionaries!