What Happens When… A Bible College and Missions Agencies Collaborate?
By Ernesto Duke, Director of Partnership and Development
Do I really need to go to college or seminary to be a missionary?
This is an important question being asked by potential missionaries around the country, and a growing number of them are answering “no.”
There was a day when most missionaries would feel a call to go, sign up for Bible college or seminary, and then get sent out on the mission field. But more and more missionaries these days are passing on Bible college and seminary. For starters, the cost of biblical education has soared over the last couple decades and student debt keeps missionaries off the field. On top of that, most Bible programs in our country aren’t focused on developing the cross-cultural skills needed for mission’s work. They’re generally more focused on preparing students for ministry in their home context, which is not sufficient for cross-cultural ministry.
This has caused a drift of separation between Bible colleges/seminaries and missions sending agencies. No doubt, these organizations share a common Kingdom mission, but the level of collaboration is not what it used to be. More and more missions agencies have dramatically reduced pre-field biblical education requirements, in fact some have cut them altogether! Which means fewer and fewer missionaries are pursuing in-depth Bible training to prepare for the field.
Don’t get me wrong, these missionaries are passionate people that are stepping out in faith, but to do so without proper training and equipping can have unintended consequences. Ask any long-term missionary –inadequately trained missionaries can do more harm than good. Like putting a scalpel in the hands of an untrained surgeon, many missionaries are being sent into the field without the training required for such a big task.
Something needs to change.
This is why we’re thankful for and excited about partnerships with organizations like Africa Inland Mission and Global Frontier Missions. Over the last year, we’ve teamed up to develop training programs that combine Bible classes from Eternity with hands-on missions training provided by each organization. The result: Biblically literate missionaries with the specialized training needed to thrive long term on the field.
In the case of Africa Inland Mission, they’ve been planting Churches for over 100 years, so it’s safe to say they have a high level of expertise to offer. They’ve entrusted us with assessing applicants for biblical literacy, and together we are developing customized education plans to help ensure that every missionary they send overseas is trained and prepared for the task at hand.
In the case of Global Frontier Missions (GFM), we believe they are at the top of their field in preparing future missionaries. They provide invaluable, cross-cultural experience among refugee communities here in the USA, which goes a long way in preparing missionaries for the field. We teamed up with GFM to create a transfer program that gives their students the opportunity to seamlessly integrate Biblical literacy courses from Eternity with the hands-on training they’re receiving at GFM.
As an educator and someone immersed in cross-cultural ministry, these partnerships excite me. Rather than continuing to drift apart, we’re committed to collaboration. By working together, we’re able to pool our expertise and accomplish our collective mission so that all tribes, tongues, and nations will know the name of Jesus. We’re already seeing the fruit of these partnerships, and I’m excited about the opportunity to develop similar partnerships in 2020.
Help us raise $25K by the end of 2019! Our donors will match every dollar! Your tax-deductible donation will help us create 4 more partnerships with missions agencies this year.