Last week I had the privilege of travelling through to Mpumalanga to present a week of lectures at Back to the Bible Training College. This year BBTC celebrates 25 years of providing an intensive three-year training programme for pastors, teachers and Evangelists. The curriculum takes students through every book and chapter of the Bible and brings in lecturers from around the world to train the students in Doctrine, Theology, Hermeneutics, Homiletics, Comparative Religions, Evangelism, Counselling, History and a host of other vital subjects "That the man of God may be thoroughly equipped, to do every good work."
When Rev. Piet Erasmus began Back to the Bible Training College 25 years ago, it was our privilege to provide one of our Missionaries, George, whom we had put through Theological training, as his first faculty member for the first year. Our Missionaries have also had the joy of visiting other Sola Scriptura Colleges planted by Rev. Erasmus in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. One of our Trainee Field Workers, Ryno, was loaned to Rev. Erasmus on detached duty for six month service in the Sola Scriptura Bible College in Malawi.
Back to the Bible
BBTC is Bible-based, Christ-centered, Evangelical, Evangelistic, Missionary-minded, serious in prayer and dedicated to the fulfilment of the Great Commission. Their curriculum includes: Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, Pastoral Theology, Practical Theology, Evangelism, Ethics, Missiology, Church History, Child Evangelism, Counselling, and many other essential aspects of ministry.
Strategic Leadership Training
BBTC is a most strategic Leadership training ministry with 120 students from 20 countries. BBTC is an example of balanced focus on ministry to body, mind and spirit. They have integrated physical work, farm work, sports, daily devotions and intensive study, mobilising their students as Evangelists on weekends and holidays to minister to communities near and far.
The most prominent feature at BBTC is the large white Cross, which dominates the valley and is lit up at night to be seen from a great distance. This large Cross is symbolic to the Christian witness and missionary vision that radiates out from this strategic leadership training institution. Their motto is: Africa for Christ!
Balancing Head, Heart and Hands
Every morning, students and staff gather in enthusiastic worship and fervent prayer. As I have travelled for ministry across four continents, over the last 38 years, ministering in 36 countries, I have not come across another college which maintains such a high priority on prayer, personal and group devotions and systematic Bible study, with such Evangelistic zeal, and missionary vision.
Textbook to Empower Ministers in Training
In the week leading up to my Mission to Mpumalanga, I was working on my Bible Survey notes, which are now up to Habakkuk, and completing the first 15 chapters of A Christian History of Africa. The Principal, Dr. Shai Mulder, also requested further lecture notes and textbooks on Liturgy, Creeds and the Trinity, so we sourced good lecture notes and textbooks that could provide what their faculty and students needed for these subjects.
Aside from preparing lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations for the BBTC ministry, a lot of other ministry coincided in that week. On the Tuesday, before departing, two container shipments of over 30 tonnes of Bibles and books were received, offloaded and sorted at Livingstone House. On Wednesday we set up four tables for Africa Christian Action in Cavendish Square as part of the Four-Day Charity Book Sale outreach opportunity. On the Thursday night we screened a premiere of Way of the Master's new film: Audacity – Love Cannot Stay Silent, at the Reformation Society. On Friday, my youngest son, Calvin, gave a Report back to the local Scouts on the 23rd World Scout Jamboree in Japan which he was part of. Saturday morning, bright and early, we were setting up for the Evangelism Expo in Table View and I gave presentations on our Literature4Africa, Africa Christian Action and Living Waters Africa ministries. In the afternoon, I joined our Charity Book Sale outreach at Cavendish Square and in the evening enjoyed Daniela's Choir presentation of Handel's Messiah at the Dutch Reformed Church Grootekerk as part of their 350 year celebrations.
Where Will You Spend Eternity?
Sunday morning I was preaching at Evangelise Gereformeerde Kerk in Tygerberg and that afternoon flew to Nelspruit. Shortly after take-off, the plane lurched and plummeted, causing most of the aircraft passengers to scream and many cups and plates to smash in the scullery. The people seated next to me were screaming in terror and praying loudly as they clutched the seats in front of them. I have experienced worse turbulence on military flights, but never such a dramatic and frenzied reaction from fellow passengers! Perhaps pilots need to do such manoeuvres from time to time to improve people's prayer life and have them consider where they will spend eternity?
At Nelspruit Airport I was collected by the principal of BBTC, Dr. Shai Mulder, and his wife, Elreza. We enjoyed a tremendous time of fellowship and discussing of a wide range of ministry issues during the drive down, in the dark to the college. The weather varied from very hot to fairly cold. After the cold in Cape Town, the warmth of the Lowveld was a welcome relief. Everything was very dry, but on my last day at BBTC, the first rains of Spring began to fall.
Inspiration from the Church Fathers of North Africa
Each morning at BBTC begins with Devotions in the Chapel with enthusiastic prayer and worship. As I was asked to focus on African Church History in the Chapel sessions, I gave presentations on John Mark, the Evangelist who planted the Church in Egypt, Matthew, who planted the Church in Ethiopia, the Church Fathers of North Africa, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria, Tertullian of Carthage, Cyprian of Carthage, Athanasius of Alexandria and Augustine of Hippo, and The Best Friend Africa Ever Had – Dr. David Livingstone.
The Great Commission Is Our Supreme Ambition
Then, during the day, my lectures to the First Year students included: The Greatness of the Great Commission, Motives for Missions, Missions in the Old Testament, Missionary Strategies in the Book of Acts, The Gospel in Acts, Spiritual Warfare, Reclaiming Surrendered Ground, Evangelising Animists, The Challenge of Hinduism, Understanding Islam, Comparing the Quran with the Bible, Christ and Muhammad, Effective Evangelism Amongst Muslims, God Amongst the Zulus - A Case Study of Revival, What Does It Take To Be a Missionary?, and vigorous hours of open discussion, dealing with a wide range of concerns and questions from the students. Each student received a 196 page, Great Commission Manual and the week concluded with an Examination at the end.
On Monday evening, I attended their Homiletics Practicals and gave some comments and feedback on the 6 sermons that students presented. On the Wednesday afternoon, I also led the students with a vigorous PT session with practical hands-on self-defence drills and scenarios.
Students Cheer Audacity
On the Tuesday evening, I screened Ray Comfort's new film from Way of the Master: Audacity – Love Cannot Stay Silent. This was enthusiastically received with resounding applause and loud cheers by the students and staff. A vigorous time of discussion followed and all agreed that it was a most relevant film for this time.
Polycarp Inspires Students
On Friday night, I had the opportunity of screening the Polycarp film. The students were enthusiastic and gave the film a thunderous applause at the end. During the discussions afterwards, many applied the lessons of this historic film to the rising tide of intolerance and persecution against Christians, which we are called to face with Biblical boldness.
Reclaiming our Culture for Christ
Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, I presented a Biblical Worldview Seminar for students, staff and faculty. This included: Turning the World Upside Down, A Clash of Civilisations, Body Piercing – A Return to Paganism, The Rise of the Gay GB and The Pink Inquisition, and how we as Christians should Reclaim our Culture for Christ.
Africa for Christ
All told, the week included 30 lectures, 3 Devotions, 2 Film screenings, P.T. and Exams and a Seminar. Between lectures, students from Malawi, Togo, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ethiopia and Swaziland asked probing questions and gave me insights to the challenges they face in their home countries. There was another visiting professor from America and his wife, that I was able to enjoy fellowship with. We praise God for Dr. Mulder and his faculty and staff and all their diligent and sacrificial labours for the Lord in training leaders to win Africa for Christ.
"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops… Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:1-6,15
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74