. . . being trained in the words of the faith, and of the sound doctrine you have been taught . . . . (1 Tim. 4:6 ESV)
This verse defines the purpose of Project Pastoral Education West Africa (PPEWA), an organization that trains pastors in the faith and sound doctrine in countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, and Ghana. LCMS pastoral instructors train existing African pastors, and, starting this year, future pastors will begin training at a new seminary in Sierra Leone. The trainees in turn become the trainers as they teach their congregations the words of the faith.
Timothy’s training began with his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 3:15). As a young man, Timothy’s training was taken up by the Apostle Paul who wanted Timothy to accompany him on his missionary journeys (Acts 16:3). As we see in 2 Timothy 2:1–2, as they traveled together, Paul trained Timothy so that Timothy could train others, who in turn would train others.
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1–2
Paul understood the impact of the ripple effect on the spread of the gospel and raising up strong leaders for the church. Project Pastoral Education, West Africa also understands and is leveraging this ripple effect.
What about us? Does the need for training and the call to train others only apply to pastors? No! While pastors in the LCMS receive specialized, advanced training, all believers are called to be part of this ripple effect (Proverbs 22:6, Titus 2:3-5, Matthew 28:19–20, etc.).
Take a moment to reflect on these questions:
- Who were you trained by?
- Who is training you?
- Who have you trained?
- Who are you training?
Note that these questions are both past tense and present tense. Training is ongoing! PPEWA provides training to future pastors as well as continuing education to existing pastors. Paul continued to provide training to Timothy right up to his death (2 Timothy was Paul’s last letter).
Remember that as long as God sees fit for you to live on the earth, you have biblical wisdom yet to be gained and you have biblical wisdom yet to share.