"If you want to grow something fast, plant millet. If you want to grow something strong, plant a tree. If you want to grow something that lasts forever, train a person." That's a rough translation from the French of a quotation cited by the Archbishop of Niamey who was invited to say a few words at the Bible school graduation. Paul told Timothy something similar: "You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others." (II Timothy 2:2).
This year three men who are now trained to pass on biblical truths to others graduated. We attended the ceremony a few Sundays ago. John has taught at the school for several years, so we wanted to be there to encourage the students and staff even though he hadn't taught this past year.
One of the professors of the school gave a speech and mentioned how the early missionaries were effective at sharing the Gospel. Many of them had attended Bible school, but hadn't had much theological training themselves. The exception was the Catholic church whose priests who came as missionaries were generally well-educated in theology. Eventually the need for Protestant theological training schools was recognized. This Bible school was established to make sure that men and women in Francophone West Africa have a chance for a good theological education.
There were other speeches made by the Director of the school and by the student with the highest marks. The diplomas were handed out and the students signed their diplomas in front of those gathered to celebrate with them.
Afterwards there were lots of congratulations, photos taken, and, of course, some food.
It is not always easy to run a school here in a country with such a small Christian population, so please keep it in your prayers.
When I was growing up in Nigeria, my dad taught at a Bible school, and he was one of those who invested in church leaders. Here's a throw-back to those days. (My parents are right in the center, with me on my dad's lap, my sister on my mom's lap, and my brother to the right of my mom.)
My mom also invested in the lives of men and women. This was the staff at the Correspondence School that she worked with. People from all over Nigeria would do Bible studies by correspondence then send in their lessons to be graded.
And this is our family with the Olutimayin family. Dr. Nathanael Olutimayin was a true theologian and a colleague of my parents. He went on to become the president of the ECWA denomination.