Moses hunches over his notebook, writing as fast as he can. His shoulders ache, his fingers cramp, but still he writes. Every word his teacher says is important because when he leaves Bible school to preach in a small village church, his class notes and his Bible will be the only resources he will have. That is the way it has always been. What if a new believer has a question he can’t answer? What will he preach, Sunday after Sunday, to disciple all the people who look to him to grow their faith?
Now it is different. This year as thousands of fresh African Bible school graduates are headed to “fields ripe for the harvest” they have something extra. They are armed with a growing arsenal of discipleship tools. David C Cook supplied Moses and 15,000 other men and women in 16 Africa nations with starter libraries of reference and Bible study books. They are no longer alone as they leave school to plant and nurture churches. With them travels the published wisdom of many and storied Christian writers and Bible scholars.
New pastors receive their books at ceremonies, which are nothing like Western graduations, with our stately music, expensive caps and gowns and solemn speeches. Observers say many, when their names are called, sing and dance their way forward to receive both their diplomas AND libraries!
Furthermore, we built in incentives for these new pastors to lead Bible studies in their churches. Some of the commentaries are paired with group study materials on a particular portion of Scripture. If a pastor reports to us that he has taught through one book of the Bible, we promise to send another paired commentary and group study guide for yet another book.
David C Cook began giving African graduates starter libraries more than 20 years ago. Most years, we found and supplied around 5,000 graduates. Over the past 18 months we mounted an intensive effort to find many of the smaller Bible schools across the vast continent. Do you know how huge Africa is? The land mass is so great the it is larger than the size of the United States, India, China, all of Western Europe including the United Kingdom and Argentina combined! It was a big undertaking, but worth it. These new relationships are making it possible for us to triple the number of graduates we equip annually compared to the past. Many of the added pastors we found are from smaller schools courageously trying to strengthen churches in their area. They have the fewest resources.
We who live in prosperous countries can afford to take Christian books for granted. We all own books we have never read. So much is available in print, as e-books, and over the Internet. We have such a surplus. But it is vastly different in Africa. There, a book is a prized possession. For a pastor who has nothing but his Bible and handwritten class notes, even a few commentaries become a treasure.
When you invest in these leaders, you have a part in the impact they will have on others for years into the future.