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12 May 2023

Building godly leaders


What happens to Christian leaders who have been trained or worked alongside CMS missionaries? Some plant churches. Some begin Bible colleges. Some return to their communities to minister God’s word. Here are a few of their stories.

Starting new churches

As told by Malcolm and Leanne in South East Asia

After eight years on location, we have seen God do many things through the lives of those we have tried to nurture. Sometimes this has happened through opportunities for hospitality and teaching in the Bible college where we work. At other times, what God has done has been surprising, including the opportunity for us to be involved in planting several new ‘community churches’.

How have these churches come into being? Under God, they have begun at the initiative of local believers—including graduates of our Bible college. We’ve offered support as able through prayer and personal encouragement, including (in Malcolm’s case) help with preaching and teaching—all the while seeking to work with and under local Christian leadership.

Our pastor has now been involved in four ‘community church’ plants. He recently wrote to Malcolm:

“I would like to thank you for your participation and efforts to share the gospel with the local South East Asian community. Thank you for patiently working with us in setting up the churches… I believe that we have achieved small but encouraging results from our labour together. ‘Community church one’ has been more stable, and [we have been] able to plant the second community church which has almost 500 people coming to worship God in two services every Sunday. The third community church has had direct benefits from your participation and guidance and is now on the good momentum to grow further. And now we are excited to support … your newly graduated student to start the new church recently”. 

A most surprising church

We praise God for these four church plants! This fourth church has been a great surprise to us.

In our city a young couple, stuck at home during Covid, produced some videos about the gospel and loaded them onto the social media platform TikTok. They found themselves interacting with several people who asked questions about the gospel.

Over a few months, about 15 people became Christians and sought to be baptised! Though there was a mix of locals and ex-pats in the group, they wanted a South East Asian service, to better reach locals. So they decided to start their own, and this church began!   

Prior to this Tom* and two mates from college had tried to plant a church but it had failed. They realised that (if possible), each one of them needed to start their own churches. This new church asked Tom to be their pastor and he has demonstrated that he is the right person for that role.

We feel we barely did anything but teach, train and nurture a graduate, who is now not only a pastor of this surprising church, but a dear friend.

We see God’s sovereign fingerprints all over this small group!

A church service in South East Asia.

Yaw Bay’s story

As told by Yaw Bay, a student of Marty Foord in Singapore

Marty Foord invited a former student, Yaw Bay, to share his experience studying theology and then beginning to teach others.

Yaw Bay writes:

I went to ETCAsia for theological training so I could return to our home country to start a discipleship and ministry training centre. It’s not easy to find a theological college like ETCAsia, which balances academic rigour with faithful Bible teaching. The lecturers at ETCAsia are not only academically qualified but they share the Great Shepherd’s heart for his sheep. Marty Foord’s lectures have especially helped me see how we should form biblically sound and practical doctrines from the Bible. I recall listening enthusiastically as Marty showed how God revealed truths about the doctrine of salvation from Genesis to Revelation, and how it developed throughout the history of the church. Marty’s method of teaching Bible doctrines has enabled me to look at the whole Bible as well as church history when I prepare Christian doctrine lessons for my students.

Together with my wife, we launched a discipleship and ministry training centre in the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar in June 2022. We have been teaching our first batch of trainees for nearly one full academic year now. Our goal is to train faithful and effective gospel workers for Myanmar whose lives and ministries are Bible-based and Christ-centred. In the first two years, we aim to help our trainees become true and vibrant disciples of Jesus. After that, we invite them to join our next program in training them for the ministry of the word. This includes training in expository preaching and teaching of the Bible in the church and in Bible schools, planting and shepherding new churches and training and mobilising the existing churches for the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:18-20). Our teaching is influenced by our training at ETCAsia, as I seek to create a good balance between academic study and nurturing a shepherd’s heart in my students too. 

Marty Foord teaching a class at ETCAsia.

Bundurr’s story

As told by Ian Wood in North Australia

Our friend Bundurr was one of the first people we met in Numbulwar (an Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory) in 2020. He was a believer, and one of the leaders in the local church. Talking to him helped me understand the Numbulwar community and how things worked.

Bundurr and I would meet one afternoon a week on the sand dune outside the church building. He was helping me with my Kriol, and I was reading the Bible with him. We always had hopes of turning it into a men’s Bible study group, but most of the time it was just the two of us looking at Mark’s Gospel together.

At the time, Bundurr was part way through a course at Nungalinya (the main training college that helps equip Indigenous Australians for leadership). There was a question mark for him over whether it was worth continuing. From my point of view, it was great to see Bundurr engaging with the story in Mark, thinking about context and the big story of the Bible, and finding answers to questions within the text itself. He was happy to be able to kick ideas around. Bundurr held the view that this was the way everyone should do theological education.

Halfway through 2020, my wife Jenny and I moved to Darwin and started teaching at Nungalinya. We were so glad to see Bundurr return to Nungalinya for more subjects. He finished his Certificate III in theology and ministry the following year, and was ordained as an Anglican minister in Numbulwar. When we visited at the end of 2021, Bundurr was working alongside CMS missionaries Josh and Steph Mackenzie, and leading in the local church. Praise God!

Since 2021, Bundurr has been coming back to Nungalinya for more subjects, and he is keen to promote theological education for men from his community. May God raise up many more Christian leaders like him.

*Name changed for privacy reasons.

Darwin from a distance.


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Do you have a passion for discipling and teaching others?Could you offer to serve with CMS to support and encourage leaders to grow in faith and ministry? Go to here to get involved.