The phrase in our mission statement “…for the joy of all peoples…” points us to the priority of preaching the gospel to the unreached and least reached people groups on earth. This emphasis on “overseas missions” is usually seen most in the students at a college, but at Bethlehem College & Seminary our faculty and administration just as often minister cross-culturally. Case in point: BCS President Tim Tomlinson recently spent over a week in Indonesia teaching at a Christian undergraduate school. What follows is his account of that trip:
Just two weeks ago I returned from a trip to Indonesia where I had been invited to teach a communication class at the Indonesian Bible Institute (IBI) in Batu, East Java. The connection with was through an evangelical, Norwegian mission organization that I have been connected to for over 20 years now. When they called me last summer to see if I might be available and interested in teaching at IBI, I was intrigued by the opportunity. After seeking the Lord’s leading, I agreed to do it knowing little about what I would be doing there.
My time at IBI was a blessing. My class consisted of 61 students—all upper division college students. The challenges for me included working in a totally unfamiliar environment (I hadn’t met anyone at IBI before showing up to teach there), teaching through a translator for the entire two-week course, and trying to understand the cultural differences which might affect how I would teach and how the students might respond to my teaching.
By the mercies and grace of God, it all went so well. In fact, it went better than I could have hoped prior to the trip. I came to love my students and they were so gracious and affirming in their response to me. Even through a translator, we developed a sweet bond of fellowship and affection in Christ. They worked hard during the course and really seemed eager to learn.
Interestingly, several students and faculty at IBI knew about Bethlehem Baptist Church (BBC) and John Piper. In fact, once it was discovered by one of the professors that I was affiliated with BBC and Pastor John, the level of acceptance and opportunities for influence expanded significantly. It was very heartening to me that this institution half-way around the world had been influenced by Pastor John’s writings and were excited about our perspective on theology and missions. I was given several chances to speak to the IBI community and spent significant time with the president and others in leadership there. They have invited me to come back and do further training with them in the future.
I thank the Lord that He is the one who orchestrates all situations in life. It was clear to me that He orchestrated this experience for me in Indonesia. I also thank the Lord for the BCS board which approved this trip and encouraged me to do it. This clearly fits our desire to “spread” both the theology and the ethos of Christian Hedonism which we so cherish at both BCS and BBC. May the Lord bring about much fruit as a result of this trip and may He continue to use BCS staff, students, and faculty to bear witness of His greatness, glory, and beauty to all the world.