Fruit-Bearing Fruit


In May, I had the privilege of traveling to Atibaia, Brazil, with Philemon Yong, former Bethlehem apprentice, to teach the book of Romans at a church-based seminary of whose founding Philemon had been an integral part through Training Leaders International (TLI). Daniel Souza, Bethlehem College & Seminary class of 2015, was able to join me for my first week of teaching, and we felt very much at home as we poured our lives into 12 M.Div. students who are completing their fourth and final year.

Daniel grew up in and around Sao Paulo, Brazil. When he was eight years old, his family left and moved to Texas. Over time, Christ became exceedingly precious to his family and to him. He became a worship leader at a large church in Dallas and climbed the corporate ladder in a very successful insurance company. Eventually, he found his way to a Desiring God Conference where God met him in a manner that he wasn’t expecting. He applied to Bethlehem College & Seminary, sensing God’s call to pastoral ministry. In 2011, he moved his family to Minneapolis and began pouring his life into the study of God’s Word in the context of the local church. While here, he excelled in his studies and was fruitful in ministry. When Daniel graduated in 2015, God opened the door for him to return to Brazil to pastor a young church in Belo Horizonte, a city of close to three million people several hours outside of Sao Paulo.

Philemon, who grew up in Cameroon and came to the U.S. to pursue his B.A., MATS, and his Ph.D., was one of our earliest apprentices. After serving for several years as a professor and later as the Academic Dean at Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary, God led him to focus his life on creating curriculum, teaching around the world, and helping to begin church-based schools all for the purpose of multiplying ministers of the Word. He was introduced to Pastor Antonio Mendes by Bethlehem global partner, Darren Carlson, founder and president of TLI. Pastor Mendes had expressed his longing that his church increase its investment in leadership development, so Darren told him about TLI and assigned Philemon the task of helping Pastor Mendes’ church to develop a church-based seminary.

You can imagine the pleasure it was for me to travel to Brazil with Philemon and to see his fingerprints all over this emerging seminary. The pleasure was only compounded teaching with Daniel; what joy to labor side-by-side with him, witnessing with my own eyes the resurrection and transformation of his previously eight-year-old level of Portuguese speech, as we served together in this church-based seminary which is consciously modeling itself after what we are doing here in Minneapolis. Though this seminary is wonderfully contextualized to Brazil, the trans-cultural value of God’s word studied in a cohort of men preparing for pastoral ministry is obvious.

Thank you all for your prayers and for your giving that makes this all possible.

Together with you in the Greatest Cause,

Tom Steller Pastor for Leadership Development

Prayer Requests:

1. Pray for our new college and seminary students who are moving to Minneapolis, finding housing and searching for part-time jobs.

2. Pray for the new cohorts in both the college and seminary, that they will form relationships that will be fruitful for the Kingdom for years to come.

3. Continue to pray for our graduates as they begin their new chapters. Here is the latest info on each of our seminary graduates.

4. Pray for our faculty as they do course-planning and finish syllabi. The next semester is sneaking up on us quickly.

5. Pray for Zach Howard as he transitions from his role as admissions director to his new role as instructor in our Christian Worldview Integrated Curriculum. Pray for Daniel Kleven who is being trained as Zach’s replacement.

6. In all these things, join us in thanking God for His mercy and provision every step of the way.