by Josh Creel
Charles Barkley was one of the greatest basketball players of his time, perhaps of all time. Whether in person or on TV, millions of people watched him play night after night. He wasn’t your prototypical basketball player, being short for his position and a little on the heavy side for someone who needed to jump high (his nickname was the Round Mound of Rebound). He had a rebellious streak, getting into fights on the court and rarely holding his tongue. He made millions of dollars, much of it coming from lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and other companies. His most famous commercial was known for one line, “I’m not a role model.” Millions of fans, millions of dollars, not a role model.
And he was right. Lately the news has been saturated with stories of high profile athletes doing horrendous things. Domestic abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, drugs, DUI, etc. Big, powerful men who are idolized by scores of kids across the country, kids who hang their posters on the walls of their bedrooms, watch their games, buy their jerseys and shoes. But they are not role models. I don’t mean to throw every athlete under the bus. There are many who do try to do the right things, recognizing that so many are watching their every move. But something is very wrong in society when role models are chosen based on their ability to swing a bat,or run with a ball.
“Train up a child in the way he should go…” (Proverbs 22.6). You will note that the passage says “train”, not “teach.” Training our children involves instruction, but that’s not all. Training involves showing, giving examples, setting the pattern for how a person interacts with others, how a person follows His God. As a parent, I’m to be the role model. It doesn’t matter that millions of people aren’t watching my every move. All that matters is that the eyes of my two little boys are watching. I’m the role model.
An entry from Steve Patton's blog: How the Kingdom is Growing in Ethiopia
In 2005 few Christians could be found in this region. There were about 21 small groups in the entire area, most consisting of a dozen or less members, some just a family meeting alone in their home. A Christian named Tsegaye who was from Duramo decided to reach out and try to do something. He had heard about classes being held in the Hadíya region at Hoseanna. He wanted to find out if he could persuade some brethren to come help them in Sidama. He made the two day trip to Hoseanna looking for Marcus, a well known older preacher. He could not find him in Hoseanna and slept the first night in the bus station. The next day he walked to Ancha where he knew there was a church who would know about Marcus. This is a walk of about 7 miles. He made the contact and, as a result, on our next trip in 2006 Bob and I went to Sidama to meet with the brethren. Tsegaye had rented a tarpaulin at his own expense and built an arbor under which we could meet. We met with about 180 people for two days – Christians who had walked to Durami but also lots of non-Christians from the area. Bob and I stayed in Yir Galem, the largest town in the area, which had a learning center at which we could rent rooms. Tsegaye and Fitamo came to talk with us in Yir Galem and, with tears in his eyes, Tsegaye begged us to come teach the people in Sidama. The next year Bob and his son, Scott, taught 27 Christians in Yir Galem. The following year Bob and I taught an even larger group there. Since then classes have been taught every year in Yir Galem. This year we held classes an hour north in Hawassa because of road conditions. About 100 men attended and there are now 68 congregations in Sidama. A fire has been lit under many evangelists in the area and the result is many conversions. To see this growth has been so encouraging to Bob, Scott and I and to other men who have done work there in recent years (including Randy Harshbarger and David Holder). Already this week we have been approached by Tsegaye about taking the gospel farther south to near the Kenyan border.
Sowers of the Seed by Josh Creel
Sowers of the Seed is a Bible study group that meets each Thursday night on the campus of USF. It began approximately 9 years ago and has grown steadily through the years. This past Thursday night was the first meeting of this semester and 39 were in attendance! No gimmicks are used in advertising, no recreational activities are offerred. The only promise made is that the Bible will be read and studied. So, 39 souls came together on the campus of a secular university to do nothing but study the Bible. Those present included many who are not members of the church, but they came with Bibles ready and listened attentatively as Randal Ackett led them in a study of Acts 1.
I share this with you for a couple of reasons. First, to remind us that even though it sometimes seems as if no one is interested in godly things, there are still those interested in learning God's will from the Bible. Second, how blessed we are to have so many enthusiastic young Christians among us. Whether students at FC, USF or still in high school, we are blessed to have these living examples of faith and purity (1Timothy 4:12) among us. What a great family God has given us! What a great Father we serve!
A Note from Steve Patton in Ethiopia
I have been coming to Ethiopia for 12 years but the culture shock when I arrive never goes away. You try to get into the setting as quickly as possible but driving through a third world country is jarring and it is always in front of you. Poverty is overwhelming and it is not going away any time soon. You just wish there was some way to change it all and change it quickly. There isn’t. It is here (probably to stay) and we are here – to teach hope – hope that transforms spirit and character but probably not your economic standing. The gospel is the one message that is truly ubiquitous – It works anywhere. Its message cuts across all social and cultural divides and unites rich and poor in the same hope, fulfilling the same need we all have, the greatest need of all – salvation.
We spent today teaching the gospel to men sitting in a dim room on homemade benches. Their clothes were old and worn, their faces creased with age and a hard life. It is clear their possessions are meager and simple. Their homes have dirt floors and thatch roofs. Many of them walked miles to be here. But I taught the same lessons I would teach at home. The lessons of 1st and 2nd Thessalonians are universal and timeless and I enjoyed sharing Paul’s message with them. They listen intently for hours and then ask good questions showing many of them are very good students of the Word. Smiles will be seen on their faces. They are happy to be Christians and to be able to immerse themselves in God’s Word for this extended time. There are men here who have converted more people and started more churches than I could ever dream of doing. God knows their names and their eternal reward should far exceed mine.
(Read Steve's updates at http://overseasblog2014.wordpress.com)
Teaching in Eithiopia
By Steve Patton
I leave this afternoon to join Bob Owen in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. They will pick me up at the airport Tuesday morning and we will drive about 5 hours south to Hoseana. We will spend 3 days teaching from morning to evening. This picture is from last year's classes there. We will have over 200 preachers and teachers in attendance. Many will be experienced Bible students and some will be less experienced. We will divide them up and teach them accordingly. We will do this in three different places in the countryside as well as in Addis Ababa. It is a demanding schedule but very rewarding. The men are hungry to learn and are doing a wonderful job evangelizing. Hundreds are converted every year and new churches established. Some of these men have become my heros of faith. I know none more dedicated to the Lord's work anywhere.
Pray that all goes well in our work there as well as my work in the Seychelles that follows. My blog for the trip is: overseasblog2014.wordpress.com. I will update as often as possible depending on internet access. See you in a month!