Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Formation, and Evangelism Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
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I arrived here to the university city of Butare in Rwanda on Wednesday and it has been an incredible privilege to get to know the campus of the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS). The school has recently expanded to 1100 students studying development and education from its core of forty students studying theology in order to become ministers. After chapel yesterday I had the chance to spend time with these students (pictured below left), who give much hope for the future of church leadership.
I asked them two questions. The first was, “How did God help you to know that you should come to PIASS?” (As you read these answers, keep in mind that English has only been the official language of Rwanda for the past four years.) One of my favorite answers came from Samuel, who wrote the following:
“God helped me to know that I should come to PIASS when it was the day for baptizing the members of our church. That day I was together with my pastor in the water, to help her to take care of those who were baptized. After that, the Christians began to call me pastor.”
When people start calling you pastor, it’s a good sign that God may be calling you to seminary! Samuel’s classmate Naomi wrote this:
"When I was a teach of students in secondary school, God made me to know my calling by giving me a heart of pity. I saw that there are mnay people who lost the opportunity to receive Good News, so I start to pray for the request to learn theology (My prayer took seven years) then I came to PIASS."
The second question that I asked them was to tell me the most important thing that they have learned at PIASS. Naomi wrote that she has learned that she can be a good pastor who will help Christians to develop in a holistic way—spiritually, economically, socially, and intellectually. Aaron wrote, “I know how to facilitate group members in order to change their opinions and how to organize these ideas.” (PIASS students’ training is more than classical theological studies but also includes more practical training in church leadership than often happens in US seminaries.)
My favorite answer to this question, however, came from Jean-Claude. He said that the most important thing that had had learned was that Jesus Christ has transformed his life, and that Jesus can use him to transform other people’s lives.
Pastors who know that they been transformed by grace who out of gratitude join Jesus’ mission to transform the world are the kind of pastors I’m excited to have lead the global church. May their tribe increase!