Monday, December 31, 2012

Impacting Churches, not Just Men

Sometimes it's easy to get so caught up in your day to day ministry that you fail to see the over all impact that your ministry is having.  During our classes it was evident that what we were teaching was impacting individual students during class as I saw them grasping concepts and growing in their biblical convictions.  However, on December 14th, I was blessed at The Expositor's Academy Christmas party when I heard the testimonies of some of our students.  They reminded me that our training ministry is not only impacting them individually, but it is also impacting the churches they minister in.

Pastor Ted
Pastor Ted is a great example, for instance, because he was a hard student to read.  He has been preaching for many years and already seemed to have a good grasp of scripture when he first started with us In the classroom, he always smiled, had good input when he shared and did very well in our preaching classes.  I sometimes wondered if he was getting much out of my teaching and thought that maybe he went to our school simply because he enjoyed the teaching and fellowship, despite being well versed in what we were teaching.  That is why I was surprised by his testimony.  He shared that before he came to TEA he used to jump all over the place, from topic to topic, when he preached! This was a surprise to me, He went on to share that after studying under TEA, he now preaches expository messages through books of the Bible at his church.

Pastor Rey
Another dear pastor, Pastor Rey, shared how TEA shaped his philosophy of ministry.  By training, he is a CPA and was serving as an elder in his church till the pastor retired and basically told him it's all yours now.  Pastor Rey left a good paying CPA career to shepherd his church, and in his desire to grow his ministry skills, he invited TEA to hold classes in his church.  I learned that when he became the pastor of his church, he inherited the elders and leaders there  and that they were not familiar with what Scripture has to say about the qualifications for elders.  Through TEA he learned what Paul taught in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 regarding church leadership and over the past few years his church has worked to get all their elders on board with what Scripture says regarding the qualifications of elders.  Because he is such a wise and loving pastor, he was able to lead several godly women to change their roles in the Church so as to follow God's design for the Church.  Pastor Rey did this without losing or shaming any of them.

Pastor Erwin
About a year ago I shared about Pastor Erwin who is now committed to expository preaching.  He made the switch and is currently preaching through Romans on Sundays and Leviticus during mid-week bible study.  His elder board and worship team are also going through a reformation as they are seeking to honor God's Word.  

Pastor David
Brother Mon
I am pleased that at least three of our men are planting churches: Pastor David, Brother Mon, and Pastor Rudy.  I often get the opportunity to counsel these dear brothers as they seek to minister God's Word, God's way.
Pastor Rudy

Many more stories like these have been shared with me, and, Lord willing, I'll share them sometime in the near future.  What a blessing it has been to reflect and share with my students what God has been doing in and through them outside of our class rooms.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Expositor's Academy and CCT

We had been talking about it for years and now it is finally beginning to happen.  My friend and ministry partner, Pastor E.J. Delmundo oversees the training of a ministry called Center for Community Transformation (CCT).  Pastor E.J. asked me if I'm would be willing to help by designing a modular curriculum to train these men throughout the country and to build a team to help teach it to them.  

The Lord put it on my heart to do this and we are putting together a two year plan where we teach in three locations; Manila on Luzon, Iloilo in the Visayas and Davao in Mindanao.  Lord willing, we will expand beyond these locations in the future.  The plan is to have members from our team to travel to each location for two days every month.  We will be teaching our students bible study methods and principles of interpretation, Old and New Testament Surveys, Preaching, Doctrine Survey and Pastoral Ministries.  

The training will include follow-up assignments.  Each student will be required to read and outline the themes of every chapter of the Bible.  They will also have some follow-up reading, including books on various aspects of ministry, monthly articles on the topics that they are studying and the MacArthur Study Bible notes.  The students will also have weekly sermons to listen to and evaluate.  Lastly, they will have biblical interpretation assignments integrated into the weekly sermons and bible studies that they teach.  This will reenforce the principles that they are learning and help to show us what areas we can further guide their learning.  

Sean, Randal, Geoffrey, Jason and John
Last month, we had a team of four men from Christ Fellowship Bible Church in St. Louis Missouri come to the Philippines as our guest teachers.  Pastor Geoffrey Kirkland was joined by his father Randy Kirkland, Jason Woelm and John Kesselring.  They taught a four day exposition of 1 Timothy to about 35 men.  The team split in two, with Pastor Geoff and John going to Iloilo and Randy and Jason going to Davao.  One pastor who attended the module in Davao wrote me:
     Hi Pastor Sean, Thank you so much for everything. The
     module class was great...I really praise the Lord for the
     class. It helped us a lot in understanding the whole book
     of 1 Timothy. I learned a lot and I am very excited to
     share my learnings with those I teach. Please let me
     know if there are still classes in the future because if
     God wills, I will really attend. Thank you so much also     

     for the nice accommodation. When we went there, we
     are all free in registration and food...we really appreciate
     all your kindness. God bless you! We are always
     praying for you and the ministry.

Another student wrote:
       Leaning today a lot about prayer as ministers/workers/
heralds of the Gospel. Pastor Randy explained it clearly          
       and also the Issues on how [men and women] in the   
       church should function...God is leading u to pick godly   
       servant to teach us..God bless u to and ur household.    
       ...prayers and regards from all of us from Davao

Iloilo Students

We are excited to come along side of these men to help train them via modular training in addition to our weekly training in the Manila area. We covet your prayers for the Lord's guidance of our steps as we plan and teach these front line ministers. Also pray for the Dexter's, Greene's and Luciano's as they raise support to join us here in the Philippines.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Expositor's Academy's First Graduation

It didn't really hit home until I started seeing their families and their pictures and posts on Facebook. Reading the congratulations from friends and family caused me to reflect on what they had done after almost five years of teaching, studying and assignments.  Our first class graduated from the Expositor's Academy on June 1 and it happened so fast that it felt like just another class gathering or worship service at church instead of the climax of finishing their courses.    It wasn't until a few days after the graduation that I began to process this milestone.  As the posts of our students began to emerge on facebook, I was reminded that this ministry is not just important to me, but it is also important to the 23 men and 2 women who graduated as well as to their churches that they minister in.

Over the years, I watched many of them grow in their convictions for the authority and sufficiency of God's Word.  I saw their regard for God's Word increase and their resolve to accurately proclamation what it says.  I saw them develop a biblical world view and a biblical philosophy of ministry; concepts that were foreign to many of them before they began their studies with T.E.A.

Vincent Greene

Since Vincent Greene flew out to help teach a couple of one-week modules for us just a week earlier, I asked him to deliver the commencement message for our first graduating class.  He shared from 1st Thess. 2:1-12 exhorting our graduates, telling them how a biblical framework for ministry and preaching impacts our lives.  He said that it will 1) make us more passionate for the gospel, 2) keep us centered on the biblical text, 3) keep us humble 4) develop a servants heart in us, and 5) It will keep us holy.

Here are just some of our graduates receiving their diplomas from the Expositor's Academy.  I wish I could put up everyone's pictures and stories, but time and internet speed just do not permit.

Vincent was accompanied for part of the time by his home church Cornerstone Fellowship in Riverside, California.  Pastor Mike Berry led the team as they helped serve at the graduation and with ministry in the community with a local church and the urban poor.  Mike also helped teach a Biblical Interpretation Module with Vincent.

During the graduation we have a short time to allow students to share testimonies of how God had used the Expositor's Academy in their lives.  This was unplanned, but I just felt the Lord prompting me to ask if any one would like to share.  The results were humbling and a blessing to me.  Several of them shared how they used to give a talk on sunday morning and stitch it together with some verses going where ever the wind carried them.  One shared how he has grown in his discernment and expects to hear what God has said in His Word when he hears it preached, and now strives to say what  God intended to communicate when he is the one preaching.  Another shared how they are more series about their faith and are now serving in ways that they had never done before.

Many of our graduates are eagerly sending friends and church mates to join the start of our new class that is planned to start in September.  Some of our graduates will also go on to be a part of our first master's level courses which we hope to start in 2013 if we have the man power and support.

The Expositor's Academy Class of 2012

Sean and Jessica Ransom
To all our graduates, Jessica and I wish the Lord's blessing on you, your ministries and your families.  We look forward to partnering with you more in the future and seeing what you do for His kingdom.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Macedonia Call

Recently, I was remind of what has come to be known as the Apostle Paul's Macedonian Call.  It is found in Acts 16:9-10 where Paul had a vision of a man pleading for his assistance.  This man said, 

     9 ..."Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 And when Paul had seen the vision,      
     immediately [he and his companions] sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding 
     that God had called [them] to preach the gospel to them.

What brought this to mind were several emails and phone calls that I received from men I had never met before; all coming from the Island of Mindanao and the city of Cagayan De Oro (CDO).  The first was a church planting pastor who is mentoring many pastors.  He shared with me his burdens for growing in his ability to handle the Word of God and help others do the same.  He wrote me several lengthy notes asking The Expositor's Academy (TEA) for help and sharing about the needs in his area.

Around the same time a man young in the faith, who was hungering for the Word of God and found it challenging to find good Bible teaching called me.  This happened after he grew to appreciate the preaching of John MacArthur.   When John preached he knew he was hearing God's Word as it was intended to be understood and he wanted more.  He wrote Grace Community Church to ask if they had any representatives in the Philippines and they gave him my number.  When he called we talk at length as he had so many questions about God's Word and living the Christian life.  Shortly after this he happened to be in the Manila area and we met in person.  He literally had a written list of questions for me because of his hunger to live a life that pleases God, but he wasn't sure how to go about it.

Added to these pleas for help was another a pastor who somehow tracked me down and also asked for help.  When I asked him where he was from, I found out that he too is from CDO.  We connected on Facebook, and he proceeded to introduce me to another 20 or so men in the area who are desiring to be trained.  

I remembered that over the years, a few pastors and students, who had traveled many hours for our modular training also asked us if we could teach in CDO.  All that considered, I took this to be my Macedonian call.  After talking with these men about teaching a one week module on biblical interpretation, they got excited and went to work.  One of them donated enough money to fly Vincent Greene, Pastor Erwin Quimboy and I to CDO to teach the module.  

Vincent Greene (Center)

Pastor Erwin Quimboy

Sean Ransom
He also covered most of the expenses for the food, housing and books of any of the students who needed help.  On top of that, He even had the training announced on the local radio station through a  friend of his.  Another one of those men created a Facebook page for TEA and invited others attend the module.  These men even worked together to scout out  a venue for the training.  They arranged for The Way Christian Ministries/Shekinah Glory Christian Academy to host our module. 

I didn't know how many students to expect and what kind of reception we would have.  Through Facebook and text messages we learned that about 20 men expressed the intention to join us.  Added to that were about another 10 students from the host Church.  After our TEA team flew to CDO with 40 books (10 more then the anticipated 30 students)  we ended up having up to 64 eager students, with most of them staying for the whole week of training.  A small group of them traveled for about 12 hours to join us.  These men and women expressed their gratitude as they learned many principals for how to interpret God's Word.  We are all ready planning on returning as the pastor from the host church was excited to have on going training at his Church and with other nearby partnering churches.
Cagayan De Oro Biblical Interpretation Class
Pray the the Lord would help these dear people to remember and build upon what they learned during our week together and that the Lord will give us more opportunities to entrust to them the great teaching that was entrusted to us through John MacArthur and The Master's Seminary.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Our First Graduation and June Modules

Our first graduation
It's been almost five years since The Expositor's Academy began classes at Greenhills Christian Fellowship and this June 1 they will be our first graduating class.  About 25 students will be receiving a diploma in local Church Ministry with an emphasis on Biblical Exposition.  The classes that we have taught are Hermeneutics, Old and New Testament Survey, Preaching, Theology, Spiritual life, Church administration and Christian Education and Missions, Evangelism and Discipleship.  

Several students have asked, "After we finish this course, the what?"  They ask that question because they don't want to stop.  Our time together has been more than just studying the Word, it has also been a time for fellowship to develop life long friendships.  Meeting together most monday nights for the last five years has become such a part of our lives that the idea of it coming to an end seems strange and I get the feeling that most of our students would continue to meet as long as we are able to teach.  I expect that a few will continue with us as we expand our training to offer higher levels and others will take elective courses that we plan to offer in the future.  However, for some it will be a time to say good bye to each other and this season of training.  TEA Team member Vincent Greene, (who is raising support to move here with his family to become a full-time TEA staff member) will be flying in to be the speaker at our commencement ceremony and to help teach some of our June modules.  
TEA Students at Greenhills Christian Fellowship

Upcoming modules
Our upcoming modules for the month of June are shaping up well and I am very encouraged by the response that I'm getting from the city of Cagayan De Oro on the Island of Mindanao. Even though it will be our first time to teach in this city, many men from there have been contacting me to express their desire to be trained.  Through word of mouth they have been seeking me out through facebook, email and text.  A few churches have offered to let us use there facilities and several men whom I have not even met yet  are checking out possible venues.  In addition to that a few donations from within the Philippines have come in to help cover some of the cost for the books, housing and feeding of the students.  

Pastor Weymann Lee (pictured below on the top row, far right) from Phoenix Arizona will be joining us for the third year in a row to teach New Testament Survey 1 to our men in Boracay.  These men will be taking their fifth module and are almost half way through our program.  
Boracay Preaching Module

Vincent Greene will be joining me in returning to Davao City to follow-up with our Hermeneutics module to teach Expository Preaching 1.  This module is being hosted by Heritage Baptist Church.

Davao Hermeneutics Module 

Pastor Mike Berry will be returning for his second trip to the Philippines and this time he is bringing a small team from his Church, Cornerstone Fellowship Bible Church in Riverside California.  They will be joining Vincent to teach a Hermeneutics module in the city of Batangas and to serve along side of Christ Stewards Fellowship Church in their community.
Batangas Preaching Module

For several years now I have been mentoring a small group of men at my home every week.  For the last year and a half we had been working our way a verse at a time through 1 Timothy, breaking it down into it's logical parts and discussing the meanings, theology and implications of them.  We also discussed the main idea and outlines of each part and next week we will start taking turns preaching each section to the group and evaluating each other as we seek to be better expositors of the Word.
Mentoring Men in Expository Preaching

After an extended break we have resumed classes in Alabang/Paranaque (Pa rawn ya kay).  We have been teaching this group of dear brothers and sisters from many years and they are currently studying a survey of doctrine.  
Class from Christ's Commission Fellowship Alabang/Paranaque

Please pray that our upcoming graduates will be able to complete their remaining assignments on time.  Also pray for our upcoming modules as final plans and arrangements are being made.  Pray for the students availability, travels and that the teaching and fellowship would be a great blessing to them.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Globe and Conference Hoping

Summary of this update:
  • I traveled to the U.S. for about three weeks to attend 3 conferences and meet with 3 Churches.
  • I met up with three brothers who are raising support to join our training ministry in the Philippines.
  • We have 5 potential modules coming up in June and July.
  • We anticipate the first graduating class from The Expositor's Academy this May/June.
  • My family and I will be attending the Grace Ministries International mission conference soon.

I recently returned to the Philippines after spending a weekend in Arizona to meet with friends from The Church at South Mountain and about two and a half weeks in California where I attended three conferences.  My time in Los Angeles started with a missions conference at Calvary Bible Church, where I had the privilege of preaching during their Sunday morning worship services.  That was followed by The The Master's Academy International's Symposium and culminated with The Shepherd’s Conference.

As good as the trip was, it was not without challenges.  The first was talking my 5 year old daughter Isabella and my 1 and a half year old son Josiah with me to the U.S.  For some reason, when I mentioned to others that they joined me for the 16 hour plane ride (each way), a few people repeated, “ALONE, you brought them out by YOURSELF?”  Yes I did, and the Lord heard the many prayers of those who interceded for us.  The kids did great flying there and back, sleeping through most of it.

Isabella and Josiah on the flight back to the Philippines
The next challenge was when Grandpa and Grandma Mereau came to visit the kids from North Carolina.  While spending a few days with the kids at lego land, Grandpa felt sick and ended up going to the hospital and having surgery to clear some blocking in his intestines.  He is still recovering and experiencing pain, but Lord willing, he should be back to normal soon.  We are grateful that the kids still were able to spend about 5 or 6 days with them and I had some special time talking with Grandpa during our drive to the valley. 

Meeting with the Team

One of the highlights for me during my stay in California was spending time with the three men who are raising support to join our team in the Philippines.  These brothers are all graduates of The Master’s Seminary and competent teachers.  I look forward to serving with them, their families and growing in our relationships with the Lord and each other in the coming years.  I’m praying that at least one of them can move here this year.  I know that times are challenging and that raising support in todays financial climate is harder than when Jess and I first went to the Philippines almost 8 years ago, but I also know that God is not limited by the economy.  I am content to wait for His perfect timing. 
Allan Luciano, Chad Dexter, Vincent Greene and Sean Ransom

Upcoming Modules
We usually provide modular training outside of Manila each January, May/June and September each year.  We are currently looking at teaching up to 5 potential modules this June and July.  The locations are:
  • Boracay
  • Davao
  • Cagayan De Oro
  • Batangas
  • Mindoro
The group in Boracay has already taken four modules and are scheduled to start New Testament Survey 1.  In Davao, the pastors studied Hermeneutics (principles for interpreting the Bible) with us and are ready to move on to Preaching 1.  A few groups in Cagayan De Oro have been asking us to provide training there for some time and we are ready to begin with Hermeneutics.  Batangas and Mindoro are also possibilities as we look into starting them with Hermeneutics as well.  Our next modules after these are tentatively planned for September with the same groups and would progress to their next course in our curriculum.  

Philippines Map
Our First Graduating Class
This May we anticipate our first graduating class from The Expositor's Academy.  Our senior batch from Greenhills Christian Fellowship has been studying with us for about 4 years now and are on track to finish their course which focuses on biblical exposition and ministry in the local Church.  Pray that all the students will be able to complete their work, that they will apply what they have learned in their ministries and that it will forever change them and the churches that they minister in.

Grace Ministries International Missions Conference
Also coming up very soon, my family and I will be flying to Greece to attend the GMI Missions Conference.    We are excited to see biblical cities such as Athens, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Rome (that one will be on our own).  In addition to all that, we look forward to enjoying some great teaching from Grace Church, some sweet fellowship with other GMI missionaries and some great family time.  The trip will be a little more that two weeks and then we head back to the Philippines to get back to work in our training ministry.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reconnecting with Grandma/pa and a few Conferences

I was feeling a mixture of fear, dread, and obligation.  I have three conferences to attend in March and thought, how can I go to California and not bring my two youngest children with me to see their grand parents?  They aren't in school and are able to travel so I decided to risk the potential torture of 16 plus hours of flying each way with a 19 month old and a 5 year old.  So far it has been great.  Both kids did great on the plan ride, I only had to change 3 diapers on the way, had no tantrums and didn't even have to bust out the DVD player, coloring books or toys.

I spent the first weekend in Arizona visiting Pastor Weymann Lee who has been partnering with us to train men in the Philippines and I also spent time with good friends from The Church at South Mountain, who also partners with us.  It was a blessing to be with all of them as we enjoyed sweet fellowship and some good expository teaching and preaching.

My good friends Zach and Staci Volker watched the kids part of the time for me while I traveled; I figured that my kids had enough flying so I left them for a few days in the care of others.  

After picking up Grandma and Grandpa Mereau who flew in from North Carolina to see the kids, (and me perhaps) I drove us all back to grandma and grandpa Gomez's place where we had a special treat; unexpected snow fell in Banning CA.  We don't really own much winter clothes anymore, but we made due.  I took Josiah out for a few minutes to see and touch the snow.  Bella was a little more adventurous.   
Bella enjoying sunny California snow

Josiah's first encounter with snow

Isabella and Grandpa Mereau

Bella's first snowman

Bella's first snow angel
This weekend the conferences start.  On Saturday I will participate in our partner Calvary Bible Church's mission conference on Saturday evening and then preach two services there on Sunday morning.  Monday and Tuesday are The Master's Academy International's Symposium and Wednesday through Friday is the Shepherd's Conference.  Many meetings will also be taking place throughout the week as well (including spending some time with me son Kian at The Master's College).  I will spend my last Sunday at our home church on March 11 (The Bridge Bible Fellowship).  The kids and I will return on Monday March 12 where Jessica and three of our other kids are waiting for us.  Classes in Manila will resume shortly after that.  I appreciate your prayers for a fruitful trip and traveling mercies.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Modular Training and a Macedonian Call from the Southern Philippines

Boracay Grace Baptist Church

Pastor Erwin

Pastor Daisuke
This week I was joined by Pastor Erwin (whom I have been mentoring for about a year and a half) and Pastor Daisuke, (who leads the TMAI training ministry in Japan) to train a group of pastor's at Boracay Grace Baptist Church (BGBC).  Although we met on the Island of Boracay for the Old Testament Survey module, several of the some 40 pastors were from other Islands.  Many traveled for 5 hours by bus from the Island of Panay.  Four pastors even traveled for about 12 hours from the Island of Negros taking a combination of bus, boat and motorcycle.   When Pastors Erwin, Daisuke and I learned this, we felt very humbled.  Knowing that these men were willing to travel so far to grow in their ability to handle God's Word, shepherd His people and to be imparted with some of the training that was entrusted to us just increases my passion to help them.  We know that we are not worthy of such a great privilege, but we thank the Lord for the Grace to do so and try to do our best to serve them.
Sean Ransom
Some of the highlights for me were teaching the books of Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Malachi.  Even though I read them every year I always learn something new and I am also struck with how their voices are still relevant to our lives and ministries today.  For example, Job (which I admit I really struggled with the first few times I read it because I didn't understand it) really speaks to our trials and suffering today and how God doesn't allow His children to be shaken by them to the point of falling away.  When I think about the end times my mind defaults to Revelation and Daniel, but I was reminded that Isaiah has so much to say about the end, Christ's rule on earth (not to mention a lot about the Messiah); Ezekiel has much to say about the end as well.  Malachi offers great teaching on marriage and always generates some good discussions on tithing verses the free will offering and our relationship the Old Testaments covenants.

Another impact that this last module had on me is from request I received from some of the men from the Island of Negros.  It reminded me of the call that the Apostle Paul received in Acts 16:9 which says, "During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us."  One of the pastors shared with us how he is unable to get good training, (probably due to time, resources and availability) and how he and others in his area are constantly under attack from false doctrine and teachers.  He along with a few other pastors repeatedly asked us if we could offer the same training they were receiving at BGBC on their Islands.  My heart really goes out to these pastors and too many others who have made similar request to us.  Pray with me for more workers to help train these faithful men.  The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.   
Us with some of the men from our on going training in Boracay
My plan is to try to return to Boracay in June as well as Mindanao.  Join me in praying for the provisions (including teachers and funding) to continue training these eager and faithful men and others like them.