Don't look down on Timothy

By Tohru Inoue | Sudan and South Sudan in East Africa

Photo by Josh Chard.

Pastors in rural South Sudan would love theological training. They would love to have a few more tools in their toolbelt to serve their communities, be able to handle the word with confidence, be able to teach and watch God’s children mature in their faith.

But since the 2015 bombing of Melut town in South Sudan where the theological college was, that’s not been possible for people in the area. Enter Theological Education by Extension (TEE). TEE is an opportunity to take theological education on the road and do it in remote areas. It’s an opportunity to grab books and the Bible and just congregate under the tree or in a neighbour’s home. It can keep the flame of learning alive even if there are no buildings to speak of. TEE is a school without walls.

A colleague recently attended the graduation ceremony for the TEE diploma programme up in Doro, South Sudan. They rented gowns for each of the graduates. They brought ones made to fit tall South Sudanese who, in that region, can average above six feet. In the gown, one five-foot graduate, Timothy, was swimming.

Man holds Bible.

Photo credits: SIM Stories East Africa.

The apostle Paul once told his young disciple Timothy to not let others look down on him because of his age.

This is where you might make assumptions about our Timothy. “Let him mature a little ... add a few years, perhaps,” you might say. “Not enough life experience,” you might quip. “How could he lead a church?”

I texted back and forth with my colleague who attended the graduation ceremony. He wrote:

“Timothy … is my hero … [He’s] probably 70 years old and wanted to learn more about the Bible, so [he] joined the diploma programme.”

We might not ever see those like Timothy in the crowd. Those that the church might skip over for theological training. You know, the ones that weren’t the top of their class, the ones that seemed too young, or in this case, too old. We might look down on them because of their age.

I suspect that some people may do the same to you. Maybe you’re too young or too old, too tall or too short, don’t think you have enough of this or that. “But set an example,” the Apostle Paul continues, “for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Don’t let them look down on you. You might be someone else’s hero in the faith … even if you swim in that graduation gown.

Timothy didn’t let his age get in the way. God has a plan for his life. You have only to look at his broad smile to know that.

Three men stand smiling together in graduation regalia.

Photo by Eli Fader.

Pray for:

• More theological educators to train up “Timothys” in South Sudan.

• The South Sudanese equipped through TEE to help their communities spread the gospel where He’s least known.

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