NEATS is our Bible school
The school began in 2007 with the purpose of raising up leaders to fill the great vacuum left by two devastating civil wars. Since then the school has graduated over 200 students and gained a reputation as a place to grow strong in the Word of God.
Provide and train church planters with practical skills and theological education based on sound biblical doctrines in fulfillment of the Great Commission.
(Titus 2:1; Matthew 28:18-20)
Church planters trained in sound biblical doctrine actively advancing the gospel to unreached and under-engaged peoples of Africa, and the utmost parts of the world.
These are the goals for which NEATS exists.
- Train and equip church planters to empower local leaders to bring the gospel to the unreached and under-engaged peoples of Africa. (Measurable: Each graduate plants a healthy reproducing church while still a student then plants a new reproducing church every two years.)
- Establish sound biblical doctrines in all of our graduates. (Measurable: Before graduating, each student will submit a clear articulation of biblical doctrine.)
- Entrust a vision for reproduction and provide needed training for reproduction & equipping in all graduates. (Measurable: All graduates can clearly articulate to NEATS faculty the vision for Empower One* and a vision for their home area. All graduates have clear strategy and methodology in place for making and reproducing disciples.)
- Cultivate a lifelong love for Christ and others in all graduates, faculty, and staff. (Measurable: Faculty mentor can testify to growing love for Christ and will continue to provide accountability** and encouragement beyond graduation in regard to helping student to abide in Christ.)
- Continue training and mentoring students beyond graduation. (Measurable: Every graduate has documented, ongoing contact with Faculty and/or elder alumni after graduation.)
- Ensure that graduates are able to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). (Measurable: Students must pass a rigorous, oral exit examination regarding Scripture knowledge and use in problem solving via case studies.)
- Establish good character, integrity, and perseverance in all graduates. (Measurable: Faculty can testify to the character and integrity of each student. All graduates will have clear examples and many testimonies declaring the struggles that will be faced in ministry and where to turn for help.)
*To empower local leaders to bring the gospel to the unreached and under-engaged peoples of Africa.
**This accountability is not to NEATS but to God. NEATS is merely helping to hold students accountable to the Lord.
These are the ideas that define who are as a school.
- We are called to die figuratively and potentially literally so that we may share the love of Christ with others. Just as Christ took the towel to wash His disciple’s feet and went to the Cross to die for us, we must die to self (Luke 9, Philippians 2). In line with this, all faculty, staff, and students are to have a “foot washing principle” so that we can better attain healthy humility and Christ-likeness (John13).
- We seek to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and not be conformed to the world (Romans 12).
- We are servants of the Church (Body of Christ) and work to train pastors to bless the Church.
- We hold to Christian orthodoxy.*
- We train church planters. The task of reaching the unreached and under-engaged is overwhelming and we must focus our efforts on multiplying Churches as centers of discipleship, worship, and community transformation.
- We train in ways that are reproducible by our students.
- We are successful through abiding in Christ, not being graduates or knowing answers. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).
- We seek the empowerment of local leaders to teach and lead in their own language.
* the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Christ, the spiritual lostness of the human race, the substitutionary atonement and bodily resurrection of Christ, salvation by faith alone in Christ alone, the physical return of Christ, the authority and inerrancy of Scripture.
In the coming years we hope to make some key philosophical shifts regarding the training methods of the school, such as:
- Shifting instructor mindset from “teaching students” to “training trainers.”
- Course design shifting from downloading large quantities of content from professor to student to a focused development of the student as a leader and follower of Christ. Less content will be taught in favor of a greater focus on developing problem solving and critical thinking skills necessary for lifelong learning and self-sufficiency.
- From systematic theology to culturally developed biblical theology.
- From knowledge acquisition to spiritual and character development.
- Heavy focus on the integration between learning and life.
- Viewing learning as the creation of knowledge through the transformation of experience; as opposed to simply the transferring of content.
- Seek to teach content in an issue-centric way.
- We are laying a foundation for a lifetime of learning, not forcing a lifetime of learning into two years.
- We value student development over completing our teaching agenda.
- The two years in this program are just the beginning of the trainee development, the lasting value will come as we continue to build into the alumni in the field.
Through these shifts and other key changes regarding methods and curriculum we hope to see transition into the training center we believe God is calling us to.
How and why did we start a bible school in Sudan?
In August of 2006, my journey in Sudan began. David Kaya, Dana Crawford, Bob Funk, and I went to Rumbek, Sudan. Through Dana, we had a connection Rumbek we were going to explore. (Since I don’t know if that connection wants his name published, I’ll leave it out.) Once on the ground, we teamed up with a local church and held a church-planting/EvangeCube training. In less than two days, the church gathered about 35 folks together for this training. In the 40 or so countries e3 Operates in part of our model hinges upon this training. At its best and most basic, you gather pastors and church leaders together for a three-to-five day conference. Leaders who “get” the vision for church planting tend to bubble up. We connect with those leaders and continue to help them with church planting. Part of that connection is to bring a team of Americans. Those Americans partner up with members of the church and translators. Together, they go to the area where the local pastor/leader wants to plant a new church. For a week, they share the Gospel and gather and disciple the new believers. The new believers become the beginning of the new church that is shepherded by the the pastor’s disciple, associate, or the pastor himself.
At our training in Rumbek, our primary translator really caught the vision. In fact, he went out and planted two churches. That next February we brought a team to help give those baby churches a little push. Then on the second day, I learned of a problem: our translator had planted one church where one wife lived, and a second where his second wife lived. It was a painful experience that we got through okay. But I was beginning to learn.
As I spent more time traveling throughout Sudan, I met more pastors, With a war that lasted from 1983 to 2005, the pastors were almost universally young and had no formal training. Some established pastors preached a works-based Gospel. For example, if you talk with their congregants, they might believe that just by going to church and being baptized they were going to heaven. At this point, the lesson was blindingly obvious: What Sudan lacks most is leaders. Translated to the church, she lacks biblically trained pastors who understand and live out sound doctrine.
Our response was to start a bible school. In fact, as usual, David Kaya was ahead of me on this. He and two of his closest friends and advisors, Edward Dima and Kenneth Duku had begun a small training “school” years earlier in their refugee camp. After coming back home to Sudan, they had dreamed of starting up a new school. And they knew far better than I how desperate a need existed.
One of the principles David and I operate by is to start small and cheap. After we work out the bugs, we know what to grow and what to let die. In that spirit, we started the bible school under three trees on the grounds of First Baptist Kajo Keji. Edward and Kenneth chose Bible Training Curriculum for Pastors (BTCP) as the curriculum. Both seminary trained at Global Theological Seminary, they took on the teaching duties as well. We recruited students from all over Southern Sudan, Uganda and Congo. In a few months we were full and international.
As 2007 progressed, David asked for teachers from the U.S. to come. I began praying about who I could approach. God laid Jim Menne on my heart, a friend in seminary in San Diego. Jim agreed to not only come and teach, but to intern with e3. He asked what the Sudanese wanted him to teach and they replied, “The book of Romans.” While I might have died having to sort through all the theology in Romans, God had prepared Jim already with an exhaustive study, so he eagerly and capably agreed. By this point we hired Joyce Muraa to administer the school along with the nursery and primary schools that ran on the church grounds. We were housing and feeding the 42 bible school students along with about 300 children. The bible school students, split into two classes. They would attend school for three months, then take a month off. The program is a two-year program and while they’re in class, they also help pastor local churches, they work on church-planting campaigns, and help in the community. At the end of the two years, they’ll spend one full month far in the bush as missionaries as their final practicum.
That Fall, one of our dorms, a tukel, had its roof collapsed by surging rain. David wanted to build a dormitory that could house all the students (40). We were low on those funds because we’d just built a vocational center. At this center, not only could the community–primarily women–come learn to sew, but our bible school students could learn a skill here to help support themselves once they finish their studies. Also that Fall David Kaya spoke to Trinity Chapel Bible Church who responded to the need and gave the majority of money to build the dorm.
Our students had moved into the mother church for the teaching time. The teaching time would be interrupted with rain, all the small children would flood into the church disrupting everything. Edward, Kenneth, and David now needed a classroom, and God brought a man in February who saw the need, caught the vision, and gave enough for us to build the foundation and walls for two classrooms and two offices.
In the Spring of 2008, God brought Trinity’s pastor over, Ted Wueste, to teach in the bible school. His assignment: Daniel and Revelation. Again, he didn’t blink. Ted loves to teach and enjoyed the entire experience. Things have continued to progress nicely and in September 2008, God brought our third U.S. teacher over: Pastor Fred Tow of Houston Chinese church. Pastor Fred taught, “What they don’t teach you in seminary.” On that same trip, God also brought Prestonwood Baptist Church. Seeing the unfinished classroom and catching the vision for equipping Sudanese pastors, they gave the money to roof and finish the classrooms and enough left over to start the foundation a multi-use dining hall facility.
Our first class graduated in June 2009. Our hope for the future is to make the school self sufficient financially. Secondly, we want to connect to the right US seminary for a partnership. Third, is in the meantime have more US teachers come and teach. Fourth is to add more Sudanese teachers. Edward and Kenneth carry a heavy burden and need relief.
We’ll see what God does now…