October 22, 2020
Dear family and friends,
Vickie and I thank you for your prayers, your interest and your faithful giving to our Training Leaders International (TLI) ministry. We consider ourselves blessed to have such a faithful team.
I am writing to let you know our plans for 2021 and to ask for your continued financial support. Although short term travel has been suspended because of COVID 19, TLI is providing their teachers other opportunities to serve the global church. Therefore, I have committed to helping TLI’s Diaspora ministry in Southern California, as well as continue to work with our partners in Tanzania to open a non-formal educational site. Finally, I have accepted an assignment to spend 3 months (considered extended travel) in Liberia this coming January- March, at Grace Life College and Seminary. Vickie will not be traveling to Africa with me.
TLI’s last trip to Liberia was in March ’20, and was abruptly ended because of the pandemic. Since then, TLI has conducted some Zoom teaching meetings, but lessons are difficult due to the nature of online teaching and technology that can be troublesome. This is not the instructional environment that we prefer as the norm.
Therefore, here is an anticipated summary of my ministry in Liberia: I will be teaching 2 classes for the seminary – Exegesis of 1 Samuel and Introduction to the Gospels and Acts.
I will train a group of students who have excelled in our training and have graduated from our non-formal courses, who will in turn be able to teach our non-formal curriculum. I will be training these future trainers.
Grace College and Seminary buildings in construction are pictured on the right. Soon to be finished!
I will participate with the elder team at Grace Life Church and meet with a cohort of leaders weekly to prepare, discuss and give feedback to Sunday morning preaching assignments.
I will speak at local churches on Sundays.
I will be meeting one-to-one with college and seminary students, answering their questions and assisting them with their school assignments. The TLI online curricula is excellent, but it is even more effective when teachers and trainees are face to face. I have a well-established relationship with the leaders of the school and many of its students because I have had reoccurring trips to this area.
Diaspora training in the Western United States TLI has a division devoted to training church leaders who have immigrated to the U.S., but they have little or no theological training. There are thousands of immigrant [diaspora] churches in the United States. TLI does not currently have a director for the West (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada) even though the greater metropolitan Los Angeles area has at least twice as many immigrant churches as anywhere else in the U.S.. When I return home from Liberia, I will be working to establish relationships with immigrant pastors in the area so that churches, denominations and para-church ministries know of TLI’s work. My goal is to set up several training partners at local churches who will begin establishing training centers. Our Diaspora curriculum is almost identical to the non-formal courses that we teach in Africa, India, and other nations, but it is tailored to U.S. immigrant churches.
TLI has received full funding for the translation of our materials into Swahili which will greatly enhance our outreach in Tanzania! No small feat!! I am working so that when the travel restrictions are lifted, TLI teachers can quickly travel and train smoothly. Please pray! This video is from my trip to Tanzania in March, 2020. They sang for us after lunch break!
Vickie and I continue to be active at Christ Community Church in Laguna Hills. We love both teaching the pre-school class and attending our community group. I have had frequent opportunities to teach and preach at church also. I also have recently joined our missions team and will have the opportunity to encourage other missionaries who have been sent out by our church.
This is a long letter. Thanks for reading and praying!
Bob and Vickie Burris
This three-month trip to Liberia will be expensive: food and lodging, health insurance, and we are paying for the students travel, books, and lodging. COVID has devastated the country, and their financial resources which were already compromised, are scarce. If you are so inclined, you can contribute at https://trainingleadersinternational.org/give. The ministry area is ‘staff members’.
Many of my mission/training trips have been to Africa: Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Liberia. I train national leaders to read, understand and preach the Bible.
According to the Bible, my/our efforts will be in vain unless we pray, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:5-7 ESV.
As I contemplate what I do, without your prayer support, it will be nothing in God’s eyes. Conrad Mbewe writes about this need for prayer for Africa,