Travel Plans: June – November, 2023

In just a few days I will begin a busy season of traveling and training. Here’s my/our itinerary. Vickie will be with me in the U.S., but so far, she has not traveled with me to Africa. In the future, South Africa might be a possibility for a trip together.

June 8 – 29: Training Leaders International Annual retreat at Glen Eyrie Navigator’s retreat center in Colorado Springs, CO. We have not had a retreat since 2019, COVID induced. This will be an exciting time, especially for Vickie to meet the guys I work with and their wives. After our 4 days at Glen Eyrie, we will drive to Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Nevada, to visit supporters and family. I will be home for a few days and then fly to South Africa.

This picture is Glen Eyrie in the winter!

July 4 – 16: Queenstown and Kimberley, South Africa. This will be my first time in South Africa. Our team will be training two groups: In Kimberley we will teach Course 1: Knowing God, Scripture and Ourselves. In Queenstown our agendas will be Course 4: Interpreting the Gospels: Mark. New for for me – it will be winter in South Africa, and the weather will be a little chilly. I will be packing accordingly. My first cold weather trip with TLI!

I’ve never seen this parking warning before, but I will be checking when we are on the coast.

August 24 – September 9: Sierra Leone, Makeni and Freetown. One week in Makeni teaching Course 4, Interpreting the Gospels: Mark. One week in Freetown teaching my favorite course, Course 2: Knowing the Story of the Bible. If anyone is interested in seeing the curriculum, send me an email.

October 9 – 12: Fall staff meeting in Minneapolis.

October 27 – November 11: Sierra Leone, Makeni and Freetown. I will teach course 5 in Makeni: Poetry. In Freetown we will be focusing on Old Testament Narrative and Law. The change from December to November for Sierra Leone training means that this will be the first time in 5 years that I haven’t been in Africa during December.

Shameless grandsons pic.

And finally, the heart of why I go to Africa, a quote from D.A. Carson,

“Should the Lord in His mercy ever pour out large-scale revival on any part of the world where I have influence, I shall devote all my energy to teaching the Word, to training a new generation of godly pastors, to channeling all of this God-given fervor toward doctrinal maturity, multiplication of Christian leaders, evangelistic zeal, maturity in Christ, genuine Christian ‘fellowship.'”

Thank you for praying, giving, sending, and reading.


Here’s a last minute addition. Article in Christianity Today about worldwide theological education.

Makeni and Freetown, Sierra Leone. Monrovia, Liberia

Hello friends! Here’s the latest from Africa. The most recent trip was a difficult and yet a good and rewarding adventure. During the first week I was in Minneapolis at staff meetings and then we left for Makeni, Sierra Leone.

We had a very productive 3 weeks of training pastors and church leaders. Here’s a recap and news about future trips.

After our first week (see last blog post) we hiked up the hill behind the Bridge of Hope compound in Makeni on Saturday morning. It was a 1/2 hour climb. Every year the hill is burned the hill to keep the vegetation down. The plants look dead but out of the darkened branchlets come new growth. There is a sermon illustration in there somewhere.

This hike was one of the very rare outings we have taken when we travel to Africa. We had some wonderful hosts at the compound in Makeni but just a little free time and so we enjoyed the morning’s hike together with our guide, Joseph. On the way home back to the center, we met the man who owns the land. His son attends the Bridge of Hope school. The owner was very happy to meet us.

This photo below shows the kitchen that serves lunch to several hundred students every day.

Here is the group from Makeni. We have grown to love these student. Our partner provided all the students with very cool TLI shirts!

Our first official class in Freetown began the Monday morning of our second week in Sierra Leone. We had 45 students and three teachers including me.

We met in the newly constructed block wall classrooms, complete with white boards and fans.

The students came well prepared and were on time. We are looking forward to another great week of training in early September.

During the third week the Sierra Leone American teaching team returned to the U.S., but I took a short flight to Liberia to join 4 other U.S. trainers for another week of instruction.

Three of us team-taught with three Liberian men who have been faithful to their studies and have grown in their faith tremendously over the last 2 years. The ministry in Liberia has been greatly assisted by TLI’s full time, in country, trainer, Ryan Currie. Ryan and his family have been residents of Liberia for the last 15 months and trained, discipled, and loved these men and developed them so that they could ably co-lead our classes.

Unfortunately, this will be TLI’s last trip to Liberia until administrative changes are made with the Monrovia site. With sadness we left, but we are trusting God that our labors will bear fruit and that in the future we will be able to return.

For me, this departure means that my two primary training centers will be in Sierra Leone – Makeni and Freetown. I will have some free weeks during the year to travel to other TLI sites and teach.

The picture below is of our final team meal together at the airport restaurant. Tim, on the left next to me, brought his daughter on the trip. She added a little 16 year old perspective and humor that we haven’t experienced before. Fun!

Team teaching requires listening to one another and giving helpful instruction. Tim, seated foreground, is one our our best volunteer teachers ( shout-out to William Tennent School of Theology, ), and he was able to coach and encourage Roland, one of our star trainees.

As always, the students have open Bibles and student handbooks, during the discussions.

Additionally, some of you contributed reading glasses for the students who were having trouble. Here’s a common site in our classrooms – cell phone flashlights for clearer text. All 20 or so pairs of glasses were scooped up, and very much needed and appreciated by the students. THANKS!

I came home happy, encouraged by the progress in Makeni, excited about the new students in Freetown, pleased with the progress over the last two years in the church leaders in Liberia, and sad that our time there is over for now. Please pray with me for all three sites and that the difficulties in Liberia can be overcome.



Video Fun – last day of Class

The students were given nice shirts with the TLI logo on the front and 2 Timothy 3:16 on the back. Very nice looking group.

The video below is our morning song before devotions.

We follow with prayer and a simple verse-by-verse devotion. We try to model the type of teaching we want them to emulate. (WordPress is having trouble posting the video on a phone. Try a real computer and it might work.)

The words should help with the song.

Every day the students were involved in small group discussions, reported on their findings, listened to very short lectures, and participated in Socratic discussions.

Tomorrow we head to Freetown.

We sang the same song every morning and now it’s stuck in my head. It’s a happy stuck.


3 weeks in Africa

It’s Thursday evening in Sierra Leone. We’ve had four days of training. Tomorrow we will finish Course 3: Learning to Interpret Narrative and Law in the Old Testament. It’s been a great week but we are tired. We arrived on Friday night after a long, long, long, flight and a three hour drive in the African darkness. We preached on Sunday morning in local churches and then started teaching Monday morning, 8:30am.

It has been a delight to teach with these men who have sacrificed much to come to Sierra Leone. Saturday, we will drive to Freetown for another week with a new cohort of church leaders.

Here are a few pics of the week so far.

Left: check out the fried diced chicken, beef, and shrimp menu item at a local hotel. I was tempted to order it…but chickened out.

Below is the outdoor kitchen our two cooks use to serve lunch to the students and our team’s breakfast and dinner.

Notice below the cool shirts that our Partner in Makeni had printed up for the students.

These are my favorite times in class. The students work in groups to read and discover the details of the passage. Then they return and give a short group report. I always have to stop their reading, searching and discussion to hear their insights.

The link above will give you some idea of the state of the church in Africa and why we train pastors and church leaders.

And lastly, our family Christmas picture. Thanks for reading. I’ll post again next week in Freetown if the internet cooperates. Bob

Home – Midnight Saturday – Thanks for Praying!

Africa [internet slow] would not let me upload videos so here are a few for you to enjoy. Plus a few new pics.

Great trip. Great time in Makeni, Sierra Leone, teaching the story of the Bible. Students are progressing very well. I’m ready to return in March.

Reciting the story of the Bible and how each book fits. It’s perfect. And from Moses!

Avi, who travels from Ivory Coast for our training with his appeal and mine.

They cook breakfast for four of us, then lunch for forty, then dinner for four. With a smile.

Singing at 8:30am as they come to morning devotions.

Drummers in church! The only instruments. They are good!!

Straight from the market. Paper or plastic? Plastic.

Morlai, the lead elder at the church in Freetown, Sierra Leone. We hope to begin training in March, 2023. Below is the school building.

That’s it for now. Thank you for praying and asking and giving and reading.

Bob and Vickie Burris

Third Week in Africa – Makeni, Sierra Leone – The Story of the Bible

We have 30 pastors, leaders and student in our classes this week. Here is our summary sentence for Course Two, the story of the Bible: For His glory, God is reconciling the world to himself under King Jesus, and God has revealed His plan and work from Genesis to Revelation.

That sentence sums up 5 days of teaching. There are no words available to describe the privilege of presenting, discussing, and teaching skills to interpret and apply the story of the Bible to church leaders who have never heard this approach to Scripture.

Thank you for praying, encouraging, and giving so that these men and women can be more effective as church leaders in Africa.

Late Saturday night on the 3 hour trip from the airport in Freetown to Makeni.

55 lbs. bags of rice for a struggling city where most live at a subsistence level. The Bridge of Hope brings the light of the Gospel, schools, medicine, and hope for the hungry.

Life is lived-out, outside.

In a remote village the tire toy bring hours of good play.

Sunday is washing day.


In this church the men are with their kids!! The “lonely” ladies are on the other side.

I preached for 40 minutes and then saw this: my 20 minute time slot.

Our energetic breakfast lady delivers with style.

It’s Thursday evening. We’ve had a great week teaching and interacting with the students. We’ve fielded a multitude of questions and pushed through 9 lessons. We will finish tomorrow morning and begin the trek home. Thanks again for praying,


Week Two in Liberia Teaching Poetry: Imagery, Sets, Laments, Pairing, Imprecations, Flow of Thought, Parallels…

On the way to preach at a new church. Sunday is laundry day.

It is a day of “rest” with many chores. Hauling water, cooking over coal, washing, taking care of children… it never ends.

Church at “Sevens”. That’s the name of the town.


Morning preparation. Electricity was fairly spotty. My rechargeable lamp and fan worked well.

Morning reading moves outside when the sun comes up. You can see, look closely, I share the space with my termite friends.

She keeps the floors clean! Vital. Sweet, sweet lady.

Seventh grade history lesson on how Liberia was founded. On a ship from Georgia and Virginia.

The school kids are always excited to see us.

Group work.

Lesson summaries by one of my fellow teachers.

Building materials. The work is progressing but stops when we come. Too much racket.

Apocalyptic sunset.

And lastly, my grandson practicing on his equine friend.

This week I’m in Sierra Leone. Teaching the story of the Bible. Thanks for looking, reading, praying and giving.


2 Days Traveling, 5 Days of Major Prophets in Liberia

After a long trip (including 11 hours in the D.C. United Airlines lounge watching the World Cup with other enthusiasts) I arrived safely to my comfy home digs in Liberia late Sunday night.

Progress is being made on the second story of the education wing! Plastering is continuing on the walls, the front gate is almost built, air-conditioners are installed on the first floor and materials are being gathered for more work.

Below: students bringing chairs upstairs to unfinished classrooms.

Monday morning, with 25 eager students, we jumped into the messages of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Five days, five hours a day we looked at world history, biblical history, the drama of redemption and the unique messages of each of the books. The students are growing in their understanding and are very open to new truths. They come from Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Liberia. They will stay another week to learn how to interpret and communicate poetry in the Psalms.

Please pray for Africa. The church is inundated with false prophets, health, wealth, prosperity teaching, and immorality. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel warn of all these in stark terms.

The items shown below are essential in Liberia: rechargeable battery lantern/bug-zapper, instant coffee, and drinking water.

Monday we will begin teaching Understanding and Communicating Poetry. My two teaching team members arrived safely last night.

Commuting ( is there room for one more?), classroom photo, and laundry day. Notice the air conditioner on the wall in the classroom. Total. Game. Changer!! And! The rug. And the lights!

Below: drying laundry on the grass before it rains. Almost every day we have several hours of good hard rain. And notice the razor wire that now sits atop the fence around our compound.

More essentials: Story of the Bible review cards (I will be teaching this at church in January to introduce the book of Jeremiah), TLI pens as classroom motivation, ditto with the candy, rechargeable battery fan for hot days, 220v to 110v converter, CPAP back-up battery for power outages.

I will send another update next week. Thanks for praying.


Note my world famous grandsons.

Liberia, Sierra Leone, December 2022

Here’s the latest on my next trip: three weeks in Africa.

I leave Friday, Nov. 25, at 7pm, for LAX and arrive in Liberia 54 hours later, Sunday evening. The high cost of airline tickets is to blame for this one.

One week in Liberia teaching the prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel.

Grandkids below. First responders!

The following week will also be in Liberia teaching skills for interpreting Psalms and Proverbs: Course 5 in TLI’s 9 course curriculum. I will be joined by two other seasoned teachers from the U.S. Our classes will be fairly large: 20 students each. 

Week three will be in Sierra Leone teaching the Story of the Bible: Course 2.

Below: Early morning hours in India from about 10 years ago.

I will also be meeting with our partner in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and finalizing preparations for a new training site.

Please pray for the students. They are giving up much to come to the training. Pray also that they will be able to grasp the concepts and that it will affect their teaching and preaching. 


Bob and Vickie

P.S. Our account balance is in need of some generous giving. If you are able to give a one time gift, or begin a monthly commitment, go to the GIVE tab on our website and follow the prompts. Thanks.

79 Reasons to Pray. Why pray? Let me count the ways.

Read this first.

In the Bible, prayer is asking God to keep His covenant promises.

“Initially the focus will be on showing how ‘calling on the name of Yahweh’, or prayer that asks God to deliver on his covenantal promises, is the foundation for all that the Old Testament says about prayer. On moving to the New Testament it will become apparent how calling on the name of Yahweh is redefined by Jesus himself, and how, after his death and resurrection, the apostles understood praying in the name of Jesus to be the new covenant expression of calling on the name of Yahweh. Prayer throughout the Bible, it will be argued, is to be primarily understood as asking God to come through on what he has already promised; as Calvin expressed it, ‘through the Gospel our hearts are trained to call on God’s name’.” Gary Millar, Calling on the name of the Lord: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF PRAYER.

1. The Holy Spirit sanctifies your prayers (changes them), so that God answers them for your good, Romans 8:26.

2.              God loves to answer the prayers of his people, Proverbs 15:8; Psalm 17:6; 65:2.

3.              Apart from Christ and prayer, you can do nothing, John 15:5, 7.

Photo by Pixabay on

4.              God acts when you pray, Daniel 9:20-23; 10:12.

5.              Prayer keeps you from temptation and sin, Matthew 6:13; 26:41.

6.              Jesus prayed, Hebrews 5:7; Luke 6:12.

7.              God gives you peace when you pray, Philippians 4:4-6.

8.              God healed Miriam’s physical sickness when Moses prayed, Numbers 12:13.

9.              God sent rain when Elijah prayed, James 5:15.

10.           God gives you daily sustenance when you pray, Matthew 6:11; James 5:18.

11.           Spiritual growth happens in others when you pray for them, Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 4:12.

12.           Prayer is how we thank God, Philippians 1:3-5.

13.           God gave Ezra safety on his journey when he prayed, Ezra 8:21-23. 

14.           Prayer is necessary to know spiritual truth in the Bible, Psalm 119:18; Ephesians 1:15-19.

15.           It takes supernatural ability, that only comes through prayer, to know the love of God, Ephesians 3:14-21.

16.           Prayer keeps Christians in His name, John 17:11.

17.           Paul asked for prayer so that his evangelistic efforts would be effective, Ephesians 6:17-20.

18.           To have opportunities for sharing the gospel, you must pray, Colossians 4:2-4.

19.           Christ told us to pray for more believers to be fishers of men, Matthew 9:37-38.

20.           Prayer is necessary to repent, Daniel 9; 2 Chronicles 6:37.

21.           In prayer you praise God, Psalm 66.

22.           Prayer is needed to sustain your resolve to live for Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

23.           Prayer humbles you, 1 Peter 5:6-7; Philippians 4:6.

24.           Prayer was the early church’s pattern in sending missionaries, Acts 13:3.

25.           Prayer enables sweet fellowship with your Christian friends, Romans 1:10.

26.           Paul prayed for the unsaved to be saved, Romans 10:1.

27.           You can complain to God in prayer, Psalm 64:1.

28.           When you pray, you are being obedient, Romans 12:12.

29.           To live in Christian harmony at your church, you must pray, Romans 15:5.

30.           Paul prayed for believers to abound in joy, peace and hope, Romans 15:13.

31.           Pray deliverers you from harmful people, Romans 15:31.

32.           For your acts of service to be effective you must pray, Romans 15:31.

33.           Prayer is the means by which your fellowship with other Christians will be refreshing, Romans 15:32.

34.           Paul prayed that the God of peace would be with believers, Romans 15:33.

35.           To live a peaceful life, you should pray, 1 Timothy 2:1.

36.           Prayer is war, 1 Timothy 1:18; 2:1.                                                                                                              

37.           Paul prayed that the Word would lead Timothy to live a holy life, 1 Timothy 4:5.

38.           Pray and fast, so that your fasting will not be wasted, Nehemiah 1:4.

39.           You express sorrow in prayer, Nehemiah 1:4.

40.           Prayer is asking that God would be attentive to your prayers, Nehemiah 1:6.

41.           Prayer moves God to remember his promises, Nehemiah 1:9; Isaiah 62:6-7; Moses’ whole life. 

42.           When you pray, you know you are doing God’s work, Isaiah 62:6-7.

43.           In prayer, you can tell God your problems, Psalms 3:1-2.

44.           Prayer gives relief from our enemies, Psalm 5:10.

45.           Prayer is the method which you use to ask God questions, Psalm 10:1.

46.           To bring the judgment of the end times, we pray, Revelation 5:8; 8:4.

47.           Pray because the end is near, 1 Peter 4:7.

48.           Paul prayed to be released from prison, and for others to be released from prison, Philippians 1:19.

49.           The highest privilege is knowing God. When you pray, you can pray to know God, Ephesians 1:17.

50.           God listens when we pray, 1 Peter 3:12.

51.           God gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him, Luke 11:13.

52.           The early church prayed, Acts 2:42

53.           Believers, in the Bible, prayed to have children, Luke 1:12; 1 Samuel 1:17; Genesis 25:21.

54.           Failure to pray for others is a sin, 1 Samuel 12:23.

55.           Prayer opens your eyes to that you can see the hand of God at work, 2 Kings 6:18.

56.           In the New Testament, the believers prayed that the gospel would be accompanied by signs and wonders, and the casting out of demons, Acts 4:29-30; Mark 9:29.

57.           When we pray, God delivers miraculously, Acts 12:5, 12.

58.           Pray is needed to have qualified leadership in the church, Acts 14:23.

59.           The church is unified when the church prays for unity, John 17:20-21.

60.           Greater discernment and knowing God’s will is the result of prayer, Philippians 1:9-10.

61.           Greater faith is gained through prayer, Mark 9:24.

62.           God protects us from the evil one when we ask him to do so, Matthew 6:13.

63.           No other religion has a God who hears them when they pray, Deuteronomy 4:7.

64.           Prayer is an awesome privilege, Deuteronomy 4:7; Ecclesiastes 5:1-3.

65.           Prayer is designed so that instead of not having, you have, James 4:2.

66.           Nothing of significance will happen unless you pray. Prayer gives God the glory and that alone is significant, John 15.

67.           When we pray, God gives grace, Hebrews 4:16.

68.           The church was gathered to pray when Peter was led out of prison by the angel, Acts 12:12.

69.           The book of Psalms is a series of prayers to teach us how to pray, Psalm 1-150.

70.           When Hezekiah got a nasty letter from Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, he prayed and the Lord answered and killed 185,000 Assyrians, 2 Kings 19.

71.           Effective self-soul-work is done in prayer, Psalm 139:23-24, Psalm 1-150.

72. Prayer is the necessary response to reading the Bible, Psalm 119.

73. Prayer exposes our utter depency on God.

74. We need the Holy Spirit for evangelism and missions, Luke 11:13.

75. Prayer assures us that God is our Father, Romans 8:14-15.

76. Prayer ushers in final judgment, Revelation 8:1-4.

77. “Paul Miller so helpfully says that ‘Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life.’ And that desperation comes when we see the massive scope of God’s plans for us and our world. When we see our inability to do anything that makes any difference to ourselves or our world.”

— Calling on the Name of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Prayer (New Studies in Biblical Theology Book 38) by Gary Millar

78. In the Bible, prayer is asking God to keep His covenant promises. And He always keeps His promises, 2 Samuel 7.

79. The health, wealth, prosperity gospel has infected Africa and America for decades. We need to pray that the hold of this false gospel will be broken in Africa and America. Most American Christians have the disease but cannot see it.

Here’s are some good links to help you pray.