Chennai Teacher Training School - Mission Work



by Jon Macon

There are several components that are necessary in order for a mission work to be regarded as successful. As we outline these components, we will try to demonstrate how one specific work, the Chennai Teacher Training School, is trying to follow these principles and serve as an example of a successful mission work.

The Need for More Preachers
"How shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14)
The centerpiece of the work in India that is sponsored by the Hillcrest church of Christ of Stephenville, Texas is the Chennai Teacher Training School. This is a full-time school dedicated to training faithful Indian brethren to be preachers of the gospel. To be successful, it is necessary for a mission work on a foreign field to increase the number of preachers in order to reach the lost. The United States of America has approximately 4% of the world's population and around 97% of the gospel preachers in the world. That leaves 3% of the world's gospel preachers to preach to the remaining 96% of the world's people (a sizeable percentage of whom live in India). Clearly, there is a great need for more preachers, especially in foreign lands.

Training Local Brethren to Preach
"The same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2)
Obviously, to try to correct this imbalance, it is essential that we train the native brethren on foreign fields to become gospel preachers, to preach the word of God to their people. There is no other possible way that we will be able to preach the gospel to every creature, especially to the masses that are in countries like India. This is the exact method that the Lord outlines in 2 Timothy 2:2: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." That is the only solution to the problem of getting the gospel to six billion people in the world and also to one billion Indians.

94% of Graduates Currently Preaching-most without support
"They went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4)
A successful mission work must not only seek to train faithful men to preach the gospel, but once trained, those men need to actually preach and do so over the long haul. The total enrollment of the Chennai Teacher Training School is currently about 50 students. Forty-four men have completed the three-year program of this school beginning with the first graduating class in 1988. Forty-one of those forty-four men are currently preaching as are all six of the two-year graduates that we have had. Overall, that means 94% of all graduates are currently preaching.

Bible Correspondence Courses and Gospel Meetings
"Being fruitful in every good work" (Colossians 1:10)
In addition to training faithful native brethren to preach the word of God, a successful mission work will also utilize every scriptural means to spread the gospel. For example, as the apostles taught publicly and from house to house (Acts 5:42; 20:20), today we need house to house Bible studies and also public preaching to reach the lost. Home Bible studies and public gospel meetings are still very effective means of converting the lost, especially in relatively receptive countries like India. Spreading the gospel via the printed page is also a fruitful way of spreading the gospel of Christ. The Chennai Teacher Training School has an extensive Bible correspondence course program, with courses sent out all across South India in four different languages. There have been several conversions through this work over the years and one of these converts eventually enrolled in and graduated from the Chennai Teacher Training School and is now a faithful gospel preacher in his native village. A successful mission work must use a combination of several means of contacting and converting the lost.

The Right Goal
"Every one that is perfect shall be as his master" (Luke 6:40)
A successful mission work must begin with the right goal. The goal of our work in India is to bring eternal glory to God (Eph 3:21). To accomplish this, the work must be done in the right way, according to the dictates of God's word. Matthew 28:19 20 says, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." It is not sufficient for us to merely teach and baptize people and leave it at that. We must follow through and complete the Great Commission by teaching the people to observe all of the Lord's commandments. Like Paul, our goal is not to produce only spiritual babies who are unskillful in the word of righteousness. To "dunk 'em and leave 'em" is to disobey Christ's command and leaves the people worse off than they were beforehand, as they inevitably end up falling away (2 Pet 2:20-22). Paul stated his goal in Colossians 1:28: "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Paul was laboring to produce Christians who were full-grown and spiritually complete and our goal should be no less. In summary, our goal is to see as many souls sincerely converted to Christ as possible, and to see those converts remain faithful and grow spiritually to be "perfect in Christ Jesus."

The Right Message: God's Word, Only God's Word, All of God's Word
"Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21)
To become a successful work by achieving these lofty goals, the right message must be used. There is only one message that will save a man's soul: the gospel of Christ. As Romans 1:16 says: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Paul would not preach the words of man's wisdom, but only the words taught by the Holy Spirit, which is the word of God (1 Cor 2:13). As Paul charged Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-2: "Preach the word." But preaching the right message also means preaching the whole message. That is what Paul testified that he had done in Acts 20:27: "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." God's word is truth (John 17:17). We must preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The Right Method: the Faithful Training the Faithful
"Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right" (Proverbs 16:8)
A successful work also must follow the right method. We need to train faithful men to teach others (2 Tim 2:2). But we must also be careful to have only faithful brethren involved in the work of training other faithful men. Does it make any sense for the work of training faithful men to teach God's word to be in the hands of unfaithful men? In 2 John 9-11, God clearly states that helping a false teacher makes one a partaker of his evil deeds. God rebuked Jehoshaphat for his fellowship with wicked Ahab in 2 Chronicles 19:2: "Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord." But this principle applies in the other direction too. In 3 John 5-8, faithful teachers of the truth refused to take anything from spiritual Gentiles to do their work. Zerubbabel followed this principle in Ezra 4:2-3 in doing God's work of rebuilding the temple. Some unfaithful men had said to him: "Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do." But Zerabbabel and the other godly men answered: "Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel." It is vitally important for the faithful of God to remember and follow that principle today, especially in these times when so many have turned from the truth unto fables (2 Tim 4:3-4). Faithful children of God should neither give support to the unfaithful, nor take support from them. God's faithful should only work with the faithful in training the faithful.

The Right Method: Humility, Purity and Accountability
"Let every man take heed how he builds" (1 Corinthians 3:10)
There is another important aspect of following the right method in doing God's work. The ultimate goal is to build something that will last through eternity, not something that is merely temporal. To accomplish this goal, it is imperative that we become wise masterbuilders. Therefore, our methods of doing mission work should be rooted in humility, purity and accountability. 1 Corinthians 3:5-10 teaches us all of these aspects of our method. First, we must always bear in mind that our job is simply to be an effective tool in God's hand. It is God's work. We may plant and/or water, but only God can give the increase. On our own, we are nothing. We must never lose this humble outlook and begin to seek our own glory or boast within or about ourselves. This means that we must be prepared to notice room for improvement in our work, accept advice and correction, and resist the temptation to overlook, hide, or cover up problems that exist in order to make ourselves look better in the eyes of other people. Humility will also promote proper respect, consideration and treatment of natives on foreign fields (especially when they are poor). Also, since "every man's work shall be manifest" on Judgment Day and since we will only receive a reward for our labors if the work abides, our methods need to be pure. Everything must be done with authority from God in His word. We also must be very careful to truly know what is actually going on in our work. Everything and everybody must be accountable. If we are seldom present where our work is, it will be extremely difficult if not completely impossible to truly find out what is happening on short visits. In such a case, we will essentially be relying on what we are told by others for our information about the work, and the door will be wide open for abuse. Much of the Lord's money is wasted on works set up using this method. This is a major reason why we live in Chennai on a full-time basis. It is the only way that we can accurately monitor things and properly carry out our tasks. Finances and every other part of the work need to be meticulously examined and made available for examination. After all, no matter who is in the dark, the Lord certainly knows everything that is going on in the work.

A Summary Statement
The Chennai Teacher Training School is all about trying to properly train faithful Indian brethren to preach the gospel to India's lost masses, by grounding them in the word of God, not the wisdom of men; by teaching them the whole counsel of God so that they in turn will teach their countrymen to observe all things Christ has commanded; by involving only God's faithful children in the work; and by striving to be accountable, above board, and beyond reproach.