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“An answer to my prayers”

More than 800 Global South Ministry leaders now training with The Shepherd's Academy

A TSA tutor preparing to lead an online seminar for South Asian church leaders
 
TSA (a project of Barnabas Aid’s Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life) offers undergraduate-level learning opportunities to grassroots church leaders in the Global South. The vision and goal of TSA is to empower these leaders with the necessary tools to lead their communities and churches faithfully and effectively, emulating the Good Shepherd in their contexts.

“The Shepherd’s Academy is an answer to my prayers. I have always desired sound theological knowledge while doing my pastoral work and TSA afforded me the opportunity.”

These are the words of Pastor Godwill Nkese in Cameroon, one of more than 800 Christian leaders from the Global South receiving theological and pastoral training through Barnabas Aid’s The Shepherd’s Academy (TSA).

TSA has grown steadily to include students from more than 30 countries. Less than a year ago there were just over 400 students registered – now there are more than 800.

Practically equipped for ministry

TSA programmes combine self-study, online classes and in-person tutorials at these local study centres. Of the church leaders registered with TSA, around 600 are undertaking short courses while a further 200 are studying for an undergraduate degree. Each degree student is linked to one of our TSA study centres, of which there are now 20 in 12 countries.

“I might never have had this kind of opportunity to study without the TSA,” says Pastor Godwill. “With the kind of tutorials and tutors we have at TSA compared to small amount of money we pay as tuition fee, I can only say we have been favoured by God to have TSA.”

Although Cameroon is a Christian-majority country, Godwill says that believers there do experience opposition. He has been threatened by followers of African Traditional Religion, who see Christianity as nothing more than “the white man’s tradition” and a form of Western colonialism. “They oppose,” he adds, “the planting of churches.”

Godwill describes the online system of study as a “game changer” that has enabled him to study while continuing his demanding pastoral ministry.

“The courses, especially Bible Interpretation, Christian Care and Counselling, and Church Management and Administration, have greatly equipped me practically in my pastoral engagements over the past two years,” he says.

Pastor Godwill Nkese in Cameroon sees The Shepherd’s Academy as an answer to his prayers

“I give all glory to God for this privilege”

“Anisha”, a missionary in a South Asian country, is also grateful for the opportunities afforded her by TSA’s programme.

“I praise God for TSA’s innovative idea of helping God’s servants like me who have not undergone any theological courses,” she enthused, adding, “I give all glory and honour to my God for this privilege of learning.”

Anisha, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the field, hopes to use her enhanced knowledge to tutor other women missionaries.

One of the TSA tutors in South Asia believes that this kind of training is already making a positive impact, saying that TSA courses have “equipped church leaders to be efficient counsellors, pastoral caregivers and source of healing in their churches”.

“We aim to train a new generation of leaders,” explains Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Aid and Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life. “Our mission is to form in them the character and integrity that will give them the foundation to face their challenges, find hope in hopeless situations and counter untruth with truth.”

Project reference: PR1499 (The Shepherd’s Academy)

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