Providence...hey, didn't Rick Pitino used to coach there?

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Say the word “providence” and many people would suspect that you are speaking of a catholic college in Rhode Island. Theologically speaking, it is a rusty old word that has lost its significance in the modern world, kind of like the words “humility” and “modesty”. But whether or not the word is in vogue is inconsequential. The matter of import is that it aptly describes the activity of God in space and time. Does God guide human destiny? Of course we would say “yes”. After all we are Reformed and we defend God’s sovereignty and work in history, that is, until God starts meddling with our pet sins and idolatries. Or that other thing that He does; irritatingly preventing us from getting what we want. Providence is more than a college; it is a timeless reality and necessity.

Several months ago, I came under the conviction that the Lord wanted me to direct a portion of my ministerial and professorial energies toward training minority pastors. This lead to the establishment of a ministry call the Foundation for Pastoral Development, a.k.a. Tyrannus Hall (from Acts 19). The passion to do this ministry grew out of some blessed friendships with pastors who desired theological training but could not leave their homes and ministries to attend seminary; then too there is the cost involved. My hope is to help them to better understand and minister, with clarity and full conviction, the saving and transforming power of Jesus Christ, to articulate the Doctrines of Grace and to grow in the waning art of Biblical Shepherding. Discouragingly for me, this meant that I had to go fund raising. (Honestly, I would almost rather be a dental hygienist at an alligator farm, than to have to raise money…anyway where is Benny Hinn when you need him? and why couldn’t he be Reformed?..uhhhh, never mind.)

Yet something happened the other day that startled and encouraged me at the same time. An African American man walked into Westminster’s Texas Campus and proclaimed to the dean, “I am a pastor and I need to get some training for the ministry, so I thought I would come by to see if you could help me.” To which the dean replied “Sure, let’s talk”. In the course of chatting with this prospective student, it was discerned that the man (let’s called him Vince) only had six hours of college. Unfortunately, Westminster, like other seminaries, is a graduate school of theology. Not wishing to send Vince away empty, the dean asked, “Hey, have you ever heard of Tyrannus Hall?” To which, Vince said “No. Tell me about it”. A brochure from my desk was given to Vince, which he quickly read and responded, “This is exactly what I was looking for.” Later, Vince called me and we agreed to have breakfast.

As I listened to Vince’s testimony, it was amazing what the Lord had done in his life. He had been redeemed from a life of defiance, crime and prison. He told me that at one point in his life, he was convinced that he was right and everyone else was wrong. Yet, one day while he was sitting in jail, he was raptured by a moment of clarity. “If I am right and everyone else is wrong, then why am I always the one in jail?” He asked the Lord to answer that question for him and if the Lord did, he would yield the floor to God’s authority. God’s answer was the gospel. Eight years later, Vince is a pastor in a rough inner city area in Dallas. He further remarked, “There are drug addicts and prostitutes right down the street from my church (which is a small house the congregation of 50 is renting) and I know what their hearts need to hear. I want to grow a congregation of people who will seek to harvest them. Right now my knowledge of God’s Word is just a little bit ahead of the congregation, but that won’t last long. I need training and someone to disciple me as a pastor.”

I could not help but to be excited and at the same time jealous of his passion for the Lord. Also, I could not help but wonder what made him come through Westminster’s door, so I asked him. His reply was, “I don’t know. I just saw the school on the internet and knew that I had to come. So, I came. All I figure is that God wanted you and me to meet.” In one instance of providence, Vince found what he was seeking and I was encouraged greatly. I have, through the Foundation, established works in three of other cities (Sacramento, CA; Jackson, MS, and Clarksville, TN) and regularly I visit them to do what a friend of mine calls “Homeschooling for Pastors”. We are well on our way in teaching, discipling and building good theological libraries and making available other pastoral resources in those cities. However, in the city where I live things have been slow. Vince has changed all of that. Right now, I have a class of one. This is an auspicious beginning, in light of the “free and immutable counsel [of God]” in putting us two together. I have purposed to start a Tyrannus Hall ministry in Dallas with just Vince, pouring my heart and life into him and the ministry that God has for him…or so I thought. Vince has informed me that he has a list of other pastors in the same area who would like to talk to me.

Posted July 28, 2006 @ 1:10 AM by Elliott Greene
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