I recently took an online course on how to get optimal sleep. I learned that not only is a good night’s rest important for every part of your body, it’s essential to your sense of well-being. So why would anyone in their right mind voluntarily give up something so valuable?
Pastor Milton is the coordinator of one of our seminary extensions in greater São Paulo. He told us about a special group of students who had been studying together before the coronavirus pandemic. They were members of a church planting initiative who had expressed interest in studying the Bible and Christian doctrine. The pastor and fifteen lay people were eager to take the ministerial formation course, but their city, Rio Casca, is in a remote area in the state of Minas Gerais far from our seminary in São Paulo. Milton responded enthusiastically, setting up an appropriate curriculum, and making plans to send teachers (including himself and his wife) to teach intensive weekend courses once a month.
Since the teachers worked during the week, they left São Paulo on the evening bus, traveled all night Friday, arriving Saturday morning. The pastor and students were ready at 9 a.m. One student from a distant farm district got up at 4 a.m. to make it in time for the first class. The teacher barely had time to eat breakfast before the first session began. They studied all weekend with the last session ending at 4 p.m. Sunday so that the teacher could catch the 4:30 bus, the last one to a major city three hours away. From there the teacher caught the overnight bus to São Paulo.
When Dan commented to Pastor Milton that he basically lost two nights of sleep in three days (no one sleeps well on a bus!), he responded, “Yes, but to see the eagerness of the men and women to learn and grow overcame any tiredness we felt. It was a joy to teach them.”
We praise God for these students and for the faithful teachers who were willing to pay the price to help strengthen their faith and equip them for service in the church.