Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’
1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)
This event occurred after the Lord’s judgment against the house of Eli and the nation of Israel because of the wickedness of Eli’s sons and the nation’s idolatry. The Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, the sign of God’s presence amongst his people, and when the ark returned Samuel assembled the people at Mizpah and called on them to repent of their idolatry.
The Philistines took advantage of the situation and planned an attack, but Israel begged Samuel to cry out to the Lord to deliver them and he did – decisively!
Samuel’s response was to set up this stone to mark the fact that the Lord had been very gracious to them throughout their history.
This year marks 25 years of TnT Ministries and as we look back it’s entirely fitting that we mark the occasion and celebrate the fact that we too can say, “Thus far the Lord has helped us!”
At our recent annual strategy meeting we looked back in order to look ahead. Some at the meeting were able to reminisce and recount the many ways in which the Lord has so graciously sustained and progressed the work of TnT over the years.
This ministry started as a result of a casual conversation under a tree at a Christian conference about the need to equip and resource adults to teach the Bible to children.
From there a trust was established and a humble home office set up to write, print and distribute resources and training programmes.
The next step was a professional publication with a global distribution network and more recently digital publication which has reached thousands of churches including a number in remote parts of the world and countries considered ‘closed’ to the gospel.
We now deliver well over 20,000 lessons a year to churches in 66 countries and these lessons can be accessed in sixteen different languages.
We also train thousands of adults every year in about a dozen countries. Yet we still operate from a very humble office with only three full‑time and one part‑time staff. The Lord has been incredibly gracious and has indeed helped us thus far!
Because of this and despite a significant financial deficit this year, we are confident that the Lord will continue to help us.
We are praying most fervently that the Lord will raise up a new generation of faithful men and women – like those who sat under a tree in the summer of 1993 – with a vision (and a passion) to resource and equip adults to teach the Bible to children more faithfully, more creatively and more effectively.
We have been very busy writing two new products for the 3-11 Mustard Seeds range. David and Solomon are awaiting artwork and some finishing touches, but are due for release very soon. We are also busy with the final instalment of our four resources produced in partnership with Serving In Mission. These resources seek to motivate churches for global mission.
Laura has been very busy writing an excellent series on 1 Peter for 11-18s. This is the second product in this range.
Intensive studies of Colossians, Hebrews, Romans and a Bible overview are also all in the pipeline. More information about these and other resources together with full sample lessons can be found here: www.mustard-seeds.net.
TrainingIt’s been a good start to the new year with an intensive four days of training in Hong Kong for a network of English-speaking churches. Various groups including parents, Sunday school teachers, full‑time children’s and youth workers and pastors were trained in a range of different topics. It was a punishing schedule which can only be described as ‘Hong Kong style’!
Rory encouraging full-time church workers in Hong Kong to think through the spiritual reasons for and benefits of recruiting volunteers.
Rory is due back in Hong Kong early in March for follow-up training with the same network of churches as well as a bigger public event for another large, mainly Chinese-speaking, church.
The training diary for the remainder of the year is looking good. We have recently overhauled our old TnT website and turned it into a dedicated booking portal for training events. This massively reduces the administrative load for our small team as the entire process from capture to invoicing is all automated.
Brenda has been very busy establishing our network in South Africa and has also set up a couple of training days in the Western Cape.
All these days now get booked through the new system. To see where we’re training and to book simply visit: www.tntministries.org.uk.
We provide training on four levels: Sunday school teachers, full-time children’s and youth workers, pastors and parents. The bulk of our training is usually for Sunday school teachers, but this year we want to increase our level of engagement with Bible colleges and pastors. We already do some work at Oakhill Theological College and the Cornhill training course in Glasgow and Belfast.
It’s clear from all the training that we’ve done that real change can only come when those teaching children ‘on the ground’ are properly recruited, trained, resourced and supported by church leaders and staff. Our experience in various ministry contexts means that we can not only provide church leaders and staff with a sound biblical perspective on children’s ministry, but also the practical skills to do this effectively.
New LookFinally, if you’re a regular reader then you will have noticed that things are looking a little different! We thought it was time to update our look with a fresh new logo which identifies with the Mustard Seeds brand that we have been promoting for the past six years. We’ll be actively promoting our new look at Word Alive this year where we once again have a stand.
If you’re attending Word Alive it would be wonderful to see you! Up for grabs at this year’s event is a free training day for your church anywhere in the UK. Find us at the event for details.
A special word of thanks to those of you who have been reading these newsletters, praying and supporting the work for 25 years; we thank our Heavenly Father for you!
Items for Prayer
- Give thanks for a very productive TnT board and staff strategy day in January. Pray that we would be able to implement our plans for the year effectively and in a Christ-honouring way.
- Give thanks for the Lord’s gracious and sustaining hand on the work of TnT over the past 25 years. Pray that the Lord would raise up a new generation of supporters for TnT with a vision for seeing adults equipped and resourced to teach the Bible to children. Pray that our current deficit would not affect our ambitious plans to do more for the sake of the gospel.
- Give thanks for a good time of training in Hong Kong and for the further opportunities coming up in March. Pray that all who were trained – whether church workers, pastors or parents – would have the courage to make the changes necessary to more effectively teach the Bible to children in their homes and churches.
- Give thanks for a record month of sales of Mustard Seeds resources in January with almost 4,000 lessons sold. Pray that as people actively engage in the study of the Bible that God’s word would do God’s work by turning hearts to Christ and growing people to maturity in the faith.
- Give thanks for the opportunities that Brenda has to run training events in South Africa. Pray that she will quickly pick up the ‘spiritual pulse’ of her audience and be able to adapt and deliver her content in a winsome and helpful manner.