July 2024

Nathaniel Pearce Teaches Senior Leaders in Myanmar in March*

A TWB teaching visit may entail more than just classroom teaching.  Nathaniel’s experience was both typical and thrilling.  He writes: 

“I taught a DMin Pastoral Counselling class with twenty-two students for three hours each morning, five days per week for two weeks.  I was able to teach in English as students had a good understanding of English.  MEGST teaches all classes and requires all assignments to be presented in English as well. Teaching in English did assist the flow of the class and allowed us to cover more ground in shorter periods of time.

The students presented pre-seminar work, done prior to the two weeks of pedagogical sessions. Additionally, assignments were done and presented during both weeks of class, and post-seminar assignments have been given. Lectures were interactive, and students engaged via questions and comments as encouraged by the instructor.

 In all, this was a good visit and opportunity to teach, train leaders in Myanmar to perform counseling in an organized manner. Naturally, counseling is not a priority in most of Asia, and Myanmar is not, as the students admitted, immune from this challenge. It was also interesting, and yet sad, to see the darkness and stronghold of Buddhism on Myanmar. Nonetheless, the entire visit was positive, a sure learning experience for me, and I look forward to returning if invited. In the interim, I am praying for God’s protection upon those who are faithfully and passionately laboring for Christ and His Kingdom in Myanmar.”

MEGST Appreciates

MEGST’ Principal, Dr Ronald Laldinsuah, appreciated Dr Pearce’s visit and the partnership with TWB.

Aside from teaching during these two weeks, there were opportunities to have lunch with students in and outside of class, and dinner with all faculty, staff, visiting board members and spouses. Furthermore, I was invited to and attended the ordination service of one D.Min student.

“On my second day, I had the joy of serving the Lord via the ministry of the Word at a house-church on the outskirts of Yangon.  There were 50-60 in attendance, and some were active Buddhists. Those who are saved are mostly first-generation believers.

On the middle weekend, I had the opportunity to visit and preach at an Assembly of God church of approximately 250 people. The church and its leaders were welcoming.  The service, including worship songs, was in Burmese. I was introduced by my MEGST faculty contact, who is member of that church. I preached in English and an assigned sister translated into Burmese.


* from Nathaniel’s report, edited for brevity and clarity

Ruth Sutcliffe’s Ethiopian Adventure Teaching at Shiloh International Theological Seminary – 27 Apr-1 June*

Overall, it was a very encouraging experience, and a blessing to work closely with a dedicated group of Christian brothers and sisters. I am definitely looking forward to returning. 

Teaching at Shiloh

The students are friendly and appreciative. English language fluency varies and instructions need to be clear and repeated.  They participated well in Amharic discussion groups, engaged with the material and asked good questions.

I taught three courses at MA level. The first was a two week course held over 10 evenings on Christian Origins. There were 20 or so students attending in person and a variable number on line. The internet was not sufficient to actually record the classes in real time, so I made separate videos based on powerpoint slides which were loaded on the Moodle together with the other teaching materials. I also conducted an in-person Q&A session, as many of the students there were doing this course online. I also ran several online Q&A sessions while I was there for these students.

The second course was one week full time held at the hotel where I was staying. The facility was spacious, with adequate facilities including projector and whiteboard. There were about 25 students, all friendly and welcoming and well engaged with the course.

The final course was History of Doctrine, presented over 10 evenings to essentially the same group as the first course. The students found this the most difficult subject, I think, although it helped that they had studied systematic theology.

In future, I hope to raise awareness of life in Ethiopia and the need for the resourcing of teaching local ministry workers, and the challenges faced by the church in this country. I hope to continue a relationship with SITS through further online teaching and return for some more in person teaching on a fairly regular basis.

SITS Appreciates

Dr Endale Mekonen, SITS’ President, says, ‘TWB’s ministry has been a blessing and great support to SITS. Thank you for connecting SITS and Ruth.’

Read more of Ruth’s story:


The facilities at Shiloh are basic but adequate. I taught in the library which is spacious and modestly lit and had walls where I could stick up timelines and pictures. There is a good overhead projector and a small whiteboard. Frequent power outages require the generator to be started. The Wi-Fi is not very strong and is quite intermittent. 

The library has lots of books but some are old. It is not easy to obtain books because of government and currency restrictions. The college has reasonable access to on online resources including to JSTOR and to the Global Digital Theological. A visitor could bring scanned chapters of books and journal articles.

SITS has a Moodle on-line learning platform which is easy to use and can host videos as well as notes and other resources. Assignments are submitted on line.

Lead-up and Preparation

Communication with SITS from Australia was reasonably good. SITS was generally well organised in terms of arranging the classes, notifying the students, and letting me know what would happen. I mainly communicated with the President and with the Registrar, who served as my travelling companion, interpreter, trouble-shooter, and main communicator with students.

 Obtaining a visa was a nightmare.  Extending the visa [beyond 30 days] was also very difficult and stressful.

So, my advice to anyone travelling to Ethiopia would be:

  • Only plan to go for no more than 30 days so visa extension is not required (unless you are stationed in Addis and have a local to help you, and ensure you have at least $100 US cash) in hand.
  • Obtain an e-visa ahead of time directly from the government website, but have a backup plan to have to pay cash on arrival again if necessary ($US)

Health preparation involved a visit to a travel clinic in plenty of time to get appropriate advice, vaccinations etc. Inoculation against yellow fever was required, and highly recommended to have the full pack of hepatitis, cholera etc as well as malaria prevention.


SITS arranged for my accommodation in a very nice resort hotel nearby. It was clean and comfortable, with peace and privacy. I took all my meals at the restaurant there and the food was very good, the staff courteous and facilities included a pool and wifi internet that was reasonably reliable. 


I felt extremely safe when at the hotel, at Shiloh and when in the company of trusted locals. Bottled water is readily and cheaply available and a mosquito net was provided.

Other Opportunities

I was asked to preach at a local Mennonite church service, which I did, using a translator. They were very welcoming. I had the opportunity to mentor a couple of younger women who are taking the MA course. SITS is keen for more women to learn theology, but the dropout rate is high because of the inflexibility of their home commitments. We met for lunch and discussed family, study etc. I plan to keep in touch with them. I have been asked to examine the master’s thesis of a student.

* from Ruth’s report, edited for brevity and clarity

Ian Payne Promotes TWB at Langham Scholars Consultation, Auckland, First Week May

TWB’s Executive Director, Ian Payne, attended the recent Langham Scholars Area Consultation in Auckland where some 15 Langham Scholars currently pursuing their doctorates met to compare notes and encourage each other. There Ian was delighted to meet three of his students from SAIACS! Listening in to some of the students’ presentations, Ian was impressed by the depth and relevance of their research. These future decision makers were all interested in how TWB can provide partnership connections with visiting instructors.

1st photo: From left to right, Ian’s students, Francis, Amar, and Tha Ci. They are now serving theological institutions in India, Nepal and Myanmar. How exciting it is to have a share in shaping future decision makers.

2nd photo: Also at the Langham Scholars consultation, Ian Payne meets Dr Rico Villaneuva, of Langham Publishing, who coordinated the Langham scholars group.

Stephanie Black Represents TWB at PhD Programme Inauguration in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On 20 June, TWB Associate Director Dr Stephanie Black represented Theologians Without Borders at Mekane Yesus Seminary in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, when it inaugurated its PhD program, the first such doctoral program among evangelical theological education institutions in Ethiopia. Mekane Yesus is the flagship seminary of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), the largest Lutheran church body in the world.

Dr Black was one of three invited presenters at the seminar to launch the program, speaking on “Pursuing Excellence in Doctoral Studies for Ethiopia: Global Perspectives.” TWB serves the rapidly expanding number of doctoral programs in evangelical theological institutions throughout the Majority World by offering partnership connections with visiting instructors and supervisors in a diverse range of biblical, theological, and interdisciplinary specializations.

Stephanie Black Reports on OC/ ACTEA Institute, Nairobi, 22-26 April

TWB Associate Director Dr Stephanie Black represented Theologians Without Borders at the Institute for Excellence in Nairobi, Kenya, jointly sponsored by Overseas Council and the Association for Christian Theological Education in Africa (ACTEA). The theme of this year’s institute was “Multiplying the Laborers for the Harvest: Embracing Diversity in Theological Education.” Both women and men theological education presidents, deans, and other leaders from across Africa came together at the institute to focus on acknowledging, supporting, and more fully utilizing women, including senior academics, in Africa’s evangelical theological education institutions.

Following presentations on issues of gender, diversity, institutional cultures, and classroom experiences, teams from individual theological schools drafted policies and practices to promote the full inclusion and development of women leaders in their institutions. TWB was pleased to renew connections at the Institute with many of our partners in Africa, as well as reach out to new friends.

As TWB continues to serve Majority World institutions with short-term teaching partnerships, TWB affirms our ongoing commitment to the inclusion and equity of women scholars among our field partners. 

March 2024

Ruth Sutcliffe heading for Ethiopia

Ruth writes: “It’s now just over a month until I head to Ethiopia, God willing. Flights are booked and I’m in the midst of additional vaccinations and health checks. My visa, which I applied for many weeks ago, still has not been issued — I’m told it’s “in progress” — so I would really appreciate your prayers for that to come through without hassle. I have just about finished preparing the two courses I was originally asked to teach: World Church History [WCH] and Christian Origins, and have been asked to teach a third, “History of Doctrine.” I’ve said “yes,” so I need to get that done in the next few weeks too! Thankfully, I have a fair bit of background material already on this. But I would appreciate your prayers for this also, because it’s easy to get stressed with a deadline fast approaching and competing demands from work and from life in general! 

The WCH course is a survey of church history, which is an adaptation of a course I’ve already delivered at Phnom Penh Bible School. But it’s not just a case of crossing out “Cambodia” and writing “Ethiopia!” The emphases and interests are rather different. The Protestant church in Cambodia is very young, just over 100 years.

Ethiopia has had an established Orthodox church since the fifth century and a Protestant church for a couple of hundred years. Cambodia has faced pressures from French colonialism, Chinese communism and the horrors of the Khmer Rouge era where the church was decimated, and had to regrow from refugee camps. Ethiopia has never been colonised apart from a short time under Italian fascism around the time of World War II, but its mix of established Orthodoxy — a version unique to Ethiopia— Protestantism and Islam presents distinct challenges.

The other course, Christian Origins, will look at the intertestamental period, and the influence of Judaism and the Graeco-Roman empire on the early church and its development of a rule of faith, canon of Scripture and organisational structures during a period of intermittent persecution.

It is really encouraging to know that so many brothers and sisters are praying for this work, as it is an important area of world mission. Christians (and non-Christians!) need pastors, teachers, mentors and ministry workers, and such need to be trained. Theological teaching has an exponential effect. I’m so looking forward to visiting our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and helping in this way. It is such a blessing and a privilege and I’m sure I receive much more than I can possibly provide them.

Creig Marlowe enjoyed Ethiopia

Creig enjoyed 3 weeks on site at Shiloh in Hawassa, Ethiopia, in January. 

All went well. Weather was “perfect” (80’sF) 

Creig wrote that SITS is doing well but has some challenges, especially with the government using only local currency so they cannot purchase from outside without a US dollar account. 

Dr Xiaoli Yang in Africa

Dr Xiaoli Yang has visited International Leadership University, Nairobi, for a special one-day academic seminar and/or poetry reading for spiritual formation at the invitation of Principal, Dr James Ndungu. This is fruit of TWB offering her availability to half-a-dozen African institutions complementary to her visit to present a paper in a conference in Ghana. 

Timothy Snow teaching Online for South Asia

Creig enjoyed 3 weeks on site at Shiloh in Hawassa, Ethiopia, in January. 

All went well. Weather was “perfect” (80’sF) 

Creig wrote that SITS is doing well but has some challenges, especially with the government using only local currency so they cannot purchase from outside without a US dollar account. 

December 2023

Joyous Jesus Season Greetings to all of you who are connected with Theologians Without Borders [TWB]!

TWB Team Engages with ETS

The TWB Global Operations Team [Exec Dir, Ian Payne, Stephanie Black, Assoc Dir, Orientation and Training, and Danny Sathyadass, Assoc Dir, Institutional Relations] were all at the recent annual Evangelical Theological Society [ETS] conference in San Antonio, Texas, USA, where they engaged with allcomers, adding more than 80 new contacts to the prospective Assoc Scholars’ list.

 They also met with Dr Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, New Testament, Denver Seminary, Colorado, who spoke about his observations on Trends in Global Theological Education.

Danny, Stephanie, Craig and Ian at TWB’s meeting

Craig is a big fan of TWB, having already agreed to an African visiting teaching assignment brokered by TWB. He stated following ETS, that he was, “glad to be with [the TWB team] and looked forward to taking up more teaching visit opportunities with Theologians Without Borders.”

Danny had this comment following ETS:

“Attending the … ETS conference … was significant because I personally saw the value of TWB to bring about balance in global theological education. The appreciation and the enthusiastic responses from well-respected professors and scholars were an added affirmation that TWB’s mission is right on track to facilitate reciprocity. It is my prayer that this enthusiasm would grow, so that [more] scholars would eventually get on those flights to serve in institutions where there is a need.”

Ian Payne, said, ‘Being together in-person as a global operations team was tremendously valuable. Meeting so many collaborators at ETS was special. There are so many opportunities to creatively and better serve theological education in the Majority World.’

Ian chatted with Ernest Clark of Overseas Council

Perry Shaw Commends Stephanie’s Work

With the increasing global interactions of theological education, an awareness of contrastive rhetoric is becoming of notable value. Fortunately, as Perry Shaw says, ‘a key player in Theologians Without Borders is Stephanie Black, who wrote a superb chapter on Contrastive Rhetoric in the collection Challenging Tradition: Innovation in Advanced Theological Education with the chapter title “Scholarship in Our Own Words: Intercultural Rhetoric in Academic Writing and Reporting.”’

Perry quotes what Craig Ott writes about contrastive rhetoric (referencing Stephanie):

“Much of the research on contrastive rhetoric has focused on the writing styles of native and non-native speakers of the target language. Initially such differences were thought to be related to linguistic differences between the first and second languages. Now differences are more commonly attributed to cultural convention. Students are taught what is proper writing style; what is considered aesthetic, persuasive, and socially appropriate (e.g., assertive versus restrained). For example, here is how a group of African students described their rhetorical style: “Whereas the Western style of writing is polemical, the African system is more of a negotiation with the audience so as to make them ‘accept’ our work.” Another group said, “African communication is mostly implicit. When a speaker is too explicit, he is perceived by the audience as trying to undermine their intelligence” (Black 2018).” (Teaching and Learning Across Cultures p85)


Tony Plews joins the TWB team

Exec Dir, Ian Payne, welcomes another person to TWB’s team. Tony Plews, who was Exec Dir of LeaDev-Langham, now Beacon Partnerships, for more than 25 years, has joined the TWB team in a part-time voluntary capacity as Communications Coordinator.  He will be responsible for soliciting stories and creating content for TWBTalk, TWBUpdate, and social media.  His contacts are:  

E:  tony.plews@theologianswithoutborders.org

M:  +64 21-683 393