Julie and I just returned last night from Costa Rica where I had the joy of speaking at the Methodist Conference of Costa Rica. I also spoke at the graduation of the Evangelical Methodist Seminary, founded over thirty years ago by Bishop Luis Palomo, who is also a Trustee of Asbury Theological Seminary. The highlight of the trip was signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Asbury Theological Seminary and their Seminary. This relationship further extends the global network and reach of Asbury Theological Seminary.
The entire trip reminded me anew why I am so deeply committed to theological education. Nearly forty years ago Asbury Seminary partnered with a church in Peoria, Illinois to support the education of a young Costa Rican student and his wife, Luis and Zulay Palomo. On paper it seemed to be an investment in the tuition and living expenses of one young couple. However, from a Kingdom perspective, looking back over many decades, it is now clear that this investment has translated into an entire seminary (which Dr. Paloma returned to Costa Rica to start), hundreds of graduates from this seminary who are now pastoring churches all over Costa Rica, and countless new believers in Jesus Christ. The investment in one man has ended up making an impact on an entire nation. Theological education is a ministry of multiplication likened to the order of the feeding of the five thousand. One “loaf” becomes thousands – one student gets multiplied into thousands. For every life we invest in, we see a return in decades of ministry. In some cases, as with Luis and Zulay Palomo, an entire nation is being changed by the investment. This is, in part, precisely what Jesus means by “make disciples of all nations.”