News Articles

‘Experiencing God’ required for South African diplomats

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The man who trains diplomats for the government of South Africa is requiring all trainees to take the “Experiencing God” discipleship course published by the Baptist Sunday School Board.
Robert Bota, an official with the South African diplomatic service corps, contacted a Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board missionary in his country about two years ago after hearing about the course.
“He was a young Christian man in his 20s, involved in his local church. He came to meet with me in person and was asking me about ‘Experiencing God’ and Christian books on leadership,” Sylvester Grayson, literature coordinator for the Baptist Mission of South Africa, recounted. “I recommended some books from the Bible he might want to focus on and he also took a copy of ‘Experiencing God’ with him.
“He ended up developing his own Bible study course that he required all diplomat trainees to go through. Then, after he finished going through ‘Experiencing God’ himself, he led six other groups in the study and ended up making that course mandatory for diplomats as well.
“He feels convicted that this is a helpful thing,” Grayson explained. “Through his position, he feels that God wants him to train diplomats that will represent South Africa as Christians and as missionaries. That’s a pretty bold statement for someone in his position, but he’s a phenomenal gentleman.”
Grayson, who is responsible for helping missionaries in southern and eastern Africa secure Christian resources, said “Experiencing God” and “MasterLife” (another discipleship course produced by the board) “have been a tremendous blessing in South Africa.” Thousands of copies have been distributed through FMB missionaries not only to members in Baptist churches, but also to Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, members of the Dutch Reformed church and several other denominations.
Grayson, who was visiting the Sunday School Board in Nashville May 12-13, shared a story about a South African couple who was touched by the “MasterLife” course.
“About 10 years ago, this couple, members of the Dutch Reformed church, decided they needed to be baptized. Their church wouldn’t have any part of that, so they ended up visiting a Baptist church where they were well received.
“But that made them outcasts in their community because Baptists, at that time, were perceived as a ‘sect’ in South Africa.”
Despite being shunned by friends and neighbors, the couple became excited about “MasterLife” and began helping FMB missionaries lead clinics around the country based on the course. Eventually, they began leading the course themselves.
“Last year, the couple was asked by the Dutch Reformed church in their hometown to lead a MasterLife clinic in the church. These are the same people who had made them outcasts 10 years ago, so it was pretty amazing.”
Grayson was visiting the Sunday School Board to discuss ways to improve shipping and distribution of board products to his country and gain a better understanding of copyright laws and licensing agreements.
“I was overwhelmed by the help I received here,” said Grayson, who visited with a number of BSSB employees during his visit. “I have a much better understanding of how things work and I was able to give the board some input, too. I know it will help me do a better job on the field.”

    About the Author

  • Chip Alford