School of Christ International -
What is it?
By B.H. Clendennen
The School of Christ International, now functioning in many countries of the world, has proven to be one of the most effective tools for world evangelism in the history of missions. The entire focus of the School of Christ is to train and send the native to his or her own people.
The Birth of the School
In 1971, Mrs. Clendennen, and I went to Kinshasa, Zaire, for what turned out to be a very successful Gospel Crusade. Thousands of people attended the meetings. Night after night the power of God was present to save and to heal. During the course of the meeting literally thousands came forward in answer to the call for salvation. God had surely visited that city.
One year later, we returned to Kinshasa for ministry, and while visiting with the Pastors and leaders of the Church, we were shocked to discover how little real lasting results came out of the crusade. At this point I made the decision that would ultimately set the course of my own life and ministry, and change the way millions would view the work of world missions. This was truly the “burning bush” of my life.
Sitting in meetings with the Pastors and leaders of the Zaire church, the decision was made that all of my overseas travel and ministry would be directed to Pastors and leaders of the church. There would be no more expensive crusades in countries where the church was already established. In that moment, I resolved to spend my life challenging and stirring the heart of God’s servants. In a study of Nehemiah I saw this is the plan of God.
Nehemiah was sent back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city. After looking the city over and seeing the walls were torn down and the gates were burned out, Nehemiah challenged the people with him to rise up and build. As I studied this great book I learned that the walls are the Kingdom, and the gates are ministry. There were ten gates in the walls, and the whole of the third chapter is given to putting the gates in place. Once the gates ministry, were in place the walls came up around them. Through this God showed me that life does not come out of the church, the church comes out of life. I saw that if God could use me to bring life to His preachers, and they in turn would birth His life, then things would happen. A church would be born and God would live through His people.
The School Is Born
For the next twenty years, my quest for truth was with a preacher in mind. All of my thoughts were directed toward the man of God. In my search for this Rhema, I had a long look at the men of the Bible who were used of God. As I looked into the lives of these men, I made this great discovery that governed my thinking throughout the entire search. God’s dealing with these men was not just to teach them truth, but to make them the “truth” they preached. They must ultimately become the message.
Over the next two decades as I traveled and preached to preachers all over the world, little did I know that the truth I was gathering was to become what is now known as The School of Christ. In God’s light there is life. As we move in what we perceive to be the will of God for the time, though we may not be aware of it, we may be moving into a much larger spiritual arena. Out of two decades of travel and ministry to preachers around the world came one of the most powerful missionary tools in the history of Missions; The School of Christ International.
In the gathering of the material, God spoke to me in many ways. As I read and prayed, God used many different means to bring the revelation to my spirit. I read God’s Word and begged Him to speak to me. I listened to men of God preach, I read books of men whom God had revealed Himself. Slowly, the truth was etched in my spirit. The truth I sought and found become mine.
In the mid-seventies two books were given to me that set the course of my thinking. Those books were, “Union With Christ,” and “The School of Christ” by T. Austin Sparks. For the first time in my preaching I truly saw what the church is according to God’s mind. I knew at once, that this was the message that God called men must hear.
Russia Opens to the Gospel
October 1991, my wife, my granddaughter, and myself went to Russia on what I called a fact-finding trip. I went to see what we could do to help the church fill the awful spiritual vacuum created by seventy-five years of atheism. What we experienced changed our lives forever. I had been in many countries of the world, but never had I witnessed the hunger I found in Russia. As I ministered to people, God put such a love in my heart for them, that I knew I had not merely come to Russia, I had been sent. I did not know at that point, what my entire ministry would be, but I knew I would move to Russia.
The last day of our visit, God confirmed the call. I was ministering to a small congregation on the outskirts of Moscow. As I spoke on the subject of prayer the Spirit of God broke us. The entire group fell on their face and began to pray. As I was praying I felt a hand upon my arm, and when I looked up there was an elderly woman prophesying to me. I later learned that her husband had been a Pentecostal preacher, and had been murdered by the KGB. She now spent much of her time in the church praying. My interpreter, Igor, told me they had not known her to prophesy before. God’s message to me through this saintly woman was: “All that you have ever suffered, all that you have learned, all that you ever did was to prepare you for what I will do with you in this country.”
At the end of October I returned to America, and in November 1991 I resigned the church I founded and pastored for 35 years. In December I returned to Russia for three weeks. During this stay I preached in cities of hundreds of thousands that had no church. In the Caucus I preached to over seventeen hundred people, sixteen hundred of them came forward to be saved. When I left them there was no shepherd to look after the new born. I knew then what God would have me to do. The vision of a three month Bible school was born. I came home to gather the materials for the school and move to Russia.
As I was preparing the lessons, working out the schedule of the school and thinking on how the discipline of the school should be, the scripture in Luke 16:8 came to me, “…for the children of this world are in their generation wiser that the children of light.” With that scripture my mind was carried back to the outbreak of World War II. I had just graduated from High School when the news broke. In a short time I joined the U.S. Marines, and in one week I was in what they called “boot camp.” For twelve weeks I went through the most intense discipline, and training I ever dreamed possible. What were they doing? Transforming young men fresh out of school, fresh from the farm and the city, into men of war. And they meant to do it in twelve weeks. This became the pattern for the School of Christ. The students were brought to the school, and for three months they did not leave unless there was an emergency. For three months they were totally immersed in prayer and the Word of God.
In the School the prayer meeting begins before day light every morning, and is the last act in the evening. The prayer meetings are not optional, they are regular classes. You only learn prayer by praying. Without prayer Bible Schools are merely doctrine. The discipline and the curriculum of the school weeds out those who are not called.
A Short History of the School
October 1, 1992, the first School of Christ was born. One hundred and two students from all across the former Soviet Union came to be trained. Three months later, Christmas 1992, we graduated one hundred of that one hundred and two students and sent them forth into cities and villages where the Gospel had not been preached and to plant the church of Jesus Christ. Five and one half years later, there were 2,000 native missionaries who had graduated the School of Christ and have gone forth to plant over 3,000 new churches, and the number is growing everyday.
April 1995, we took the School of Christ into Peru. Two years later, we had over 500 native missionaries, trained in the School of Christ who had planted over 300 new churches. We have moved from Peru to all but four countries of South America. The School is in, or is in the process of moving into every country in Central America. By the end of 2000 the School of Christ will be in every Spanish speaking country on earth. In every country where the School is functioning the results are the same.
The Goal of the School of Christ
Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
This one verse sets forth the ultimate goal of the School of Christ, but the constituents of meeting this goal, of attaining what with the natural mind is impossible are many.
The manifested life of Christ. Living the life of another. An effective plan of reaching “every creature.” Cooperation and assistance of the body of Christ. An outpouring of Pentecost upon the students that through them the Holy Ghost may live the life of Jesus.
The Manifested Life of Christ
The School of Christ is about life. Though knowledge and doctrine are included in our learning these are nothing without the manifest life of Christ in the believer. The school precedes on the principal that, the creature is here to contain and manifest the Creator.
T. Austin Sparks wrote, “The Lord Jesus did not say, I give you a volume of teaching to feed upon. He said, “I am the bread of life.” Before we can profit by the bread, we must know and have a vital relationship between the feeder and the food. A “natural” intellectual acquisition of knowledge of the Bible is no substitute for spiritual food. The disciple must become a manifestation of what he learns.
The aim of the School of Christ is not to send the disciples forth with a notebook full of notes, but rather to send them forth pregnant with the Life of God. Students have graduated across the world and gone forth filled with the Holy Ghost. We have witnessed hundreds of times over, that as these students go forth into cities and villages where God has called them, and continue in the discipline of prayer and the Word of God, they will birth this life and a church is born. Life comes to that community.
Living the Life of Another
Great emphasis is placed upon the teaching of the cross. Day after day it is drilled into the students that the testimony of the Apostle Paul, “I am crucified with Christ…” must become their testimony. It is only then that we can say, “For me to live is Christ.” The effectiveness of ministry is only to the degree that Christ is manifested through the believer, hence Paul’s words “It pleased God to reveal his Son in me.” The cross stands to eliminate all that is not Christ.
Failing to understand that Christian education and sanctification are one and the same has resulted in an objective learning about Christ. This objective learning is the problem with a great deal of Christianity. Here in the School of Christ we come under subjective learning. Not only do we learn about Christ, we learn Christ. The student learns that God is not trying to make him a better person, that is not the victory; the victory is Christ Himself. Therefore, God does not look for performance, but habitation. Christ must be allowed to live His acceptable, holy, intrinsic life through the believer. This is the plan, and has been the greatest effect upon most of the students of the School of Christ.
An Effective Plan for Reaching Every Creature
The School of Christ is driven by the belief that Christ is about to return for His Church. There is an urgency about us, for we believe we shall stand before God and give an account for what we have and have not done. The School of Christ takes seriously the command of Jesus to preach the Gospel to every creature.
Due to the number of people and languages in the world and the fact that there seems to be little time left, the only hope of obeying the command to tell every creature is to train the native to reach the native. From the North Pole to the Amazon jungles, we have proven this to be God’s method. It is economical, and it works.
The School of Christ is strictly a training and sending tool. We have no churches and will not have any. Our purpose in every Nation is for these Native pastors and leaders to go out from the School of Christ to build new Pentecostal churches and to strengthen the existing.
Cooperation and Assistance of the Local Body of Christ
The School of Christ is placed in a country in cooperation with the local Pentecostal churches. We do not go in on our own and begin anything. We work with the existing churches. The plan of the School of Christ is to help all denominations and independent Pentecostal churches to reach their Nation for Christ. Those churches that have a vision for the planting of new churches send us students who we will train to be Pastors of those churches. If the student comes from the Assemblies of God, he will leave to start an Assembly of God church. The same is true of the Church of God, or the independents.
In most countries where we are working the School of Christ is entirely free of cost to the students. The school underwrites the student’s room, board, and tuition. This is made possible by the giving of the Pentecostal churches in the United States and elsewhere, and individuals who help bear this burden. It is difficult for most to believe that the School is free, but that is the way it is. “Freely we have received, freely we give.” The only commitment required of the local church is to send students that are currently pastoring, or feel the call to such a ministry.
In the western world most students pay their own way and our aim is always to make the school self-financing in each country and to lay full responsibility upon the shoulders of local leaders.
The School of Christ does not engage in buying property or building church buildings. We will rent the housing for the school and pay for the furnishings, but cannot assist in building programs.
The School of Christ will remain in a given country as long as is financially and spiritually profitable. When the school comes to an end, the materials will be left with the local churches to continue the work themselves.
Life Only From Life
From day one until the last day of the school, the students are focused upon knowing Christ. The students come to understand that to be filled with the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit is the answer to everything. They understand that being filled with the Spirit of Truth is to have Him who is the truth actively living inside of them. Therefore, to be led by the Spirit gives meaning to Paul’s testimony, “I can do all things through Christ…” When a disciple leaves the school and goes to the place that he feels God has called him, he knows that everything he needs to do the work is within him.
School of Christ in Europe