The Birth and History of the School of Christ
"And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;..." Mark 16:15-16
By B. H. Clendennen (August 2004)
The School of Christ International, now functioning in many countries of the world, has proven to be one of the most effective toolsfor 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 Kinshasu 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 the 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
In October 1991, my wife, my granddaughter, and I 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 are brought to the school, and for three months they do not leave unless there is an emergency. For three months they are totally immersed in prayer and the Word of God. 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
On 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.
In 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.
In 1997 we held the very first School of Christ in the United States. Seven of those graduates served on short missions trips with the School of Christ, while four other graduates continue to serve full-time with the School of Christ, Brian Larsen who is our Director for South America, Stephen Cartwright who is our Director for Africa, Randy Munter who is our Director for the Prison Correspondence Course and also works on staff at our main office as the SOC Webmaster, and Wanette Munter who is on staff at our main office working with the Prison Correspondence Course.
The School is in, or is in the process of moving into every country in Central America. At the end of 2000 the School of Christ was in every Spanish speaking country on earth. In every country where the School is functioning the results are the same. Since 2000, the School has literally been around the world. Bro. Clendennen just recently returned from China, Europe and Russia with the School. Our latest report out of India is the testimony of revival, a nation where one of every six humans live. We are graduating four hundred students a month, and they are spreading the flames of revival across the subcontinent. The School has been into Eygpt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and will be going into Israel soon. If all goes as planned, in the next twelve months we will have the School in every Moslem nation.
The first week of October 2004 we will open the first School of Christ in Albania. Albania is the modern name of Illyricum mentioned in Romans 15:19. From Albania, in the next eighteen months, we will disciple Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. We will rekindle the fire started by the Apostle Paul two thousand years ago
August of this year, the School of Christ was named the official voice for sixty-nine prisons in twenty-seven states. The prison officials have given us two hours a day, five days a week. SOC Prison Ministry.
October of 2004, will be our twelfth year. In that short time, the School of Christ has literally covered the globe making it perhaps the most effective missions tool ever. We are now in well over 100 countries and the demand for the school continues to grow. The pace at which the school is now moving defies imagination, this can only be by the workings of the Holy Spirit.
— September 2004