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Steve Childers preaching in one of the most influential, underground churches in East Asia

Learn What God Did Through Pathway Learning in 2017 Below

The underground church in East Asia is facing increased persecution at frightening new levels.

While I (Steve Childers) was training church leaders recently, I heard first-hand accounts from leaders about their immediate family members being taken into custody from their homes and forced to undergo sterilization in a local hospital. And I just received an email from a former student serving there. He reports that one of his most faithful church members was just taken into custody and placed in an overcrowded, prison-style “re-education camp” known for brainwashing and terrible conditions from which many are never released.

He asks us to pray:

Will you please stand with us in prayer for the millions of people we serve who are helpless- humanly speaking–facing oppression and injustice and sorrows with severe intensity right now?…Please pray for her (church member taken into custody) to be unafraid, as she wants to be, in confidence that Christ is with her. May she be rooted in strength and supernaturally bold to proclaim and display Christ in her life.

By investing in Pathway Learning, you can help thousands of underserved church leaders, like these, develop churches that transform lives and communities in East Asia and around the world! Learn more about how you can help make a difference in East Asia and around the world in 2018 below:

2017 East Asia Project Report: New Doors Opening!

Our recent major breakthrough in East Asia we’ve only dreamed about until now!

We’ve finally learned how to train indigenous “leaders of leaders” to teach all our courses without the internet or cell service!

The breakthrough we’ve only dreamed about for years, finally happened for first time when I was training leaders in the underground church in Asia recently. What happened? We finally learned how we can train indigenous “leaders of leaders” how to teach all our courses without the internet or cell phone service! Read on to learn why this is so significant.

More than 1000 people reported taking our first course in the underground church.

Spiritual Formation for Leaders, our first Mandarin course launched in East Asia, is reported to have already been completed by 1500 church leaders in the underground, house church movements in East Asia—all by word of mouth. For a closer look, read on:

Our courses focus on more than a leader’s mind and skills–but also their heart.

If you look closely above, you’ll see this is one of the videos from our Spiritual Formation course in Chinese and English. In this video you can see I’m quoting Tim Keller on gospel repentance–with Chinese sub-titles.

Underserved church leaders include lawyers, educators, and business leaders.

These are some of the under-resourced church leaders we trained in the underground church in East Asia. They are in desperate need of training to develop churches that transform lives and communities.

Why a USA pastor will not pray for the underground church leaders’ request

After spending 3 days teaching 22 underserved church leaders in the underground church, American pastor, Wayne Cordeiro, said he “fell in love with them.” Before leaving, he asked them, “How can I pray for you?” They responded, “In America you can gather like we are now without any fear. Will you pray that one day we will be just like you.” Wayne responded, “I will not do that.” They asked him “Why?!” He responded,

Because you guys rode a train for 13 hours to get here. In my country if you have to drive more than an hour, people don’t come. You sat on a wooden floor for three days. In my country if people have to sit more than 40 minutes they leave. You sat here for 3 days without air conditioning. In my country if it’s not padded pews and air conditioning, people often don’t come back. In my country we have an average of 2 bibles per family and we don’t read any of them. You hardly have any bibles, and you memorize them from pieces of paper. I will not pray that you will become like us. But I will pray that we will become just like you.

After I watched this video, I thought of another contrast I observed firsthand recently while serving this same underground church. When they gathered to worship and hear me preach, they first dropped down on their knees, some looking like Muslims face down on the floor, crying out to God for help and asking him to glorify his name and advance his kingdom through their lives (photo below), In America, if we gather for worship, our prayers are normally very brief, comfortable and self-serving.

Extended times of prayer as Christians gather for worship in the underground church.

Beyond East Asia to the World in 2017! 

By God’s grace, and with your support, Pathway Learning is now helping more church leaders develop churches with effective ministries of evangelism, discipleship and community transformation than ever before.

More than 400 church leaders have already registered for Pathway Learning courses from more than 20 countries, representing 150 cities, and 4 languages. Using our innovative online and onsite platform, we can now bring affordable, practical, seminary-level courses to church leaders where they live, in their language, and adapted to their culture.

Using our innovative online and onsite platform, we can now bring affordable, practical, seminary-level courses to church leaders where they live, in their language, and adapted to their culture.

In 2017, we launched new initiatives in East Asia, West Africa, Japan, Western Europe, and North America. And we’re looking for partners to help us in 2018

This year, in partnership with indigenous denominations, mission organizations, and schools, we launched several new Pathway Learning projects–including not only,

  • The East Asia Project (above): in the underground church facing persecution, but also
  • The West Africa Project: Among the poorest of the poor on earth,
  • The Japan Project: In one of the most unreached developed nations,
  • The Western Europe Project: Where new movements are beginning in Italy, and
  • The North America Project: where the USA has become a new mission field.

Why you should invest financially in Pathway Learning

By investing in Pathway Learning, you are helping underserved church leaders develop churches that transform lives and communities around the world in 2018.

Few investments are likely to pay higher, more lasting returns. That’s because a healthy, gospel-centered church is the most effective evangelism, discipleship, and mercy/justice ministry under heaven. Your financial investment enables Pathway Learning to provide education pathways for underserved church leaders to start, develop, and multiply gospel-centered churches around the world.

Few investments are likely to pay higher, more lasting returns. That’s because a healthy, gospel-centered church is the most effective evangelism, discipleship, and mercy/justice ministry under heaven.

Thank you for your desire to partner with Pathway Learning in our global outreach in 2018. Your tax-deductible gift today will help make a significant difference in the world.






The evening immediately after RC Sproul died, John Frame writes about his earliest memories of RC, starting back when they were young men from Pittsburgh. Frame expresses his great admiration for RC and his ministry, and grieves over the “wretched boundaries” that kept them apart, as he prays for RC’s family and loved ones.

Both of us were profoundly influenced by John Gerstner. RC went to Pittsburgh Seminary to study with Gerstner; I went to Westminster to study with Gerstner’s teachers. But I visited Pittsburgh Seminary a few times. Once in Gerstner’s class, there was a young fellow who dominated the class discussion. A friend later introduced the student to me as “Bob” Sproul. Later that year I visited the Wheaton Philosophy Conference, and again there was Bob, going at it with the other conferees.

Those meetings were sufficient to pick up my ears when I heard Bob’s name. I remember hearing of him working with Jerry Kirk in Cincinnati, teaching at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and other ministries. Then came the Ligonier Valley Study Center. I spoke at one of the early conferences— on inerrancy— and for the first time I was able to say I knew RC— formerly Bob.

We could have been good friends, I think. We were the same age, Pittsburghers, Calvinists, and most of all disciples of Jesus Christ. But alas, we belonged to different clubs. I followed Van Til, Gerstner’s teacher, but Gerstner did not follow Van Til, and RC followed Gerstner. I always felt his heart and mine were in the same place.

We could have been good friends, I think. We were the same age, Pittsburghers, Calvinists, and most of all disciples of Jesus Christ. But alas, we belonged to different clubs.

From time to time I saw, or thought I saw, hints of Van Tillian presuppositionalism in RC’s writings. I think of his exegesis of Rom. 1, which was very much the same as Van Til’s. And he once, at Westminster, described himself as a “proto-suppositionalist.” I took that to mean that whatever you think about apologetic method Scripture must always have the final say. I too am a protosuppositionalist. And in the final analysis that’s all there really is to presuppositionalism.

But RC was nevertheless in one club, and I was in a different one. So we never actually had a good talk, even about old times in Pittsburgh. But I greatly admired dear RC, and I ranked him as the best communicator of Reformed truth in my time.

So now I lean over the wretched boundaries between our respective clubs, and I pray God’s comfort in Jesus to his family, his church, and his great movement.

So now I lean over the wretched boundaries between our respective clubs, and I pray God’s comfort in Jesus to his family, his church, and his great movement. And I pray God’s prosperity on all of these wonderful brothers and sisters. For our love far transcends the boundaries of our clubs.

Steve Childers, President of Pathway Learning

Forty years ago, Steve Childers became the founding pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church in Oklahoma City, serving there from 1977-1982. Steve began helping start Heritage in August 1977 with, what The Daily Oklahoman called, “a small, faithful band” of mostly elderly people who refused to leave their rapidly declining neighborhood near downtown Oklahoma City. Their church was called Northminster Presbyterian and they had been without a pastor since 1964. Their membership had dropped from more than 700 to a handful of 13 faithful people[1] who were meeting together every Sunday afternoon in their almost empty sanctuary for worship, bible study and prayer.

They also refused to give up their vision of having a theologically conservative, evangelistic, Presbyterian church, like the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) denomination, that would truly serve their deteriorating, multi-ethnic, high-crime area of the city. Just before they were about to be told to disband by retired pastor Robert Cox, who’d been sent by the RPCES to evaluate them, Cox received a phone call from a young man named Steve Childers, who just graduated from Oklahoma State University with a business degree.

Heritage Presbyterian Church in 1977

Bob and Steve began meeting in the basement of the old church building, that was literally falling apart, to talk and pray about the great need for a new church in that community. Rather than telling this small band of faithful people to disband, Bob recommended they call Steve to help them start this new church. With no seminary education, he accepted their invitation a week later.

On August 13, 1977, The Daily Oklahoman reported the story with the headline, “Congregation, Pastor Looking for a Miracle,” quoting Bob Cox saying, “I think there is potential here, but maybe the only possible answer is a miracle.” Bob then left Oklahoma City to return to his home in Alabama. Steve began serving as their full-time “Student Supply Minister” on August 17, 1979, according to the terms of his call these people wrote by hand on a piece of notebook paper:

[Steve is] to teach in Sunday School, conduct the Sunday morning worship services, have the responsibilities of the midweek bible study and prayer meeting and serve in a pastoral capacity for all members and friends of the congregation, especially the sick, feeble, and sorrowing, following up all contacts brought to his attention. Weekly remuneration for his ministry shall be $50 per week salary and $25 for pastoral expenses.

Childers preaching at Heritage Presbyterian in Oklahoma City

Almost two years later, the new Heritage Reformed Presbyterian Church was formally received into the RPCES denomination and Steve Childers was ordained as their first pastor. On April 1, 1979, The Daily Oklahoman reported this story with the headline, “Ordination Rites Slated For Sunday,” quoting Bob Cox again. But this time he said “It’s a miracle that he’s here.” Steve continued serving Heritage until 1982 when he and other church leaders determined the church was healthy enough for him to leave to attend seminary. During that year, the RPCES merged with the PCA to become one denomination.

After seminary, Steve was the church planter and founding pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Plano (North Dallas), Texas from 1985-1995. For the next 22 years (1995-2017) he was a resident practical theology professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, teaching courses in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, church renewal, leadership, and missions.

Steve earned Masters degrees from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, and a doctorate from Reformed Seminary in Orlando. He has also done doctoral studies in global mission and leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission in Pasadena. He and his wife, Becky, live in Orlando, Florida, and have three daughters and three grandchildren.

Training the Trainers in a Pathway Learning cohort course in Muslim West Africa (French)

As Steve traveled overseas as a seminary professor, he learned there are millions of church leaders around the world who don’t have access to high quality, seminary-level education. In response to this critical need, he founded Global Church Advancement, continuing today as Pathway Learning, with the mission to provide these under-served church leaders the training and tools they need to develop churches that transform lives and have a lasting impact on their communities.

Drawing on the latest educational technology, Pathway Learning provides a blend of online and onsite courses that increase the effectiveness of church leaders by providing them access to affordable, seminary courses–where they live, in their language, and for their culture. This allows them to receive their necessary education and credentials without leaving their families and the churches they’re serving. Pathway Learning courses include biblical, theological, and practical studies.

In June 2017, after 40 years of ministry on the field and at the seminary, Steve began serving Pathway Learning full-time. This year Pathway Learning is launching courses in English for North America, courses translated into French for West Africa, Mandarin for South Asia, Japanese for Japan, and Italian for Western Europe. The goal of these projects is to develop an effective, scalable model for educating under-served church leaders. To date, Pathway Learning has helped train thousands of church leaders from more than 300 denominations representing over 50 countries in 7 languages on 5 continents.

Steve is looking for prayer and financial partners to help him bring this solution to many more church leaders around the world. To learn more about Pathway Learning go to

[1] This core group included Jim and Irene Franklin, a retired machinist, Jim and Lucille Donnell, a retired truck driver, Humphrey and Jennie Bard, a retired newspaperman, and several widows.

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