Basic Beliefs is the title of a course I am teaching at the prison camp currently. It is offered through Samford Ministry Training Institute. It is the fifth in a set of courses leading to a certificate in Christian Ministries. Our purpose is to equip the Christian inmates to be effective witnesses, godly persons, and Bible teachers in churches upon their release. Connecting to a church upon release can be crucial for them. They will be a benefit to the church, make friends, and be helped in finding employment.
Glenn Sandifer and Mel Howton taught the previous classes with good results. Clay Carroll, the recently arrived new head of Religious Services, wants to see the SMTI program expanded both in the camp and in the prison. Several of our PBA ministers received this certificate when we were offering these courses at the PBA office. With so many internationals at the prison, there is an awesome opportunity to send out missionaries, effective missionaries, from right here in Pickens County through this program. With the very popular and effective Rubies for Life, we are impacting many lives here and, in days to come, around the world.
The course I am teaching includes eight topics—authority, God, humankind, salvation, Christ, the Christian life, the church, and last things. These are important topics for all Christians to know what they believe. I have published extensively on all of the topics except the last one. My thoughts on it reflect the historic premillennial position, not the complex dispensational one. I could hope that all of our churches would commit to studying these topics. You can find some of my writings on most of these topics on the webpage www.ruralchurch.us. I will be glad to help the churches prepare for studies of these topics. They might be scheduled on Wednesday nights or Sunday nights in our churches. James Hammack of West End is our new Discipleship Director. He will be encouraging us all to be serious about discipleship studies.