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phil-tuttlePhil Tuttle: Welcome to my blog! For those of you new to the site, I am the President of Walk Thru the Bible, an organization based in Atlanta, GA, dedicated to igniting a passion for God's Word—here in the U.S. and throughout the world. In this blog you'll find a crazy blend of random thoughts, bizarre humor, and even an occasional deep insight.

Please jump into the discussion because, as we all know, a conversation is way more fun than a monologue.


 

Ukraine Update #5

2018-05-15

Our conference is over and we’ve all headed home. Ellen and I decided to turn our Delta layover in Paris into a “playover” by taking a couple days to vacation in this gorgeous city.

My mind is still full of gratitude as I think about what God did during our time in Ukraine. Response to Revolution, our new resource on the life of Josiah, couldn’t have been more positive. This new course focuses on helping young adults become the leaders the global church desperately needs.

I knew this message would resonate with our established leaders, but what about the young influencers we invited to join us? Most of these Millennials knew very little about Walk Thru the Bible so they only came because a trusted friend invited them.

So what did they think of Revolution and their first exposure to Walk Thru the Bible?

Let me introduce you to a pair of young leaders, both named Vitaly.

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The Vitaly on the left is 34 years old and is the director of youth ministry for the Baptist Union of Russia. He equips and encourages youth leaders in 1,800 churches. He travels a lot and plans to use Revolution at conferences all across Russia. He’ll need to change the name of the course to avoid the wrath of Mr. Putin and the rest of Russia’s political leaders, but that’s not a big deal. He hopes to share this life-changing teaching with 2,500 teenagers at their national youth conference this August. For him, the timing of our conference couldn’t have been better and he can’t wait to learn more about other Walk Thru resources.

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The Vitaly on the right is a youth leader from Tallinn, Estonia. He leads and teaches a network of churches and youth groups. At 32 years old, he is committed to change all of Estonia and its surrounding nations using Walk Thru courses. He believes Revolution will be well-accepted by all denominations and all age groups. Vitaly plans to take the course and "try it out" within weeks with different youth groups from different regions, share it with key leaders, and then launch it on a national level. Estonia is a small country with huge influence because it has the best Internet in the world. Vitaly and his friends may just be the key to helping deliver our ministry in ways we haven’t ever thought of.

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I could share about other leaders but their responses would start to sound redundant. The verdict is unanimous. Revolution is exactly what our leaders from 15 countries believe they need to encourage Millennial and Gen-Z young men and women in their efforts to change the world. Like Josiah, they’re cause-oriented and passionate about correcting the problems inherited from past generations. Hopefully, also like Josiah, they’ll discover that God’s Word is the only way to make changes that truly last. Prayerfully, many, many young people will respond to Revolution and join the Josiah Generation.

Our conference may be finished, but the real work is just beginning. Will you join me in faithfully praying for these men and women now that they are home? Some of them serve in very difficult places. Let’s stand with them as they boldly share what they’ve learned this past week. And please watch Pathways magazine for updates on how God answers these prayers. Thank you, friends.

Ukraine Update #4

2018-05-11

Five days ago we started with 500 people. Then our group shrunk to 55. And now we’re down to only about 25.

By every conventional measure of success we are failing miserably. And yet, our week is unfolding exactly how we planned, prayed, and hoped it would. Let me explain.

Ellen already shared about the amazing launch of Revolution with more than 400 teenagers and young adults along with dozens of older church leaders. Our team here in Kiev continues to receive excellent feedback from that event.

Then we moved to a hotel on the outskirts of the city for a conference with 25 key Walk Thru the Bible national leaders from across Europe along with about 30 influential local pastors who couldn’t attend our big event. I taught Revolution again so these 55 could experience it for themselves. I love smaller groups because the discussion and sharing can go so much deeper.

Now the 30 local pastors have left us and only our 25 leaders remain. They’ve come from Belarus, Egypt, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, and possibly a few other places I can’t think of right now. They’re mostly our European country directors plus a few others from outside this region who couldn’t come to their own continental conferences earlier in the year.

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These leaders are key to the global spread of the message of Josiah. We believe this new course will call people of all ages back to God’s Word and help transform their lives, families, churches, communities, and even nations. They’re not only learning how to teach Revolution themselves, but how to train hundreds of others who will hopefully teach it to tens of thousands.

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This is Walk Thru the Bible at its essence.

We believe 2 Timothy 2:2 to the core. Like Paul told Timothy 2,000 years ago, “The things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to also teach others.”

We’ll never reach the world by addition. But the miracle of multiplication makes global evangelism and discipleship realistically doable.

In my next update, I’ll profile a few of these leaders you’ve likely never met before, as well as update you on a few old friends. Until then, please keep praying for us.

And don’t feel bad that our group is shrinking. It’s all part of God’s plan so we can ultimately grow beyond what our most faith-filled dreams can imagine!

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Ukraine Update #3

2018-05-10

Before there are successful high-profile events like Ellen described in our last update, there are lots of behind-the-scenes days like today that most people never hear about. Our launch of Revolution with more than 400 Millennials and Gen-Zers plus several dozen older church leaders was only possible because of partnerships with influential churches, key denominations, and like-minded parachurch ministries.

And partnerships don’t just happen. Every good organizational partnership can ultimately be traced back to strong personal relationships.

Today Yuri, Boris, and I made several visits to celebrate partnerships and deepen relationships. One was to Mission Eurasia (formerly Russian Ministries and originally Peter Deyneka Ministries). The other was to the Baptist Union, a denomination of over 2,500 churches here in Ukraine.

At the Baptist Union, we met with three key leaders responsible for curriculum, church planting, and next-generation leadership development. It was encouraging to hear about the impact of Walk Thru resources and training over the past 25 years. But it was even more thrilling to hear their excitement about our new focus on younger generations—especially their enthusiasm for the potential impact of Revolution across Ukraine and beyond.

It’s one thing to find common ground with shared strategies and priorities, but the real fun happens when there’s a connection at the heart level. That’s exactly what happened today.

I think pictures say it better than my words ever will. The first photo captures the required formal group shot of any such meeting. They’re really big on pomp and circumstance in this part of the world! The real story is carried by the other two pictures.

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The second photo shows the Baptist Union’s church planting director heading back to his offices with a stack of our resources as he said, “I love to read, and I’m so happy Walk Thru the Bible is still producing great tools in my language.”

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The third picture is even cooler. The seasoned leader with me wasn’t able to attend our big event. Thankfully 7 of his 11 grandchildren did and 5 of them had already called to tell him all about it. During our study of Josiah, one of them decided God wants him to be a Bible teacher and public speaker. I can’t imagine a better endorsement for our new resource. Just look at the smile on his grandpa’s face!

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Eventually, all this good will needs to be translated into detailed plans and hard work. But for today, God answered every prayer more thoroughly than we could have hoped. We’re not just partners with an influential denomination—we’re truly friends with its leaders!

It’s hard to believe, but the most important part of our trip is still to come. It’s time to train our Walk Thru the Bible leaders from all over Europe to take Revolution home to their countries and multiply its impact through their own network of partnerships and relationships. Stay tuned and keep praying!

Ukraine Update #2

2018-05-09

Today’s reflections are courtesy of Ellen.


Yesterday was an exciting day at Regent Hill in Kiev, Ukraine. With gleaming pots full of coffee and trays of delicious Ukrainian cookies at one of the finest event venues in Kiev (our event would not have been possible without the generosity of its owner!), our team welcomed 400 teens and young adults, plus several dozen local pastors and leaders, to the launch of Revolution: How Millennials Can Change the World and What They Need from the Rest of Us. There was a lot of excitement and expectation as the time approached. We wondered if everyone would come, but the auditorium was filled by the time the worship band began the music.

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Phil, Boris (our national director for Ukraine), and Vladimir (a popular local pastor), team-taught the sessions, each presenting with their own style, which added to the effectiveness of the messages. Session Three was especially powerful. Boris interviewed four attendees, each representing the different generations: Builders (ages 75-96), Boomers (ages 58-75), Gen X (ages 38-58), and Millennials (ages 18-38). Listening to each one describe their experience of particular points in the history of Ukraine during their lifetime was so interesting. But more importantly, it allowed them and the audience to gain a new perspective for each generation, their identity, and their value and roles in God's overall purpose for His kingdom. By listening instead of criticizing and resisting one another, each began to appreciate and value the other. After the Millennial described his perspective, the older Builder humbly asked for forgiveness and pledged his support to help younger leaders move the gospel forward in this generation. The Spirit was present. It was quiet until the silence was interrupted by spontaneous applause. These were beautiful moments, and we could feel God's pleasure.

All the planning and prayer and hard work that went into this large event proved to be worth the effort. We're continually amazed with the quality and giftedness and faithfulness of our team here. It was an especially huge blessing to see all their families involved in making the day a success, highlighting the focus of the course that the Millennial and Gen-Z generations are the leaders of today, not tomorrow!

Ukraine Update #1

2018-05-07

It was 1994 when I made my first international trip for Walk Thru the Bible, right here to the newly independent nation of Ukraine. Has it really been 24 years since I came here for the first time? I left a big piece of my heart here, and thankfully I’ve been able to come back and check on it every 3-4 years since that initial CoMission trip. But this trip is extra special because my wife, Ellen, is with me for the first time. Seeing Ukraine through her eyes is like rediscovering my first love.

After a desperately needed night’s sleep and a restful day, Yuri drove Ellen and me to their apartment where his loving wife, Natasha, and their son, David, had prepared a traditional Ukrainian feast. Think Thanksgiving, only with an entirely different menu. There were several courses, but we could have stopped after the introductory bowls of borscht, a hearty soup made of beets, potatoes, and carrots, with a spoonful of sour cream on top.

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Yuri and I have been friends and partners in ministry for more than 20 years. Any time I get to spend with him is full of raucous laughter, heartwarming memories, and mutual encouragement. But this year we were in for a totally unexpected surprise. Natasha has been taking English three hours a day, three days a week. Gone are the days when she has to wait for Yuri to summarize our conversation in Russian. When she took Ellen by the hand and led her to a separate room, Natasha bubbled, “Now we can talk, just the two of us, like I have always wished we could.”

Later this week we’ll convene our European regional conference with delegates from nearly 20 countries. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories and pictures to share as we equip our European leaders to launch Revolution, our new resource focusing on the parallels between today’s young adults and King Josiah. But first, there are other strategic opportunities that need your prayer support. Tomorrow I’ll be teaching Revolution to more than 400 young adults and a few dozen influential pastors and church leaders. Then the next day I’ll be meeting with two different groups of denominational leaders to explore how Walk Thru the Bible can help them accomplish their God-given goals.

I used to view days like today as a necessary waste to overcome jet lag and begin to adapt to a new culture. Oh my, has my mind been changed over the past 24 years! How many times did Jesus purposefully lead his closest friends (we call them disciples) off to a remote location simply to enjoy and encourage each other? God, as three persons in one being, is relational to His core, and that’s the primary reason He created us humans. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of early mornings and full agendas before we fly home. But could it be that tonight with Yuri, Natasha, and David turns out to be one of the most eternally significant events of our trip?

Speaking of relationships, our entire ministry would cease to exist without your partnership. So mentally pack your bags and share this adventure with us through the miracle of prayer. Without Him we can do nothing, so please commit to pray each day as God surprises us with what He has planned for us to experience, teach, and learn. Thank you dear friends, and please stop coveting my borscht!

Colombia Update #3

2018-03-29

First, we call adults of all ages to become men and women of the Book. Like Josiah, we want them to receive and respond to God's Word.

Second, we exhort all generations to value and celebrate other generations—especially Millennials. We create an environment for the Holy Spirit to reconcile the generations. At the end of Session 3 which is called Generations, we divide the group in half by age. Then we ask the younger adults to go to the older adults and thank them for their faithfulness and sacrifice. Tears often flow freely at this point as the older adults feel appreciated and honored. Then we ask the older adults to place their hands on the younger adults and ask God to bless their lives and ministries. Often many of the younger adults also start crying as they feel valued and affirmed for the first time in a long time. It's a high and holy moment when the Spirit's presence and power are undeniable.

I've seen God's Spirit use this simple invitation to bring reconciliation in the United States, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. But how would people from all over the Hispanic world respond here in Colombia? What if this risky idea bombs and all our trainees lose confidence in this new teaching resource?

Since I've already described the process, I will let these pictures speak for themselves.

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Once again God exceeded my expectations and rebuked my lack of faith! Why am I so quick to doubt Him? Will I ever truly trust Him for supernatural results rather than trying to control the outcome of my teaching? I long for the personal breakthrough Billy Graham experienced early in his ministry.

So how about you? Any shift God would have you make in your attitudes and actions toward other generations? What tangible change does He want you to make? Are you willing to reach out to those closest to you, and pursue reconciliation?

I warn you. I've seen our gracious Lord work miracles all over the world, so don't be surprised if does something big in your own church, business, or home!

Colombia Update #2

2018-03-27

Our daughter Emily has been blessed with tremendous opportunities to see God at work all over the world. One of her favorite countries is Guatemala. She’s been there quite a few times and has served for several months at a wonderful orphanage called Casa Bernabé.

She has also questioned/nagged/rebuked me on many occasions saying, “Why isn’t Walk Thru the Bible active in Guatemala? They really need what y’all do.”

Well Emily, God has answered your prayers at last.

2018 03 27 image 01Meet Marco and Maria Elizabeth Bocaletti. They live in beautiful Antigua Guatemala, where they both serve as medical doctors. Marco is a GP and Maria Elizabeth is an OB/GYN. They also pastor three churches in their area, modeling God’s heart for both physical and spiritual needs.

They were introduced to Walk Thru the Bible (Caminata Biblica as it’s known in Latin America) several years ago by our regional director, Alejandro Oviedo, who lives in neighboring Honduras.

In Marco’s words, “It was love at first sight.” Maria Elizabeth adds “We knew immediately that God had sewn our hearts together with Caminata Biblica.”

Meeting them and watching their passion for our new course, Revolution, has been one of the highlights of this trip. I have no idea how they’ll find the time to build our ministry in Guatemala, but I’m confident they’ll find a way.

We tend to look for potential leaders with plenty of time available to partner with us. That’s solid logic. But sometimes the busiest candidates turn out to be the best choice because they have a proven track record of getting things done. Dr. and Dr. Bocaletti are the poster kids for this phenomenon.

Marco and Maria Elizabeth asked me to thank you for making this week of training possible. They also asked me to invite you to visit them in Antigua. They’d love to meet you face to face, even if you’re feeling perfectly healthy that day!

Colombia Update #1

2018-03-26

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2018 03 26 image 03Greetings from Bogotá Colombia! Our 20 Hispanic leaders have gathered from 12 different nations to launch Revolution, our newest Walk Thru course on the parallels between young King Josiah and today’s Millennials.

This is an amazing group that demonstrates the true nature of global discipleship today. Most of the delegates lead our ministry in the nation where they were born and raised. Walk Thru loves to invest in nationals who instinctively understand their own culture and teach in their own heart language.

But we also love to partner with those who respond to Jesus’ Great Commission and carry the Gospel across national and cultural borders.

Many Americans assume nearly all missionaries are Americans. While there are many such missionaries, the truth is the past two or three decades have seen a shift from “Americans to the world” to “everyone to everywhere.”

Our group reflects this glorious transformation. Valentin Popescu grew up in Romania but now lives and serves in Peru. There are others who have responded to God’s call to take the whole Word to the whole world.

2018 03 26 image 02Meet Ike “Triple Threat” Rhyu. I had the joy of training Ike and his wife way back in 1997 when I was Dean of Faculty. From day one, 21 years ago, I knew Ike and Helen were special. They were born in Korea, raised in California, and were at that time serving as missionaries in Mexico.

I was training them in English, but each evening they would stay up very late translating our Old Testament storyline into both Korean and Spanish! By each new morning, they could teach fluently in all three languages.

Now Ike and Helen serve in Spain, but their ministry is global. Four of our Spanish-speaking leaders here at this conference were trained to teach Walk Thru the Bible over the past two decades by Ike.

What a great reminder that every time we train a man or woman to teach one of our courses we set in motion the miracle of multiplication. For some, the impact is focused on their home church, school, or camp. For others, dozens of churches in their home country now have access to our life-changing resources. And then there are those, like Ike, who multiply our ministry like we could never have imagined.

Most of us will never personally impact the world like Ike and Helen. But consider this: Someone paid for Ike and Helen’s training 21 years ago. Possibly one of you who is reading this update! Your reunion with them in heaven will be even sweeter than my reunion this week. And don’t be surprised if a few hundred or thousand of Ike and Helen’s spiritual kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids from all over the world want to meet you too!

Until then, please allow me to say thank you on their behalf. Your continued prayers and donations truly are changing the world.

Ghana Update #3

2018-03-02

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So...... this update is a few days overdue. Between spotty internet access and getting sick, I left you hanging regarding our time in Ghana. Sorry about that. Apparently losing my voice affected my writing as well as my speaking! I’m home from Ghana now but want to close the loop so you know how God answered your prayers.

Our Heavenly Father graciously heard your prayers and allowed me to teach two of the six sessions of Revolution at our public launch event for pastors and other church leaders. In spite of my voice sounding like a croaking frog and being quite painful, people totally engaged with the story of Josiah and the parallels with today’s young adults. We had a perfect mix of adult generations, and their interaction was something to see.

The other four sessions were taught by Rich Leland who had traveled with me to help lead the actual training, and Philip Tutu, our national director in Ghana. Both did a superb job, and that’s really the main story of this update.

One of the core markers of ​the ​Walk Thru the Bible DNA is that the resources we create are TRANSFERABLE. They can be easily transferred from one person to another, across generations, languages, cultures, and styles.

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And that’s exactly what happened that day! Rich had team​-taught with me before, but Philip had only seen the course on DVD. Yet both were able to jump in with very little prep time and pour out the timeless truth of Revolution through their unique gifts, personalities, and experiences.

The pastors and church leaders could not have been more responsive. Not only were they moved personally, but many left eager to share this course with their home churches. For some that meant inviting Philip or another instructor to come lead a live event. For others it meant purchasing the DVD and workbooks, and for some it meant deciding to attend a future training so they can teach it themselves.

Would I have loved to teach all the sessions myself? Absolutely. In fact, that’s exactly why I was asking God to heal my voice. But this time God said, “No Phil. I have a better idea.” As I watched the day unfold, I had to agree.

All the trainees got the message too. This teaching isn’t Phil’s—it’s God’s. It belongs to the whole world. And it belongs to each of them.

They’re all ​back ​home now. Eager to spread the message of Revolution in:

Nigeria
Togo
Ivory Coast
Burkina Faso
Tanzania
Democratic Republic of Congo
Uganda
Kenya
Burundi
Ghana
Chad
Guinea
Senegal
Niger
And beyond!

Thank you for praying for us and encouraging us through a challenging week. It didn’t all go as we planned, but the outcome was even better than we had hoped!

Ghana Update #2

2018-02-21

Today’s update is written by Rich Leland, my wingman on this trip. Rich has been a Walk Thru the Bible instructor for 35 years and he just recently transitioned the leadership of the Nantucket church he pastored for 31 years to a young pastor. He’s uniquely qualified to train others to teach Revolution because of his sustained pattern of empowering younger leaders. Enjoy!


2018 02 21 image 1It's the dry season here in Ghana, but right now we're having a torrential storm. This place is wild! And our training is wildly amazing as well!

What an impressive group of brothers and sisters in Christ! They’re creative, insightful, skilled, and hilarious! During session 3 of the Revolution course we have a panel of four, each representing a different generation. During training today we heard incredible stories from each. Because we didn’t have anyone over 60 years old, our national director for Ghana, Philip Tutu, flawlessly impersonated his grandpa representing the oldest generation.

We think we've had rapid change in our country? Here we had several of the guys who remember news being relayed by "talking drums" as each village had a distinct sound and they'd relay it through the forest. Later, messengers became popular. Always one main messenger with two supporters to make sure he got it right. Can you imagine what those generations must think of smart phones, Instagram, and WhatsApp?

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Some generational issues are even bigger here than at home. The young pastors have been able to experience education and they often look down on the older, uneducated leaders. The older pastors think book learning is nothing compared to decades of ministry experience. As usual, God is using this new course in much different and bigger ways than we could have ever planned.

Because Phil is having pretty severe voice issues, he is planning to only teach sessions 1 and 4 of our public course tomorrow. Philip Tutu and I will fill in the rest as needed. We know God will provide, but please pray that God will allow Phil to teach.

Bottom line? If you’ve ever wondered whether God is at work in this world, just come to Africa and your questions will be answered! These countries will soak up the truth of this Biblical Character Course like dry ground welcoming the rain.

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