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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.


A Lasting Legacy

Greetings from KLM flight 566 somewhere over the northern part of Africa. By the time you read this, I'll be in Atlanta. Thanks so much for taking this journey with me and praying our global team all the way home.

2015-05-06 image-1Warning: This update is longer than usual, but I'm certain you'll find it worth the read.

On more than one occasion my favorite professor in grad school, Dr. Howard Hendricks, issued a sober warning.

Prof, as we called him, would stare us down with his beady eyes and say, "Someday when I come to evaluate your ministry, don't bother showing me your attendance figures. I'm not going to ask about the size of your budget or the square footage of your building. All I'm going to ask is where are your guys -- the leaders you're equipping to multiply your personal impact and outlive you. That was job one for Jesus, and it better show up at the top of your priority list too."

The threat of that final exam has been lodged in my brain for over 30 years.

In the midst of hectic schedules and competing priorities, that vivid memory has been my North Star. It's helped me say no to good opportunities in favor of the best. And it's brought me back to what matters most when I've been distracted by what feels the most urgent.

The last couple days have been part of the fruit of the vision Prof planted in my brain. Here's what I mean.

As part of our time in Africa our Kenyan Director, Steven Mairori, asked me to help his team launch Crucible, our course on the life of David. They worked hard to bring together about 150 pastors and church leaders for a Friday and Saturday event in Nairobi.

Those of you who know me even a little, know that I love to teach--especially a roomful of influencers. It's the kind of opportunity that makes my heart beat fast and drives me to my knees in prayer.

But this time we decided to do something different. I would teach sessions 2, 4, and 6. Three of our global leaders would teach sessions 1, 3, and 5.

We hoped this would show that this material is easily transferable and motivate a lot of the pastors to sign up for training. It would also show that the truths in Crucible are not just American or African, but biblical. Fully transcending cultures, centuries, personalities, and teaching styles.

Elvis Mvulane from South Africa launched us with a great session on Image vs Character. His passion and fresh insights into cultural details I had read right by reminded me how much more the world of the Bible is like Africa than America.

After I unpacked the theme of Fear vs Faith in session 2, Philip Tutu from Ghana lit up the room with session 3 on Circumstance vs Truth. His fresh transparency pulled all of us into the cave when David passed up the perfect opportunity to eliminate Saul and seize the throne.

Then I taught session 4 on Deception vs Integrity as we explored the account of David and Bathsheba and the great coverup that followed. But something was different. I wasn't tired. And neither was the audience. Even after a long day everyone was locked in, and I sensed unusual power and freedom as I taught.

Even more people showed up Saturday. Sathyabal from India delivered the most insightful presentation of Nathan's confrontation of David I've ever heard. None of us will quickly forget his masterful delivery of session 5 on Arrogance vs Humility. Plus, he even spoke proper British English, much to the delight of the crowd!

Then I finished our day with session 6 on Disappointment vs Expectancy as David processed the news that he would not be allowed to build God's temple. Rather than losing his joy, David devoted himself to set Solomon up for success and transition the vision to the next generation.

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All in all, the event couldn't have gone better.

Of course, the goal wasn't merely to teach Crucible, but to launch it in Kenya. So how did we do?

Over three dozen pastors and church leaders signed up for training. Others asked Walk Thru Kenya to send someone to teach it in their church. And Steven Mairori laughed his contagious laugh as he said, "That doesn't even count all the pastors who just decided to launch their own sermon series on David starting this Sunday!"

Along the way, we discovered a brilliant new strategy I plan to use in every region each time we launch a new course.

Even though Elvis, Philip, and Sathyabal have been blessed with some great models and mentors through the years, I have a joyful sense of satisfaction that God has allowed me to make a small but significant contribution to their lives and ministries.

So Prof, if you were looking down from Heaven over the weekend, I hope you liked what you saw. Those are three of my guys, and because of your challenge three decades ago, my greatest priority is to equip and empower men and women just like them. They'll serve people I'll never meet, impact places I'll never visit, and likely live in decades I'll never experience.

I hope you're proud of them, Prof, because they're your grandkids--part of the global incarnation of your personal legacy.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

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Meet the "Class of '58!"

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At least that's what Chae Lee, our East Asia Regional Director calls us.

We were all four born in 1958 so we're within a few months of the same age.

We may be from different continents -- Chae Lee from Korea in Asia, Alex Colombo from Argentina in South America, Philip Tutu from Ghana in Africa, and me from the US -- but we are a band of brothers with one heartbeat.

We've grown up in ministry together, each being stretched by leadership roles much bigger than we ever dreamed of.

We've encouraged each other as husbands and fathers too, navigating several life stages together. And we've rejoiced and grieved together through triumphs and tragedies along the way.

We've shared a rare passion to communicate God's Word effectively no matter what it takes. None of us are content to just present content. We all aim for life change every time we teach, even though we all fall short more often than we wish.

And we've all committed to finish strong over the next couple decades of serving Christ together. Loving accountability is part of our conversations as we ask each other the tough questions about our marriages, egos, finances, and sexual purity. We're committed that there will be no dropouts in the Class of '58.

There's nothing exclusive about our little fraternity. We don't play favorites, and most of our global teammates probably don't even think of us as a group.

But there's something special about belonging the Class of '58. So many leaders become isolated as their influence expands. The Class of '58 has rejected that path. We started together, and we plan to finish together.

The great news is that the Class of '58 is currently accepting applicants for honorary membership. Joining has nothing to do with your birth year and everything to do with your heart's desire. We're looking for some Pauls to lead us, some Barnabases to walk beside us, and some Timothys to pour ourselves into.

Why not found your own chapter with some men or women in your personal sphere of influence? It may just change your life as much as it's changed mine.

A View Through Fresh Eyes

A Quick Update from Michael Gunnin

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Today's update is from Michael Gunnin, our new VP for Advancement. Many of you haven't met him yet, but he's a great addition to our team. This trip to Kenya is Michael's first opportunity to interact with most of our global leaders, and I love seeing what our worldwide ministry looks like through his eyes. Enjoy. ~ Phil

Dear Friends in Ministry,

Greetings from Kenya! We are just wrapping up our second full day in Kenya.

I'm sitting outside under a cool, Kenyan night sky reflecting on the day. I could sum up what I'm feeling with one word - overwhelmed.

I'm overwhelmed by the teaching and learning that we've experienced the past two days. Phil Tuttle has been teaching Chosen, his new course on Mary the mother of Jesus. The discussion and sharing with people from over 20 various countries has been remarkable. Our international leaders are excited about the opportunity to use Chosen to build bridges and extend the ministry opportunities around the world!

I'm overwhelmed by meeting the remarkable men and women who lead Walk Thru the Bible's international team. Being the new team member, I'm meeting many of them for the first time this week. They are passionate and courageous. They love Walk Thru the Bible. They are deeply devoted followers of Christ. Their desire to help people ignite passion for God's Word is indescribable.

I'm overwhelmed by the fellowship happening in Kenya. We've laughed. We've cried. We've dreamed big dreams. We've prayed for each other and been able to encourage several enduring real challenges. God is doing something special in Kenya.

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I'm overwhelmed by the ministry opportunities for Walk Thru the Bible. I wish you were here to listen to our global leaders share the strategic opportunities God is providing for WTB to grow in its current ministry areas and expand into new ones. I'm convinced some of our best days are ahead.

I'm overwhelmed by knowing all that Walk Thru's financial partners have provided. WTB has such generous partners who faithfully support the ministry. Listening to the stories of life change the past two days remind me again that God has and is continuing to use Walk Thru the Bible in significant ways.

Please keep praying for us. This week is an important and strategic time for our global ministry.

Thank you for your support, your prayers, and partnership in ministry.

You are changing the world!

Michael Gunnin

Where you sit says a lot about what you believe.

At least that's my personal unscientific theory.

Always sitting with the same people or clustering with folks "just like us" shows a lack of comfort and often causes us to miss out on vital new relationships.

Preferring to sit in the middle of a group reveals a person's personality type a lot faster than taking the Myers-Briggs or the DISC inventory.

So what does all this have to do with our Global Consultation (GC) here in Nairobi, Kenya?

Plenty! Here are three powerful pictures that prove my point.

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Paul Keeys and Bazaks Kovacs have chosen to sit together at every session so far. Paul, who leads our ministry in the UK, is our first second-generation Regional Director. His dad, Cliff, launched our work there, and Paul attended his first Walk Thru the Bible live event as a young boy 31 years ago. Bazaks is from Hungary and this is his first GC. Watching Paul usher Bazaks into our group is encouraging to watch. And seeing Bazaks' fresh enthusiasm reminds all of us how blessed we are to be part of this global family.

A few seats down you'll find Sathyabal from India next to Curnelius from Pakistan. To a casual observer that may seem perfectly logical considering the proximity of their home countries. Wait a minute. Aren't India and Pakistan political enemies struggling to maintain a fragile peace? Precisely. Which is what makes it so thrilling to watch as Sathyabal and Curnelius' brotherhood in Christ trumps their earthly citizenship. Their friendship must make Jesus smile, and I'm guessing he'll find some strategic ways to leverage their supernatural bond to showcase the true power of the Gospel.

The third picture is me next to Grace Awori. Grace leads our ministry in Uganda and is our first female National Director. It can't be easy being the only woman in the room, but Grace lives up to her name in everything she says and does. This is her second GC, and I was delighted when she asked if she could sit next to me. At her first GC she seemed cautious as she no doubt wondered how she'd be accepted. That's no longer a question in her mind or anyone else's, and her joyful presence right next to me shows she is 100% comfortable and now free to fully invest her leadership gifts in our movement.

I hope these pictures pop up in your mind as you're scanning your church auditorium deciding where to sit. Or the next time you walk into a departmental meeting at work. Or even look for a seat at your favorite coffee shop.

Because whether you're in Kenya or Kansas, where you sit really does say a lot about what you believe.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

Prayers Needed for Kenya Conference

2015-04-21 image-1We need your prayers this week.
Big time.

Sunday night nearly all our 14 Regional Directors plus a few key National Directors and five of us from our Atlanta office arrived in Nairobi, Kenya for our annual Global Consultation.

There are 30 of us all together, and though our agenda is well planned and full, our conference feels more like a family reunion than a business meeting.

Kenya has been in the news a lot lately. Especially the massacre of 150 Christian students at Garissa University.

That's four hours from here, so we feel relatively safe here at the Desmond Tutu Guest House and Conference Center. We follow the U.S. State Department warnings carefully and don't believe we are taking an irresponsible risk by meeting here.

2015-04-21 image-2Still, we need your prayers for safety, focus, and productivity. And please pray that Ellen and all the other family members the 30 of us left at home will have peace and not be filled with fear.

I'll try to send regular updates along with a few pictures during our week. If you have a minute, please respond by commenting below so I can assure our global team of your interest and prayer support. That kind of support means more than you'll ever fully understand.

None of the amazing reports we'll hear this week would be possible without your generous and consistent partnership. Thank you so much for traveling here with us through the miracle of prayer.

I've attached a picture of Stephen Mairori, our Kenyan National Director, and host for this year's Global Consultation.

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

Nicaragua Update #2

God Loves a Good Story

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Every good story weaves together setting, characters, and plot.

The great stories surprise us when seemingly insignificant details about the setting turn out to be essential to the story. Or minor, supporting characters suddenly take center stage and play a much larger role than we expected. Or we discover that intricate subplots running underneath the main plot are fascinating stories on their own.

Since God is the master story weaver, it shouldn't surprise us when he knits together these three elements in ways we never expected. Most times we never see it coming because great story tellers also excel in the element of surprise.

That's precisely what God did yesterday at our conference here in Managua, Nicaragua.

Lester Ruiz, the worship leader from The Bridge, my home church in Atlanta, traveled with me to lead worship at our conference.

Lester was born in Nicaragua, and spent the first 16 years of his life here in Managua. Then he immigrated to the U.S. where he met Jesus as his personal Savior and later answered God's call to a life of ministry.

2015-02-16 image-2When the conference planners told me they were looking for someone to lead worship, I knew Lester was the ideal choice. I also knew his mother and lots of his extended family live here, and that it had been seven years since he'd been home for a visit.

The sweet reunion when Lester's family met us at the airport the night before last confirmed that this was a subplot worthy of inclusion in the dominant story of this week -- the introduction of 250+ pastors to Chosen, our new course on the life of Mary.

But God, the ultimate story builder, had so much more planned for Lester than I ever imagined.

It took Lester all of thirty seconds to bond with the roomful of pastors and spouses. Before the first song was half over, he had us all singing passionately and worshipping freely.

I smiled inside, knowing that God had allowed me to play a small role in crafting this exciting story.

But I never expected the subtle subplot, or the surprising character development, or the hidden significance of our setting.

Last night I asked Lester to email me a few of his thoughts on day one of our conference. This morning I found these words in my inbox, and couldn't help but marvel at God's story weaving brilliance.

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What an especial and memorable experience today! Two of my deepest heart desires became a reality in my life.

My first time leading and facilitating worship in the city where I was born Managua, Nicaragua. I prayed to have an opportunity to serve people in this country one day, it felt really far away but I rested and waited for years knowing that this request was on God's hands.

The second especial experience was playing at The Camino Real Hotel. When I was a kid many times I went to pick up my Mother from the airport and every time I passed by the Hotel I used to wonder and dream about going in one day but we couldn't afford it, but that didn't stop me from dreaming that one day, I was going to be able to go.

Today, I was so excited because God made something that looked impossible, possible, He is faithful! I'm humbled and forever grateful that my Father gave me this amazing opportunity through Walk Thru The Bible to come to serve and be part of this amazing conference. Thank you God!

And there it was. The master story weaver had done it again! In the middle of the major story of the week, God loved Lester enough to craft a beautiful subplot just for him.

And the really cool part is that he has also written you into this story. Through your prayers and generous gifts to Walk Thru the Bible, you get to be a story shaper too. And someday in heaven we'll get to fully understand all the subplots God is writing in us and through us.

How cool will that be?


Next Stop: Nicaragua

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I don't want to annoy you with so many updates and blogs that you start ignoring my communication. But the truth is, I very much need your prayers the next few days, and I'm too dependent not to ask for your help.

It's Sunday night and I'm on Delta flight 369 heading to Managua, Nicaragua.

This is going to be a short trip so you'll have to pray really fast! I'll be in Nicaragua less than 60 hours, but my time there will be full and strategic.

2015-02-15 image-2Thanks to the wonderful partnership between our Central American regional director, Alejandro Oviedo, Harborside Christian Church in Florida, and Charley and Mary Anne Babcock, I'm once again heading to Managua to speak at their conference for over 250 pastors and their spouses.

My previous visits to this gathering have been amazing. Such eager, grateful students of God's Word. For many of these men and women, this is their only opportunity for training each year. What an honor to encourage and equip these dear brothers and sisters!

This week is especially strategic as I'll be test teaching Chosen, our new course on the life of Mary. The response to this material in both India and the U.S. has been encouraging, but this will be our first time to present this course in a predominantly Catholic culture.

We are praying that this new family of resources will build bridges rather than walls between Protestants and both Catholic and Orthodox believers.

The feedback we receive will be crucial as we prepare to put this new course in the hands of all 14 of our regional directors at our Global Consultation in Kenya this April.

Please pray for responsive hearts, constructive criticism, and passion to share this material all over Central America.

Please also ask God to shrink my own ego and deliver me from the pride of authorship that can so easily derail true creative collaboration.

I'll let you know how God answers your prayers and try to send a few photos so you can picture the people you're interceding for.

Thank you so much for living this adventure with me through the miracle of prayer.


Final India Update

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I've lived a lot of life since coming home from India two weeks ago, but the memories are still vivid. Reading all your encouraging comments and heartfelt prayers was so moving. Thank you for going with me to India through the miracle of prayer.

The previous eight updates captured most of the challenges and rewards our leaders in South Asia face every day. They also communicated most of my strongest memories from our trip.

There is, however, one more special moment I want to share with you.

As the conference was winding down, an idea appeared in my mind. At first I tried to push it aside since it wasn't part of the carefully built agenda that characterizes our gatherings in South Asia. But when the idea sunk its nails into my frontal cortex, I decided the impulse was from the Holy Spirit and went for it.

I placed a chair in the middle of our 25 person circle and asked our Regional Director, Vallab Sathyabal, to have a seat. He gave me an uncomfortable look as if to say, "I don't know what you have planned for me, but this is not our way, Pastor Phil."

That was music to my ears!

Our Atlanta headquarters team knows how much I love creating spontaneous moments that move people beyond their comfort zones. In fact, they've coined a term for such awkward encounters. They call it being "Tuttled."

Apparently our staff's exaggerated descriptions of these glorious experiences had made their way to Sathyabal's ears halfway around the world!

I assured him these activities rarely prove fatal, and he reluctantly took his place.

The rules were simple. As the microphone moved around the circle, each person was to look Sathyabal in the eye and tell him what they appreciate most about his character and leadership.

It took several reminders to get our trainers to look at Sathyabal rather than me, and to switch their pronouns from "he" to "you." When they finally embraced the idea, their affirmations were far more powerful than I'd hoped. Here are a few sound bites I managed to capture.

"You are younger than me, but you've been my role model for many years."

"I appreciate that though you demand high accountability, you do so as a brother rather than a boss."

"I'm serving in a position of great influence and responsibility. There's no way I would be ready for my current role if you hadn't mentored me for the past ten years."

"I love you because you gave me a second chance. You were right to release me years ago when I fell far short of my goals two years in a row. But three years later when I pleaded with you to reinstate me, you took a risk and gave me a chance to make things right. I'll never forget that you gave me grace."

2015-02-09 image-2Every man and woman spoke truth into Sathyabal's weary spirit as he slowly rotated his chair around the circle. His tears flowed freely as did mine. And then we gathered around, laid our hands on his trembling shoulders, and prayed for his personal walk with God, his marriage, and his ministry. Hearing Sathyabal describe the experience to his wife, Anitha, over dinner cemented the power of that moment in all our minds.

Someone once said, "encouragement is the oxygen of the soul." Sathyabal and the rest of us got to experience that truth in the final moments of our conference.

In the middle of more than a billion people, I got to see and hear just how much impact one person can have if his life is fully committed to daily discipleship and the miracle of mentoring.

Our brothers and sisters in South Asia plan to impact 1.2 million people through Walk Thru the Bible live events in 2015. That number is absolutely attainable because Sathyabal has chosen to lead by serving. He's the kind of leader others won't hesitate to follow.

The kind of leader I hope to someday be. How about you?

Exponential Effect

Today's post comes from Mark Schaff, International Trainer

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Can you double an exponential effect?

One formula is clear.
Train a teacher – that's addition.
Train a trainer – that's multiplication.
Train a trainer of trainers – that's exponential explosion.

This is the mathematical explanation of how last year's 25 South Asian consultation team members touched 1,180,000 lives.

We introduced a new formula yesterday. The KNOW. FEEL. DO. formula. Rather than simply training the South Asian leaders in the content of Chosen, Phil spent the day training the men in how to prepare and apply a message for transformation not information.

Dissecting the lessons of Chosen as an example, Phil guided the team in developing applications for their teaching. Determine what you want your students to KNOW, FEEL and Do from each Bible lesson.

The men engaged with Phil, each other, and Chosen with incredible energy. Gone were the quiet listening and words of appreciation after a polite pause. There was talkative chaos, leaning forward in seats with immediate questions, ah ha's, and affirmations.

"Why haven't you taught us this before?!" was heard more than once.

I winced a bit at that comment. "Hey, we've been teaching application for years. It is our DNA!" I thought. But life change is a process. Just because you said something once does not mean people learn it. Then I got swept up in the joy of learning with everyone else. The time was ripe for the men to grasp this lesson – method – teaching goal. This is the second exponential track at this year's consultation.

Addition – it influences their teaching of Chosen.
Multiplication – it changes all their Walk Thru the Bible course teachings.
Exponential Impact – the skill transfers to all their teaching far beyond Walk Thru the Bible curriculum.

As the KNOW. FEEL. DO. formula gets passed through the first formula of the training of trainers, we may do much more than double our impact.

Celebrate the continual growth of our South Asia team!

- Mark Schaff, International Trainer

India Update #7

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(Today's update is from Mark Schaff, our International Trainer)


The catalyst event for this whirlwind trip of preaching, teaching and training is up and running. The actual consultation has begun.

The various 'stats' are being tabulated:

  • 28 leaders
  • 15 languages
  • 4 countries

(It takes more than 3 minutes to sing the chorus of 'this is the day' in each language present).

For the 7th year in a row, the South Asia team has touched over a million lives with relevant Biblical messages. These messages ignite passion for God's Word and forge a group of men and women into a solid team that, to adapt a phrase, is 'taking a walk and changing the world.'

What impressed me today was the dynamics of the team. You would think the 27 hour train ride from Kolkata to Hyderabad would be a real drain. Physically, beyond a doubt. But the East / North East Zonal team arrived enthused.

Rarely seeing each other and spending a day+ together in a sleeping cabin is a rejuvenating reunion of fellowship. The larger team is separated by thousands of miles with major rivers and mountain ranges between them. This consultation is the one time they gather as group.

Between reports, they pray for one another - deep prayers of thanksgiving for deliverance from major car wrecks on the mountain roads of Punjab, healing of voices when one could not speak after traveling 200 miles to lead an event, protection from municipal governments that seek to disrupt and disperse church gatherings.

Years ago, gatherings like this were a time of friendly competition of reports and stories. Today, I saw a group of friends, deeply concerned for one another gathering around the Great Commission wanting their lives to count.

It has been fun watching Phil; without a translator he is 'cut free' to be more himself. The men are really connecting with him and soaking up CHOSEN. Today is Phil's birthday.

However corny, the picture that comes to mind is an old admiral commanding fleets of ships with all the vast responsibilities of the office, suddenly being allowed to jump on a small frigate. Zipping through the waves as a young captain with the sea spray and wind in his face. Phil is in full classic training mode. The skills and abilities that saw him rise to Dean of faculty, VP of International and President are still there and shining. Yea, he is a year older today. But the 'old guy' still has it.

OK, back to statistics. We have to make a new category for God's Grand Story. We currently count number of churches with live events, number of small groups, people attending, etc...but we did not think to add New Churches Started.

At least two small groups in South India gathered to study God's Grand Story. After hearing the messages and meeting for six weeks of study and devotions, they decided to continue meeting around God's Word. And 'bang,' a new church blooms and a local Walk Thru instructor begins nourishing a new leader with more life change material.

Thank you for your prayers. We feel them daily.

- Mark

P.S. Happy Birthday Mr. President!

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