I wanted to supply my thoughts and history as a student and as a leader in the work of God, with special emphasis on the School of the Scriptures. My hope is that my history as one of the doyens of the School of the Scriptures would be used to encourage future students in their work and personal development before the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, I should like to state clearly, that I am not giving out myself as some great one. By God’s grace and the work he has begun, and is performing, I have had many blessed opportunities, met many good men, and been able to do and teach what our Savior commanded.
There are millions of others who have done more for God’s work than I have. My hope is that many more will do greater works than I have. I simply have put in writing my experience and a testimony of God’s goodness, expecting it to be a help to others. The reader should know the things written are stated – not to “sing my own praises” – but to praise the God who made me. I believe Jesus has used me despite my faults.
The order and content of this testimony is not intended to be an exhaustive record of all that God has done. I have distilled the history to put forth those things that I believe will honor the work of Jesus Christ through the School of the Scriptures.
God saved me by his grace in February 1985. I was a young man of 25 years, but more foolish and carnal than most. I was saved as I read through the Paul’s Epistle to the Romans from a King James Bible. I really did not understand what it was I was reading. I knew it was “the Bible,” but I was reading it more of curiosity having some time on my hands. I chose Romans because I thought it would speak of Roman soldiers and battles and the empire. Perhaps it spoke of strategies and conquests, I thought. After reading the first chapter I was amazed that anyone would write in such a way. I could see the author was not typical in that he did not exalt man. He did not praise man. He told the truth about man. Whoever the author was, he was bold to tell the truth. By the time I read chapter ten I was ready to believe what was written. I did what Paul said was needed in v. 9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
From that point forward I was a new creature. My old life was gone. Although I did not understand all of what happened, I knew I was different. I knew my heart was being influenced by God. My desires changed.
In just a few weeks my life was completely different. The use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, swear words, filthy communications, and other sinful habits had left my life for good. I did my best to tell my ungodly “friends” about Jesus and what he did, but they simply avoided me.
I knew God had saved me. And truthfully, because of this change in my life – a change that I did not think I needed or wanted at the time – I have never doubted my salvation. For I know I would not be where I am unless God had intervened.
Growing up I was considered a bright person. I usually did well at school. School seemed easy to me and I was usually in the advanced classes growing up. I fulfilled my third, sixth, and eighth grades in private schools in Mexico City, because of my father’s work there. I spent a lot of unsupervised time on the streets of Mexico City because my father worked all day and there was no one else. But we always had a home in Los Angeles county where my mother and siblings lived. I was born and lived most of my life as a lost person in L.A. County, going to public schools.
Part of the California educational system is the Los Angeles Unified School District. I was part of their “busing” experiment in the early 1970’s. Those in power, in an effort to achieve school desegregation, transported students outside their local school districts to other schools, as a means of “rectifying” racial segregation. What it meant to kids like me was that elementary school-aged white students were taken on buses to schools with mostly black students, and black kids were taken to schools with mostly white students.
Whatever the hopes of those in charge were, I can say that kids are kids, and we made friends (or enemies) regardless of skin color. I think that was their hope. However, we had friends at school and different friends at home. At ten years old, on my first day at a new school – a school my three older siblings did not attend – I defended another “white kid” from bullying and got into a fight. It was me against three others. Although I lost, it was a blessing, for “reputation” carried a lot of weight in that school. For the next two years nobody messed with me. Others knew this kid would fight at least three on one. Overall, those years were pleasant, and I mean not to speak ill of them. These were eye-opening times in my life.
During the middle school years I was tested to see if I was an advanced or gifted student. Somehow my name was on a list and I went through a few tests. I remember how easy the questions were. They were not, what is 25 times 8, or things like that. The questions were more like, what does this flat shape make if you fold it along the dotted lines? Or, if you have three containers – 10 ounces, 3 ounces, and 1 twenty ounce – how can you measure 16 ounces? The school put me in the highest classes available at the middle school.
By the time I entered high school – my freshmen year – I had been put in all the highest classes available. I was in class with seniors and the classes were easy. After my freshmen year I graduated with my high school diploma.
At fifteen I started attending California State University in Los Angeles. Because I did not drive, I had to take the bus (again) to school. The second year I was able to drive.
I was soon bored with university – for it seemed easy and a waste of time. I got all A’s except in my philosophy class, for I thought the philosophers had it wrong. I realized later the teacher did not appreciate some kid disagreeing with his means of income. I got my first F grade.
When I was sixteen, as I waited for my grandmother to do her shopping, I was interested in the Armed Forces Recruitment office near the store. I went in to look around, knowing very little. In that office were men from the five armed forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. As a kid with no future the images and slogans looked good. I asked what one had to do to join. They told me I had to be at least seventeen with have parental consent. I asked what they could offer, and they made it clear I had to take the military exam (AFQT) so they would know which branch I could qualify for. Every branch requires a different score. At the time they did not seem too interested in me, but I registered to take the test.
I remember taking the test. I had to travel downtown to a military office and spend most of the day filling in dots on scorecards. The room was full, and it took hours to finish the tests. I was surprised when I returned to the enlistment office because as soon as I walked in – the men who had first seemed disinterested in me – all got up and came to me smiling and they knew who I was. It turned out I had maxed the test, getting a perfect score. The test is designed to have about half of the population score 50% or higher, and about 16% of the population scores above 60%.
I was informed I could choose any branch and any area of service. I qualified to be anything I wanted in the military and do any job I wanted. So I asked a simple question: I asked which branch was the most challenging. The all looked to the Marine. I said I would take that. Looking back, they probably thought the smart kid is really dumb. Looking back myself, I probably should have gone with the Air Force, but that is water over the dam.
My grandmother had to sign to give me permission to enlist (my mother having passed away, and I moved from under my father’s care). I was only sixteen when I signed, but the recruiter said once I turned seventeen, they would come and get me. A few months later they came to induct me. A week after I turned seventeen, I was standing on yellow footprints at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot having drill instructors calling me names and using words I had never heard before. When asked why I joined, I say what every other person says – I was tired of people telling me what to do. On that day in February, I was the youngest man in the Marine Corps.
My M.O.S. in the U.S.M.C. was helicopter mechanics. I enjoyed the training and did well. I usually finished the trainings early – because they process students out once they learn the information.
After the military I worked in the engineering field. After forty years I am still doing that type of work. God has been good.
After active duty I was reserve, and I went back to university for a short time and applied to Annapolis. At that time a candidate had to pass physical and aptitude testing, and have a congressional recommendation, along with a background check.
I did very well on the physical exam – being in the Marines, and I did well on the written exams. I was able to meet with congressmen in Los Angeles and they gave me the necessary recommendations. I was almost approved until they found that “F” grade I received in philosophy. All the other good things did not excuse that, and I was rejected. A man reaps what he sows.
As mentioned earlier, I was saved at twenty-five. At the time I owned a house (purchased years before), had good employment working as a Senior Project Engineer for Mattel Toys, and was in good health by God’s grace.
I moved to Rhode Island in 1986 and joined Colonial Baptist Church, in Pawtucket. I was working as a Senior Project Engineer for Hasbro, Inc.
It was at the church, under the leadership of pastor Mark A. Jacobs, that I was baptized, called to be a pastor, and learned the work of the ministry. Brother Jacobs is an extraordinary servant of God and he retired as pastor of Anchor Baptist Church in Massillon, Ohio.
I can truthfully, but humbly, say that I love the Bible and that reading it during this time was an immense blessing. To me the Bible was clear and somewhat easy to understand. I understood contexts, applications, meaning of words, and how to rightly divide; and with the help of the Holy Ghost I can say God gave me good understanding of the Book. I studied just about every aspect of theology, read any good book on the subject, and had a great pastor to teach and preach to me, and have discussions. Concordances, dictionaries, and lexicons were often used. We did regular door-to-door canvassing, personal visitation, and other things so that I would learn the work of the ministry.
I was studying by correspondence shortly after surrendering to the ministry. I was still seeking God’s leading as to where or whether to attend school when I got a call from a previous coworker who asked if I would be interested in working at Poulan/Weed Eater in Shreveport, LA. I looked at my Rand-McNally map (we did not have google maps or the internet back then) and I noticed in Shreveport a notation for Baptist Christian College. When I called them the secretary explained that the college was not for preachers. However, she said they did have a seminary that had just started and that I could be part of the first class. God bless Sister Weaver, because whatever we talked about made me think this could be an open door.
I applied and got the position at P/WE as an engineering manager. I enrolled in Louisiana Baptist Seminary, joined Baptist Tabernacle, and worked on staff. I was the Bus Director and later a Sunday School teacher.
While in Shreveport I attended seminary three nights a week. We still were faithful to the four church services, and we did visitation most of the day Saturday. Sunday we were all day at church. I also worked forty-plus hours a week in my secular responsibilities. We had three children at that time. Basically, Friday nights were our family nights. This was something we continued for many years. I always knew this part of our life would be the easiest. By God’s grace we now have nine children.
I remember the seminary program being mainly review. For this I give credit to Pastor Jacobs. He had so well prepared me for the ministry that about 95% of what was taught in seminary I already knew. It was (and still is) a good school.
I completed the 4-year bachelor program in two years. I worked on staff and I was asked by Pastor Tharpe to take over the leadership of Baptist International. This was around 1989. Pastor Tharpe conferred on me a Doctor of Divinity degree (I was 29 years old) for two reasons: First, pastor Tharpe was impressed with my understanding, and faithfulness and loyalty to the church and my pastor. He had over a dozen earned doctorates and he had seen many men come through his church and schools. I took this as a great honor and again, giving credit to Pastor Jacobs. Secondly, he wanted me to lead the school (B. I.), and said I needed to possess the credentials.
I remember before we joined Baptist Tabernacle, when we first met Pastor Tharpe. I had invited him to our hotel room, and I wanted to know about the church to make sure we were aligned before joining and working therein.
Pastor Tharpe remarked more than once that I asked him so many questions he felt as if he was joining my church rather than the other way around. He was a great man of God.
My first meeting with Don Fraser was in May 1989. I was asked to be part of a meeting in Pastor Tharpe’s office. In that meeting were Pastor Tharpe, Don Fraser, a few other men, and me. Bro. Fraser was turning over the curricula for Baptist International to Pastor Tharpe, after working on it for over twenty years. Twelve years earlier (1977), Bro. Fraser had earned his Ph.D. through Baptist Christian University and had proved that churches should and could publish the scriptures. From that point forward, Bro. Fraser finalized his teaching curricula for the university in Shreveport.
Bro. Fraser handed the notebook to Pastor Tharpe, saying he had fulfilled his request, and that he would now dedicate the rest of his life to caring for his wife. Brother Tharpe took the notebook and handed it to me, without setting it down, saying that he wanted me to take over the school.
In obedience to my pastor, I obeyed, not really knowing what was involved. Bro. Tharpe also asked me to visit Bro. Fraser regularly in Bowie, Texas to learn more about the program and get “up to speed.”
At that time I really did not know the program or all of what was involved.
I made many visits to Bowie and spent hours with Don Fraser. I admit his knowledge, understanding, and speech were at a much higher level than what I could understand. I knew my duty was to learn, so all I could do was write all that he said with the hopes of better understanding later.
Really, for the first time, I struggled with trying to get my understanding to his level. To this day I am still convinced he is substantially wiser and that he has more understanding than I will ever have. Even as I read my notes from thirty years ago, I am impressed with the wisdom of his teaching.
I say this not to lift up myself, but to show my experience.
The Baptist International curricula proved to me to be so excellent that it is far above what a normal seminary offers. I was very impressed, even as a man that was no novice. I am still impressed today. Even decades later I have no better program to offer. Furthermore, the longer I teach the program the more value I see in it and the better it proves itself to be. I ask myself from time to time, what subjects should be taught to a man so that he is prepared well for the ministry. Any discipline needed I have found in the program.
Not only are the subjects correct, but the order and method of teaching is scriptural.
From the time I took over the leadership of the school I worked through every detail of the curricula and earned all levels taught (Associates through Ph.D.). I also had the opportunity to earn a Th.D. through New England Baptist Schools in the early nineties while pastoring.
One way the Lord teaches, is by taking the knowledge, which is much higher than we can comprehend, and make it much simpler so we can understand it. At the same time, the original teaching is still complex. Consequently, a person can study and study the same teaching his whole life and never exhaust the depth and knowledge of God. The layers of understanding are to us, for all intents and purposes, infinite.
This means we can never finish our studying, learning, or teaching. We must do the due diligence to provide a thorough curriculum for teaching the subject the best we can for that level, but at the same time prepare the student so he can continue to study and learn for himself.
We learn by doing – Psalm 111:10 says: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
One must be obedient to the commandments then God gives the understanding. God’s teaching follows an order. Note Isaiah 28:10: “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little….”
A man learns by first receiving the precepts – shown by obedience. Then he puts forth the diligence to learn line upon line – the word mentioned four times. At this point he can learn topically – here and there a little.
The School of the Scripture recognizes and follows this method.
Our Master Teacher, the Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, gave us his commandments. He commanded us to teach disciples to “observe all things” he commanded (Matthew 28:20). His apostles and other leaders obeyed. Any scriptural curriculum should major on the commandments of Christ, or it simply misses the whole target of the Lord’s teaching.
The Lord gave us his Sermon on the Mount at the beginning of the New Testament. In that he starts with milk and precepts as to how we ought to be obedient. He said this in Matthew 5:19:
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
We want our ministers to be great in the kingdom.
The Lord’s work can be taught by using many different examples and commandments. One method Jesus used was by speaking parables.
For example, consider this:
Jesus spoke in parables because he tried to explain the hard things of God in simple terms that faithful people would understand. Those who rejected his authority or did not have a heart to learn could not understand the parables. Those who did want to follow God could glean much from the Lord’s teaching.
A parable at first seems simple, but it is still confusing and very deep. The parable also reveals such truth that it takes much effort to study and understand. We understand with the heart (Matthew 13:15). Furthermore, if Jesus had not interpreted his first parable, we would not know how to understand all the others (Mark 4:13). How we understand his first parable is key to understanding all parables.
In Matthew 13 we find the Lord’s Parabolic Discourse, the third discourse found in Matthew. Matthew 13:3 is the first mention of the word parable in the New Testament: “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow….”
Meditate on the wisdom of this first part of the first parable of Jesus: “Behold, a sower went forth to sow….”
You must first “behold” – that is, you must put forth effort to look and learn. You must put forth attention and think and reason in your heart – behold. And this is what we are to behold: “a sower went forth to sow.”
We know what the sower sows – he sows the seed. The seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11).
We know the sower is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The Sower goes to Sow. This is very deep if the reader can grasp it. It is our whole duty and work. It was what our Savior did while on this earth.
We follow Jesus, so we, too, ought to be sowers. Our purpose in going is to Sow. If we go forth for any other reason, we are not Sowers. Jesus uses simple words – Sower, Sow, Seed, and Sent.
Why did Jesus sow? He was sent by the Father to sow – Matthew 10:40; 21:37; Luke 4:18, 43; John 3:17, 34; 4:34; 5:23, 37-38; 6:29, 38-44; 7:16; 8:16-18; 14:24; 17:18; etc.
Then, the last time Jesus uses the word “sent” in the gospels is in John 20:21: “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.”
So, even in Jesus’ first parable, as simple as those few words are, we have our doctrine:
Any program of teaching must teach students to do this, or it falls short. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 is the commandment – teach all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all things that Christ commanded. This is the work of world-wide sowing.
Any school that attempts to prepare ministers of the gospel must include these three aspects.
I admit some “bible colleges” do not teach their students the necessity of publishing the scriptures. They do not emphasize the Seed, which is needed to be sown worldwide.
Some “bible colleges” are not under church authority, and consequently they cannot Send anyone (and woe to those who try).
Some “bible colleges” do not teach to observe ALL OF CHRIST’S COMMANDMENTS, but maybe just a few that they like. They do not fully prepare the Sowers.
In summary, we need churches (Senders) to train their men (Sowers) to sow the Seed (the word of God).
As a young man, fairly bright and well-taught in the word of God, after graduating with a bachelor degree in theology, and considered by his church to be worthy of responsibility; I realized quickly how much good doctrine I lacked when my eyes were opened to the School of the Scriptures.
Some may gainsay and think this is so simple. Some may think they already know this. They may say this is but milk. But allow me to ask some questions:
I remember Brother Fraser showing me the commandment in Romans 16:26: “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith…,” and afterwards asking me point blank, “What are you going to do about it.”
I ask you the same question: God commands his churches to distribute the word of God to all nations. What are you going to do about it?
I was sent out of Baptist Tabernacle in March 1991, to start a church in Rhode Island. Pastor Tharpe had a three-fold vision for his ministry: Preachers, Missions, and Scriptures. As an educated man in the ministry with so much experience, Brother Tharpe told us that these three things were the most important things to him. Consequently, when we started Historic Baptist Church, we followed the same vision – Preachers, Missions, and Scriptures. These words were on our first sign and they still are thirty years later. These three areas are the same as we mentioned above: Sowers, Senders, and Seed.
When our church organized as the 51st mission out of B. T., we included the scripture publishing as a core work of the church. It is written in our church covenant. Just as the tables of stone were kept in the ark of the covenant, we included God’s word in the covenant of the church. We organized in May and by July we had donated printing equipment from Brown University. During my time in seminary I was allowed an opportunity to attend a local secular college and take an offset printing class. This was of help as I had to do the printing in the basement of our building, which thing I did for years.
By September we were printing Gospels of John and John/Romans in various languages, with many tracts and other church material (a service of love we offered to other churches).
Between 1991 and 1999 we printed tons and tons of scriptures. We did it all – layout, plate-making, printing, collation, assembly, trimming, and distribution.
That first year we also started Rhode Island Baptist Seminary, using the S. O. S. completed and approved curricula. We have trained men non-stop for thirty years. One man, Robert Baker, became our printer for a few years (1996 – 1999). He was then called to Honduras, one of the poorest countries on this side of the world. He went there by God’s grace. He started three churches in the poorest of villages. Some had no electricity. But he understood the need for Seed. He was a Sower, he started three Senders, and he took the means to produce Seed on the field.
This experiment was wonderful and yielded great fruit. In each of the three locations, Brother Baker used his electric generator and digital printer and printed scriptures for the people in the villages. Once the Seed was sown and a church was started (Sender) and a man trained (a Sower), he went to another place and started over. We still have a copy of the scriptures produced on the field by this man.
In 2000, Our church transitioned from the Headwater scripture printing model to the “McDonald’s” model of scripture printing. There is still much use for the Headwater model, and we have these great churches still printing huge quantities of scripture today. However, these churches must have the support of other churches to supply funds for paper and laborers for assembly. Furthermore, the Headwater churches need to ship huge quantities to foreign countries and make sure there are reliable people there to receive and distribute the Seed.
Because of digital technology, we identified the wisdom of training Senders to supply Seed for themselves. Just as the restaurant chain McDonald’s does not have a centralized restaurant that sends happy meals to every country, we wanted each church to feed themselves (Senders) and their missionaries (Sowers). Just as McDonald’s puts a small restaurant in every town, to feed the local community, we envisioned churches in every community providing Seed to their people.
This plan for reproduction was proved by Brother Baker, and it required two changes in the teaching program: First, the tonnage requirements had to be shifted to saturation requirements. Secondly, we had to accelerate the process of scripture involvement (distribution, assembly, production, and reproduction – i.e., teaching) so churches could print the scriptures more quickly.
We have proved this out again with the years of work in Peru, taking the work to a higher level (i.e., New Testaments).
Working with like-minded pastors we have supplied the digital files for the scriptures, encouraged them to use local printers, and supplied funds to help in the production of scriptures. We have found the cost of scripture production in Peru to be less that 20% of what it costs in the United States. Furthermore, we eliminate the cost of shipping and the risk of loss. The cost of shipping can sometimes exceed the cost of scriptures, depending on quantity. Finally, and most importantly, the churches have learned to feed themselves. The Senders have learned to produce their own Seed. Now, as they train Sowers, these men are properly equipped.
With the B. I. S.O.S. program, the churches have a means of preparing Sowers and producing Seed.
As we have said many times, in respect to the scripture work, God does not lack material, money, methods or means. He only lacks men who desire to do the work (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2).
Rhode Island Baptist Seminary offers all material free of charge (Matthew 10:8). The School of the Scriptures is not only proved, but it is just and right and fulfills Jesus’ commandments.
We have offered the program for thirty years, and it has been available in partial form for twenty years before that.
I believe it has it all.
We operate honoring church authority (1 Timothy 3:15). We do and teach (Acts 1:1). We have the Great Commission as our primary task. We use the right scripture texts (MT and T/R). We prepare a man fully for the work of the Lord.
Brother Don Fraser, a simple man from Texas, will, I believe, be one of the most rewarded men at the judgment seat of Christ. In his life he showed churches the commandment of Christ for their churches to be sowers of the seed, and to produce and provide the seed worldwide. He developed a program of teaching whereby churches can be senders of sowers. He is responsible for the publishing and distribution of literally hundreds of thousands tons of scripture worldwide. Hundreds of millions of souls have received the word of God because this man understood – AND APPLIED – that first parable of Jesus. Don Fraser taught the Lord’s commandments by example.
Some may think I wrote this to boast or to show myself as a mighty important person. This is not true. I hesitantly write these things (I write these things as a fool, Paul said – 2 Corinthians 11:23) to show that even as an educated man, I was literally overwhelmed with the wisdom and teaching found in the School of the Scriptures. I say now without reservation – there is no better program.
Time is short. We need to be busy.