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The Night Before the GPA

Ray Pritchard pastored in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. Married to Marlene for 38 years, he enjoys being a husband, a father and a grandfather, riding his bike, and playing with Dudley and Gary, beloved basset hounds.

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I am writing this note from one of the guest rooms at Dallas Theological Seminary. Just before we landed at DFW Airport, the pilot announced that the temperature was 96 degrees. I think he understated it because it felt like a blast furnace when I stepped outside. I had forgotten how hot Texas gets in the summer, and I know this isn’t really hot yet. In July and August they can have 10 or 20 or maybe 30 days in a row over 100 degrees. Still, this feels a lot hotter than Mississippi.
I’m here to teach at the Global Proclamation Academy tomorrow. The GPA is the brainchild of Ramesh Richard, a professor at the seminary and a longtime friend. He established the GPA as a means of training the cream of the crop of under-35 Christian leaders from developing countries. Generous donors have made it possible for men to come from places like Egypt, Zambia, Nigeria, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Brazil. They come to Dallas for an intensive three-week course that features visiting speakers (called Master Coaches) who teach in the areas of pastoral leadership, theological discernment and expository preaching. Ramesh handles the preaching sessions, today Oscar Lopez taught about the centrality of worship, and tomorrow I will teach the Apostles’ Creed. I’m giving all 24 attendees free copies of Credo: Believing in Something to Die For (donated by Crossway Books). On Thursday Stuart Briscoe will lead the sessions. Erwin Lutzer, Bruce Fong and Larry Moyer will be here next week. Robert Coleman and Mark Bailey will teach one day each during the third week. By the time the GPA is over, the men will go home to their respective countries with new encouragement and with many new contacts that will enable them to stay in touch with each other in the months to come.
Tonight I walked up Live Oak Street, intending to eat at McDonald’s. But instead I ended up at the Alligator Cafe, a funky little Cajun restaurant that serves some excellent shrimp and oyster gumbo and a very fine Po Boy sandwich. They also have alligator and crawfish gumbo, which I didn’t try, but I’m sure alligator tastes just like chicken, since that’s what they say about everything I’ve never eaten before.

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