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"The biggest challenge is the internal compromise within the church and especially amongst its leaders".
Having spent the last fourteen years as the European Director of School of Christ International (SOC), Keith Malcomson travels continually throughout the West ministering to build up the church of Christ.
It gave us great joy to catch up with Malcomson, who is also pastoring in Republic of Ireland, to ask him some questions about the mission of SOC and his ministry in “the prodigal continent”.
Will Graham (WG): Thanks for your time, brother Keith. Could you maybe start by telling us a little bit about SOC?
Keith Malcomson (KM): The SOC was birthed in the heart of brother B.H. Clendennen over a period of 20 years as a result of seeing serious problems in evangelism and in the order of the local church right across the world. He became very aware of the importance of dealing with individual leaders rather than mass crowds of sinners and believers. If you deal with a leader, he will deal with the Church and in turn that church will truly deal with the world. At the age of 70, after 43 years as a Christian, 39 years as a preacher and 35 years as a pastor he left his 600 member church in Beaumont (Texas) to run the first School of Christ in 1992 in Moscow (Russia). That first school ran for three months with 102 students who were mostly young preachers who eventually went forth to plant new churches in diverse places. Each day began at 6am with an hour of prayer followed by several hours of fervent, fiery biblical teaching and then the day finished with an hour of prayer.
From 1992 until 2009 (when brother Clendennen died), the School went forth into some 150 countries in different nations from the steps of the Kremlin to the Amazon jungles. In its first five years, there were 2,000 missionaries who had graduated the School of Christ in Russia and had gone forth to plant over 3,000 new churches in the old Soviet Union. Since then it has naturally spread with a life of its own out across the world. It spread strongly and widely in the Chinese underground church where it was used at a later point to train up leaders in the ‘Back to Jerusalem’ movement. Across the Middle East Schools were held in Iraq, Iran and Egypt. No culture, threat or danger was a barrier. It has been especially effective in prisons first in Russia and Siberia, then in South America and now across thousands of prisons in North America.
WG: Praise God. That’s wonderful. And what about you? How long have you been involved in SOC?
KM: I began to oversee the work in Europe in July 2001 at the age of 30. For the next eight years I worked very closely with brother Clendennen. At the time I had moved to another country in order to help a brother pioneer a new church in a place where there was no evangelical work. I was expecting a long period of pioneer evangelism but instead found myself thrown overnight into the task of dealing with leaders and believers in a Bible school setting. It has now been 14 wonderful years of working with this school. From the beginning I have called Europe the Prodigal Continent. While other regions of the world have enjoyed a measure of spiritual success Europe has experienced a terrible spiritual decline within the past generation. But I do not believe the Lord has finished. This school was birthed to recover the church to its simple biblical roots and this is vitally needed in Europe. As I write I am preparing to leave for Germany to teach the school. We will minister 37 messages in five days to leaders and believers gathered from several different cities and towns.
WG: At a personal level, why do you think SOC is important?
KM: The School was birthed of the Lord with a vision for spiritual recovery. It is not just a Bible course or a means to gather knowledge or to learn a skill. The goal of the school is to make the preacher into the truth he will preach. It is to establish him in a daily altar of prayer and consecration. If the church across our nations was healthy there would be no need for this school. But the church is sick and we are living through a spiritual famine. It is extremely hard in most nations to find a real church where Christ, the Bible and the Cross are preached. Holiness, prayer and obedience are now referred to as legalism. Foolish games, strange manifestations and an endless invention of gimmicks have filled the church. This school proves that the Lord still honours the pattern and practise of going back to the simplicity, purity and power of the first church birthed in an upper room in Jerusalem. This school will continue to make this stand and to call the church back again to truth and reality.
Another reason the Lord birthed the school was to prepare a people and to forge them into a vessel that would be used in revival. In the school we call this vessel The New Cruse (II Kings 2:20). Few revivals in all of church history started with big gatherings. In Ulster (Northern Ireland) the great 1859 revival in which 100,000 were saved began two years previous with four new converts meeting in a schoolhouse and these initial meetings never drew more than fifty people until the revival came. In Wales the Lord started with a 26 year old man called Evan Roberts in a youth meeting of 18 people. They became the vessel. In the Scottish island of Lewis the Lord began with two old sisters one of whom was blind and the other crippled up with arthritis. Several elders joined these ladies in prayer. Again this was the Lords vessel. This school was birthed to deal with such individuals who will be set apart from all the confusion in the contemporary church and prepared as consecrated vessels.
WG: Amen. What have been some of your most memorable experiences with the School?
KM: In 2001 I went with Brother Pete who oversaw the school ministry in the prisons to Lima (Peru). Just four years before this ABC in America broadcast a programme calling Lurigancho prison in Lima one of the most dangerous prisons in the world which was also verified by National Geographic. It contained 6,000 men of whom 50% walked about almost naked and 90% were on crack cocaine. A young man arriving at this prison was almost guaranteed to be raped in the first week. People were stabbed to death regularly. The guards did not enter the inner region of the prison. Brother Clendennen saw the documentary and was immediately burdened to do something. He phoned Brother Pete and asked him to go.
When I arrived at the prison with the team there was now a thriving church on every wing. About 2,000 of these men had professed salvation in a life changing encounter with Christ. The prison was filled with the Word of God, prayer and on visiting day many young preachers ringed the prison who stood and preached the gospel to the many thousands of visitors. We sat with the General over the prison who told us as an eye witness of this change that “the Word of God has done this”. We also visited the nearby terrorist prison called Castro Castro containing many from the Shining Path. Several hundred men were in it and three hundred professed salvation. We ministered daily in these prisons preaching and testifying.
I could share a great host of testimonies like this from across the world. The Lord has used very normal believers who have graduated in this school to do extraordinary things in recent times yet they are unknown to the contemporary compromised church of the West. Eternity will reveal all. Brother Clendennen never attempted to record these things in any public fashion.
One of the great joys of these years was to work with brother Clendennen for eight years. I loved him more than any other man in my entire life. He was more than a preacher. He was a friend although fifty years my senior and he treated me like a son. I have studied church history closely and would say that I believe he was a unique vessel in this generation. He was a mix of John Knox, John Wesley and Hudson Taylor. He was a faithful man of God who served the Lord in purity. I miss him very much.
WG: Yes, I had the privilege of meeting him a few times myself. He was a precious man of God. Brother Keith, if someone wants to attend an upcoming School, how can they get in contact with you?
KM: Anyone wanting further information or wanting to apply for the school can access our website and fill in an application form at www.soc-europe.weebly.com they can also email us at email@example.com
WG: I’d also like to ask you some more general questions if you don’t mind. What do you think are the big challenges for modern day Christianity?
KM: The biggest challenge is not persecution, the Devil, atheism, communism, commercialism or Islam. Neither is it lack of funds, lack of training or teaching. The biggest challenge is the internal compromise within the church and especially amongst its leaders. The big movements within evangelicalism still have enough truth and knowledge to be counted orthodox but not enough to stop the spiral downwards. Present leadership have built on the back of real believers but do not walk, talk or believe like our forefathers in the faith. I believe contemporary churches, movements and Bible schools are bottle-necked by fear-ridden leaders who are scared to rock the boat. Or on the other hand they are so involved with contemporary teachings, revivals and methodology that the Spirit of God cannot use them to call the church back to reality. Like Eli they are upright godly men but they are old, fat and blind. Those who do see with prophetic vision are almost totally locked out of the place of influence in the west. I believe this is the strategy of the Devil. Good can most certainly be the very enemy of the best. What seems good in the church sternly resists what is God’s best. It has always happened.
The Lord will either move outside the contemporary nominal evangelical movement to start all over again, or He will act drastically in raising up a voice and an instrument within contemporary evangelicalism to utterly turn everything upside down. The world’s population is now bigger than ever in history. According to scripture the last days will be marked by the tragic loss of millions and billions of lives. I believe the Lord will send one last revival to bring in one last harvest. It’s not over yet...
WG: Amen. It’s not over yet indeed. And Keith, if you could give a piece of advice to our younger readers on Evangelical Focus, what would it be?
KM: Establish a daily altar of prayer. Soak your mind and heart in the written truth of the Bible and in fervent prayers. Seek for deep personal communion with Christ. Stay away from the confusion of what is popular in the church. Walk holy. Be separate from the world. Make yourself ready as a pure vessel for Christ. Don’t seek after ministry—it’s empty. Cry out for God’s will and guidance daily. Study the Word of God. Read it at every opportunity. Hide it in your heart that you might not sin against the Lord. Pray for a spiritual revival that the Lord will come mightily to your generation.
WG: Thanks so much, brother. And one final question before we let you go: could you name us some of your heroes in the faith and explain why?
KM: They are too many to number. I love church history and I love revival history. I love men like Robert Murray McCheyne and his fellow labourer, William Chalmers Burns, because of their prayer life, holiness and passion as well as the revivals God used them in while just in their 20’s. I love Alexander Peden and Leonard Ravenhill because they were true prophets and did not change direction in their latter days. I love George Mueller and Hudson Taylor because of their integrity concerning money. Their faith in God was manifest by never making known their financial needs publically. I love Thomas Walsh who John Wesley called his greatest Methodist preacher and the greatest soul winner that he ever knew and yet this young man wore out his body in labours, left us no books and barely a testimony yet took thousands to Heaven, although now forgotten in obscurity. I love the writings of Thomas Watson the English Puritan and Thomas Boston the Scottish Covenanter. These men knew God and preached Christ. They understood the place of law and grace and preached the everlasting covenant beautifully as did John Bunyan, Andrew Murray and C.H. Spurgeon. In my own life time women like Jackie Pullinger who went to Kowloon City in Hong Kong as a missionary labouring among the triad gangs (whom I met three times) have inspired me and of course B.H. Clendennen who I watched closely up until the age of 87 travel the world constantly in preaching truth with great love and power.
WG: Thanks so much, brother for everything. May the Lord keep prospering your labour for him in Ireland, in Europe and beyond!