Dr. Phil and Rhonda Ann Smuland
Life & Ministry
For years Philip Smuland passed through different periods of license and legalism leaving him in doubt of his salvation. Raised in Texas by two godly parents he professed Christ but lived like a fool. However, sometime in his thirties the Lord broke through a hardened heart with the Gospel of grace. Undoubtedly, this was part of God’s wonderful wisdom preparing Phil for the ministry. He can relate to the prodigal and the elder brother.
After serving the Lord as an associate pastor in L.A, California, Phil and Rhonda Ann saw God work in extraordinary ways in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where he shepherded a church for 18 years. That fruitful ministry galvanized their confidence in at least six things:
1.The Gospel really is the power of God unto salvation. Don’t dabble with it, mine it & teach it, teach it, teach it! The primacy of Christ’s ministry is God’s Word. The Bible is not your message material – it is your message.
2.God-blessed people are prayer-saturated people.
3.Be faithful. Only God can bring life & holiness. He sovereignly works through His Spirit to bring His God-glorifying results. Guard against fear that destroys love, joy, & worship. Don’t try to be clever.
4.Impact people are in the life-long pursuit of Christ.They’re characterized by love, grace, and holiness.
5.Discipleship is God’s plan for expanding His Kingdom (most effective in the context of quality churches). Too many gifted saints have been one-generational: they made a splash in their day, but had no ripple effect after they were gone. Without discipleship, churches tend to become pastor-dependent or program-dependent while the real work of formulating Christ in the souls of people is neglected.
6.Promoting non-biblical or extra-biblical philosophies can be fatal in God’s work. They cause dissensions & distractions. God is dishonored when we speculate on truth. Only His Word changes lives, not our human foolishness emanating from a shallow anemic understanding of Biblical truth.
Overseas Discipleship of Pastors
EPI professors are able to systematically instruct large groups of 100 to 800 pastors at a time. The vast majority of pastors in Africa, Middle East, and Asia could never get this training otherwise. When the Scripture is opened they seem to receive it as if it came straight from heaven. Instead of the pastors wearing out, we find that they want the studies to go on and on (except for the occasional break for tea, of course!)
Beside working with large groups, Phil also seeks to disciple smaller groups of 30 or 40 pastors over extended periods of time (such as 24 to 36 months). These brothers desire seminary level training while learning a life of