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A Reflection on Faithfulness to the Missio Dei and the Example of Rev. Tony Curto

25 June, 2008

It deeply concerns me that 45 to 70 well trained men from the various Reformed seminaries eagerly seek the few well paying PCA (don’t know the stats for the OPC or URC) pulpits in the suburbs near golf courses, or beaches or other Western comforts — while our friend Fletcher Matandika’s father is himself serving as many as 20 needy village churches in Malawi. Also, there are as many as double the number of Reformed believers in the tiny country of Nigeria, which is often thick with persecution, as there are in the entire cozy U.S. What prevents many more of us (the Reformed in America) from forsaking all of our personal peace and affluence to follow Christ in the missio Dei (the mission of God)? Are we snared by American idols?

Thankfully there are a few modern Reformers who are still blazing trails.

Yesterday I was so blessed to hear WSC/WTS-trained Dr. Tony Curto preach at the Vista, California OPC. 8 years ago I had the privilege of building his home in Karamoja Ughanda where he and his wife Kathlene started a mission to the famous ‘warrior tribe’ which is now run by David Okken.

That summer in Africa while I was helping others build in the hot sun the Curtos went out of their way to befriend me. Tony would often take me on a few road adventures to visit villages where he preached open-air — to giant armed men — that their witch doctors are of the devil and weak compared with the risen King. I remember crawling into small huts filled with 8 or so men waiting to be trained by Tony as elders. Sometimes we just drove to the nearest town (4 hrs?) to get supplies.

Tony looks a bit older now than I remember him from 2000. He sports a bright white beard like Gandalf. He and his wife Kathleen, from opulant San Diego, have remarkably been responsible for planting 13 churches (an entire presbytery) in hot, poor and often dangerous Ughanda — and 9 more churches in Ethiopia. He now is a professor at Greenville Seminary and an amazing preacher and still frequents other countries to train men up for the ministry/missio Dei.

I hope my wife, daughter and I get to follow in the Curtos’ footsteps. What a life he and Kathleen have lived. And they’re not done yet.

Dr. Tony Curto is a native of Cherry Point, NC, but has lived in many places. He came to Christ during the Jesus Movement in Southern California in 1972. After his conversion he felt the call to Gospel Ministry and attended a small non-denominational Bible school, God’s Army, where he received his earliest training in open air preaching. He earned a BA in Bible from Southern California College (78), an MA from Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia (80), an MDiv from Westminster Seminary in California (83), and a DMin in Preaching from Westminster Seminary in California (96). He wrote his D.Min project on Preaching in the Marketplace.

Dr. Curto was a pastor for 15 years in Southern California, serving as a regional home missionary in Southern California for 2 years. For 9 years he served the OPC foreign missions committee as a missionary evangelist to Uganda and continues his service as a part time missionary evangelist to Ethiopia. He now serves full time as Associate Professor of Practical Theology in Missions and Evangelism at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in South Carolina. Dr. Curto has been married for 34 years to his beautiful wife, Kathleen, and has 6 children, 3 of which were adopted from Uganda. The Curtos also have 3 grandchildren.

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5 Comments
  1. 26 June, 2008 4:01 pm

    Amen! I am convicted.

  2. 26 June, 2008 8:39 pm

    Cool Austin, Let’s start a sem and some churches anywhere but here.

  3. 28 June, 2008 2:10 pm

    I have the privilege of sitting under Dr. Curto at GPTS. I have two classes with him this fall.

  4. 28 June, 2008 6:48 pm

    You’re a very privileged man to be sitting under him. Very encouraging and pastoral. See if you can have dinner with him. Kathlene is a wonderful cook.

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