Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump? Transformational Preaching in the Philippines

Dear Friends and Partners,

Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump?

Instead of preaching his own sermons, Pastor Larry read from Bible commentaries for an information-heavy preaching ministry. After beginning TNT, he learned God’s purpose for information in the Bible isn’t only to inform the mind, but to transform lives. Now equipped to study and preach messages for himself, Larry’s preaching brought new, Spirit-backed power.

Cely, a woman in his church battling stage-four bone and liver cancer, took notice of the new Larry. God was changing her life and her church due to her pastor’s TNT-influenced preaching. She soon found out Pastor Larry was training other pastors all over her country, including in her hometown. “How can I help? I want to sponsor the training there because I know what God has done in my life through you.”

Months later, after arriving at the airport in Cely’s hometown to begin TNT training, Pastor Larry and Pastor Neil heard someone shouting their names from a distance while at baggage claim. It was Cely! She had made the trek against her doctor’s orders to join the two and a half day workshop.

Larry asked Cely if her husband, who isn’t a believer, knew she was funding the training. She replied, “It’s actually from him!” Perplexed, Larry said, “He’s not a believer—why would he want to support this?” Cely recounted her husband’s words, “If this type of preaching can bring about this change in my wife, it’s worthy of my financial investment.”

Cely has since gone to be with the Lord. At her wake, her grieving husband told Pastor Larry, “Tell me what you need and I will still support the training.”

Hearing of God’s goodness in the Philippines made our hearts rejoice. Would you join us in prayer for many more Filipino preachers and congregations to be transformed?

Yours in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Our opportunities to train in SE Asia and the Philippines have outpaced our resources to fulfill them. Would you consider a generous gift to see many more transformed preachers like Larry in SE Asia?

Does Passing On TNT Training Work in the Real World? An Answer from the Jungles of Brazil

Dear Friends and Partners,

You’ve probably played the Telephone Game where a message is whispered from one person to the next. By the end, the final message has morphed into something entirely different, often hilariously so.

I think about the Telephone Game when I’m asked: how much gets lost as your training is passed on to other generations of pastors?

Travel with me to an Amazon village where a TNT (Training National Trainers) graduation took place two years ago. Your mental image is probably pretty accurate: The church has a tin roof—hardly any sides to the building—sitting right along the river. An alligator actually came out of the river during the training. David Merkh, with a twinkle in his eye, told us, “And now he’s starting TNT among the alligators!”

The pastor of the host church was 3rd generation TNT—in other words, he was trained by a pastor, who was trained by a pastor, who was trained by our LRI team. This 3rd generation pastor, who belonged to a remote tribe accessible only by boat, was chosen to give the final message.

David Merkh (see video below)

David Merkh, one of our 1st TNT graduates, told us the story. David is now the leader of TNT in Brazil and so was invited to the graduation. When he first saw the pastor, he wasn’t impressed, thinking: “Hmm, so they chose this guy? I wonder did he really get it after these 4 years???”

The pastor then began to preach from the book of Acts and David was blown away! He told us the pastor “powerfully and boldly preached, explaining the text within it’s context—getting to the heart of God in the passage, and applying it directly to our hearts. He did not mince words.”

This barely-educated pastor, a young man, wasn’t intimated by David and the other leaders coming all the way from São Paulo. Said David, “No, he just said ‘this is God’s Word, it’s God’s authority.’ It was very, very powerful.”

David confessed to us how embarrassed he was by own his lack of faith. He told us, “I guess I wasn’t trusting the training.”

The explanation for the powerful transformation in this young tribal pastor is God’s Word. God’s Word has come to us across many generations and has never lost its power. Thank you for partnering with us to launch Movements of this powerful Word!

With gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: We have TNT training on-going in 40 countries. Some are significantly under-funded. Please, would you send a gift today so that we might impact remote tribal pastors as well as church leaders serving in the largest, most densely populated cities of the world?

5 Ways to Pray for Us

Dear Partners,

I’m calling on our praying friends to seek the Lord with us these days. The opportunities before us are great, but so are the challenges. We desperately need the Lord to lead and provide this summer. Specifically, would you pray regularly for…

  1. Our ministry—equipping pastors around the world to teach God’s Word with God’s heart—is flourishing. Just this year, I’ve told you stories of pastoral transformation… Andre from Ukraine, Xavier from Ecuador, Omar from Honduras, Eshete from Ethiopia. Join us in praising God for the great fruit He is producing!
  2. The rapid expansion we’ve experienced over the past few years (tripling the # of pastors in training) has caused some strains. Our U.S. staff is struggling to shepherd these Movements of the Word. I’m concerned—we’re understaffed. We need more trainers. We need more support and fund-raising staff. Please ask the Lord of the harvest to provide the right people at the right time for us.
  3. Several staff are under-funded. Six have gotten short paychecks over the past few months. Unfortunately, we don’t have a big pool of dollars that we can dip into to make up the difference. Please pray for them… short checks can be so discouraging.
  4. I’ve recently asked Phil Smith to serve as LRI’s Interim Executive Director. Phil is a very talented leader who thinks in terms of building teams, creating healthy processes, and bringing organizational clarity. He’s helping us re-think our structure so that we better fulfill our mission. Pray for Phil… wisdom, strength, and favor with both God and the men and women of LRI.
  5. We’re the best-kept secret around… unfortunately! Pray that the Lord would enable us to get the word out so that more churches, pastors and individuals who have a deep love for the ministry of God’s Word would learn about us, and maybe, partner with us.

Thank you for partnering with us in the spiritual realms!

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

 

PS: Although all of these prayer requests are important, “Staff Funding” weighs heaviest on my heart at this time. As you are praying, if the Lord puts it on your heart, would you please respond with a generous gift this month so that we might bless our under-funded staff?

Pastors’ Confidence in God’s Word is Growing in Ukraine

Dear Friends and Partners,

Is it possible for the gospel to advance in Ukraine when a smoldering civil war keeps erupting?

Yes! Yes! Yes! One of our three trainings in Ukraine takes place at a Baptist seminary in L’Viv. Four years ago, the seminary contemplated closing its doors with only forty students enrolled. Today, this seminary is bursting at the seams with 400 students—10x’s growth in only four years!

God is also using TNT training to strengthen the Ukrainian church. One of our Mentor Trainers, Bova, told LRI staff, “You are such a refreshment because you are so confident in God’s Word. The joy and liveliness you bring is great. I want to be just like you.”

Confidence in God’s Word is contagious. Ukrainian pastors’ confidence in God’s Word is growing, propelling them to train others. Here are three quick glimpses:

  • Pastor Andre

    Andre has trained his church’s preachers and Sunday school teachers in Jonah and 2 Timothy. The challenge of aligning schedules means he trains multiple groups of two or three, but Andre sees it as a benefit and opportunity to go deeper. “They’re changing,” Andre said. “They see the Scriptures differently.”

  • Pastor Albert trains a group of five men who collectively shared our Genesis training with a youth camp. His trainees (affectionately called his “Timothys”) are sharing the training at other youth camps as well. “People are tired of experts,” Albert remarked, “but the biggest expert is the Bible—and that is what we want to teach.”
  • Pastor Albert

    Another pastor in our Poltava group replicated our training in Jonah at his church’s three-day retreat.

Confidence in God’s Word is growing! God is using TNT training to strengthen pastors and churches in Ukraine. These three men are a microcosm of LRI’s vision: seeing the Word of God flow powerfully through every church to every nation!

Would you pray with us for the Ukrainian church’s confidence in God and His Word to grow and for the gospel to spread?

Thank you for your prayers and support. None of this would be possible without you.

With gratitude,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Our work in Eastern Europe is new. In addition to three groups in Ukraine, we also equip pastors in Bulgaria and Serbia. Such a strategic part of the world, with much need. We don’t have enough partners to continue and expand the work. Would you please consider a gift today to support Movements of the Word throughout Europe? Thank you!

 

Steadfast in the Face of Persecution

Dear Friends and Partners,

Pastor Timur* knew the police were watching him. He’s a Training National Trainers (TNT) student in Muslim-dominated Central Asia hungry for training and passionate to train other house church pastors like himself. He has also lived in the reality that his Christian activities may bring him trouble.

One day police interrogators knocked on his door to search for “drugs and weapons.” Timur knew what they really sought: evidence to halt his ministry work. Feigning innocence Timur told investigators, “I have no weapons or drugs. Feel free to search.”

Timur previously deleted sermons from his computer knowing this day might come. Even so, he soon remembered one sermon on his computer on how to be a missionary—surely a topic that would implicate him! To his dismay, the interrogators found the sermon and fined him $400. Timur currently awaits a trial that may lead to more fines or jail time.

Although exhausted and ‘shell-shocked’, he doesn’t think he’s doing anything extraordinary—just being faithful to God’s call. In the midst of this major trial and uncertainty, he remains strong, steadfast, and committed to the gospel at any cost.

What a privilege it is to know and partner with courageous pastors like Timur! Would you join us in praying for our persecuted brother?

Pray for Timur and other persecuted pastors that LRI is equipping and encouraging in the Muslim world.

Yours in Christ,

Craig Parro

PS: Would you also consider a gift to help further train pastors like Timur in Central Asia?

*His real name has been withheld for security purposes.

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God’s Power for Challenging Times: Xavier’s Story

Dear Friends and Partners,

What’s up with Xavier???

That was the question that puzzled Patricio Paredes and Kevin Halloran when they picked up Pastor Xavier Peñafiel for his final TNT (Training National Trainers) week in Ecuador. Xavier’s usual joy was being crushed by a heavy weight.

Here’s why—earlier that week, a thief broke into his church and made off with a brand new sound system and Xavier’s personal computer, containing all of his personal information and documents. This theft felt like the final straw…the latest in a string of major discouragements for Xavier and his ministry.

How could he go on?

Xavier discovered God’s answer as he listened to example sermons from 1–2 Samuel and worked through the text using the TNT principles of interpretation: God uses humble people in impossible situations to establish his Kingdom on earth.

Consider… 

  • Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11. God used the remarkable faith of a rather unremarkable (and barren) woman to bring forth the godly leader, Samuel, that Israel so desperately needed.
  • David’s story in 1 Samuel 17. The narrator bends over backwards to show the unlikeliness of David’s victory: David, a mere shepherd boy (who burned with a fiery zeal for God’s glory) was bringing snacks for his brothers, the “real” warriors. Yet God used David with nothing more than a small stone and a sling to topple the formidable giant who threatened both the people and the honor of God.

Over those three days, a powerful truth began to slowly grip Xavier: if God could use a barren woman and shepherd boy, surely he could use him in spite of his own weakness and discouragements.

God turned Xavier’s heavy burden into a strengthened calling to advance God’s kingdom in a fallen world.

This is why we immerse students in books of the Bible…so pastors experience transformation directly from God’s Word, and so that that transformation propels them to teach and equip others.

Thank you for partnering with us so that God’s glory is displayed in men like Xavier!

With gratitude for you,

Craig Parro

President

PS: While Xavier’s group just graduated the TNT program, our work in Portoviejo, Ecuador is taking off, with two groups already launched and another launching in April. Please, give this month so that our work in Ecuador develops into a Movement of God’s Word in this strategic Latin American country!

Redeeming the Pulpits of Ethiopia

Dear Friends and Partners,

The 2016 statistics are stunning. Really. Over-the-top impressive.

eshete-meseret We equipped three times more pastors in 2016 than just 2 years earlier. Here’s our best estimate: in 2016 LRI-training helped 35,000 pastors learn to better study, teach and preach God’s Word. That translates to 1.7 million church members growing into maturity in Christ, as Sunday after Sunday they’re fed the Word of God.

The 2016 statistics can be boring. They’re hard to relate to, so let me put a face to them.

Eshete Belete is our Country Director in Ethiopia. Eshete is married to Meseret and, as you can see, they have three beautiful girls. In addition to being a teacher, preacher and trainer, Eshete writes some of the most beloved worship songs, sung in many Ethiopian churches.

Here’s Eshete’s personal vision statement: Redeeming the pulpits of Ethiopia through the faithful proclamation of the Word of God.

meseret_rediet_lidya_abigyaEshete told us, “I strongly believe that the true biblical transformation comes about only through the faithful handling and presentation of the Word of God. The Word of God brings Life!”

You can see why we like Eshete. He not only shares our heart, but he’s also an incredibly effective leader. Eshete and his national training team launched 8 new pastoral training groups across the country last year, bringing the total number of groups to 21, impacting over 3000 Ethiopian pastors! Amazing to think that this Movement of the Word began just a few years ago with a handful of pastors.

Eshete is an amazing partner…but so are you! We’re in this together. Thank you for partnering with us in 2016 as you gave and prayed. We invite you to deepen your partnership with us this month so that many more under-resourced pastors might get the training that they desperately need.

Eager to see what the Lord will do in 2017,

Craig Parro

President

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PS: Eshete is why we’re able to do 3x’s more ministry. Eshete plus other Mentor Trainers (national, indigenous, LRI-training graduates) have dramatically expanded our training capacity. This coming year, we hope to add 20 more Eshete-caliber men to our team. Please give today. Your generous gift will help us “on-board” these 20 proven leaders who are even more effective than our own talented staff!

Christ-Centered Preaching for a Christ-Centered Christmas

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Dear Friends and Partners,

Three proclamations…two towns…announcing the one-and-only Christ.

  1. The women of Bethlehem proclaimed, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer…” This redeemer was Obed, newborn son of Boaz and Ruth. Yet this prophetic word also pointed to another birth 1100 years later.
  1. The same small town. Another proclamation, that of the ultimate Redeemer. “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save (redeem) his people from their sins.”

Bethlehem, a nondescript town of a few thousand people, became Ground Zero for God’s invasion of planet earth. With profound understatement, God entered our world and by doing so, Christ became the center of human history. Hallelujah—the one-and-only Savior has come!

  1. Fast-forward to today and an unnamed Southeast Asian city. According to Tui Dawn, a top church leader in this Southeast Asian country, the pastors and missionaries in his city had lost their way. Said Tui, [they] “have been preaching their own ideas—whatever comes in their head becomes their…Bible lesson for the day.”

Tui Dawn, one of the key men we are equipping in this region, continues: “My goal is…Christ-centered textual preaching, the opposite of man-centered preaching. I give them suggestions on ways to improve their sermon by focusing on the text and keeping the sermon Christ-centered.”

At long last, Christ has come to this city through faithful proclamation of God’s Word. That is how Christ comes today to the towns and villages and cities of the world: through Christ-centered teaching and preaching.

Thank you for investing in Christ-centered preachers like Tui Dawn. All of us at LRI wish you a Christ-centered Christmas this year!

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig ParroCraig

PS: God is using us to help form tens of thousands of Christ-centered preachers worldwide. Would you please consider a generous year-end gift, so together, we might invest in many more pastors around the world in 2017?

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Nine People and One Thing I Wish You Could See

November 2016

Dear Partners and Friends,

I wish you could see…


Juan Torres, as he urges us to pray for pastors along the Amazon. On Thanksgiving Day, while we’re all feasting, he’ll be equipping them to feast on God’s Word. I’m so thankful for Juan.

 


melanie-lachcik-2014Melanie Lachick, as she helps our team better communicate with our precious donors the marvelous difference that they are making. I’m so thankful for Melanie.

 


paul-adams-2010Paul Adams, as he develops curriculum used around the world to better equip and encourage pastors to teach God’s Word with God’s heart. I’m so thankful for Paul.

 

 


sean-martin_2016Sean Martin, as he shares the humble responsiveness of the Haitian pastors when he led them through the book of Jonah. I’m so thankful for Sean.

 


cory-vdg-2016-2

Cory Van De Griend, as he narrates the video of a house church leader we are training—a Muslim convert who was stabbed and poisoned because of his bold faith in Christ. I’m so thankful for Cory.

 

 


tim-henry-2015

Tim Henry, as he leads a Thursday morning prayer time, reminding us that our ultimate purpose is to put God’s glory on display. I’m so thankful for Tim.

 

 


patricio-paredes-2016Patricio Paredes, as he challenges a group of TNT graduates in Honduras to launch and lead Movements of the Word throughout Central America. I’m so thankful for Patricio. 

 

 


don-couwenhovenDon Couwenhoven, as he endures 24+ hour trips to Russia so that he might encourage pastors who are under increasing pressure from the authorities. I’m so thankful for Don.

 


georgeGeorge Bowater, as he strengthens our home office support team so that our overseas training staff might flourish on the field. I’m so thankful for George.

 

 


These aren’t all of our staff, but they’re the ones that I’m most burdened for.

I wish you could see the…

Short Paychecks, that they have received (or might receive before year’s end) unless…

Please, would you give a generous gift to Leadership Resources today? This Thanksgiving bless these servants of the Lord…Juan, Melanie, Paul, Sean, Cory, Tim, Patricio, Don and George. Their hearts will sing out with thanksgiving to the Lord!!!

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

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PS: I wish you could see…their faces when we surprise them with full paychecks!

In fact, if God prompts you to give, I’ll send you a photo of one very happy staff member so that you can see their joy with your own eyes! 

4 Signs of God’s Providence in Haiti

Since the writing of the story below, Hurricane Matthew has devastated Haiti, taking the lives of an estimated 1,000 and leaving another two million homeless. Countless homes and churches have been destroyed, and disease and famine are spreading rapidly. Would you join us in prayer for our Haiti brothers and sisters and for the gospel to go forth in power? Come, Lord Jesus!


Dear friends and partners,

When you think of Haiti, what comes to mind? Crushing poverty…earthquake devastation…billions of dollars of aid that seem wasted?

Haiti’s future may look remarkably different because God loves Haiti and has raised up a people for Himself. And, in His providence, God is inviting Leadership Resources to equip the pastors of this Caribbean country. Here are four signs of God’s gracious providence…

  1. God brought us the right partner

Our ministry needs in-country partners who are like-minded and strategic thinkers. God led us to Dony St. Germain, a Haitian who runs a ministry which, in part, is dedicated to equipping pastors. Dony has the connections and the local smarts to make this gospel partnership take root and bear fruit.

  1. God speaks Creoleimg_5806

Haiti has two official languages: French and Creole. Everybody in Haiti speaks Creole, while speaking French is a status symbol used by some to look down on others. For the Word of God to flourish in Haiti, training must be done in the heart language of Haiti: Creole. The only problem is finding a translator who shares our passion.

Enter Edvard, a Haitian man studying biblical exegesis at Wheaton College. When he was a young Christian in Haiti, Edvard saw a preacher read from the French Bible in order to impress his congregation. Then, when the preacher tried to switch to Creole, he completely confused everyone, including himself! At that moment, Edvard felt a call from God to see Bible training and biblical resources available to all Haitians in Creole.

  1. God transforms hearts

In July, our team met with 34 exceptional students who were hungry for training and growth. When Haitian pastors realized the curriculum handed to them was in their heart language, their eyes lit up like five-year-olds on Christmas. “Look, it’s in Creole!!” God used the book of Jonah to transform hearts and show His mercy toward sinners and wayward servants.

One pastor confessed hating a man who persecutes him and looking forward to the day of his death. Now, he decided to pray for that man everyday and to try to reach him with Christ’s love. Another man, who once avoided thoughts of a lengthy journey to an unreached village, is praying for strength to walk the twelve hours needed to share the gospel where it has not been heard. 

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  1. God is already multiplying His Word

Very early one morning a TNT (Training National Trainers) student surprised a barely-awake Sean Martin (LRI Trainer) as he made coffee, “Can I have another booklet that summarizes the LRI principles of Bible interpretation?”

“Why do you need the booklet?” Sean inquired, curious to both the request and its timing. Our student replied, “I talked to the principal at our seminary about how powerful God’s Word was in TNT training, and he asked me to share the training with our whole school!”

This isn’t the only exciting avenue for multiplication. Two TNTers have been commissioned by their denomination to share the LRI training with the leaders of all 1,000 churches!

Our joy and expectancy for God’s continued work in Haiti is overflowing. Many Haitian churches are still influenced by voodoo beliefs and practices and desperately need to understand God’s life-giving Word. This month, would you invest in us so that we can continue this valuable training in places like Haiti? By God’s grace, your gift will not be like the billions of wasted dollars, but rather will bring about a movement of God’s Word that flows through every Haitian church, to the glory of God!

Thank you for your partnership,

Craig Parro

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PS: Our new translator Edvard told us the story of his wedding. Edvard violated the custom of Haiti’s elite by having his wedding performed in Creole rather than French. Some found this scandalous… after all, Edvard was a highly-educated man… of course he should have a French wedding ceremony. However, wedding attenders’ initial doubts ended with amazement: they heard a Christian wedding in their heart language! If God brings about a powerful movement of His Word in Haiti, it will be through gospel-centered men like Edvard. What a privilege to partner with a courageous man like Edvard!

    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff sharing of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

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