One Pastor Learns to Trust in God for Ministry in a Hostile Country

Plant in dried cracked mud

His real name may not be Sasha, but his love and service to the Lord where Islam is the dominant religion, is very real.

We first met “Sasha” three years ago, over tea (you drink lots of sweet tea in his country!) at our first TNT (Training National Trainers) session.

Sasha arrived feeling like a failure in the ministry, feeling that he could never do enough or be good enough for the Lord. Thankfully, God deeply touched Sasha during that first training.

It was in sharing our core message  – that ministry really is not about us and our performance, but rather, about God, His Word, and His Holy Spirit – that left the deepest impact on Sasha. The pastor was almost laughing as he drank in the sweet reality of this truth!

Fast-forward three years later. Sasha has been a TNTer for three years, and he shared, “I’m not a great preacher, but teaching the Bible (using the TNT principles) has been a breakthrough. My people love it!”

What difference has TNT made? Sasha’s experiences speak volumes.

“Our church is growing. The youth ministry is expanding. We’re sending out evangelism teams. We are raising up leaders. We are praying fervently, literally day and night, to begin 10 new house churches in our city.”

All of this is really happening in the middle of an intensely Muslim region. And at the leading of a man who thought he was a failure. But, of course, it’s not about Sasha. It is about a great God who has entrusted us with a powerful Word.

Thank you for your prayers and gifts that enable us to invest in the lives of precious men like Sasha!

Learn more about how Leadership Resources trains pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart in the Training National Trainers program.

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[image credit: Aproximando Ciência e Pessoas]


Update: God at Work in the Hearts of Ecuadorian Pastors and Church Planters


In December 2013, Leadership Resources International sent several of our trainers to Ecuador to lead training in our Training National Trainers program in the cities of Quito, Pedernales, and Portoviejo.

The results? God showed up. Each of the three training sessions were rich and impactful times studying the Scriptures and practicing Bible study tools to better draw out the rich truth of God. Many pastors shared how being a part of our training sessions is forever changing their lives, ministries, and preaching.

Should this be a surprise? I will argue that it shouldn’t be. God stands by His promise that He will not let His Word return void, but will use it to accomplish what He purposes (Isaiah 55:11). That is one reason why our training method of practicing hermeneutical tools while being immersed in a book of the Bible is so effective—God is behind it because He deeply desires for His Word to be faithfully proclaimed and handled correctly (2 Timothy 2:15).

TNT equips pastors with the tools they need to teach and preach God’s Word, and while they are studying God’s Word, God speaks to their hearts and transforms their lives, and in turn their ministries. We should not be surprised by God’s faithfulness!

IMG_0203-300x225One trainee, Oscar (standing in photo to the right), told me that he wants to share the gift of the training with others by going out and leading other pastors through our training.

He is currently running training sessions at his church, with other churches in the area, and with a group of rural pastors nearby. He realizes the importance of our training because he knows first hand that faithfully preaching the Word of God brings spiritual life and transformation.

Oscar and other pastors share their stories below of how God is using our training in their lives.


  • Oscar is currently planting a church and sharing our training at his church, to other churches in his area, and to a group of rural pastors.
  • Oscar’s response to the free gift he received of training in biblical exposition: “Keeping in mind that others do that for us; we are doing the same for others, going to train other pastors as well.”


  • Alberto shares his deep convictions after receiving our training: “We want to be biblical, we want to be Christ-centered, and we want to preach the truth. Thanks be to God that He has given you the opportunity to share with us.”

Juan Pablo:

  • pablo-300x237“TNT has been a huge blessing in my life in a very special way. We have been through a few sessions of TNT and I believe that each day it helps me, challenges me and prepares me to present God’s salvation message. This message transforms lives, this message directs men, women, children and families to live and walk Christ-centered lives.”
  • “I encourage many who can sit themselves down and work hard to handle the word of God rightly, to look in the Word of God for truth that we many times take very lightly…”



Juan Carlos

  • “[After TNT] I am amazed at the richness of the Word of God. The richness we can find in the word of God is so amazing. I am also amazed at the responsibility that we have to work in communicating the Word of God as it was given. We can communicate our own words, our culture can interfere, our thoughts, our theological formation many times. I am very amazed and impressed and I know the responsibility that we have in communicating the Word of God is very great.”

Leadership Resources works with pastors worldwide to train pastors to teach God’s Word with God’s heart.

Learn more about Training National Trainerswhere we work, and how to get involved.

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Sermon on the Book of Acts: “God’s Plan for You” by Craig Parro

Craig Parro, President of Leadership Resources International, recently shared a message called “God’s Plan For You”, preaching through the book of Acts in one sermon. In the message, Craig expounded and applying its amazing truths to everyday life.

Listen to the message below or download this message on mp3.

The Big Idea for the Book of Acts:

“The good news of Jesus’ death, resurrection and reign, authenticated by the Holy Spirit, spreads like wildfire throughout the Roman empire, bringing faith and joy, as well as suffering and opposition.”

2 Major Application Points:

1. Resolved, this year, by the grace of God, the Word of the Lord will increase, spread, multiply, and prevail mightily through me.

2. Resolved, this year, by the grace of God, I will seek to walk in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit.

Key Repetitions in Acts:

Luke, the author of Acts, included many summary verses transitioning into a new section of narrative that describe the spread of the Word and the church. Here are five of those summary Bible verses:

  1. Acts 6:7: “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
  2. Acts 9:31: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”
  3. Acts 12:24: “But the word of God increased and multiplied.”
  4. Acts 16:5: “So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.”
  5. Acts 19:20: “So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.”

Having “the Word of the Lord increase and prevail mightily” is exactly what Leadership Resources International strives for in our pastoral training. In our training program Training National Trainers, we equip pastors worldwide to study, teach, and preach the Word of God with the heart of God. The trainees then go and train others to teach and preach the Word, creating a pastoral training movement, making the Word of God run like in Acts!

One ‘Skeptic’ of our Training— Turned Transformed Preacher!

davidDavid was a skeptic. Even after spending a week with our team studying the book of Jonah, he wasn’t convinced that TNT (Training National Trainers, our pastoral training program) was worth his time.

David is a TNTer—a pastor-trainer—in one of our most exciting and productive TNT venues in Brazil.  All of the Brazil TNTers were really motivated from the very beginning…except for David.

During the evaluation of our first training with all of the pastors, David told Eduardo Mendes, our in-country coordinator, “I don’t buy this!”

He didn’t…that is, until he started passing on the TNT training to key leaders in his church, so that they might become better teachers of God’s Word. They ate it up!

For the first time, they felt that they were able to read and understand the Bible. And it showed in their teaching…with new clarity and confidence.

brazil1Then David began to preach through books of the Bible using the tools he learned from TNT. His own preaching came alive. One of the unexpected consequences of all this—the offerings of his church doubled! So much so, that they are helping other churches out of their abundance.

David has gone from skeptic to a huge supporter of TNT!!! David’s transformation is not unlike another Brazilian’s story (see Ricardo’s testimonial below).

The Lord is using your gifts and your prayers to transform men like David, to the glory of God! Thank you!

With gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President of Leadership Resources

TNT Update: Results of our Pastoral Training in Brazil
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18 Powerful Quotes About Ministry from The Trellis and the Vine


One of the best recent books on the nature of church ministry is The Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne and Colin Marshall.

The book’s main metaphor compares a church’s ministry structures and gospel growth to a trellis and a vine. Church structures (the trellis) should support the true work of ministry (the growth of the vine), which is speaking the Word of God one to another.

Here are some great quotes about ministry from the church ministry book The Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne and Colin Marshall:

Trellis work also often looks more impressive than vine work. It’s more visible and structural. We can point to something tangible–a committee, an event, a program, a budget, an infrastructure–and say that we have achieved something. We can build our trellis till it reaches to the heavens, in the hope of making a name for ourselves, but there may still be very little growth in the vine.

Our goal is to grow the vine, not the trellis.

Book-Review-Cover-The-Trellis-and-the-Vine-Colin-Marshall-Tony-Payne-184x300The basic work of any Christian ministry is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of God’s Spirit, and to see people converted, changed and grow to maturity in that gospel.

It’s interesting how little the New Testament talks about church growth, and how often it talks about ‘gospel growth’ or the increase of the ‘word’. The focus is on the progress of the Spirit-backed word of God as it makes its way in the world, according to God’s plan.

We are easily consumed by keeping ministry programs running. The urgent crowds out the important, and everyone thinks that their agenda should be dealt with first. We know that training leaders will help to maintain and expand our ministries, but it takes all our energies just to keep the wheels turning. However, if we take our focus off our immediate pressures and aim for long-term expansion, the pressures we face will become less immediate and may eventually disappear.

The call to discipleship is thus a call to confess our allegiance to Jesus in the face of a hostile world; to serve him and his mission, whatever the cost.

We will be arguing that structures don’t grow ministry any more than trellises grow vines, and that most churches need to make a conscious shift—away from erecting and maintaining structures, and towards growing people who are disciple-making disciples of Christ.

Spirit-backed gospel preaching leading to the salvation of souls.

The Great Commission makes disciple-making the normal agenda and priority of every church and every Christian disciple.

The growth of the gospel happens in the lives of people, not in the structures of my church.

The essence of ‘vine work’ is the powerful, Spirit-backed speaking of the message of the Bible by one person to another.

The goal of all Christian ministry, in all its forms, is disciple-making.

Elders and congregational leaders should be active vine-growers themselves before we consider giving them responsibility for oversight.

If the real work of God is people work– the prayerful speaking of his word by one person to another–then the jobs are never all taken. The opportunities for Christians to minister personally to others are limitless.

The Christian without a missionary heart is an anomaly…. a Christian with no passion for the lost is in serious need of self-examination and repentance.

The heart of training is not to impart a skill, but to impart sound doctrine. Paul uses the language of ‘training’ to refer to a lifelong process whereby Timothy and his congregation are taught by Scripture to reject false religion, and to conform their hearts and lives to sound doctrine. Good biblical training, results in a godly life based on sound, health-giving teaching.

The relational nature of training means that the best training will often occur by osmosis rather than formal instruction. It will be caught as much as it is taught. Trainees will end up resembling their trainers, much as children turn out like their parents.

We must be willing to lose people from our own congregation if that is better for the growth of the gospel. We must be happy to send members off to other places so that the gospel may grow there as well.

Leadership Resources International equips pastors for expository preaching and ministries by leading intensive training workshops as part of the Training National Trainers Program.

We train pastors in the study of the Word with basic hermeneutical principles that allow them to handle God’s Word as God desires (2 Timothy 2:15). Our goal is to teach pastors and church leaders to proclaim God’s Word with God’s heart.

Visit our website to learn about our approachwhere we work, and how you can get involved.

Below is author Tony Payne explaining expository preaching and expository ministry:

Related Posts:

Video: What is the Trellis and Vine about?

Blog: Stories of God’s Work through Leadership Resources

Author: Kevin Halloran

“The training helps to avoid heresies and focus on the Word…”


Several months ago, Leadership Resources trainer Paul Adams had a conversation with one of the pastors we trained in the Training National Trainers program in Togo named Francis. Francis is a church planter who shares his training in Biblical exposition with others planting churches.

In the video below, Francis shares why our training is important and why church planters need to be able to handle the Word of God correctly (2 Timothy 2:15):


Why is the training important?

The training helps to avoid heresies and helps focus on the word and avoid your framework. Most of the time in Africa, because of the background in Animism*, we try to enforce our points of view on the text, instead of letting the text speak to us. We want to speak on behalf of the text.

[Some] people who open the text and read a very good passage, and close the passage and the next 45 minutes or an hour is like a free range road–with everything to say. And he will say a lot of things that are good, but not what the text is not speaking about. We want to avoid that. That brings people to reinforce their mind, their setup, and what they think about a passage…

Is this kind of training necessary with church planting?

Yes, it is very important, because we want to model the life of Christ and also the pattern we find in the Bible. When we go on church planting from day one after planting the church, they start studying the Bible with the training we have, how can they dig into the passage for themselves, so they won’t depend on the life of the missionary, because the missionary has a short time to stay among them.

And after that, we hand off the church. We want the churches to really own the gospel by themselves. They know how to search the Word for themselves before handing over the church to denominations. We are sure on the spiritual aspect they do not depend on anybody.  They can really do their own devotions and know how to study the Word for themselves. That is very important.

We can’t dissociate the church planting from this Leadership Resources training team.

*According to Wikpedia, Animism “is the worldview that non-human entities, including animals, plants, and often even inanimate objects or phenomena, possess a spiritual essence.”

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20 Christian Quotes About Missions and the Great Commission


After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Jesus gave the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 before leaving this earth:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (ESV).

His words and departure, along with the coming of the Holy Spirit shortly after, sparked a new era in world history where Christ’s followers would spread His glorious gospel to the ends of the earth.

Here are 20 Christian Quotes about Missions and the Great Commission:

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?”
― David Livingstone

We-must-be-global-300x227“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
― John R.W. Stott

“I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond!”
― Isobel Kuhn

“As long as there are millions destitute of the Word of God and knowledge of Jesus Christ, it will be impossible for me to devote time and energy to those who have both.”
― J.L. Ewen

“The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”
― Carl F.H. Henry

“The opportunities for using our financial resources to spread the gospel and strengthen the church all over the world are greater than they’ve ever been. As God raised up Esther for just such a time as hers, I’m convinced he’s going to raise us up, with all our wealth, to help fulfill the great commission. The question is, what are we doing with that money? Our job is to make sure it gets to his intended recipients.”
― Randy Alcorn

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

There-is-not-a-square-inch-Chirst-does-not-cry-mine1-300x199“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
― Abraham Kuyper

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”
― Henry Martyn

“You have been speaking about William Carey. When I am gone, say nothing about William Carey-speak only about Willam Carey’s Saviour.”
― William Carey

“Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge.”
― Robert C. Shannon

“It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted their [the communists’ ] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy.”
― Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ

“To me there is no more tragic sight than the average missionary. …We have given so much, yet not the one thing that counts; we aspire so high, and fall so low; we suffer so much, but so seldom with Christ; we have done so much and so little will remain; we have known Christ in part, and have so effectively barricaded our hearts against His mighty love, which surely He must yearn to give His disciples above all people.”
― Amy Carmichael

“You have one business on earth – to save souls.”
― John Wesley

“Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.”
― James Hudson Taylor


“The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.”
― Samuel Zwemer

“Some wish to live within the sound of church and chapel bell. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell!”
― C.T. Studd

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”
― John Piper

“I have but one passion: It is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.”
― Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf

“The church that does not evangelize will fossilize.”
― Oswald J. Smith

Quote-on-the-Great-Commission-300x118“The Great Commission says to make disciples, not get followers. There is a difference.”
― Miguel Nunez

“The Great Commission is too big for anyone to accomplish alone and too important not to try to do together.”
―Steve Moore

Leadership Resources International is committed to strengthening the global church by teaching pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart through our Training National Trainers program.

Learn more about what we do, where we work, and how you can get involved.

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