A Movement of the Word… Among Costa Rican Youth

Pastor Candido (left) and William (right). Scroll down to watch them tell their story.

Dear friends and partners,

Youth retreats are too often high-energy fun and games with a little Bible sprinkled in. Candido and William, two Costa Rican pastors we’ve trained, had a different idea: dig into a book of the Bible using tools they learned from LRI. Really, it was an outrageous idea – especially so because many of the kids were really young, and others, unbelievers. Other leaders thought they were crazy!

When the training began, it looked like they made a mistake when a few of the youth pushed back at the approach. But as time went on, God’s Word did its thing.

“I have a daughter that barely is 11 years old,” commented Pastor William. “She left camp greatly impacted by God’s Word. We guided sessions by asking observation and interpretation questions, and they discovered the Word for themselves.”

At the end of the camp, students were saying the best thing about the camp wasn’t the fun activities, the food, or their friends – it was God’s Word.

Another 11 year-old began camp complaining how “boring” and “pointless” it all was. But his attitude changed after a few sessions. By the end of the camp, he was one of eight to confess Christ as Savior for the first time.

“It’s our desire to keep training like this so that more people will know the message of God’s Word,” Pastor Candido shared. “God transformed first our hearts and is affecting the lives of others.”

This is why we are a ministry dedicated to obeying 2 Timothy 2:2’s command to train faithful men in ministry. Once trained, men like Candido and William can take God’s Word places we can’t – like a youth camp in Costa Rica!

We praise God for His powerful and life-giving Word! And we thank partners like you for helping make this possible.

In Him,

Craig Parro

The Power of “The Line” in Ethiopia: Pastors Repent for Incorrectly Preaching the Bible

Testimony from Allan Sherer, Pastor of Global Connection at the North Hills Church, Taylors, South Carolina.

Nine years ago I was introduced to TNT training. Through a series of remarkable providences God opened a compelling opportunity to partner with two dynamic leaders in Ethiopia. These two men, independent from one another, became deeply burdened by the fact that the vast majority of pastors in their nation do not enjoy access to biblical training. In response to their invitation, I traveled with Doug Dunton of LRI to conduct TNT training with two groups of leaders in Ethiopia.

Conditions that day were not pleasant. It was cold and rainy and there was mud and water everywhere. I found myself slipping and almost falling multiple times throughout the day.

Allan leading a session during a training in Ethiopia

Yet, those attending the training engaged wholeheartedly. I had the privilege of teaching the foundational principle of everything we do in TNT: “Staying on the Line.” (See the illustration below.)

This simple, yet revolutionary, concept can be summed up in this way:

“We should think of the Word of God as we would think of a line. Our goal as preachers and teachers is to stay ‘on the line,’ avoiding going ‘above the line’ and thus adding to what God has said as well as ‘going below the line’ and taking away from what God has said.”

“They were weeping and repenting because they realize they have not been preaching on the line of the Word of God. They were asking God to help them learn to handle his word properly.”I was aware there was an unusual attention as I taught this simple principle. In fact, the entire day – from around 8:30 in the morning until around 5:00 in the afternoon – was marked by earnest participation. It was compelling and humbling to be with such eager students. Yet, when it was time for the training to end I was genuinely happy to anticipate our warm, dry lodging, comfortable seating, a good hot meal, and best of all, my bed.

The following morning dawned clear and bright. I was eager to see our new-found friends again. As we sat waiting for everyone to arrive, our interpreter said, “Everyone was here until after 11pm last night.” I was dumbfounded. “Why were they here? What were they doing?” I asked. “They were weeping and repenting because they realized they have not been preaching on the line of the Word of God. They were asking God to help them learn to handle his word properly.”

Allan chatting with one Ethiopian leader

“It isn’t about what we choose to say about the Bible. It is about faithfully telling God’s people what the Bible actually says.”Nine years, a dozen trainings, and thousands of trainees later, that simple principle continues to revolutionize the ethos of a nation of pastors and teachers. The interpreter who told me about the late night prayer meeting is now one of our mentor trainers. He has led dozens of trainings, even beyond the borders of Ethiopia. He is passionate about transferring to a generation of preachers a deep conviction that it isn’t about what we choose to say about the Bible. It is about faithfully telling God’s people what the Bible actually says.

This man is one of around 20 mentor trainers distributed all over Ethiopia. These faithful, sacrificial workers cross vast distances, and even risk their lives, to spread the Word that captivated the hearts of that original faithful training group.

“Stay on the line. Preach the Word of God with the heart of God.”

What an amazing joy and thrill to be able to serve and co-labor with these faithful men of God!

Allan and LRI’s Africa ministry were featured on Episode 5 of Dispatches from the Front. Watch a clip below.

Tim Keesee: “What they are doing here is nation-shaking. Training that moves from generation to generation takes work, focus, mentoring, translators, and logistics. Conferences are easy, but multiplying leaders and overcoming lots of geographic and linguistic barriers isn’t.”

3 Takeaways from Training Pastors from a Hostile Country

**For security reasons, please do not repost this post or its contents anywhere.**

I, Kevin Halloran, serve with LRI in the Communications Department and in Latin America. I recently had the opportunity to join Bill Mills and Jeff Dryden to train leaders from a hostile country in Western Asia. 

This trip opened my eyes to how God is at work in one of the most difficult places to follow Jesus. (Our training took place in a separate, neutral country.) Here are three reasons I left this training venue extremely encouraged.

Three takeaways

1. I saw through testimonies how Christ is building His church and the gates of hell (or brutal Islamic governments) won’t prevail.

  • K* had a Muslim teacher who told him to read the Gospel of John because it “spoke of Muhammad.” K* read John, continued to read Acts and saw that Jesus was referring to the coming Holy Spirit and not Muhammad. (Read John 14 and 16 to see for yourself!) God’s Word opened K*’s eyes and he was born again.
  • A*’s fingers were cut off by the Ayatollah for stealing. He went to prison. When released, A went back to a life of theft and substance abuse. Then, Jesus appeared to him in a dream. A believer explained the gospel to him and he believed. Brother A introduced himself to me by pointing to his fingerless hand and saying (in limited English), “This is what Islam did to me.” Then a look of deep joy washed over his face. “But Jesus changed my heart.”
  • S* was a political refugee in a nearby country. In May of 2017, a car bomb blew up a government building across the street where he lived, killing many and making international headlines. After he heard the blast, he saw his wounded neighbor run into her house. S* ran to check on her and saw that she was dying of her injuries. Her final act before dying in S*’s arms was to hold out a blood-soaked Bible to him. S* opened the Bible and saw Jesus’ words “Love your enemies” scribbled on a piece of paper. Those words shined the light of the gospel into his heart darkened by the hatred of his former religion. (S* isn’t yet a pastor, but his desire to grow in Christ led him to a relationship with our partner in a neutral country.)

I could go on and on sharing testimonies because everyone had a dramatic story of conversion—you really have to since conversion is punishable by death in their home country.

2. I saw how LRI’s training is filling a strategic need.

In spite of government opposition, the church in this hostile Western Asian country is among the fastest growing in the world. One of our partners even used the terminology “Great Awakening” to describe what’s happening. While this is incredibly encouraging, it also presents a great need for pastors to be trained so they can disciple believers by teaching them God’s Word. Without a biblical grounding, false teaching and unbiblical versions of Christianity can flourish as well.

Students were greatly affected by our study of Jonah. Jonah takes readers to the compassionate heart of God who cares about not only His wayward prophet but the souls of thousands of pagans as well. Most of the trainees came from a religious background where their god is impersonal and vengeful, presenting a powerful contrast to our personal and loving heavenly Father. Here is what one leader said:

“These three days have had a very positive effect on me. I have always known that God is merciful and gracious, but it wasn’t a deep meaning in my life. I never understood it. With the tools I learned in these three days, I learned how to dig into the Word of God and make it more personal for me… Before when I was reading the Bible, I was just reading. Never thinking ‘What is the main idea? What is the message?’ I didn’t learn everything perfectly. But I can start using [the tools] to understand the word of God more.”

3. I saw a great need for prayer.

God has given us a front-row seat to see the amazing things He’s doing in this part of the world. Waiting in the airport terminal before my return flight, God reminded me of our need to pray. This amazing work isn’t done yet. It’s also vulnerable.

  • Pray with us against evil forces (human and spiritual) looking to destroy Christians and the work of the gospel.
  • Pray for new Christians to mature in the faith and their understanding of the gospel.
  • Pray for God to raise up godly and gifted pastors who are passionate at training others in the Bible and pastoring sheep without a shepherd.
  • Pray for the light and love of Christ to rescue many souls lost and depressed.
  • Pray for wisdom, shrewdness, protection, and provision for our team, partners, and the pastors we train. (Coordinating details for this venue is more complicated than usual.)

    Never miss a post!

    * indicates required

    Choose a Frequency