Pastor David Smith Shares Experience with LRI in Ethiopia

Leadership Resources thrives when partnering with like-minded pastors and churches who want to see God’s Word flourish around the world through training pastors.

One such pastor is David Smith of Crete Reformed Church in Crete, IL. David recently traveled to Ethiopia with us and shares his experience in Africa and shares what Crete’s partnership with Leadership Resources has meant for their church.


DavidSmith LRI 5What has been your past involvement with Leadership Resources International?

My partnership with LRI has been on a couple of levels. I’ve known Joe Paglia [a staff member at LRI] since 8th grade, I was his youth pastor. Joe and Mark of LRI have influenced my thinking on teaching the Word of God with the heart of God and being true to the Word of God.

I also did a one-day pastor’s workshop with Craig about four years ago and I saw how we work people through a passage using the hermeneutical principles—and really appreciated it. Last year, our church became an anchor church for LRI’s work in Ethiopia. Then in the fall, I traveled to Ethiopia with Doug Dunton [LRI’s Director of Africa] and witnessed the training firsthand.

What has surprised you the most about the fruit of LRI’s work in Ethiopia?

David Smith LRI 4My first week in Ethiopia we met with the mentor trainers and got to know them. I saw their heart for ministry and love for the Word. I saw their openness to wanting to meet me and get to know me.

We were at a “Meet and Greet” on a Sunday afternoon with a bunch of pastors who had been to past trainings, and there was a guy who had gone through just Jonah (as opposed to our entire program) who took the training he had received in Jonah, went into the bush and found a guy that came to know Christ. This pastor then brought him back and spent six weeks working through the book of Jonah with him. He taught him Jonah using the hermeneutical principles, and that guy went back into the bush and planted two or three churches.

It’s a fruit producing ministry. It’s not intended to stay with just one group of pastors—it’s meant to be expanded. I remember talking with another pastor who, after the LRI trainings he goes through, goes back and takes his elders through the same training.

Another cool story was when we were checking into our hotel one night and we started talking with the porter. He asked us what we were doing in his country, and we said we were with a ministry called LRI and we train pastors in biblical exposition. The porter replied, “Oh yeah, I know LRI. My pastor took me through the LRI training!” Wow! Here’s a porter at the hotel who has gone through some of this training.

David Smith LRI

David Smith PreachingHow did the pastors you work with receive LRI’s training and hermeneutical principles? (See our Dig and Discover Hermeneutical Principle Booklet)

We went to three different places in my time in Ethiopia, and the constant response was,

“We love how you have brought us back to the Scriptures and that everything starts with the Scriptures. So often we have preached from our own wants or desires, or from our denomination’s convictions or teachings, but now we know we need to be teaching from the Word of God and seeing the heart of God in it.”

There’s always a very humble and passionate response, and worship is always the response of the Word that they just heard.

What other ways did you see transformation by God’s Word as a part of LRI training?

When I came back from Ethiopia, I noticed in my own heart a desire to make sure that my church is instilling the same training, the same principles, the same idea of teaching the Word of God with the heart of God into the teachers of our church. We have about ten people who are starting a Fellowship of the Word of teachers within our church this fall. That was definitely a transformation for us that birthed a passion for deeper Word-based discipleship within all ministries of Crete Church.

David Smith LRI 2What would you say to someone considering supporting LRI’s work or being an Anchor church?

If your church is passionate about the gospel and the Word of God multiplying, then LRI is a great ministry you can partner with.

Not only will LRI bear fruit in other parts of the world, but they will also produce fruit within your own congregation. The leaders of your church and individual congregants will see the root and benefit of being committed to the Word and understanding it properly—not only in another country—but in our own local context.


David Smith is a pastor at Crete Reformed Church in Crete, IL. He has ministered for over 27 years and is ordained in the PCA. When he isn’t with his wife and three kids, David enjoys riding his motorcycle and home improvement projects.

See David’s experience receiving training himself in the Fellowship of the Word program:

Leadership Resources

Leadership Resources exists to equip and encourage pastors around the world to teach God’s word with God’s heart. Learn more about our work, our approach, and see how your church can make a worldwide difference with God's Word.

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