Reflecting on Our 2020 Global Summit

 

Dear friends,

It was a week I will never, never forget – now for more reasons than I first thought.

In March, one hundred thirty of our global partners and staff members gathered for a Global Summit in Brazil – the realization of a dream we’d had for years. It was a week filled with profound conversations, vision casting, learning, and worship.  

The Lord far exceeded our expectations. New partnerships formed. A shared vision for a movement of the Word deepened. Complicated problems were discussed and, in some cases, resolved. The book of Acts was expounded. And the Lord was magnified in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Amharic (Ethiopia) – indeed, a small preview of Revelation 5:9! 

There was universal delight in our time together. The Lord graciously deepened our love for one another and our commitment to a common vision and mission.

 

Pastor José from Peru described his experience this way:

Having all of that fellowship with pastors from around the world was amazing – having the opportunity to have lunch at one table with people from Asia and then another meal with people from Russia, and from this country and that. And even if we were from different cultures, we were talking the same language – not only English but the language of the hermeneutical principles. I felt like I knew those pastors for a long time! I felt that we were a big family with the same vision. . . . I felt really blessed to be part of this summit.

Pastor Aeron from the Philippines said,

Pastor Aeron

The Summit gave me a larger and global vision. It enlarged my heart and my vision of the glory of God. I praise God to be a part of this desire to see God’s Word flow to every nation. [I saw that] everything in the church should be shaped by the Word of God. I was refreshed and excited to echo this blessing to my congregation.

The immediate fruit of the Global Summit in Brazil was that I launched a Bible-reading movement now, even in the midst of the pandemic. . . . Over the last five weeks, God has enabled me to introduce members of my congregation to the training tools on how to study the Bible, and it has helped them to be able to do their own Bible studies in their own homes. . . . It’s a real comfort for me that the Word of God is like a fire that has spread. It’s my prayer that God will sustain the movement.

As you can hear, what God did during our time together was amazing.

 

As I look back, two events surrounding the Global Summit gave it even more significance:

 

The first event was a global pandemic that threatened to throw everything into disarray

We had been in Brazil only a few days when the COVID-19 alarm bells began to ring. Each day they became louder and louder. Should the conference continue? Country borders were closing and travel began to be restricted. These actions stirred concern among family members back home as well as among attendees. By the mid-point of the summit, there was one thing on everyone’s minds: home. So, we encouraged our partners to head home as soon as they were able. 

Programming was rearranged to end two days early. Our staff worked heroically to rebook dozens of flights on razor-thin deadlines. (Our Polish partners arrived in Warsaw on the very last flight before the airport shut down!) There was certainly some anxiety, but there was no panic as we turned to God’s Word for assurance of His sovereignty and care. The remaining meetings continued to be fruitful even as hearts turned homeward. As one staff member reflected, “Nothing was stolen from us.” 

The one burden in our hearts is that two pastors from Haiti, Serge and Ezechiel, were not able to return home before Haiti closed its borders. Our Brazilian partners (and hosts), Preach the Word and PIBA (First Baptist Church of Atibaia), as well as a Haitian church in Brazil, have done an absolutely amazing job serving and caring for them until they are able to go back, hopefully next month. Until then, we ask you to please pray for them and their families.

Everyone senses that the Lord orchestrated the time in Brazil to accelerate a global movement of His Word, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Only God can do that – to Him be the glory!

 

Bill with Alonso Ramos, from Costa Rica

The second event was the homegoing of our friend and founder, Bill Mills

Looking back, what a precious gift the Lord gave Bill to cap off fifty years of ministry. The Global Summit was Bill’s last ministry trip, and the Lord allowed him to see the amazing fruit of a ministry that began in the laundry room of his and Karen’s home. After decades of trusting God for the work, Bill was surrounded by ministry partners from thirty-five countries around the world – brothers who are carrying on the legacy of teaching God’s Word with God’s heart and equipping others around the world to do the same. 

Those global partners loved Bill. José from Peru told us,

I had the opportunity to say thank you to Bill for establishing this ministry – because this ministry has changed my life. And he was so humble the whole time to answer every question. . . . He took the time to tell me his story. Just listening to him from his own mouth tell how everything started was really something that impacted my life.

Our hearts are amazed at how God orchestrated such a monumental event in the life of our ministry. But it’s not just something to look back on. With hearts of faith, we eagerly look forward to all that God will bring about from our time there. 

And yet we know that none of that would have been possible without the partners God used to get us there. And so, with hearts of gratitude we thank you for helping to make what happened – and what will happen – possible. You are part of what God is orchestrating not just in Brazil but all around the world.

 

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

 

P.S. The full impact of the Brazil Summit won’t be known for years, but already we’re seeing wonderful ways God is using it to advance His Kingdom. And God is using your prayers and support to enable that. Would you consider a gift today so that we can continue to serve and strengthen our global partners who are faithfully leading a movement of His Word?

 


 

Below are a few encouraging quotes from attendees:

 

I count it a great privilege of my life to be part of this partnership network. — Lito Manguera, the Philippines

 

I saw God-transformed people, united around one vision, learning and teachable, ready to work with God and where He is working. I felt like I was participating in an event like the gathering of Israel under Moses’ or Ezra’s teaching or in the apostolic council in Acts 15. — V., LRI’s Director for Russia

 

[The Summit was] a reminder that the Holy Spirit empowered ordinary men to do extraordinary things. Of course, I know this, but somehow this truth was profoundly impactful during the summit. — Doug Dunton, LRI’s Director for Africa

 

LRI’s president, Craig Parro, leads a session titled, “A Vision for Global Partnership.”

 

Latin American trainers dressed in their traditional clothing.

 

Our Haitian brothers, (left to right) Ezechiel, Serge, and Dony, blessed us with powerful singing.

 

Pastor Harold from Zambia participates in a session.

 

 

 

 

The Asia team listens to the Africa team share their vision for their region and how God has worked.

 

 

Watch a few highlights of our reflection time:

Craig Parro

Since joining Leadership Resources International in 1989, Craig directed its international ministry, and as of January 2010, he now serves as President. A graduate of TEDS (M.A., Mission), Craig is a stimulating teacher and has equipped and encouraged pastors and churches throughout the U.S., Latin America and Asia. Craig also serves on the Board of Directors of TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition), an association of pastoral training organizations focused on accelerating pastoral training worldwide. Craig has authored articles appearing in several magazines. His first book, Unlikely Warriors, was published in 1992. He is also co-author of Finishing Well in Life and Ministry: God’s Protection from Burnout.