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

PS: For a limited time, new donors to LRI have the opportunity to double your gift thanks to a generous donor. Double your first-time gift today, using the enclosed card or online at www.leadershipresources.org/match!


How Can the Lord Use One Faithful Pastor?

Dear Friends & Partners,

I first met Pastor Timothy* over ten years ago, so our reunion earlier this year was filled with joy. We both had a bit more gray hair! But his warm smile and gentle spirit had not changed – nor had his passion for God’s Word.

Timothy was part of the first training group in a country in Southeast Asia that is hostile to Christ and His Church. During that first training in 2008, a colleague and I taught the book of Jonah. I’ll never forget the response of one of Timothy’s fellow pastors at the end of the week:

“Pray for me. I hate the government officials who have persecuted so many pastors and churches in my country. I find myself hoping that they are all condemned to hell. Now I realize that my heart is worse than Jonah’s. I repent. Pray for me.”

We did pray for Timothy. And in the coming years, God changed his heart and gave him a love for his oppressors. He had a chance to emigrate to the U.S., but he turned it down to serve his people.

The truth is, we see this type of transformation consistently when pastors encounter the life-changing Word of God.

I asked Timothy how many groups of pastors he has taught over the past ten years. “About ten groups.” How many pastors are in a typical group? “It averages 22-25.” Amazing! That means that Timothy has personally equipped well over 200 pastors with our training. Impressive. Timothy went on to share that 30% or 40% of those have passed on the training to others.

My jaw dropped as I did the math. We’re talking about more than a thousand pastors and church leaders being equipped . . . and that’s just through this one faithful pastor.

Honestly, I never imagined ten years ago that we would see this level of multiplication, particularly in such a hostile environment.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself . . . God’s mercies upon this ministry are so evident. Rejoice! And realize that you are a full partner in this. We treasure your giving, your praying, and your encouragement to our staff.

Marveling in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Our in-country coordinator, on his own initiative, told us that he’s taken our training to a nearby country that is even more hostile to the Church. Please consider a gift today so that we may encourage in practical ways these bold proclaimers of God’s Word!

Note: Right now Leadership Resources International has a matching gift from a generous donor. If you are a new donor, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar!

* Name changed for security reasons.

“Can’t we speed the process up a bit?”

Dear friends and partners,

“Can’t we speed the process up a bit?”

We’ve heard that question many times about our four-year training process. But there’s a reason it takes four years: You can’t grow a forty-foot tall oak tree overnight. Shaping convictions around God’s Word, building skills in exposition, and transforming hearts take time. Consider the story of Anatoyli* from the former Soviet Union:

“By 2008, I was burnt out. . . . My church was growing, but I was not. I did what I was obligated to do but felt emptiness. I desperately needed God to touch my heart. That year, LRI came to do [training], and I sensed I needed to be a part of it.

“LRI’s training is not a fast process. We are goal-oriented people who want fast work. But it doesn’t work like that. After the third or fourth session of training [about two years into the process], I began sensing more of God’s will and His heart – His love for everyone, His mercy, His holiness. I realized I needed my heart changed. He started putting His heart into my heart.”

If we had fast-forwarded the training process, Anatoyli’s new heart might not have come. It also might not have motivated him to pass the transformation on to others:

“I see the same [transformation] in the hearts of other pastors and leaders we train. I see that God changes [us] through His Word. When we abide in the Word for four days, God’s Word does wonderful things with our hearts. We could see pastors in [regions where we train] have a hunger for God’s Word. When the training is over, everyone says, ‘God is changing me.’ Even the congregations say that God is changing their pastor!”

Yes, for oak trees and for pastors, deep roots and healthy multiplication take time. But as Anatoyli would testify, it’s all worth it.

Thank you for your partnership in this work – we couldn’t do it without you!

Yours in Christ,

Craig Parro

PS: Would you consider a generous gift today so that pastors on the verge of burnout might instead become enflamed for God and His Word?

*Name changed for security purposes.

Note: Right now Leadership Resources International has a matching gift from a generous donor. If you are a new donor, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar! Learn more.

31 Days of Prayer for LRI

Enjoying Your God in Prayer
Dear Praying Friends and Partners,

We asked you to pray at the beginning of last year. Good news! . . . the Lord has graciously answered your prayers. For example . . .

Last year, you prayed for our staffing needs – a North America regional director, an expanded development department, and critical support staff. Dave DeHaan and Brad Warren joined our development team, and Joe Paglia took over as our North America regional director. Praise God for these provisions.

You prayed for new trainings in the Middle East. We now are able to conduct trainings in three countries in this region. We are still looking for the right partners to launch ongoing pastoral training groups in each. Prayer is still needed!

Precious friends, we covet your prayers! The opportunities before us and our partners are greater than ever, but the challenges are daunting. Entering into 2019, we again invite you to pray with us.

Here are 31 more prayer requests, one for each day of the month. Please pray for . . .

  1. A country in South Asia – key mentor trainers who are leading the movement. Pray for God’s protection over them because of the anti-conversion laws in this country. There have been reports of arrests and fines.
  2. Our team – that God will continue to fuel our sense of total dependence on Him for everything needed for successful ministry.
  3. A restricted-access country – that westerners like LRI workers can still be allowed to come in undetected and not jeopardize the security of the pastors who are being trained.
  4. Ethiopia – that our training would permeate the traditional Ethiopian Church so that ministers are able to properly handle God’s Word in their context.
  5. Our team – for wisdom as we face this question: how much flexibility and adaptability should we allow in our training process?
  6. Brazil – a deepening movement of the Word in churches where pastors often struggle against neo-liberal theology, syncretism, prosperity gospel, and pragmatism.
  7. A restricted-access country – that God would continue to grow His Church in a country that is undergoing great oppression by the government – some are experiencing church closures, imprisonment, and persecution.
  8. Ukraine – for wisdom for our in-country leader as he forms a national training team empowered to lead training throughout the country.
  9. Our team – for wisdom: how much caution or risk should we take as we minister in countries strongly opposed to the gospel?
  10. India – that key leaders there would develop in confidence and competence as mentor trainers for northwest India.
  11. USA – that a movement of God’s Word would develop among the 100 Nepali-Bhutanese pastors/churches in North America.
  12. Ethiopia – for wisdom for Country Director Eshete Belete as he selects 3-5 regional training directors to expand the training within the country.
  13. Our team – Rejoice with us over the many generous partners that the Lord has given to us . . . including many of you!
  14. Europe – for new partner churches to support the expanding work in Europe for 2019 and beyond.
  15. Haiti – for pastors who face heavy spiritual darkness and daily struggles.
  16. Our team – that God will protect the integrity and reputation of LRI by superintending over every spending decision, wherever it is made and whoever it is made by.
  17. Poland – that the Church would be strengthened through our training and that Mateusz Wichary would grow as a leader of the training in Poland.
  18. Russia – that our leadership team would meet the growing desire for training in their nation and organize themselves for expansion.
  19. Uganda – that doors would be open for new training groups in new locations and for the establishment of a strong national training team led by Country Director, Jacques Masiko.
  20. Our team – for wisdom regarding how aggressive or conservative we should be in hiring new staff.
  21. Russia – for God’s favor in obtaining visas so we can enter the country . . . it’s a big problem.
  22. A restricted-access country in Southeast Asia – Praise God that these men are making great strides to exposit the Word and shepherd the people of God with its transforming purpose.
  23. Bangladesh – for wisdom for a third training venue to be launched in 2019 and protection and provision for our 36 pastors being trained in this, the fourth most populous Islamic nation.
  24. Our team – for wisdom in how to be both generous with our national partners and, at the same time, promote local sustainability.
  25. A restricted-access country – for safety of trainees during travel and the time at the training center.
  26. Indonesia – that the mentor trainers become more skilled in training others in expository preaching so that our national leader there is supported by a strong team.
  27. Our team – that the Lord would raise up many new partners who resonate with our mission to equip and encourage pastors around the world to teach God’s Word with God’s heart.
  28. USA – for increased capacity to facilitate additional training groups in North America and wisdom about how to best promote these new groups.
  29. Peru – that God would transform the hearts, minds, and wills of pastors as they study His Word and give them a strong sense of sufficiency in His Word alone.
  30. Our team – for wisdom as we develop a Global Leadership Team to guide the work around the world. How centralized or decentralized should we become?
  31. God – that He be glorified in every training, every conversation, and every decision made by our team and our partners.

So many of these requests admit to our lack of wisdom. Thanks be to God for his invitation and promise in James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (ESV).

With much confidence in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: You can use this PDF to print a copy of the prayer requests.

A Movement of the Word…Even Among Drug Addicts

Dear friends and partners,

Jonathan* was not the one you would pick for “most likely to succeed” when training began a few years back. He was young, quiet, lacking confidence, and without a position to influence others. Then Jonathan surprised us.

“A few years ago I was wondering, ‘Who will I train?’ A group of drug addicts at a local rehabilitation center were eager to learn, so I began with them. Soon they were changed by the power of God’s Word. Their hunger for the Word grew further still.

“Our denominational leaders took notice. They asked if I would be willing to teach the center leaders so they can each train their 10-12 residents. I have begun with 30, but there are 100 leaders total. This group is made up of leaders, pastors, and small group workers, representing about 30 churches.

“We studied 2 Timothy and they appreciated the methods of study. One remarked, ‘We are now confident to preach!’ Another, the head of all the rehabilitation ministries, said, ‘Even I was afraid to preach, but now I am confident to handle the Word.’

“The difference in their preaching is dramatic. Before, they preached about the experiences of their lives. They went to the Scriptures to find verses to back up their story. Now, they base their sermon on the text and apply it to their lives. As a result, we are seeing God add more people to our churches. I have now been put in charge of Christian Education for my denomination and have access to many churches . . . 48 in my region alone.”

So much for not having a position to influence others! Jonathan is living proof that God’s Word is sufficient to equip men (even those lacking confidence!) for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Faithful partners like you make this possible. Thank you!

To God be the glory!

Craig Parro

PS: The country where Jonathan lives is one of the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians (according to the “World Watch List 2018” report by Open Doors USA). Please consider a gift today to advance the gospel in dark and dangerous places.

*His name has been changed due to security concerns.

“…His passion is channeled by the text itself” | Kenya Update

Why are you wasting your time with more training???

. . . Pastor Paul’s friends wondered. After all, their friend had attended seminary in the U.S. Why would Paul, a Kenyan pastor, need more training?

Paul knew why, and he shared it on a recent visit:

“[Some] training is quite general. LRI gives the tools to divide the Word and to share. . . . If you don’t have a map, you can get lost. If you do have the map and the way to get you there—that is what the training does.”

Having a roadmap to the Bible is great, but how does it translate to preaching? Who better to ask than Paul’s wife, Abigail:

“His teaching has become more clear and to the point. He doesn’t just appeal to emotions. Paul is still a passionate preacher, but his passion is channeled by the text itself.”

Preaching the text of Scripture not only lets God’s voice be heard by Paul’s congregation, but it has brought together leaders in a nation fragmented tribally and denominationally.

“The training unifies us. . . . At the end of the day we think the same. It doesn’t matter where you came from, your background, your training; this training brings people together. I can invite a friend [from a different denomination] to speak at our church. . . . We have become friends and partners in the ministry.”

I hope hearing Paul’s story brings joy to your heart! What a mighty God we have who brings people together to partner for His kingdom’s advance. We thank God for your partnership and making stories like Paul’s possible.

In His service,

Craig Parro

PS: We praise God that our training is truly cross-educational, bringing together different denominations and folks from different education levels. God’s Word is an equalizer! What if your gift this month helped bring unity to the Body of Christ in this way? What a cause for rejoicing that would be!

From Fear to a Passion to Preach: The Story of Pastor Vir

Dear Partners & Friends,

We almost lost Pastor Vir at our first training session in the Philippines. As usual, we started with the book of Jonah – in part, because it’s short, it’s simple, and besides . . . everyone loves a good story!

Everyone was hugely encouraged . . . except for Vir. “I almost quit after the first workshop,” he recounted. “Everyone there had a far greater understanding of God’s Word. I thought I could never catch up.”

You see, Vir was a banker before becoming a pastor. God called him into the ministry, even though he had never been to a Bible college or seminary. Vir loved God’s Word but frankly had no idea what to do with it.

Fortunately Vir stuck with us. Fast forward five years, and he’s become the biggest fan of the training he received. Why? His lack of confidence has turned into an unquenchable desire to speak God’s Word. In fact, now Vir gets monthly invitations to preach and teach at churches in and around Manila. Vir has become a gifted and faithful teacher and preacher of God’s Word.

What a transformation!!! From a heart of fear and discouragement to a heart that burns with a passion to proclaim the Word.

You are part of Vir’s story. You’ve prayed. You’ve given. Now we hope you will rejoice with us for what God is doing by His Word and by His Spirit in the Philippines.

For the sake of Christ’s Bride,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Recently a member of Vir’s church was installed as a new Army Air Force general. At the induction ceremony broadcast on national television, the new general invited Vir on stage to pray for him in his new role! Clearly, the Lord is expanding Vir’s influence. We hope to expand our training in the Philippines so many more “Virs” can get the training that they desperately need. Please, would you send a gift today so that might happen?

“The pulpit now is no longer a burden, but a blessing” | Costa Rica Testimonial

We love telling stories of God’s work around the world. We love it more when you can hear the pastors we train tell their own stories of transformation from God’s Word.

Costa Rican Pastor William recently had this to share with our team:*

Sadly, I was at a moment in ministry where my sermons were dry and irrelevant. I even evaluated my own sermons and said, “It’s so boring to listen to me preach!” Every Sunday I would freeze up and tell myself, “Oh no, I have to preach again!” – not knowing what to preach. The moment came where I wrongly chose to use sermon outlines others had made. This discouraged the church.

LRI’s training has been a great blessing to me and has revived my passion for preaching. It has helped me desire to study the Word of God. Now our church is experiencing great spiritual growth. The pulpit now is no longer a burden, but a blessing.

God has done beautiful things through the preaching. The elders now say, “Pastor, how your preaching style has changed! And it is changing our church.”

LRI’s training has been a blessing to me, and I want to be a blessing to others. We have had the opportunity to teach others and go to other countries like Nicaragua. We are already going to work with pastors there in communities where perhaps the pastors have not had the opportunity to be trained, or if they have, they are struggling like I was. This training has been a huge blessing for them as well. . . .

Many thanks to those who have supported this ministry and those who took this training to us. I am truly a different person.

Praise God for Pastor William’s transformation! Praise God for how His Word is building up this Costa Rican church and churches in neighboring Nicaragua. Stories like this are why we do what we do, because, as our mission states, we long to see the Word of God flow powerfully through every church to every nation.

Thank you for your partnership and helping make stories like William’s possible.

To God be the glory!

Craig Parro

PS: You can help bring this kind of transformation to pastors like William by making a gift to the Latin America region.


Watch Pastor William tell his story below:

* Edited for clarity and readability

“Lord, please make this pastor go away!”

Dear Partners and Friends,

“Lord, please make this pastor go away.”

Our Latin American team didn’t actually say those words, but they thought them!

Pastors bring their different personalities to our training times. Colombian Pastor Luis has a “larger than life” personality – he’s outspoken, even boisterous. Unfortunately, because he brought a strong framework that didn’t fit with what he was hearing and experiencing, Luis didn’t like our training . . . and he let everyone know it! Our team actually hoped that he’d drop out from the training because he could be so disruptive.

But Pastor Luis continued on for two more years. Almost every time he opened his mouth, criticism poured out. “Well, that’s not what I see in the text! We need to find the spiritual meaning of the passage.” Frankly, our team was discouraged.

Then one night, while we were studying the book of Habakkuk, Pastor Luis raised his hand. Our team cringed. What grenade was Pastor Luis going to lob now? But then came these words. . . .

“I now realize that I’ve been doing it wrong for 20 years.”

Our team was dumbfounded. Pastor Luis had finally realized the true value of reading God’s Word as God intended it to be read. He, at last, understood that God’s Word needs to be applied as God intended it to be applied.

Our team had just witnessed a miracle of God’s transforming power – a power flowing out of God’s Word. The dam had broken. Through a long process of two years, Pastor Luis stopped being a thorn in our sides and, instead, became a reminder of God’s nothing-is-impossible grace. To God be the glory!

Equipping pastors isn’t always a smooth process – there are lots of ups and downs. Your prayers and your gifts encourage our team to “keep on keeping on.” Thank you for your partnership in this work!

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: As I write this, Pat Paredes, Juan Torres, and Pastor Dave Jaspers are heading back to Bogota next week to equip their friend, Pastor Luis. Please, would you encourage our team this week so that our growing work in two underfunded Latin American countries might continue unhindered?

Empowering Faithful Word Ministry in Cuba

Scroll down to watch Julio Cesar tell his story.

Dear friends and partners,

Why is Leadership Resources so effective in equipping pastors to teach God’s Word? One word: EMPOWERMENT.

Take Cuban Pastor Julio Cesar, for example. He’s experienced other courses in expository preaching before. “Most of the time these courses become a monologue or a conference. The value of LRI’s training is that one learns also from the students. We are all part of the learning process. It’s a double role, serving as a student and a teacher.”

Participation in our training is key. We want to do more than offload information to students, we want to empower partners with a shared vision of advancing movements of God’s Word around the world. This means not only giving pastors tools to preach and teach the Word, but gauging their progress and providing feedback to make sure it’s working.

Julio Cesar gets it.

“TNT [Leadership Resources’ training for pastors] is really cool because students develop thoughts and sermons based on the principles we learn. This fuels us and also gives us feedback. At the same time, the student can be reproducing this training in home groups, Sunday School, and other places. . . . TNT has helped us greatly.”

Through faithful men like Julio Cesar, a movement of God’s Word is taking root in Cuba. And training in Cuba wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for key partners from Brazil and Ecuador who have completed training with LRI and now travel to Cuba to train with us. This is empowerment in action!

A movement of God’s Word is afoot in Latin America . . . but we face funding challenges in this region. Latin America has many more pastors like Julio Cesar who are desperate to learn how to preach God’s Word with God’s heart.

Would you consider a special gift to help accelerate the spread of God’s Word in Latin America and beyond?

In Him,

Craig Parro

PS: Watch Julio Cesar share his testimony below:

     

    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 of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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