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

Training Costa Rican Pastors in Expository Preaching
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:

Preaching the Word with Clarity and Confidence in Central Asia

Dear Friends and Partners,

Turstan* leads our work in one of the “-stan” countries of Central Asia. Born into a Muslim family, he came to faith in Christ as a teenager . . . one of the few believers in his country. After completing theological training, Turstan was asked to translate for our Leadership Resources team as they made their first visit to his country. Turstan jokes, “I didn’t know it was the beginning of ‘snookering me’ into LRI.”

When we asked Turstan what drew him to LRI, he responded, “Simple is genius.” What he meant is this: LRI’s training is simple but profound – it makes the Word of God accessible and understandable both to preachers and to their congregations.

One preacher told Turstan that before this training “we got stuck in our own web. The harder we worked to make things clear, the more we confused even ourselves!” Now he preaches from the Word with both clarity and confidence.

Turstan is an amazing leader. He passes on what he has learned throughout his own and surrounding countries in Central Asia. He’s on the road constantly and, in fact, asked us to pray for his young family, since, as a dad and husband, he’s gone so much. Would you take a moment to pray for them?

Turstan is one of 176 national pastors leading LRI’s training around the world. Last year these pastors teamed with LRI staff and trained almost 5,000 pastors and leaders. Many of those who participated passed the training on to thousands more.

You are a part of this Movement. By God’s grace, as you read, pray, and give, 176 pastors are launching and leading indigenous, sustainable Movements of the Word that have now spread to 47 countries. Thank you so much. Rejoice with us!

With gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

*Turstan’s real name has been withheld for security reasons.

PS: Our 48th country launches this month, equipping pastors in the Middle East. Due to security reasons, many pastors must be flown to a tolerant, neighboring country for training. While this adds considerable cost to training, it is an incredibly strategic opportunity to impact an entire region with the Word! Please give . . . generously!

Transformed Pulpits Lead to Transformed Communities

Dear Partners and Friends,

What does a Movement of the Word actually look like . . . on the ground? Here’s the short answer: the Word faithfully taught and preached transforms pulpits, which then transform churches, which then transform communities.

But, is this depth of transformation actually happening?

YES! . . . Consider what’s happening in Vietnam and the story of our in-country leader, Chinh*. Chinh’s life and ministry have been transformed by LRI’s tools for digging into God’s Word. And it’s not just Chinh. This transformation has impacted many Vietnamese pastors, causing many to repent of misusing and distorting God’s Word.

Chinh’s passion is to equip churches to shower the love of Christ on their communities by meeting social, physical, and spiritual needs . . . acts of love which “adorn” the gospel (Titus 2:10). These churches build schools, care for widows, dig toilets, and help farmers gather their crops when they are sick – they serve both Christians and non-Christians. When asked why, their reply is simple, “Because we love you! And because God loves you so much.” This outpouring of love has created a spiritual hunger among unbelievers to know this God of love. And as a result, many have come to know Christ.

Even Vietnam’s communist government has taken notice and jumped into action – but not in the way you might expect.

You see, trying to police crime-ridden communities has been a nightmare for Vietnam’s communist government. At their wit’s end, they now encourage the Christians they once persecuted to “evangelize other villages so they can be like the Christians”!

In other words, transformed believers make their job easier!

Isn’t that the way it should be? After all, it is through the Church that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). What a mighty God we serve!

And what an honor that through your partnership, equipping Chinh and others like him in sharing God’s Word is bearing wondrous fruit around the world. Would you consider a gift this month to help us equip more faithful men like Chinh?

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

*Chinh’s real name has been withheld for security reasons.

31 Days of Prayer for LRI

Dear Friends & Partners,

Colossians 1 and many other passages make it clear that God accomplishes his purposes through prayer and through people. Please, would you join us this year in seeking God for powerful Movements of the Word worldwide?

Our team has written 31 specific prayers connected to what we believe the Lord intends to accomplish through Leadership Resources. Please print this letter (you can use this PDF) and put it on your refrigerator or in your Bible to remind you to pray regularly (even daily!) for us. If you are interested in a set of prayer cards for twelve of the countries in which we work, let us know by sending us a message with the title “Prayer cards.” (Sorry, only available for US addresses.)

Thank you for partnering with us in this most essential way. We so look forward to all that the Lord will do in 2018 as he answers these prayers!

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President


  1. Praise God for how he used LRI and our partners to equip pastors in 40 countries this past year. How amazing that He uses ordinary people like us! (Ephesians 2:8-10).
  2. Pray that our confidence in the Lord of history and redemption would be expressed through fervent, ongoing prayer (Acts 4:23-36).
  3. Pray for communications, rebranding, and new website initiatives.
  4. Pray that God would grant us favor in hiring new staff, as we work with one another, and as we consider better ways to further the work.
  5. Pray for staff growth in love, hope, faith, and humility.
  6. Pray for God to guide LRI to discern the best opportunities for ministry and growth—what to say “yes” to as well as what to say “no” to.
  7. Pray for an expanded partner development team, fiscal health for the organization, and a deeper donor base to support the work.
  8. Pray for the development, definition, and launching of Global and Country Leadership Teams worldwide.
  9. Pray for faith that God will sustain us all and meet all of our needs because He is faithful.
  10. Pray for divine protection from men, ideas, and governments hostile to the gospel.
  11. Pray for staff needs: a North America Regional Director, an expanded Development department, and critical support staff.
  12. North America: Pray for more U.S. churches to partner with us in ministry and finances to launch Movements of the Word in the U.S. and around the world.
  13. North America: Pray for U.S. pastors in existing groups to catch the vision for our work around the world.
  14. Russia/Central Asia/Europe: Pray for the growth of Russian Mentor Trainers and an expanded impact through their ministry.
  15. Russia/Central Asia/Europe: Pray for new training groups of pastors in Central Asia.
  16. Russia/Central Asia/Europe: Pray for expansion into Europe and for wise leadership for Sean Martin, Europe’s Program Director.
  17. Africa: Pray for wise and godly leadership from our country directors: Jacques (Uganda), Eshete (Ethiopia), Joseph and Francis (Kenya), and Peter (Tanzania).
  18. Africa: Pray for God to strengthen a long-lasting Movement of the Word across the continent.
  19. Africa: Pray for potential new trainings in the Middle East.
  20. Asia: Pray for God to raise up a country director for India and for guidance in future trainings in this massive and diverse country.
  21. Asia: Pray for guidance and a unified vision for the leadership team in a country in East Asia.
  22. Asia: Pray that the rapid growth of our training in a country in South Asia would maintain quality and for more faithful movement leaders.
  23. SE Asia: Pray for the selection and development of National Mentors in Indonesia.
  24. SE Asia: Pray for national leaders in the Philippines (Lito, Larry, and Neil) to wisely lead a growing Movement of the Word in their country.
  25. SE Asia: Pray for God to raise up the right men to lead a Movement of the Word in Myanmar.
  26. Latin America: Pray for the development of national leadership teams and Mentor Trainers in the region.
  27. Latin America: Pray for needed funding for the region from like-minded U.S. and Latin American partners.
  28. Latin America: Pray for guidance and provision for potential training opportunities in both Chile and Mexico.
  29. Pray for spiritual refreshment and strength for LRI staff members, as ministry schedules can be tiring.
  30. Pray for safety in travels for LRI trainers, Mentor Trainers, and those who travel to be trained.
  31. Pray for the Lord’s grace for LRI spouses and families as their loved ones travel for the Lord’s work.

 

Back to the Future Pedagogy: Discovering the Power of Experiential Learning

A co-worker and I were ensconced in a hotel room for several days in an Asian country that is hostile to Christ and His Church. Every morning, seven tribal pastors arrived one by one, stayed into the evening, and then left one by one, a few minutes apart.

Together, we were wrestling with 1 and 2 Corinthians. One particular aspect of these letters gripped us: Paul’s passionate, personal engagement with these believers.

He had spent 18 months with them, in their homes and their synagogue. After his departure, Paul sent coworkers to further serve and encourage them. He also sent these long, detailed letters. In every way, Paul embraced these dear saints even though they had caused him great heartache.

He praises them, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you wee enriched in him in all speech and knowledge…” (1 Cor. 1:4-5). He pleads, “I appeal to you brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree…” (1 Cor. 1:10). He chides, “But I brothers could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ…” (1 Cor. 3:1). He admonishes (see 1 Cor. 4:14) and boldly rebukes, “And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” (1 Cor. 5:2).

And so the letters continue, full of pointed, even harsh critiques, yet at the same time, selfeffacing vulnerability, even more surprising given his strained relationship with the church: “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Cor. 1:8). Paul admits to struggling with deep discouragement, perhaps even depression. We looked at 2 Corinthians 12 in which Paul boasts of his weaknesses: “So the power of Christ may rest upon me… for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

But this embrace of weakness is only expressed after Paul is driven to boast at length about his accomplishments and apostolic credentials in order to counter the sniping criticisms of the so-called “super apostles” (2 Cor. 11-12).

Paul engages them at a heart level, his emotions never far from the surface. “For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears…” (2 Cor. 2:4). He pleads with them to reciprocate. “We have spoken freely to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also” (2 Cor. 6:11-12).

What is this strange amalgam of emotion and reason, boasting and humility, warnings and affirmations, sarcasm and love? And to what end? What is Paul’s larger purpose? What shepherding intent is he pursuing? For Paul is not merely transmitting information or theological truisms; he is seeking to provoke Spirit-empowered, word-mediated transformation in their lives.

These observations from the Corinthian letters led our small group into a profound discussion about pedagogy. The educational model in their country is typically Asian: information download from the all-knowing professor to the uninformed student. Rote memory, repetition, and regurgitation of facts are standard educational fare.

But how do we break through this cultural model? “It’s impossible!’ some would say. “The top-down model has been used for millennia. The country’s educational system is too deeply engrained to change. The overweening respect for the honorable teacher would never allow for a more engaged, more egalitarian approach to learning.” We all soon discovered that the standard educational model wasn’t so standard after all!

I had remembered that one of the pastors was also a carpenter. “Please stand up, Kueyo. Would you be willing to teach me how to build a chair?” I asked him. His look of puzzled embarrassment spawned a gaggle of giggles. But Kueyo soon warmed to task. “Would you just lecture me?” I asked. “No, of course not,” he answered. “Well then, how would you teach me? And remember, I know nothing about carpentry.”

Kueyo began to describe the process he would use to educate this uneducated westerner. First, he would show me a well-crafted chair. He would have me sit in it and then study it…by lifting it, turning it, feeling it. Next, he would show me the various tools and explain the unique purpose of each. He would place each tool in my hand and cover my hand with his in order to show me the proper way to hold and wield each tool. He would have me practice using some of the tools on scrap pieces of wood, until at last I had demonstrated a minimal level of competency.

The real work of building the chair began with Kueyo, the master craftsman, demonstrating the process. After measuring and cutting the first piece of wood, he would shape and refine it with rasp and file and sandpaper. My turn. “No, that’s not quite right. Try this. Yes, that’s better. No, no, you’ll gouge the wood. Yes, much better. Ah, notice which way the grain runs. Good, you’re getting the hang of it.” Thus, the chair would slowly take shape, with the master providing less direction and more encouragement over time.

What just happened? This man, steeped in a traditional education system, intuitively knew that the most effective way to teach me to build a chair was the classic apprentice-training model. It came naturally to him, for it was the way that he was taught. It was the way that he had learned. This conversation prompted a question which seemed to float about the room: “What does this suggest about how you as pastors might better teach, shepherd, and equip God’s people?”

I then asked another pastor, “When I go back home, I want to tell my wife ‘I love you’ in your language. Please teach me to do that.” Again, there was more embarrassed laughter, but then a revelation came: “We never tell our wives ‘I love you.’ Instead, we communicate love with our eyes and with our tone of voice.” These tribal men already understood the priority and the power of non-verbal communication. It was already rooted in their culture.

“Please, help me learn,” I responded. After a few more bemused twitters, one of the pastors stood up and demonstrated the ‘love look.’ “Like this?” I asked after my pathetic attempt to mimic his facial expression. More laughter. “Is this better? How about this?”

Finally, I asked, “If you catch a thief in one of your villages, how do you teach him to stop stealing?” Another revelation came: in the old days, the village elders would prepare a bed of hot coals and force the offender to walk over them barefoot. Yikes! Nowadays, the elders are more likely to sit the thief down and give him a “talkin’ to.” If necessary, they castigate him publically with the hope that he will bow to the pressure of the community. This tribal group had long ago discovered the power of experiential learning and small group dynamics.

“Think about what you’ve just told me about your culture,” I told them. “You use a wide variety of teaching methods, don’t you? To be sure, your formal educational system tends to be uni-directional with little or no personal engagement. But in the rest of life…in your real world…your teaching process is highly relational and hands-on. It’s full of praxis: action followed by reflection and correction followed by more action and reflection.”

These oral-preference tribal leaders realized that passionate, personal, experiential teaching and learning were already embedded in their culture. They already embraced an adult-education teaching model in the everyday outworking of village life. They discovered that a life-on-life teaching approach is congruent with both their culture and with their Bible.

Previously published in the Orality Journal.

Rejoice in God’s Life-Giving Word this Christmas

Dear Friends & Partners,

Snowflakes dusted Chicagoland this past weekend. These first flurries are always a bit of a shock for me, after a mild, fragrant Midwest autumn. But then, just as suddenly, the snow reminded me of why Leadership Resources exists.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isa.55:10-11)

Isaiah 55 shapes our ministry, and we hope that these words shape your life as well.
This year, we’ve seen God’s Word accomplishing God’s purposes as we and our partners equipped and empowered more than 5000 pastors to teach God’s Word with God’s heart, in 40 different countries.

How effective is our ministry? Here’s what one mission researcher said after evaluating our work in Russia:

“Your training is like a slow, soaking rain that softens and saturates the ground over a long period of time.” Like the rain and the snow, His Word always succeeds in accomplishing His work.

Through our partnership with you, together, we bless the nations with the written Word that points to the Living Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, might you rejoice that 2000 years ago the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, fulfilling all of God’s good purposes in Christ.

Filled with much gratitude,

Craig Parro
President

PS: Would you please remember us in your year-end giving? We’ve been s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d this year financially as we’ve done more ministry on fewer dollars. Your generous gift would help us finish the year strong and begin 2018 with great confidence. Donate here.

When Preaching the Word is Costly

To us, preaching the Word is a no-brainer. To people like Pastor John from Kenya, it is a costly choice.

John used to be a “rhema” preacher—that is, one that ‘followed the Spirit’ in preaching—which really meant saying anything that came to his head at the moment. After studying 2 Timothy’s command to “preach the Word” during a TNT (Training National Trainers) workshop, John repented of his preaching approach and began to preach Word-saturated messages, beginning with Jonah.

Many left his church, and one woman even said, “Tell the pastor we’ve had enough of his Bible studies. Can he start preaching the way he used to?”

With this pressure from his church, would John keep preaching the Word?

When Doug Dunton (LRI’s Director of Africa) reconnected with John, he not only confirmed that he was still preaching the Word, but he also shared that his church was growing in ways he had never before seen.

“Where’s this growth coming from?” Doug asked.

“It’s not the same kind of growth, but it is growth of transformation and regeneration in people’s lives…We can see the difference of God’s Word in our lives. “Through new converts,” John said. “It’s not the same kind of growth, but it is growth of transformation and regeneration in people’s lives… We have a church membership now of people who are strongly founded on the Word. We can see the difference of God’s Word in our lives.  And we thank God for where He has taken us.”

John doesn’t want this incredible transformation to stop with him—he is equipping other Kenyan Pentecostal preachers in TNT principles to help them follow God’s command to “preach the word.”

Thanks to the prayers and support of partners like you, courageous men like John can faithfully shepherd their people with God’s Word.

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

PS: Doug Dunton told me recently that some of the men we train have the opportunity and desire to pass on TNT principles in South Sudan, even though a civil war is decimating the country. We need to provide funds to cover their expenses for travel and lodging. Would you consider a special gift to help Sudanese pastors learn to preach God’s Word with God’s heart?

Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump? Transformational Preaching in the Philippines

Dear Friends and Partners,

Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump?

Instead of preaching his own sermons, Pastor Larry read from Bible commentaries for an information-heavy preaching ministry. After beginning TNT, he learned God’s purpose for information in the Bible isn’t only to inform the mind, but to transform lives. Now equipped to study and preach messages for himself, Larry’s preaching brought new, Spirit-backed power.

Cely, a woman in his church battling stage-four bone and liver cancer, took notice of the new Larry. God was changing her life and her church due to her pastor’s TNT-influenced preaching. She soon found out Pastor Larry was training other pastors all over her country, including in her hometown. “How can I help? I want to sponsor the training there because I know what God has done in my life through you.”

Months later, after arriving at the airport in Cely’s hometown to begin TNT training, Pastor Larry and Pastor Neil heard someone shouting their names from a distance while at baggage claim. It was Cely! She had made the trek against her doctor’s orders to join the two and a half day workshop.

Larry asked Cely if her husband, who isn’t a believer, knew she was funding the training. She replied, “It’s actually from him!” Perplexed, Larry said, “He’s not a believer—why would he want to support this?” Cely recounted her husband’s words, “If this type of preaching can bring about this change in my wife, it’s worthy of my financial investment.”

Cely has since gone to be with the Lord. At her wake, her grieving husband told Pastor Larry, “Tell me what you need and I will still support the training.”

Hearing of God’s goodness in the Philippines made our hearts rejoice. Would you join us in prayer for many more Filipino preachers and congregations to be transformed?

Yours in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Our opportunities to train in SE Asia and the Philippines have outpaced our resources to fulfill them. Would you consider a generous gift to see many more transformed preachers like Larry in SE Asia?

     

    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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