From 12 to 2,000 (and Beyond): A Movement of God’s Word in Brazil

At the 2016 Global Proclamation Congress, we sat down with David Merkh and talked about the mighty ways God has used the Training National Trainers Program in Brazil since training began in 2006. David Merkh serves with Pregue La Palavra (Preach the Word), a ministry founded to expand TNT training in Brazil.

In the video, David mentions several keys to our ministry:

  • LRI’s strong partnership with our Brazilian partners (PIBA).
  • A laser-focus on transformation from God’s Word.
  • Training that immerses students in the Bible.
  • Equipped men passionate to pass this transformation to others (2 Timothy 2:2).

David also mentions the substance and scope of the movement:

  • Training is expanding all over Brazil, even to remote villages in the Amazon region.
  • Training is crossing borders and reaching pastors in Venezuela, Cuba, and Angola (Africa).
  • Our partners are frequently approached to begin new training groups. With their growing team of trainers, they are able to respond to many calls for training.

Learn more about Training National Trainers or partner with our work in Latin America.

You have infected us…

You have infected us…

Have you ever been described as a virus?

If you have, was it meant to be a compliment?

But that is exactly how the words of one pastor from Central Asia* were meant when he declared: “You have infected us with TNT!” (TNT is the acronym for Training National Trainers, the name of LRI’s pastoral training ministry.)

This exclamation came while pastors were reporting to our staff on the spread of TNT in their country and even beyond that nation’s borders. What’s so amazing about this story is these pastors live in one country. They travel to a second country to be trained through TNT in handling and proclaiming God’s Word, which they then bring back home and pass along to their own countrymen. But then, they travel to a third country and multiply the training there as well! One group of pastors, three different countries, all being transformed by the Word of God through LRI’s TNT pastoral training… AMAZING!

While LRI is not planning to integrate this virus imagery into a rebranding and communications campaign any time soon, the analogy is a highly virulent one. When exposed to a virus, the human body is provoked to react, often in a way that is beyond its control. In a similar way, the Word of God provokes a response in the life and ministry of the pastor. But whereas a virus causes damage and maybe even death to its host, the Word brings life! Once these faithful brothers were “exposed” and became “infected” through TNT, there was a spiritual reaction that was beyond their control. No longer could they help themselves, for they had to reproduce this training in the lives of others. The “virus” had to spread!

It’s as if nothing can stop the spread of TNT, but only because it carries along the Word of God with its power to transform the hearts, lives, and ministries of these pastors. TNT is like a virus, but a life-giving strain that is spreading around the world.

Not to stretch this analogy too far, but may there be a pandemic of the Word through TNT, the likes of which the world has never before witnessed.

*For security purposes, the name of the pastor and country in this story have been withheld.

Author: Joe Paglia, Director of Operations at Leadership Resources

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Unlock the Potential of Your Missions Strategy

Learn how to harness a missions partnership with deep, lasting results.

At The Gospel Coalition National Conference, we’re hosting a powerful event—stories of impact from pastors who have harnessed key strategies that changed everything about how they approach missions. Come hear what they did, how they did it, and why a strategy that’s not laser-focused on the Word is destined to fall flat.

The Gospel Coalition 2017 National Conference
Room 116

Tuesday, April 4, 2017 7:45 AM

Coffee and bagels provided. Hosted by Colin Smith.

Every attendee will receive a copy of God of Word: The Word, the Spirit and how God speaks to us and can enter to win The Vine Project and Wisdom in Leadership.

Sign up to receive a reminder email about the event.

If you understand the importance of missions, you won’t want to miss this event. We look forward to seeing you there.

Tim Keesee calls TNT “Nation-Shaking” on Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front with Tim Keesee
A few years ago during a visit to South Sudan to equip pastors in the Training National Trainers program (in partnership with Christian Horizons), Doug Dunton and Pastor Allan Sherer were joined by Dr. Tim Keesee of Frontline Missions International.

Dr. Keesee documented his experience in Episode 5 of the popular missions DVD series Dispatches from the Front. Below is the transcript from the portion mentioning LRI with a few photos. Watch the clip below or see the transcript below.

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Just next door, Allan was rightly dividing the Word of truth. Christian Horizons is not only rescuing children but is also a force in strengthening the Church in the radical rescue work of the Gospel. Intensive Bible training was underway with men and women from all over the region—from elder statesmen like Pastor Ti-yay, who was tortured for his faith during the Communist time, to young men and women eager to learn and to share the Scriptures.

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Some of the pastors have said in the past their only models for preaching were the “health and wealth” types they saw on television—an embarrassing American export. These same men are now getting a taste for simple, solid biblical exposition, and they have publicly repented of how they handled God’s Word before. What is so effective about the teaching that Allan and his colleague Doug are doing is that learning is not for accumulation but for multiplication. Allan and Doug are just the initiators of a movement—for this school has legs! These pastors and evangelists are in turn teaching other pastors and evangelists in ever widening circles of Ethiopians training Ethiopians in Word-centered preaching.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.45.59 PMI love to think of the fact that in Acts there’s an Ethiopian searching the Scripture, and the Lord sent along Philip to show him Christ, Whom he embraced in faith and joy. The Ethiopian eunuch surely brought the Gospel back to this very land. Now in our time, God is raising up a new generation of Philips and of Ethiopians hungry to know and preach Jesus—to shake every corner of their nation with the Gospel!

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Dr. Tim Keesee journals his experience with Doug Dunton and our Africa TNTers.

Sat by the Nile yesterday morning beneath a huge mango tree and listened in on Michael and Kebede, his right-hand man, talking ministry strategy with Doug. Kebede is Oromo, he is intense, encyclopedic, and his administrative skills are as sharp and varied as a Swiss Army knife. What is impressive to me is the caliber of leadership among these Ethiopians.

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. Here in Sudan they are taking the first steps to equip 1500 church planters who are taking the Gospel across South Sudan and into the Arab North.

Images are from Dispatches from the Front: Father, Give Me Bread (episode 5). Used with permission from Frontline Missions International, Taylors, South Carolina.

More information about the Dispatches from the Front video series is available at

Learn more about Frontline Missions International at

Learn more about Training National Trainers in Africa by exploring a refreshing approach to missions or by hearing how God is impacting pastors and churches.

Should We Focus on a Movement—Or Transformation?

One major goal of Leadership Resources’ training in biblical exposition is to launch indigenous-led movements of God’s Word in the countries where we work. By God’s grace, we have seen movements spring up in many countries where we work. But should a movement be the main focus of our work, or is there a more fundamental focus we should start with?

Doug Dunton recently asked an Ethiopian Mentor Trainer named Alex if he focused on a movement. We loved his answer so much we shared it below.

My focus is the true transformation in individuals. My desire is to see people experience the riches of God’s Word. The Spirit that is released as they are faithful when they dig into God’s Word. That is my desire–to see pastors, teachers who are being faithful to the Word of God. For nurturing their lives, and at the same time, building up the church. That’s the conviction.

This training changed my perspective of seeing God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and passing it on to others. This precious Word. The change is very personal. The training is very personal. If it changed me, if it really convicted me that I’m loosely handling God’s Word for my life and for my ministry, there are also other people who are easily distracted by a lot of eloquent speakers. They can copy many different sources, but that doesn’t give life. That is the major thing I’ve experienced in my life. This training leads me to focus on the Bible text.

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Three Surprising Ways Bible Reading with My Kids Has Changed Me

The following article is by Jon Nielson, author of Bible Reading with Your Kids: A Simple Guide for Every Father.

Bible Reading with Your Kids - Jon Nielson - Book CoverI’m sure I’m not the only one who finds regular time with my family in the Bible a challenge. There are plenty of distractions and reasons why reading the Bible with my three young kids is hard. But I’m convinced that the best thing I can do for my children is expose them to the Word of God (and ask the Holy Spirit to change their lives). In fact, I was so convinced that I wrote a book on the subject, called Bible Reading With Your Kids.

And as I’ve persevered and tried to make Bible reading with my children a regular habit, I’ve been surprised that God has been using this to change me. While I was convinced it would be beneficial for my children, I never imagined how God would also shape me through this. Here are three ways God is changing me.

I am growing in my understanding of the Bible.

Any good teacher, in any subject, will tell you that one good test of true comprehension of a complex concept is whether or not you can explain it with clarity to a young child. While it’s challenging to read the Bible and explain it simply to young children, it has forced me to work hard at comprehending biblical stories, ideas and teachings with pinpoint clarity. By God’s grace, this has forced me to work even harder in my own understanding of God’s word, which has been good for my heart and mind.

I am developing as a teacher of God’s word.

Some of us might never be public preachers of the Bible, but all of us are to be involved in word ministry in the context of the body of Christ, the local church (Colossians 3:16). As I’ve committed to reading the Bible with my children, and explaining it to them clearly along the way, I’ve found this has grown my confidence and ability to do word ministry with adults too. As I engage in ‘God talk’ with my kids and articulate gospel truths to them, this has helped me to have ‘God talk’ with other adults more naturally. When it comes to personal evangelism, I am more confident and at ease.

I am constantly being encouraged by my children in ways I never imagined.

I have found that since reading the Bible regularly with my children, I am finding deep delight in discipling them. I am loving the sweet conversations with them about the the things of God, as they form questions and wrestle through theological thoughts. I love watching them discover new and beautiful things about God, his grace, and his glorious redemption of sinners. There is a new dimension of friendship opening up, a spiritual friendship between my kids and I, and I pray this will continue to grow and flourish as they get older.

Let me encourage you, if you’re someone who also struggles with reading the Bible regularly with your children, to go for it! Now is the time to begin. Recalibrate your expectations and allow yourself grace. There will be some tough times; young kids can have trouble focusing, and we’ve certainly had our nights when Bible reading times have been rough! But keep persevering. It’s worth it. Expose your kids to God’s word daily, and commit them to him in prayer, trusting him to open their hearts to his gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit, and you might be surprised at how God uses this to change you too.

If you’re finding Bible reading with your kids a challenge, or are even unsure how to start, here are eight tips from my book Bible Reading With Your Kids for Matthias Media, that will help.

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Preaching the Bible’s Authorial Intent

David Jackman Expository Preaching Gospel Ministry Authorial Intent in Scripture

We recently had a conversation with David Jackman of Proclamation Trust and the Cornhill Training Course on expository preaching, gospel ministry, the author’s intent in the Bible, and preaching the genres of the Bible (watch the full interview).

The video and transcript below share a highlight from the interview on preaching the Bible’s authorial intent.

Todd Kelly: In some conversations about preaching, the phrase or idea of authorial intent is used to describe the task. But, sometimes it just leaves us with a cold theme. Can you explain that concept of authorial intent, and help us to understand how it should shape the sermon, and where it should lead us?

David Jackman: Yes, if God has inspired the Word (as we believe He has), then the human writer, under God, has an intention in writing the Word. Paul didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “Oh, I haven’t got in touch with the Colossians lately, I’ll just drop them a line.” He has a purpose, an authorial intention in writing the Epistle. So our job is to discover what that intention is.

Now that comes from careful study of the text, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and by immersing ourselves in the actual content of the Word.

But you could teach that in a fairly theoretical, academic sort of way which can leave people cold. They feel there’s nothing there for me and my heart and my life this week. And I think it’s possible to have a sort of preaching that is more like lecturing. It may be accurate, may be faithful, but it doesn’t communicate, doesn’t get it across, doesn’t communicate to the heart.

So if we go from the author’s intention and ask ourselves, “What is God’s pastoral intention in inspiring the author to write this book?” Then we’re making a journey from the mind to the heart—from understanding the text to realizing why the text is there and what the text has to say to us and what its implications are for our lives.

So through the mind to the heart is the journey from authorial intent to pastoral intent. And then if we respond with a heart that is receptive to God’s Word, it will work out in our lives. Preaching is always with a view to change of life. It’s never simply writing information down in your notebook about God. It’s always God is intervening in our lives changing our lives as we understand this truth and apply this truth and relate it to our circumstances. And the other thing the preacher has to do is help the congregation to do that, by giving examples and illustrations and so on. So could you just take us one step further on this journey, in terms of application, because many many preachers this side of the Atlantic feel a pressure to apply the Word of God.

Todd Kelly: Can you tell us the relationship of application to the shepherding intent of the scriptures?

David Jackman: Yes. I rejoice that they find some pressure on that. I think it’s better to have a pressure to apply than to think I don’t need to.

Sometimes people just lay out the fruits of their exegetical study and that’s it. And I don’t think that nurtures the flock as much as they might. So we want to take it a stage further, don’t we. But the application must come from the text. So we’ve got to be on the main line of the text. It’s not a matter of how can I apply this, “Let me bring in an application from outside and bolt it onto the Bible text.”

I sometimes say to my students in London that I know you’ve all got bolt-on applications that you will make if you can’t think of anything else to say, like we ought to read the Bible more, or we ought to pray more, we ought to evangelize more. And all those things are true, but is that why this text is here? What is this text saying in terms of its application to our lives?

That transformational power in preaching—which is the Holy Spirit’s work—comes through the hard work of the study of the preacher and his dependence upon the Spirit’s power in the preaching.

I do think we have to work at that and I think it works through in practical terms so that we begin to carry through what we’ve learned prayerfully and in dependence on God’s grace into our lives, and working for that sort of change that is shaping us into the likeness of Christ. That transformational power in preaching—which is the Holy Spirit’s work—comes through the hard work of the study of the preacher and his dependence upon the Spirit’s power in the preaching.

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Measuring Impact – Video of Webinar with Craig Parro

How should non-profits and missions organizations measure impact?

The challenging (and sometimes ambiguous) nature of measuring impact may deter some from even trying, but LRI President Craig Parro says measuring impact is crucial.

In the webinar Craig Parro hosted with the Barnabas Group in Chicago, IL, Craig unpacks the why and the how of measuring impact. Since every organization is so different, Craig bases much of his talk on how Leadership Resources measures impact training pastors in biblical exposition in the Training National Trainers program.

Download PDF of slides

“Why is it that everyone loves learning, but nobody loves being evaluated?” – Craig Parro

Dick Lucas’ early years and what C.S. Lewis was like as a professor (Part 1 of 5)

What follows is Part One of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below or download the mp3.

Todd Kelly: I’m here with Dick Lucas who was the Rector for many years at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in London. He also served as the Director of Proclamation Trust. Dick, tell us a little about your story and about your early years.

Dick Lucas: I first heard the gospel at holiday camp. I think that’s true of many people in my generation and still true. We were a church-going family. My father was a man of enormous integrity and we went down the hill to the church every Sunday. Looking back, I realize there was nothing on offer there at all.

A local fellow who was a medical student in the town asked me to these camps, and like many others, I heard the gospel for the first time. It was wartime actually and the government insisted that the school kids did something for the war effort. So, these Christians running the camps wisely put on farming and such. The place was packed out as people had to go somewhere on the holidays. I can’t remember what we did. I think we picked up turnips; it can’t have helped the war very much. But all day we went on to the farm. I remember cutting down a sapling on the head of the owner of the estate. I was lucky not to be sent home I think. But it was all great fun and I got to hear the gospel and I responded to it. I can’t say that I did very well after that. I went to school and, of course, backslid, and then I went into the Navy at the end of the war. It was in the Navy, where I came back and had to make my own route Christian-wise.

TK: What were some of the influences that came into your life and grew you as a Christian?

A young John Stott

DL: I think the talks at that particular camp were probably the finest talks to young people that I have ever heard then or since. The young John Stott was a student at the time, and I won’t give you the names of others, but the talks were of an outstanding quality. I don’t think I realized that at the time. Then afterward in my Naval service, I didn’t hear any talks.

When I came out of the Navy I knew where I stood. I did odd jobs and earned some money and then went on to university. I was lucky enough to get a place at Cambridge. I don’t think I could now; the standards are so incredibly high. The Cambridge Christian Union was then an astonishing society. The biggest in University, 400 I think was the number. There were a lot of very material people in the Christian Union. Despite that, the Christian Union was very effective and I grew. I think there was only one member of the senior faculty at the University that stood with the Christian Union. He was a lovely man, slightly eccentric, the under-librarian at the university library. Ever since then, at Cambridge the Christian Union doesn’t get support from the senior faculty. But it’s been the most effective society at the university for many years.

TK: You had some interesting professors while you were at university. One in particular that stood out, C. S. Lewis?

C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis

DL: That was at Oxford. When I had to leave school. When you were 18 you got called up and you had to leave school immediately. This is toward the end of the war that I was called up. And it just happened that I had C. S. Lewis as my tutor for six months, which was an extraordinary privilege. I tremble as I look back. Of course, I was completely ignorant of English literature and he must have regarded this as sort of the war work, I think. I really am rather ashamed when I think of what he had to put up with. So, there I was in my Naval uniform going in to read my essay to this man and had no idea what a great man he was. And of course, even the world didn’t then know what a great man he was in 1943.

TK: Was there a way in which his tutelage shaped you?

DL: I don’t mean this in a wrong way; he wasn’t friendly. He once said to a student, “I’m not your schoolmaster.” He regarded a student as being an adult and therefore looking after one’s self. So, he wasn’t in that way a warm cuddly person. I happened to be on the same staircase so I did notice the way he worked fairly all day. I used to look through the door and see he would write without correcting anything — he had an extraordinary mind. He had one of the great minds of his generation. He wasn’t famous then. He was giving talks to the Air Force people. Many of the flatlands out there (near Cambridge) were made into Abbeys; the Americans were there in very large numbers. The bombers were there. As his war work, he was asked to give talks and that’s how he became known. The BBC heard about these talks and invited him to broadcast them. It really all came out of the fact that he had to give talks to the airmen. I think he himself learned then how to put things in a simpler way. These talks that ultimately became Mere Christianity. The BBC was astounded by the response to these talks. As you know, Mere Christianity has never been out of print since.

He then became very unpopular with the senior faculty at Magdalen College. Magdalen was a godless college and a very famous college, very atheistical. People like Gilbert Ryle the philosopher. So [Lewis] got a rough ride there. He never made professor at Oxford. So, without doubt Lord David Cecil once said he was the great man at Oxford yet he never actually got professorship. Which I think tells it’s own story. They didn’t like the fact that he wrote popular Christian stuff, but his lectures were crowded. They were extraordinary. I went to some of them. He would come into the lecture room talking and he would go on talking brilliantly from the lectern and then walk out talking. Now whether this was a ploy so people didn’t catch him at the end and make conversation, I don’t know. He wasn’t in that sense chummy. I don’t think you would say that. He had his own circle of friends, of course, which everybody knows about by the stories of Inklings and how they used to meet at the pub once a week. Then he was rescued by Cambridge asking him to be the professor there of languages and so on, where he had a very successful eight or nine years, I think it was. Smoked like a chimney. Died really very young in today’s terms at 63—smoking can’t have helped him. A remarkable man, unique really. Wish we had a man today who could write like that, we badly need it.

TK: Dick, what were some of the influences that led you to the ministry?

DL: I wanted to be a missionary before I was nine. I was really a wicked little boy and I remember telling a friend at prep school that I was going to be a missionary to Japan. Thank God He altered my plan! Poor Japan, it they’d had me as a missionary!

I think going to these camps and seeing these men. The thing that impressed me the most is the way these young men had given up their time to look after us brats. I’d never met that before, I’d never met that Christian kind of attitude of solace. I don’t think we realize what an impression that makes to people who have never seen it before. Well, I wouldn’t have been able to express that at the time, but I was enormously impressed by it. I wanted to be like them.

So, I think I had ideas of going into ordained ministry very early on. I told my father and he was entirely supportive. I think the rest of my family thought it was rather odd, but I had no opposition at all. So, I went on to university and to theological college afterward.

TK: As you transitioned from the training to ministry itself, describe some of those early days. What were you setting out to do?

DL: I think it would be fair to say (I don’t mean this unkindly), that I learned very little at my theology college. It was liberal evangelical and they had no idea how to train us. They still don’t in many ways, some of those colleges.

I learned really as a leader of course to these camps. I was there for four years. That was an enormous privilege because we were properly trained. If you were given a talk for an evening, if you couldn’t keep boys awake in the evening, then you wouldn’t be given another talk to give. In the morning you would be torn to pieces (in a friendly way). I never had training like that at the Church of England. The Church of England had no idea really how to train its leaders. I’m not sure any denomination does in this country. But these interdenominational movements, of course, do train. You ought to know that in America because what is extraordinary about your lay movements is that many people don’t realize they are lay movements (Campus Crusade, Navigators, and the like) that is a reaction to clericalism. The fact is that they have trained their men better than many of the churches trained their men. We’ve learned a lot from them. And I learned all I knew. When I went to be an assistant in 1951, all I had really learned was from giving endless talks at camp and elsewhere. I had already begun to speak in lots of places. You learn by doing it, don’t you?

TK: Was there someone there that was interacting with you about those talks?

DL: The leader of the camp. You have to say he was a remarkable man. He wasn’t a man you would call a superman in any way. He had great spiritual experience and power—he was a great man of prayer. The leaders he had were all chosen leaders. It was from those camps that John Stott came. And he chose men and trained them. I don’t know where we would be without that kind of training. Our theological colleges are necessary because we need men who know theology, but it’s very hard to learn to ride a bicycle in a room. You don’t learn to be a preacher at a theological college. That’s why the Proclamation Trust started. I think it must have been. You try and look back and say, “Why on earth did we begin?” I think we realized that men coming out of theological college might not be able to preach even though they were very good theologically. It’s just practical.

Part Two traces Dick’s early ministry and preaching at the businessmen’s lunch.

Dick Lucas: Beginnings in Ministry & Growth as a Preacher (Part 2 of 5)

What follows is Part Two of the transcript of our interview with Dick Lucas. Listen to the audio below (starting at 13:30) or download the mp3.

TK: As you began in ministry, what was your view of ministry? What were you trying to do as you led?

DL: I must have been pompous because I don’t think I had any idea. I had a very dear rector. (That is the title of the senior pastor here.) He was over 70 and near retirement. He wasn’t a man you think to train you. He was an evangelist. He had been a great evangelist in his youth and his ministry was largely evangelistic. In the early 50s, churches were comparatively full in towns where I went.

I realized my job was to help people, and I realized they really didn’t know anything. I gathered them. I learned how to do a lot at that point, gathering all these young people. I had about three and a half years there. I soon realized that people need training. So we stopped all the nonsense and fooling around. Youth fellowships in the town where I went were always fooling around with girls and playing games and so on. So, I began a completely fresh one. We went straight to work on the Bible every Friday night. We had games on Saturday if they wanted it. We didn’t want to assume that they wanted no recreation. We had a big grammar school nearby and we had 60 or 70 young men and girls. What I learned from that is if you treat them seriously and give them proper food – well you know this from all the work your doing – a large number of those boys went into Christian ministry of various kinds. In fact, I’m getting so long in the tooth that the boys I was training then are retired now.

TK: Did you then make your way to Mt. St. Helen’s?

DL: No, then I went to a society to talk to young men about the call to ministry, which I did for two or three years. I don’t think that probably adds very much to my story. It was a worthwhile time. I think it did for me, selfishly, is that I traveled the country. That was very useful in getting to know people, getting to know the situation. I gained a great deal from that. It was a very useful time for me.

St. Helen's Bishopsgate Church

St. Helen’s Bishopsgate Church, where Dick Lucas served as Rector from 1961 to 1998.

Then in 1961 St. Helen’s came up. In those days nobody seemed to want to be in a city church. The churches were empty. The Bishop of London used them as a dumping place for those incorrigible tragedies he didn’t know what else to do with. So, we were a rum bunch. A senior businessman saw the opportunity and he said to me (he’s the kind of man to tell you what to do), “Dick you’ve got to become the rector there.” I smiled and put in my application. I can remember it now, putting it in the letterbox, thinking that’s the end of the matter. Actually, only four people applied. I was appointed. Partly, I think because I was young and partly because the bishop wanted his candidate and the trustees (who had to appoint) were determined not to have the man that the bishop wanted. So, a good bit of human nature came into my appointment. They were glad to have a younger man. I inherited nothing but a small crowd.

TK: So, it was a rather small beginning.

DL: That’s one way of putting it, There was really nothing there at all.

TK: Over the years God gave you a ministry of the Word.

DL: […] Gradually. We didn’t start with a big Sunday morning. We didn’t think that was way ahead because parking was so difficult. It really came with a Tuesday service, because a group of businessmen who were praying and reading the Bible wanted a gospel service. I would never have been able to succeed without these men. They read the Bible once a week… They just said to me, “Will you please start a lunch hour service?” So, we did. They were the people responsible for it’s success. They worked and prayed like crazy. When people came through the door, into that funny old building, in one corner there would be Bill Somebody from the rubber market, another somebody from the insurance market. All these old markets of the old city are open markets, or at least they were then. So a youngster coming to do insurance would know the big names. If you were in the rubber market or the sugar market, you would know them. They came in saw Mr. So-and-So in the corner, one of the stewards, and they thought, “If he comes there must be something here worthwhile.”

Those early days were extraordinary. This was not actually our doing at all. Those early days the men came in like a river. They just poured in at five minutes to one o’clock in a great stream. I don’t think any human explanation can be given for that except that there were many people praying and it was God’s time. William, my brilliant successor, has built on that many other things that we didn’t do in those days. So, the work is much bigger now than it was then.

TK: St. Helen’s is right in the middle of the business district. What did you see happening in those Tuesday meetings that was so significant for the ministry of the church?

DL: It was a male world in those days. Strange isn’t it how many things have changed. There are many able women in the city today. But in those days it was a male world in grey suits, umbrellas and, believe it or not, the old bowler hat—which is now completely extinct. Although, I did see one the other day and I nearly ran over to the man and said: “May I please have your hat because they’d like it at the museum.” So, it was an extraordinary sight.

You see a youngster coming up to the city, age 18 or 19, he’s unlikely to be in a church again except for his marriage and the baptism of his children. So, actually, it’s the last chance for many young men, from my point of view. They won’t go to their local church, but in those days they came out in their lunch hour. Today, they build new buildings. The organizers try to keep everybody in the building so no time is wasted. So a young man coming alone sees this astonishing queue of men coming into a church in the middle of the day and says, “What on earth is going on?” I suppose it was a very unusual sight. Many must have came in just out of curiosity.

An Indian Christian named V.J. worked his way up and was a marine engineer who had done very well. He saw all these people coming in, so he came in (he’s was a Hindu), and found himself in the middle of a row and he couldn’t get out. So he had to stay. The Lord wonderfully spoke to him. He has been a blessing to thousands of people.

TK: To those who don’t know, what would happen on a Tuesday?

DL: It was only half an hour. I think I had at least the sense to be short. The thing lasted exactly half an hour, just 12:55 to 1:25. So, I would get into the pulpit at 1 pm, a hymn would be announced, after the hymn I would say a prayer, I would then read and immediately preach and finish exactly on 25 past. So, I learned to preach for 21 minutes. And that was appreciated. People knew how long they were kept. I just think it was the numbers at the time. People hadn’t heard this. They hadn’t heard the good news.

We started refreshments. I had learned that if you have refreshments first, people slip away when they’ve had the refreshment and don’t stay for the talk. (A lot of Christian evangelism happened that way in those days.) So, we had the talk first and then we had excellent refreshments afterward. You know, God moves in strange ways, one of the exclusive Brethren churches had broken up and some of their people had come to us including a wonderful lady who, to make ends meet, had gone into catering. She did our Tuesday lunch every Tuesday for 30 years I think. It was a tremendous thing for her as for us. Those sort of people found a ministry.

TK: In the talk itself, what was your goal or objective?

DL: I would take a theme for the month. People move in the city and we forget how mobile people are. It was no good going through Jeremiah for forty Sundays or forty Tuesdays. You do need a bit of common sense. So, I would do four or five Tuesdays on one passage. I think we have too much in our sermons today. I haven’t heard myself. I’ve never listened to those old talks. But I don’t think there’s too much material in them.

The aim was to make a certain point and to make it well. I might take one chapter, John 1 or Romans 5. That would be quite tough going to take Romans 4 & 5 in four Tuesdays. I tried to keep it concise. It was really hearing the whole counsel of God. Hearing what John 3:16 really means in terms of the New Testament. That was new to a lot of these men.

TK: Many that were coming to the luncheon, they weren’t believers.

DL: Well, there were a lot of Christians that came of course, but if you got four hundred plus every Tuesday there were plenty of non-Christians there. The Christians brought their friends. So, Christians were there, lots of non-Christians were there and in between. All sorts. William is a very good speaker on Tuesdays today, but he enlarged the concept. He has a Thursday on which he has questions back, which rather like the hall of Tyrannus, of Paul.

TK: This is one thing that shaped the church in a significant way?

DL: Yes, this is how we started. A strange way to start isn’t it? But I didn’t have parochial obligations; that was a great blessing. I was single. I don’t know how I would have coped with a parish, enormous amount of visiting to do and so on. That wouldn’t have been my strength. I’d done a certain amount of that as an assistant.

We then started a student service, I suppose it was about five or six years after I came, because there was a great service at All Souls. John Stott was at the height of his powers in the 50’s. 900 people at All Souls. We started in the late 60’s. There’s a long way between the west end and the east end. Although of course, it’s very business orientated, the big teaching hospitals all around the east end of London are enormous campuses today. Somebody with wisdom might have moved them out of central London, or some of them. But they couldn’t have moved really, and today they’re enormous. We built up our Sunday night on medical students, nurses, and others. It’s astonishing how students find somewhere to live even in built-up areas. We had a good crowd coming on a Sunday night very quickly.

TK: The main thing you were doing was simply opening the Word of God.

DL: Yes, absolutely. Because there were not parochial activities, none of the things you would run at an ordinary church, we didn’t have to bother with them. We didn’t even have a proper Sunday School until Robert Howes (happy memory!) came, somewhere in the 70’s or early 80’s. He had three boys and he was disgusted at the smallness of our Sunday School. So, Robert and other people, one particular lady who was an assistant tutor at the hospital and her husband [worked on Sunday School]. We now have probably one of the best Sunday Schools within any reach of St. Helen’s. It’s a valuable thing to people on the fringes who bring their children in. It became a very notable thing for people and so they made the effort to find places to park, which is still difficult. So that was a great thing. People bring in different gifts don’t they. I could never have done that. I never went to the Sunday School except for the nativity play, which I used to enjoy very much.

TK: The word of God was instrumental.

DL: That was the only attraction. I think people found it astonishing their friends wanted to go for that, until they found out that it is wonderfully rich and attractive.

We did the same with the students, yes. They’ve got plenty of activities. You don’t need to entertain the students. The world entertains them and they entertain themselves far better than we can entertain them. We had gifted young men and girls who knew how to get alongside them in a way I didn’t. Richard Cunningham, do you know, doing sort of wonderful work today. Well, I remember Richard, I think he was doing physical training at Gordon Smith College. People who are training, for what they call exercise art, they aren’t notably scholars. Richard of course, has a very fine mind. Richard, I always remember him coming on Sunday night and beginning to bring the young men from the college who were not there on scholarship grounds and probably found listening boring. It was priceless; Richard would bring a notebook and start take notes on my sermon. So the next week you would see the boy who came with him bring his own notebook and then the next boy would bring a notebook. These things catch don’t they? They suddenly realized this is important stuff and not only listened to it but took notes to think about. They used to make me smile when I looked down from the pulpit to see these guys that had no idea that you came to church to think. It’s a happy memory.

In Part Three, Dick shares about the history and development of Proclamation Trust.

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