What Can We Do But Pray? Join Us In Prayer in 2021

Dear friends and partners,

Do you ever feel the need to fight back against the constant drumbeat of discouraging events happening in the world? Well, God’s Word offers really good news . . . We can pray!

As Paul exhorted believers to put on the whole armor of God, he included prayer as a spiritual weapon for fighting the powers of darkness (see Ephesians 6:18–20). 

Praying is often an exercise of walking by faith and not by sight. Why? Because it’s impossible to measure the full impact of our prayers. I’ve found two illustrations helpful in thinking through how God uses our prayers over the long haul:

  1. A Seed: One prayer is like planting an apple seed. Planting one seed today may result in  an entire orchard in a generation. 
  2. Compound Interest: I remember being fascinated by compound interest as a kid. A small investment could grow exponentially given time and a good growth rate. It’s the same with prayer, and God is the One in charge of the growth! 

We hope these simple illustrations motivate you to pray. And we invite you to pray with us using the attached sheet of requests. God did amazing things through our partnership last year in over 60 countries in spite of the challenges of COVID-19, and we trust Him to continue His work in building His church. 

We probably won’t hear about the fruit of these prayers on the news, but we will marvel for all of eternity at the wonderful works of our gracious God!

Seeking Him with you,

Craig Parro

President


Prayer Requests – (PDF)

February

  1. Pray for God to give us wisdom to know when and where to resume in-person workshops with pastors. 
  2. Pray for wisdom in continuing to navigate the impact of COVID-19 on work in our home office, and pray for the health and safety of our staff.
  3. Praise the Lord for giving us the insight and wisdom last year before COVID to connect all of our key global partners on a common, secure communications app.
  4. Bangladesh – Pray for the four new training groups being led by national leaders.
  5. Ecuador – Pray for the various trainings that are being held, some online and some in person.
  6. A North African country – House churches have been poorly attended because of COVID restrictions and fear. Please pray these believers will find fellowship, encouragement in the Word, and perseverance through this difficult time. Pray that our work in this country wouldn’t lose momentum and would, instead, flourish.
  7. An Eastern European country – We give thanks for incredible multiplication this past year – from three groups to thirteen. Pray for wisdom to strengthen the national training team and appropriately pace further expansion.
  8. Central Asia – Praise God that in many of the persecuted countries of this region we are hearing reports that Muslim friends and neighbors are very open to hear about Jesus. The Holy Spirit has prepared the “persecuted church” in this region to continue faithfully in times like these. Pray for God to build His church in this region.
  9. Sub-Saharan Africa – Pray for God’s provision for many faithful pastors laboring in poverty-stricken settings. This can restrict the amount of time they give to training others as they eke out a living for themselves.
  10. Myanmar – Pray that Stephen* may adequately lead and disciple sixteen new believing families near his church. These new believers came to faith through COVID-related outreach.

March

  1. Latin America – Pray for countries to re-open allowing us to complete scheduled workshops – specifically Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru.
  2. India – Pray that the pastors we train would not be discouraged when timelines to re-start training are uncertain.
  3. Pray for godly wisdom for those who make decisions and prioritize how resources should be stewarded for the greatest good of our mission.
  4. United States – Pray for the development of a national training team to advance the movement of God’s Word in the U.S. 
  5. Middle East and North Africa – Pray for God to direct us to partners of character, commitment, competence, capacity, and conviction – those who will equip many pastors in this developing region.
  6. Technology Team – Pray for wisdom to navigate cybersecurity issues around the world in order to protect our staff and global partners.
  7. Communications Team – Pray that God would guide and strengthen us as we work on new communications initiatives.
  8. Serbia – Pray for wisdom and discernment for our partner, Riste, and the team as they seek to expand training throughout Serbia and into Croatia. Pray that they will also encourage and strengthen the Roma churches in Serbia.
  9. Central Asia – Praise God that we have been able to conduct a week of online training with co-laborers in a security-sensitive country. They have received “essential worker” status (due to distributing humanitarian supplies) and are able to continue training pastors in remote corners of their country. 
  10. Sub-Saharan Africa – Pray for the churches to embrace expository preaching from the pulpit and expository discipleship throughout their ministries.

April

  1. Pray for Tim Sattler and Dave DeHaan as they lead the work in North America. 
  2. Communications Team – Pray that God would help us fulfill our #1 goal in communications: to put His glory on display.
  3. Finance Team – Pray that God’s Spirit would guard our organization’s integrity and reputation in the area of finance, protecting us from pride, fraud, mismanagement, errors, and compliance violations.
  4. Latin America – Pray for the weekly study in the book of Revelation with key training partners and that God’s Word would keep impacting lives in these uncertain times.
  5. An Arab-world country – Due to COVID-19, the third year of training was postponed with this multinational group. Despite the delay, we continue strengthening relationships with partners remotely. Please pray God will make a way to resume training.
  6. Indonesia – Pray for God to use online and in-person workshops to strengthen many ministries. Pray also for our national partners leading the workshops.
  7. Myanmar – Pray for travel to open, momentum with a large group of 35+ pastors to continue, and for the core team of trainers to grow.
  8. Sub-Saharan Africa – Pray for the strengthening of national teams to carry out ongoing and sustainable leadership in this region.
  9. Poland – Pray for the strengthening of our Core Training team as we move into the final year of our first training group. Pray for wisdom as we seek to multiply in Poland. 
  10. A Near Eastern country – After two trips and several events introducing the training, we have met pastors with much potential. Pray for the right partners for future training.

*Name has been changed for security reasons.

“My sermons were 5% Bible and 95% me”

Dear friends and partners,

Slavic* couldn’t believe what God had done in his life.

Growing up on a farm in Central Asia, Slavic never imagined he’d become a pastor, let alone the regional head of his denomination. Recently, he found out that many wanted to see him as the president of his denomination in the future.

This possibility doesn’t excite Slavic. One of the things he loves about serving in the local and regional church is the opportunity to work with LRI equipping pastors. Why? He wants others to experience the same transformation from God’s Word that he experienced. 

I remember when I used to prepare my sermons for my congregation. I worked to make the Bible better. I’d find a text or a verse that spoke about a topic that I wanted to bring to my people. Then I’d “improve” on God’s Word with my own stories and illustrations. 

Then LRI came. God used the training to change me. The Word transformed me. Before, my sermons were 5% from the Word and 95% from me. Today it’s completely flipped. Today the Word is king in my life – in my preaching and in my teaching.

It’s transforming my people, too. And now I have a passion to train people in my church as well as other pastors so they can learn what I’ve learned.

Motivated by the transformation he has seen in his own ministry, Slavic is now part of a team developing a regional strategy for Central Asia. He has already helped start training groups in neighboring countries due to his denominational connections.

What a joy it is for us to partner with men like Slavic! And what a joy it is to call you a partner in this crucial ministry as well!

Yours in Christ, 

Craig Parro

PS: Thanks to a generous partner, every gift from new donors will be matched dollar for dollar! There has never been a better time to partner with us to equip and encourage pastors around the world to teach God’s Word with God’s heart. Would you consider a gift today?


* Slavic’s name has been changed for security purposes.

Living the Poured-Out Life

The following is an excerpt from Bill Mills’ book, A Gospel Worthy of Your Life: Orienting Every Resource, Attitude, and Passion around the Cross.


A Gospel Worthy of Your Life - ebook cover

How would you like to live for the rest of your life doing only as you please? If you could wake up each morning and say, “Today I am going to do only what gives me the most pleasure,” wouldn’t that be wonderful? That is exactly the place where God wants us to live every day, all of our days!

That is how the Lord Jesus lived each day. He found His deepest joy in bringing pleasure to His Father.

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” (John 8:28–29)

The satisfaction of bringing pleasure to his Lord moved Paul to serve with every resource every day, and to lay down his life for the name of Christ.

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:8–9)

By God’s grace, our ministry training pastors has flourished throughout Asia. Not too long ago, in a country where severe persecution remains a terrible reality, one of the pastors we train, Amos, was arrested for preaching while he was training his second generation of pastors, following our commitment to equip national pastors to train other pastors in their own language and culture. He was brought into an interrogation room and was strung up over a beam by a rope tied to his thumb and his big toe. After suffering for many hours, he was beaten and thrown out into the street.

Amos continued his preaching and training. Some time later, he was arrested again. This time, as he was brought into the interrogation room, he saw another pastor strung up over the same beam by the rope attached to his thumb and big toe. The interrogator said to Amos: “Sit in this chair and watch him. I will return.”

When the interrogator left, Amos quickly moved his chair under his fellow servant. Soon the interrogator returned and asked, “Who moved that chair”? Amos admitted that he had moved the chair in order to bring some relief to his hurting friend. Again, Amos was beaten and thrown into the street.

Amos continued to give himself to the gospel. Should we be grateful that another servant of our Lord was there to meet Amos when he was thrown into the street, and to remind him to endure in his suffering and to not give up on the gospel? No, there was no one there to meet Amos, and no one was needed! Amos is doing only what pleases him. He is serving the One who brings him the greatest pleasure he has ever known.

Like Pastor Van, whom we met earlier in our study, Pastor Amos would explain why he does this: “Because He is worth it!”

Measured and Poured Out

I am so glad that both the apostle Paul and our friend Amos missed the seminar on “The Balanced Christian Life.” What an enemy of the gospel! This is merely a human understanding of how to navigate complex responsibilities in a pressure-filled world.

All of us seem to have more responsibilities in our lives, relationships, and ministries than we can possibly handle. Our lives are very full, and sometimes we become confused about where to give ourselves first in order to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. Some would counsel us that the answer in the face of pressure and confusion is to balance our responsibilities so that when every need is in its proper place, we can, in proportion, give ourselves to these responsibilities.

There are two very real difficulties with this perspective. First of all, none of us is smart enough to figure out how to properly balance the many roles and responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. We also lack the discipline needed to discern how to give ourselves properly, sufficiently, to our marriage, family, work, ministry, personal needs, sports, and hobbies. This is why God has given us His Holy Spirit! He is able to show us how to give ourselves to the people and the work God has given to us as we seek His leading.

Second, the “balanced Christian life” is not a biblical concept. It sounds so right, and even helpful to us as we seek to live as good stewards of God’s grace. The great problem is that this human philosophy leads to “measured-out lives.” We carefully measure our resources of time, strength, etc., in their proper proportion. But God has never called us to measure out our lives; He has called us to pour out our lives. This is Paul’s testimony:

Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (Philippians 2:17–18)

Measuring out our lives is anathema to the gospel! We are called to lay down our lives for Christ and His Kingdom.

When we live poured-out lives, the questions that we ask are completely turned around. We begin to ask, “How much can I give away, and how much do I need to keep for myself? How much time can I give to encourage my brothers and sisters, and how much time do I need to spend on myself? How many of my prayers should properly be consumed on myself, and how many can I give to the gospel and the Kingdom?”

This new but simply normal Kingdom lifestyle happens only when the passions of our soul are inflamed toward Jesus. Those flames are ignited only when we see the surpassing worthiness of God’s beautiful Son!

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