“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!

Seeing God’s Word flow powerfully . . . through partners in Serbia

“Lord, send us the right partner!” 

That was the prayer of a Christian brother named Riste. Riste serves in the small European country of Serbia and has led a ministry training Serbian pastors how to preach the Bible faithfully for several years. Early on he realized the ministry could be stronger if he had the right partner.  So he and another pastor named Slavko prayed.

About a year later, Riste received an email from Leadership Resources’ Sean Martin. Sean had been connected to Riste through mutual friends in Ireland and would soon travel to Serbia to meet Riste and give an introductory workshop to ten Serbian leaders. 

Nine months later, the first LRI training group in Serbia began. Leadership Resources was just the type of partner Riste needed. Reflecting on his original prayers for a partner, Riste commented,

When I prayed, I asked God for a true partnership, another organization with the same vision, the same goals, same desires, and also a bigger vision for myself. When I met Sean, he treated me like a partner, not like a project. He didn’t come just once to Serbia and then leave. My eyes were opened, I felt peace, and knew that God had given me answers to my prayers. After four years, I am more and more sure that God started this partnership.


LRI’s Sean Martin (left) with our partner Riste (right)


A Ripple Effect into Lives and Communities

God has done remarkable things through this partnership and the original training group that started in 2016. Riste shared with our staff a few ways God has used LRI training in Serbia:

We have heard so many testimonies from long-time pastors that realized they needed to change the way they were preaching the Word. Leadership Resources is often training pastors who had no formal seminary training, and it has changed their teaching.  People in the churches are talking about how different the teaching is now. 

One pastor, after the first hour of training, said, “This has given me a new perspective of God, for ministry, and a desire to teach everyone how to study the Bible using these principles.” He is today [a part] of our core team here. He now has 15 or 16 camps for young people and teaches them the Dig and Discover principles. This is one of the ways we believe that God will bring revival to Serbia.  When His Word is being preached, people will come to faith. 

One of the young pastors (thirty years old) has been preaching in two churches over the last two years. The members are older people, and they have started to say that this type of preaching is very new to them and transforming them.  He is also teaching a nineteen-year-old man the principles so that he can learn to preach.


The first training group in Serbia


Bringing Gospel Light to the Roma Community

God continues to answer prayer in amazing ways. When Sean and Riste first connected and dreamed about seeing God’s Word flow more powerfully through the churches in Serbia, they prayed for open doors to serve the Roma people (sometimes called “Gypsies”) in Europe. The Roma people face great racism in Europe, at times even in churches as well.

The first training group in Serbia featured a Roma pastor named Marijan, who drove six hours to attend the training sessions every six months. As the impact of the training deepened in his life, so did Marijan’s desire to bring training to other Roma pastors.

In January of 2020, God further answered Sean and Riste’s prayer when a training group of Roma pastors was launched. During the training, the Roma pastors shared that they had been praying for years for trainers like Riste, Slavko, and to come equip them. This training was God’s answer!


Marijan (left) with Sean Martin (right)


While the COVID-19 global pandemic has slowed work in Serbia, our God still answers prayers. Would you pray with us for God to continue to accelerate a movement of His Word in this European nation?


Prayer Points

  • Praise God for answering so many prayers for Serbia! Praise God for open doors and transformed hearts.
  • Pray that God would use the men we’ve equipped to bring revival to Serbia.
  • Pray for Riste’s translation and publishing ministry to bear much fruit and strengthen the Serbian church with sound doctrine.

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