This is How My Lord Jesus Has Taught Me to Love: Loving an Enemy in the Face of Persecution


The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:8 to “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord . . . but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.” The following story of a man we have trained in Southeast Asia illustrates this verse well.

Gunadi* was a Muslim for twenty-five years and a teacher of Islam. His wife and three kids were Muslim, and he taught them in their religion.  

One day Gunadi traveled to a town known for having many Christians. He initially dreaded the visit, but to his surprise, the Christians he met were friendly and hospitable – a special new experience for Gunadi. 

Gunadi traveled to this city a second time, and again, had a special experience when he came upon a huge monument of the cross while traversing the city.  

When I saw that cross, there were mixed feelings inside of me. I was used to hating the cross, and I taught my followers to hate the cross. . . . I should’ve had feelings of even greater hate for such a large cross – but praise the Lord, what I felt was a feeling of need.

This experience motivated Gunadi to begin listening to a Christian radio station – with headphones, of course. He would never want his family to know he was listening to a Christian broadcast! Then months later after listening to the radio broadcast, Gunadi prayed along with the radio pastor and received Jesus as his Savior. That was October 2012. 

The feelings that came up were of peace and joy, but I understood at that point that the journey ahead would not be easy.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, you and your household.”

A couple of months went by and there was a difference in my house. My wife and my three children were confused, seeing me as a teacher of Islam now telling them about Jesus Christ. 

One night my wife came to me and she told me, “Tonight I will receive Jesus Christ.”

One night my wife came to me and she told me, “Tonight I will receive Jesus Christ.” My wife called all my children one by one. And to my surprise she had already taught the children to believe! That night each of my children came and told me that they had received Jesus Christ. That night was a very joyful night.

Confident in the Face of Persecution

[The conversion of my family] made me very grateful to the Lord and also gave me confidence to be a bold witness to others. With the minimal knowledge that I had, I started to teach those surrounding me. I reached out to the people that were my followers as a Muslim teacher.

One day, Gunadi shared the gospel with some former students, angering a family member of one of the students. This family member approached Gunadi with a small sword and stabbed him. 

I tried to defend myself. To save my life I had to break that man’s arm. I was bleeding at that point, but I brought my attacker to the hospital with me. I asked the hospital to treat him first instead of me, because his arm was broken and his bone was sticking out. It’s funny when I think of it now – I took my attacker to the hospital and paid for all of his expenses. After he was taken care of, then I asked the hospital to treat me.

A few months after the attack, this man came up to me. He was confused because he had stabbed me and I was still willing to help him and pay for all the treatment for his broken arm. He asked me, “Why are you doing this?” My answer was very simple: I told him, “This is how my Lord Jesus has taught me to love.” 

Until now that person is still not a believer. But praise the Lord, a couple people who know my attacker and me have heard this story and have become believers as a result.

“Why are you doing this?” My answer was very simple: I told him, “This is how my Lord Jesus has taught me to love.”

This isn’t the only time Gunadi has suffered for Jesus. Bricks have shattered windows in his house because of the gospel. Another time, while conversing with “friends” of a different religion, he noticed that the sweet tea given him to drink tasted strangely bitter. He had been poisoned. 

At the hospital, the doctor told me that the amount of poison in my blood was enough to kill a cow. I had surgery one week later. They cut open my liver and cleaned my blood. The surgeon told me that there was a time during the surgery where I was dead. I know that it was God’s power that allowed me to regain consciousness. It took a couple months to recover and even now I still feel the effect of that poison.

But what I believe is that when Jesus takes care of us, many men can do many things to us but God can always keep us safe. It brings me great joy to know that as believers we will never be alone and God’s promises are always true for us. I’m very blessed to see this in my own life. God promises to be with the believer who’s not afraid and not ashamed to proclaim the gospel.


Gunadi (center) with two trainers
Gunadi sharing his story with LRI staff

Please pray with us for Gunadi and other persecuted brothers and sisters in his region.

  • Pray that they would be rescued from wicked men (Romans 15:31). 
  • Pray that they would “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord . . . but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:8). 
  • Pray that their proclamation of God’s Word would bear much fruit and that their joy in the gospel would grow each day.

* His name has been changed to protect his identity.

COVID-19 Cannot Bind the Word of God

COVID-19 has brought the world to its knees. Even so, we’re thankful that even in tremendous suffering and uncertainty, God is faithful and will do His work through His Word. 

Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy while in prison. He knew suffering, and yet he could write, “. . . I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:8–9, ESV). That is our great hope as believers! And that is what we are witnessing around the world.

Below you’ll find a sampling of how God’s Word is going forth in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. As you read, would you please pray for our dear partners to have deep joy in the Lord and a fruitful season of ministry? 


Ecuador

 

When the COVID-19 crisis started to intensify, two trainers, Oscar and Alexander, found themselves quarantined in the house of another trainer, Clever (pictured above), in a city seven hours by car away from their families and church. God used their two weeks together to deepen friendships and further ministry. These three trainers experimented with training and preaching over Facebook Live and have since led several trainings over social media for church members and others in their community. One Facebook commenter shared at the end of the training in Ruth:

God has taught me that in spite of our circumstances, He has control of all things. And he has taught me that we are the people who should be encouraging others without losing hope because MY REDEEMER LIVES!


South Africa

 

From a partner who taught with Jeff Gage (pictured above) in South Africa: “Shepherds School at our church is a two-year course in which we work through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Using the Dig and Discover tools, students are equipped to read, study, apply, and disciple others. We meet once each month for four hours in a workshop setting. Since we are under a strict lockdown in South Africa and unable to gather, we all joined in a Zoom meeting while I taught from home. We interacted about the students’ assignments from last month, and filled out our understanding of Biblical theology. While some of the workshop dynamic was lost by not being able to work in small groups, the experience was positive and beneficial for all.”


Latin American Mentor Trainers

 

Patricio Paredes, LRI’s regional director for Latin America, and the mentor trainers from that region, meet weekly to study the book of Daniel and sharpen each other as trainers. A hopeful outcome of this group is that new and strengthened relationships will result in expanding our training into new Latin American countries. One trainer commented, “I’m convinced amazing things are coming!”


A Security-Sensitive Country in Asia

A core group of forty pastors meet weekly over video to go through Hebrews, taking turns to teach a passage they have prepared using LRI’s principles. In turn, these forty train about forty other groups (each ranging from about ten to twenty participants) in what they have learned, reaching somewhere between 400 and 800. 


A Security-Sensitive Country in Central Asia

One mentor trainer from Central Asia leads an online training with eleven preachers, mainly from his church. Another more experienced trainer sits in on the training to share feedback. While training over the internet has its disadvantages and will never equal face-to-face training, the trainer and his preaching team are growing in their handling of God’s Word.


Three Countries in South Asia

God’s Word is impacting people in three South Asian countries in which we work in a variety of ways. Several pastors are recording audio messages or preaching every day on Facebook. One brother is preparing a study in 2 Corinthians for the next mentor trainer workshop that will take place when the shelter-in-place order is lifted. Several pastors (including the two brothers pictured), are meeting physical needs in their community and calling other pastors from their training groups for prayer and mutual encouragement. 


United States

 

After experiencing two of our workshops, Pastor Marty Paparo (pictured above), from a training group in North Florida, decided to lead the people in his Wednesday night Bible study through the book of Ruth using the Dig and Discover principles. After the coronavirus situation led them to stop meeting in person, they’ve continued their interactive study of Ruth online over video. Pastor Marty commented that it’s so great, rather than simply spoon-feeding people week after week, to equip them to read and understand the Bible for themselves.


Pray with us

Pray with us for God’s Word to continue to go forth in power to bring many to faith during these days of crisis. Also pray that God would use this time to strengthen a global movement of His Word by raising up gifted trainers and preachers to equip His saints for the work of Word ministry.

“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you…” (2 Thessalonians 3:1, ESV)

Legalism vs. Liberalism vs. Gospel – A Helpful Chart about Staying on the Line

The hermeneutical principle called “Staying on the Line” teaches the biblical truth that God wants us to take Him at His Word, not adding to what He has said or subtracting from it. 

To truly stay on the line of God’s Word, we need to understand the what (the content) and also the why (the intent) of Scripture. When we fail to adequately understand each of those, we find ourselves on shifting ground, prone to both legalism and liberalism.

I recently came across a helpful chart that shares theological examples of how legalism and liberalism may manifest themselves. (Gospel in the chart is interchangeable with The Word of God.)

*This helpful chart is from Romans 1–7 For You by Timothy Keller, copyright 2014 by The Good Book Company, used by kind permission.


Other Resources about Staying on the Line:

5 Ways Exodus Confronts Our Secular Age

Exodus is epic. An underdog leader of a slave nation stands up to the world’s most powerful man. Hail, frogs, flies, and rivers of blood plague the most prosperous nation on the planet. God miraculously divides a major body of water so his people can escape their captors.

That’s just the first half.

No wonder Exodus has held Hollywood’s attention for a long time. Consider full-length feature films including The Ten Commandments (1956), The Prince of Egypt (1998), and more recently, Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). While these movies get some things right, the true message of Exodus is often lost to make it more palatable for modern taste or for more sensational storytelling.

That’s a shame, because I’m convinced that the true story of Exodus speaks powerfully to our secular world in several ways.

1. God’s focus is his own glory—a good thing.

Throughout Exodus, God unabashedly seeks his glory and wields his sovereign power over creation to achieve it. At the burning bush, he called a self-doubting octogenarian with murder in his past to deliver his people from bondage and lead them to worship in the desert (Ex. 3:1–4:11).

In the plagues, God showed his supremacy over the gods of Egypt by using elements of his creation to prove his power over them (Ex. 7–12). In hardening Pharaoh’s heart (4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17), he demonstrated his sovereign power over world rulers and nations.

God alone is worthy of all praise—a truth that drives many in our secular culture crazy. While the secular mindset may tolerate some “religious plurality” or say “you can believe your truth while I’ll believe mine,” Exodus makes clear that every false god will one day be crushed, and every knee will bow before our Creator and judge (Phil. 2:10–11).

God isn’t a megalomaniac who desperately wants attention; he’s a loving Creator accomplishing his good purposes by redeeming a people for himself. No raging nation or hardhearted leader will steal his glory or thwart his good purposes for this world or his people.

2. God’s holiness requires judgment of the wicked.

God’s holy wrath burned hot against Egypt’s pharaoh. Egypt’s leader mandated the Hebrew people abort their male offspring (Ex. 1:15–16), enslaved God’s chosen people, and forced them to serve Egypt instead of God (Ex. 5:1, 7:16, etc.). God’s holy wrath led to the final plague that took the lives of all the firstborn in Egypt, from pharaoh’s house to Egyptian slaves to cattle (see Ex. 12:29–30). God even graciously warned them (Ex. 11:4–7).

The righteous judgment of God isn’t the most popular of topics in our supposedly tolerant secular world. Even so, our culture cries out for justice that can be found only in a sovereign God who sets the standards and executes judgment on the guilty.

Without a sovereign God of justice, we have no hope that ultimate justice will come against this world’s oppressors, abusers, traffickers, and murderers. A God of perfect justice will judge every evil deed, and he alone can help us endure this unjust world.

3. Redemption comes by the blood of the Lamb.

The exodus from Egypt is the greatest picture of redemption in the Old Testament, pointing forward to the rescue from the bondage to sin led forth by Jesus Christ, the new and better Moses (Heb. 3:1–6).

A secular worldview doesn’t leave room for redemption, because it would require acknowledging sin as the Bible defines it. According to Kevin DeYoung, the secular confession is not, “‘Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips,’ but ‘Woe to me if I think myself unclean.’”

With personal autonomy and finding the authentic self as key aims of the secular worldview, Christian redemption is as offensive as it is esoteric. The secular world must grasp that sin exists and has consequences. Not even Israel could escape God’s judgment without a blood sacrifice of a lamb (Ex. 12:1–3). No sin disqualifies us from redemption that the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7) offers by the blood of his cross.

4. God’s grace precedes God’s law.

God gives Israel his law in Exodus 20–24, and as always, context is key. God reminds Israel of how he saved them from Egypt (Ex. 19:4; 20:2) before he explains how the law will help them live out their holy calling among the nations (Ex. 19:5–6; 20:3–17; cf. Eph. 2:1–10; Titus 2:11–14). Stripping the law from this loving, relational context twists its purpose and warps our understanding of God. We should obey because he has saved us, not because a divine taskmaster requires obedience for salvation.

I fear many in our secular age have a bad taste of Christianity due to leaders and churches missing this crucial point. Instead of gospel-motivated obedience that produces life and joy, legalistic understandings of the law lead to fear, misery, and at worst, apostasy.

5. God’s presence brings the transcendent close.

Exodus 1–20 may be the most vivid story of the Old Testament, but that’s only half of the book. The second half focuses on the plans and construction of the tabernacle, the earthly place where God would dwell. Exodus 29:46 is the driving force for the whole book: “And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them” (ESV, emphasis mine).

Our secular world champions the notion that every person is equally good and right, yet the tabernacle flies in the face of this notion. The tabernacle shows that nobody is naturally good, and nobody naturally has access to God’s presence without a mediator and a sacrifice for sin. In Jesus, simultaneously our mediator and sacrifice for sin, the transcendent God draws us close.

If our world understood what the tabernacle represents, it wouldn’t search for the transcendent in celebrities, athletes, technology, or astrology. It would rejoice that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory” (John 1:14, ESV).

Greatest Miracle

There’s a lot in Exodus the secularist would reject. First to go would likely be the miraculous events like the burning bush, the plagues, the provision of manna, or the parting of the Red Sea. But the greatest miracle of Exodus—and of the entire Bible—is how a holy God would make a way for sinful people to dwell with him.

That’s a miracle you won’t see in the movies.


This article originally ran on The Gospel Coalition.

Encouragement from Our Founder, Bill Mills

Editor’s note: We had no idea that less than a month after Bill wrote the letter below, God would take Bill from us and bring him into His presence. You can read more on our web page, “Remembering Bill Mills.” The letter was originally written as an encouragement to our partners during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now knowing that these are Bill’s last widely published words has caused the words to take on much more added significance.


Dear friends,

My beloved friend Craig Parro, president of Leadership Resources, asked if I would write a letter of encouragement to our friends, prayer partners, and supporters around the world. 

My first thought was, How can I write a letter like that now, when I am so in need of encouragement myself? That is the place where we are all living right now! We all want to protect one another’s hearts, even when our present circumstances drive us toward fear and anxiety concerning those we love and our hopes for the future.

But, like me, you look back on the times when sickness, poverty, pain in your family, or threats to your career caused you to despair . . . and then remember how God brought you through. We are learning once again that everything in this world keeps changing around us. Health, finances, relationships, and circumstances keep changing, but three things never change: our God, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever; His Word, which is forever settled in heaven; and His steadfast love for His children. We live in that eternal God and in His faithful love!

Just a note about how our ministry is doing these days: This year we are celebrating the ministry’s fiftieth anniversary! And in this fiftieth year, we just learned from our logistics team that we are now training 12,051 pastors in 60 countries around the world through 224 indigenous mentor trainers. Many of you have been partners, people who pray and give to this work from the earliest days. May God fill us with worship and thanksgiving now as we think of how God has used us together in this great work! 

A couple of years ago, I was invited to a retreat with the leaders of our partner work in Brazil, Preach the Word. Their training has flourished not only through that great country but in many Portuguese-speaking places in the world. During a coffee break, one of the leaders asked me, “If God had fulfilled your dreams when you began this ministry, what would it look like today?” I quickly responded, “It would have been much smaller – and more about me.” God graciously taught us early to follow the ministry models of the Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul, so the fruit multiplies by the Holy Spirit to the glory of God, even when we “shelter at home.” 

We all have been set free for a time to think about life realities in new ways because of our present circumstances. I have been thinking a lot about the prophet Habakkuk and his very short and very powerful Old Testament story. His book begins with his complaint to God that God is doing nothing in the midst of the violence and corruption of His people. God responds by telling His prophet that He is indeed doing something: He is going to bring the hated Babylonians to invade Judah.

Habakkuk is immediately filled with fear. The Babylonians were the terrorists of the age, and their evil devastation of the surrounding nations was well known. Habakkuk confronts God and pleads with Him to relent. When God tells the prophet that the issue is settled, Habakkuk’s anxiety grows as he waits for this horrific reality to be fulfilled. 

But when we come to the end of the book, we find the prophet dancing on the mountaintops! What has changed? Did God actually relent in light of the prophet’s arguments? Did God promise that Habakkuk would not personally be touched by the devastation? No, in fact Habakkuk’s circumstances are actually worse than at the beginning of the book. He describes so graphically his level of fear and dread, along with the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of it all:

I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. (Habakkuk 3:16, ESV)

Sounds a lot like what is going on within all of us to some degree during these frightening days, doesn’t it?

So what is it that enables Habakkuk to dance with God on the mountaintops? His circumstances have gotten worse, but His view of God has gotten bigger! How has God done that? Through His powerful, life-giving Word!

God calls Habakkuk to hang on to Him and walk by faith in this situation:

The righteous shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4, ESV)

He reminds Habakkuk that even in the midst of Judah’s depravity and Babylon’s evil, His purposes will be fulfilled: 

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14, ESV)

God assures Habakkuk that He remains on His throne, sovereign over everything happening on earth:

But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20, ESV)

Even though the Babylonians are marching through the earth in the beginning of the book, God is now marching through the earth for the salvation of His people! 

You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger. You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. (Habakkuk 3:12-13, ESV)

As Habakkuk’s view of God grows, as he sees more of God’s power and faithfulness, he sings this song of worship:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18, ESV)

God has done an amazing thing with Habakkuk. As the prophet’s view of God has grown, he is able to turn his what-if questions in chapter one into the strong affirmations of confidence and hope in chapter three! When God told him of the coming invasion, surely he wondered, “What if the Babylonians destroy our homes and our fields? What if they take our cattle? What if the vines dry up through lack of care? What if we have nothing to eat and no place to live?” 

Now Habakkuk knows that even if the things he fears the most come to pass, even if the worst happens, God is still there, and God is enough. And he begins to dance.

Even in this time when so much is uncertain and very scary, and we see the things we fear happening all around us, can the knowledge that our God is still on His throne, working for our salvation, and fulfilling His glorious purposes set our hearts free to worship? There are still high places in the mountains, and the God of all the earth is calling us to dance with Him there. I can almost hear the music beginning in your heart and in your home. Let’s get up and dance with Him and grasp onto the joy and rest He brings right now in His great power and in His steadfast, unchanging love! 

Bill Mills

Founder, Leadership Resources International

P.S.: Craig has just completed a beautiful, encouraging five-part video series on Habakkuk. Each video is about 15 minutes. Watch it at www.LeadershipResources.org/HowLongOLord.

How Long, O Lord? COVID-19, Habakkuk, and You

We live in unprecedented times.

The COVID-19 virus has brought the world to its knees. Nobody knows how it will impact the future. Thankfully, God’s Word speaks powerfully to our current crisis.

Join Craig Parro, President of Leadership Resources International, as he teaches through the book of Habakkuk and applies its message to our current crisis. The messages average 15 minutes and will help you journey from fear and anxiety to joy and confidence in the Lord just like the prophet Habakkuk.

Grab your Bible, gather loved ones, and make Psalm 119:18 your prayer for this series:

“Open my eyes to see wonderful things from your Word.”

Download audio of the series (click on down arrow): Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five


Part One


Part Two


Part Three


Part Four

“There are only two types of people: those who submit to King Jesus and those who don’t. Jesus makes a fantastic friend and an awful enemy. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of Jesus. But, if you become His friend, He will love you like you’ve never been loved before. He will bring you into a perfect heaven and earth that has no more sin, no more tears, no more pandemics, no more death. Only life.”


Part Five

The Big Takeaway for Habakkuk:

“In times of trouble, find strength and joy in the Sovereign Lord who will surely come…both to judge and to save.”


How did God’s Word speak to you through these videos? Share in a comment!

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

4 Free Disciple-Making Resources from Matthias Media

Our friends at Matthias Media are doing what they can to continue to partner with the church by providing top-notch resources for making disciples.

Some of their books we’ve mentioned on this blog before include The Trellis and the Vine by Tony Payne and Colin Marshall, One-to-One Bible Reading by David Helm, and God of Word: The Word, the Spirit and how God speaks to us by John Woodhouse.

In a recent COVID-19 related update, Matthias Media announced how they are operating and shared how to get a few resources in the “Free Digital Resources for You” section.

If you email Marty (msweeney@matthiasmedia.com) or call the Matthias Media office (1-866-407-4530), you can get a copy (PDF and/or Kindle) of the following titles:

You’ll also be interested to note a 50% off sale on the following resources:

  • The Everlasting God by Broughton Knox – “Few minds have explored the depths of God’s revelation with such humble and innovative perception,” says Phillip Jenson of this book’s author.
  • Full of Promise – Learn how the entire Old Testament fits together as one great story about God.
  • From Sinner to Saint DVD Study by John Chapman – Though Chappo is well into his 70’s when this video was made, I had a youth pastor tell me that his kids were enthralled going through this course. Great for a weekly family study!
  • Wisdom in Leadership by Craig Hamilton – what better time to dive into this thick but valuable book? As one Amazon review says “this is the best kept secret in ministry leadership.”

In addition to these suggestions, all orders with Matthias Media have free shipping to US addresses.

Does it make sense to equip pastors in the U.S.?

“Let’s start training pastors here in the U.S.” 

When I first heard this idea, I thought to myself: Why would we do that? Don’t pastors here have plenty of resources and training opportunities? That would never work.

Well, I was wrong . . . dead wrong. For the past 12 years, we’ve been equipping pastors in the U.S. and it has proven both invaluable and strategic. Even though many pastors here have been to Bible school or seminary, they find our training to be “simple yet profound.” 

Many have expressed how their preaching has been elevated and sharpened because of what they have learned. And many have used the same training process to equip emerging leaders within their own churches.

But there’s even more. Some, like Pastor Justin, take our training overseas . . . on their own. Justin attends one of our training groups in Ft. Myers, Florida. He was heading to India and Sri Lanka to work with pastors and asked if it would be okay for him to use our training materials and methods. Our answer was, “Of course!”


                                                        Pastor Justin with an excited trainee


So, this past January, Justin worked with six different groups of pastors, leading them through the book of Titus. Pastors there enjoyed a rich feast on God’s Word. The response was overwhelming. Here’s what one pastor said:

While traveling to this training, my brother and I were discussing how so many preachers only share their opinion and stories . . . they don’t preach the Word. We [get to the] training and it’s all about the same subject we were discussing. Only the Holy Spirit can do that!

The results: 158 South Asian pastors equipped to more faithfully study, teach, and preach God’s Word in 128 different churches. At the end, they were eager for Justin to come back. They want more! 

So, does it make sense to equip pastors in the U.S.? Absolutely!


Here are some photos of groups Justin and his team trained:


Preventing Disqualifying Sins in Ministry: A Conversation

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:16 to “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV). 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to think of ministers who haven’t watched their lives or doctrine closely. Within the last couple of years, two high-profile pastors in the Chicago area have had their sin exposed publicly, even covered by news outlets like the Chicago Tribune.

Major sin by Christian leaders leads to great pain, not only in the ministers’ lives but also in their families and churches, and often can damage Christian witness in the community.

John Eichholz

So how can we think biblically about preventing sins that disqualify from ministry?

To answer that question, Kevin Halloran spoke with John Eichholz, a former pastor and current Field Director for our ministry. In our conversation, we discussed:

  • warning signs that someone is headed down a bad road;
  • attitudes and relationships we need in order to avoid disqualifying sins; and
  • how to establish healthy and transparent ministry teams.

In conversations like this it’s crucial that we define terms, so let me very broadly define “disqualifying sins” as any sin that would make a Christian leader violate the qualifications for elders as found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.

We realize the seriousness of this conversation. We engage in it humbly and with much trepidation. Our prayer is that God would use this conversation to strengthen your walk with Him, to expose sin where it is needed, and also to encourage all of us by reminding us of all that God has given us in Christ to enable us to walk in holiness and in grace.



Read the transcript of the interview:

How can we equip exponentially more?

How was Leadership Resources able to increase the number of training groups from around 100 in 2013 to over 600 today?

Two words: mentor trainers.

Mentor trainers (MTs) are the key graduates who share our passion for training others and long to see God’s Word move powerfully in their country and beyond. They also continue to receive training from LRI to strengthen them for their work.

Let’s look at a recent training for mentor trainers in Ecuador to see how we invest in our MTs for their vital work. December’s training time had three main focuses: 

1. Word Work – This group studied Paul’s letter to the Philippians, not only for more practice interpreting a book with LRI’s principles of interpretation, but also to consider a major theme of Philippians and our work: gospel partnership.


Ecuadorian MTers join LRI’s Kevin Halloran (top left) and Patricio Paredes (top middle)


2. Program Work – In addition to evaluating how a recent training went, the Ecuador team conducted a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) of our work in Ecuador. The exercise helped our team clarify their present reality as well as give fodder for praise and prayer. LRI staff also coached the team on raising funds to make their own training ministry self-sustaining. On LRI’s last day in the country, the Ecuadorian team even presented a funding proposal to a potential partner.


The Ecuador team working through the SWOT analysis.


3. Team Building – The Ecuadorian MTs are from two different cities with two very different cultures. To lead a movement of the Word together, it’s vital for them to trust each other and be comfortable relationally. Thankfully, activities like sharing meals, swapping stories, and playing sports help with team bonding. And of course, prayer is vital for strengthening team relationships.

By God’s grace, it’s through mentor training teams like this one that God’s Word is able to impact exponentially more pastors and leaders – all for the glory of God.


After a tiring game of 2-on-2 basketball, Moises, Patricio, and Clever watch Juan battle Oscar in tennis. (Did you know the ball flies differently in the mountains?)


LRI staff Patricio Paredes (far left) and Kevin Halloran (bottom right) enjoy delicious corbiche with mentor trainers in Portoviejo.


PS: We have the wonderful opportunity to bring together mentor trainers from all over the globe for a summit in Brazil this March. Would you pray that God would use that event to encourage and equip our MTs so they can better strengthen His church around the world?

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