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.

Reflecting on Our 2020 Global Summit

 

Dear friends,

It was a week I will never, never forget – now for more reasons than I first thought.

In March, one hundred thirty of our global partners and staff members gathered for a Global Summit in Brazil – the realization of a dream we’d had for years. It was a week filled with profound conversations, vision casting, learning, and worship.  

The Lord far exceeded our expectations. New partnerships formed. A shared vision for a movement of the Word deepened. Complicated problems were discussed and, in some cases, resolved. The book of Acts was expounded. And the Lord was magnified in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, Russian, and Amharic (Ethiopia) – indeed, a small preview of Revelation 5:9! 

There was universal delight in our time together. The Lord graciously deepened our love for one another and our commitment to a common vision and mission.

 

Pastor José from Peru described his experience this way:

Having all of that fellowship with pastors from around the world was amazing – having the opportunity to have lunch at one table with people from Asia and then another meal with people from Russia, and from this country and that. And even if we were from different cultures, we were talking the same language – not only English but the language of the hermeneutical principles. I felt like I knew those pastors for a long time! I felt that we were a big family with the same vision. . . . I felt really blessed to be part of this summit.

Pastor Aeron from the Philippines said,

Pastor Aeron

The Summit gave me a larger and global vision. It enlarged my heart and my vision of the glory of God. I praise God to be a part of this desire to see God’s Word flow to every nation. [I saw that] everything in the church should be shaped by the Word of God. I was refreshed and excited to echo this blessing to my congregation.

The immediate fruit of the Global Summit in Brazil was that I launched a Bible-reading movement now, even in the midst of the pandemic. . . . Over the last five weeks, God has enabled me to introduce members of my congregation to the training tools on how to study the Bible, and it has helped them to be able to do their own Bible studies in their own homes. . . . It’s a real comfort for me that the Word of God is like a fire that has spread. It’s my prayer that God will sustain the movement.

As you can hear, what God did during our time together was amazing.

 

As I look back, two events surrounding the Global Summit gave it even more significance:

 

The first event was a global pandemic that threatened to throw everything into disarray

We had been in Brazil only a few days when the COVID-19 alarm bells began to ring. Each day they became louder and louder. Should the conference continue? Country borders were closing and travel began to be restricted. These actions stirred concern among family members back home as well as among attendees. By the mid-point of the summit, there was one thing on everyone’s minds: home. So, we encouraged our partners to head home as soon as they were able. 

Programming was rearranged to end two days early. Our staff worked heroically to rebook dozens of flights on razor-thin deadlines. (Our Polish partners arrived in Warsaw on the very last flight before the airport shut down!) There was certainly some anxiety, but there was no panic as we turned to God’s Word for assurance of His sovereignty and care. The remaining meetings continued to be fruitful even as hearts turned homeward. As one staff member reflected, “Nothing was stolen from us.” 

The one burden in our hearts is that two pastors from Haiti, Serge and Ezechiel, were not able to return home before Haiti closed its borders. Our Brazilian partners (and hosts), Preach the Word and PIBA (First Baptist Church of Atibaia), as well as a Haitian church in Brazil, have done an absolutely amazing job serving and caring for them until they are able to go back, hopefully next month. Until then, we ask you to please pray for them and their families.

Everyone senses that the Lord orchestrated the time in Brazil to accelerate a global movement of His Word, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Only God can do that – to Him be the glory!

 

Bill with Alonso Ramos, from Costa Rica

The second event was the homegoing of our friend and founder, Bill Mills

Looking back, what a precious gift the Lord gave Bill to cap off fifty years of ministry. The Global Summit was Bill’s last ministry trip, and the Lord allowed him to see the amazing fruit of a ministry that began in the laundry room of his and Karen’s home. After decades of trusting God for the work, Bill was surrounded by ministry partners from thirty-five countries around the world – brothers who are carrying on the legacy of teaching God’s Word with God’s heart and equipping others around the world to do the same. 

Those global partners loved Bill. José from Peru told us,

I had the opportunity to say thank you to Bill for establishing this ministry – because this ministry has changed my life. And he was so humble the whole time to answer every question. . . . He took the time to tell me his story. Just listening to him from his own mouth tell how everything started was really something that impacted my life.

Our hearts are amazed at how God orchestrated such a monumental event in the life of our ministry. But it’s not just something to look back on. With hearts of faith, we eagerly look forward to all that God will bring about from our time there. 

And yet we know that none of that would have been possible without the partners God used to get us there. And so, with hearts of gratitude we thank you for helping to make what happened – and what will happen – possible. You are part of what God is orchestrating not just in Brazil but all around the world.

 

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

 

P.S. The full impact of the Brazil Summit won’t be known for years, but already we’re seeing wonderful ways God is using it to advance His Kingdom. And God is using your prayers and support to enable that. Would you consider a gift today so that we can continue to serve and strengthen our global partners who are faithfully leading a movement of His Word?

 


 

Below are a few encouraging quotes from attendees:

 

I count it a great privilege of my life to be part of this partnership network. — Lito Manguera, the Philippines

 

I saw God-transformed people, united around one vision, learning and teachable, ready to work with God and where He is working. I felt like I was participating in an event like the gathering of Israel under Moses’ or Ezra’s teaching or in the apostolic council in Acts 15. — V., LRI’s Director for Russia

 

[The Summit was] a reminder that the Holy Spirit empowered ordinary men to do extraordinary things. Of course, I know this, but somehow this truth was profoundly impactful during the summit. — Doug Dunton, LRI’s Director for Africa

 

LRI’s president, Craig Parro, leads a session titled, “A Vision for Global Partnership.”

 

Latin American trainers dressed in their traditional clothing.

 

Our Haitian brothers, (left to right) Ezechiel, Serge, and Dony, blessed us with powerful singing.

 

Pastor Harold from Zambia participates in a session.

 

 

 

 

The Asia team listens to the Africa team share their vision for their region and how God has worked.

 

 

Watch a few highlights of our reflection time:

Why Would a Pastor Walk Four Days to Train Others?

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


When I think of suffering and the gospel, I remember Pastor Van. I wanted to attend our first pastoral training in one of the mountainous countries of Asia, but my schedule did not permit me to go. However, my friend and coworker Craig, President of Leadership Resources, was able to participate. On the first morning of their meetings, one pastor who had registered for the training had not yet arrived. As Craig was waiting to begin, he saw a man walking toward the meeting place, and he wondered if this might be the pastor they were all waiting for. He was, and that was how Craig met Pastor Van.

Pastor Van was very quiet that first day the pastors met together, and hardly entered into the group discussions around the biblical texts they were studying. Finally, when Craig had the opportunity to talk with him through an interpreter, Pastor Van told him that this very week he had decided to leave the ministry. He had a large family, and the costs for educating children in his country were very high. Some of his children were close to attending university. His church could not pay him very much, and his ministry included travel to encourage other pastors. The church was not able to help much with those expenses either. Much of those costs came out of the family funds.

Pastor Van told Craig that he had finally decided that he needed to quit the ministry and get a job to support his family. He had already signed up for this training, however, and decided to attend before he resigned from his church. That week, the group was studying the book of Jonah. How Pastor Van wrestled with that message; how he battled with the Lord! Finally, he told Craig, “How can I be another reluctant prophet? How can I run away from God?”

I was able to join another training in this country and to meet Pastor Van about two years later. Nothing had changed in his finances or his family situation. He was still seeking God’s provision for the needs of his family and trusting Him along the way. An important part of our pastoral training times include reports from the pastor trainers of their second-generation training. As I mentioned earlier, we are equipping national pastors to train other nationals in preaching and shepherding.

When it came time for Pastor Van to give his report, he told us how he walked four days, fourteen hours a day, over the foothills of the Himalayas to reach his second-generation team. I was so overwhelmed with what I was hearing that I could not speak for the rest of the evening! Our difficulty in these situations is not so much that we feel unworthy to be teachers of servants such as these—we often feel unworthy to even be in the same room with them.

I was so moved by Pastor Van’s report. I struggled through an almost sleepless night, praying for him and countless other precious brothers and sisters in similar circumstances around the world. The next morning, however, I had the opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude to him. He, of course, had difficulty understanding why I was so moved by what he had shared; this was his normal service to his Lord. Then I asked him: “Why would you do this?” He said only one thing in response: “Because He is worth it!”

Like Pastor Van and the apostle Paul, only when the passions of our soul are inflamed in our love for Christ will we be moved to lay down our lives for the gospel.

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

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!– 2 Timothy 2:8-9 (ESV)


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

Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy from 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 several snapshots of how God’s Word is going forth in the midst of crisis. As you read, would you please pray for these dear partners – that they may 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!


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.


South Africa

 

From LRI staff member 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.”


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. 


Ethiopia

One Ethiopian partner shared the following with an LRI staff member about a training group (pictured above) that just graduated from our four-year program:

“Your labor is not in vain, it is bearing much fruit in Ethiopia. We give thanks to the Lord and our heartfelt gratitude for you all who are standing alongside us in your prayers and support! No one can stop the movement of the Word!”


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

We praise God that His Word continues impacting lives during COVID-19! And yet we hurt because many partners have lost loved ones, church members, income, and safety due to this crisis.

  • Pray for the family of one of our key partners in Honduras, Jorge Guillen. Jorge contracted COVID-19 and passed away just a few weeks ago. Jorge was a dear brother to us and will be sorely missed. Please pray for his wife and family and church during this time.
  • Pray for healing for others who are sick and for God to use their suffering for His glory.
  • Pray that God’s Word will continue to go forth in power, strengthening preachers and bringing many to faith. 
  • Pray that God would increase the faith and endurance of discouraged and suffering partners.
  • Pray that God would use COVID-19 difficulties to strengthen a global movement of His Word.

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:


Will “Christian” = “African” someday?

In the future, if you’re a Christian, you most likely will be an African!

By 2060, 40% of all Christians will live in Africa, according to a recent Pew Research study.[1] Currently, about 26% of Christians live there. Why the change?

Several factors are at play: Africa has higher birth rates than the West, the West is quickly secularizing, and – let’s not forget – Christ is building His church in Africa!

This presents us with an amazing opportunity to impact the future of the global church. It also begs the question of how healthy the African church will be if the prosperity gospel and other unbiblical doctrines drive much of this growth.

That’s why LRI focuses on empowering African leaders to lead movements of God’s Word in their countries. 

Consider these testimonies from three African brothers who have gone through our training:

Francis, a church planter in Togo:

“The training helps to avoid heresies and to help them focus on the Word, and to avoid this framework . . . Most of the time in Africa, because of the background we have in animism, we try to enforce our points of view on the text. We, instead of letting the text speak to us, we want to speak on behalf of the text. . . . We need to work on that and avoid that.”

Bonigava Johnson from Uganda:

“I’ve seen tremendous improvement in my preparation of the sermons and also in the trainings I do with the youth and the students in [the] Kisoro Baptist Association. . . . [LRI’s] tools . . . equip and empower the head and also go deep into your heart so that you do not [just] have the knowledge about God, but you experience Him in your day-to-day life, so that by the time you finish preparing the sermon, you are already a transformed being. Bringing the training deep into the countryside of Uganda. . . . opened the opportunity for those who are not able to find these trainings in other places that Leadership Resources trained. . . . I want to pray that this training will continue to go far and wide so that the church is equipped.”

Peter Motunga from Kenya:

“What I was preaching, I could not understand very clearly. In fact, I was just babbling, babbling in the ministry. And when I entered the TNT, I started knowing who God is. I started knowing the mind of God. I started knowing on how to preach this gospel. That’s why I said that I was blind but now I can see. . . . I can say that now I am pregnant, and I am about to deliver. And what I’m going to deliver, it is only what I have learned from the TNT.”

Join us in prayer that God would continue to raise up more passionate and gifted men to lead movements of His Word in Africa!

In His service,

Craig Parro

PS: We want the future of African Christianity to be rooted in God’s Word, but we can’t do our work without the support of faithful partners like you. Consider a gift today to help strengthen the African church.

[1] See “Sub-Saharan Africa will be home to growing shares of the world’s Christians and Muslims” on pewresearch.org.

How One Megachurch in Ecuador is Strengthening Their Leadership in God’s Word

What happens when almost 100 people show up for our training?

Our ideal group is limited to 15 or 20. That way, lots of personal attention can be given and each one can fully participate in the discussions. Learning happens best with smaller numbers. So what to do when 100 show up???

Back in 2013 we had a modest beginning in Quito, Ecuador. A group of 23 (too many!) pastors, small group leaders, and members of the preaching team gathered from Iglesia Santísima Trinidad (Church of the Holiest Trinity) for our training. Four years later they graduated. Three key graduates excelled – they loved the training and had a profound burden to see a movement of the Word spread throughout their megachurch’s various sites and their entire country. We call them mentor trainers. 



Even though training had ended, our mentor trainers wanted more leaders in their church to experience the equipping and transformation of the training. So they began organizing another generation of training for other leaders at La Santísima.

The only problem? The number: they had almost 100 sign up. Yikes! That’s way too many . . . but our team didn’t want to say “no.” What was to be done???

Ah-ha! . . . Let’s break the large group into smaller ones and co-lead them with graduates from that very first group. This enabled our LRI team to coach the graduates moving them one step closer to an Ecuadorian-led movement of God’s Word.


One of our MTers, Clever, leads a session

 

Another MT, Oscar Paul, leads another group

 

Olmedo teaches the Traveling Instructions principle.


The response to the training couldn’t have been better. Here’s a sample of what participants shared:

“Other trainings are a monologue. This was asking us to discover the Word ourselves — it was great!”

“I believe that God has had more mercy on me than Jonah.”

“We’ve grown in our understanding [since studying Ruth]. The next training we’ll grow even more.”


The Group of Leaders in Quito


God is at work in Ecuador! He’s also at work in a similar way in the 50+ countries where we work, transforming one heart at a time as His Word is clearly unfolded and understood.

Thank you for helping make this possible as one of our partners!


Enjoy a tour of our training in Quito led by LRI’s Kevin Halloran:

A Movement of the Word into the Venezuelan Crisis

Dear friends and partners,

Venezuela is in crisis. A civil war might be just around the corner. The weight of each Venezuelan plummeted an estimated 24 pounds, on average, due to food shortages in 2017. Hyperinflation makes everyday items like soap, toilet paper, automobile tires, and chocolate either a distant memory or a luxury.

There is also a spiritual crisis. A lack of material resources leaves many desperate for truth and hope. The mass exodus of Venezuelans has left many churches without a pastor. Who will fill the void? Often untrained and inexperienced leaders.

Enter Enrique, Jorge, and Meri (Jorge’s wife). The three are recent graduates from LRI’s training in Colombia. Through a relationship with Pastor Mateus, the leader of a network of Venezuelan churches, a door was opened to cross the border into Venezuela (along with LRI’s Juan Torres) to equip and encourage Venezuelan pastors in the book of Ruth.



Ruth is the perfect book for the situation in Venezuela. It begins in famine, death, sorrow, and hopelessness. In the midst of it all, Naomi wonders if God had abandoned her. And yet it ends with great rejoicing, because through it all, God is working out His redemptive purposes through faithful believers, even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.

While a lack of viable transportation options made traveling to the training complicated, 29 pastors attended. Some even had to stand shoulder to shoulder in the bed of a commercial cargo truck for a ride to the training! But it was worth it.



“We thank God because we were like the Macedonian man in Paul’s vision [in Acts 16] who said, ‘Come to Macedonia and help us!,’” said Venezuelan Pastor Mateus.

“It was a HUGE blessing for you to come during such a difficult time for us. . . . At the end of the training, many were crying and broken. They realize LRI’s training is an instrument of God to exposit the Word of God in a simple and practical way.”


LRI’s Juan Torres with Pastor Mateus


While our work in Venezuela has just begun, six pastors have already passed the Ruth training on to others. We’ve also received interest from several other places in the country. We’d love nothing more than for the Word of God to spread like wildfire among the suffering people of Venezuela.

Please join us in prayer for this dear country. Like in the book of Ruth, the darkest times are often the perfect backdrop for the gospel’s light to shine most brightly.

Grateful for your partnership,

Craig Parro

PS: Without your dedicated prayers and support for our work in Colombia, Enrique, Jorge, and Meri would not have initiated this ministry to Venezuela! Would you consider a gift to advance our work here and in other needy places of Latin America?

Update: Watch LRI’s Juan Torres interview Pastor Mateus on his experience

“Where did you learn to unpack the Bible like that?” | Transformation in India

Dear Friends and Partners,

I love telling you about pastors around the world who have a deep hunger for God’s Word. But, it’s not always so. Some pastors, frankly, couldn’t care less – they think they already know everything!

Pastor Gupta*, a key leader in India, is one who has learned to faithfully teach and preach God’s Word. But he has certainly met one or two of these guys along the way. . . .

Gupta began his story by describing what happened as he finished preaching at a local church:

“The pastor came rushing up to me afterwards and said, ‘Where did you learn to unpack the Bible like that? You brought up so much depth from the Word that I have never seen or heard.’”

Pastor Gupta told him about his rich experience with Leadership Resources’ training. The pastor immediately asked Gupta to start a new pastor training group at his church, which Gupta was delighted to do. Gupta continued his story. . . .

“One of the pastors came with folded arms, seeming to communicate, ‘I know everything; I don’t need this training’!” However, as they studied the book of Jonah together, this pastor – the one loaded with attitude – realized he was Jonah, knowing God in his head but not in his heart. By week’s end, he asked for forgiveness.

Wow! That’s the transforming power of God’s Word. Please pray for Pastor Gupta as he seeks to lead a movement of God’s Word in India. Pray for this group’s training next month, and for that one pastor, in particular, who is now hungering to learn more of God’s Word.

Rejoicing in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Pastor Gupta is a remarkable leader. He told us, “I have a calling from God to bring a movement of His Word into northwest India. People are perishing because of the lack of Biblical teaching and preaching. India has had Christianity and missionaries come for many years, but sadly, the Church remains weak in the Word. They are caught up into signs, wonders, and healing, but not the Word of God. I believe I have found my purpose as a pastor and equipper of pastors.”

Would you please consider a gift this month so that we can help Gupta and others like him fulfill their calling to equip other pastors to faithfully study, teach, and preach God’s Word?

* Name changed for security reasons.

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