A Movement of the Word…Even Among Drug Addicts

Dear friends and partners,

Jonathan* was not the one you would pick for “most likely to succeed” when training began a few years back. He was young, quiet, lacking confidence, and without a position to influence others. Then Jonathan surprised us.

“A few years ago I was wondering, ‘Who will I train?’ A group of drug addicts at a local rehabilitation center were eager to learn, so I began with them. Soon they were changed by the power of God’s Word. Their hunger for the Word grew further still.

“Our denominational leaders took notice. They asked if I would be willing to teach the center leaders so they can each train their 10-12 residents. I have begun with 30, but there are 100 leaders total. This group is made up of leaders, pastors, and small group workers, representing about 30 churches.

“We studied 2 Timothy and they appreciated the methods of study. One remarked, ‘We are now confident to preach!’ Another, the head of all the rehabilitation ministries, said, ‘Even I was afraid to preach, but now I am confident to handle the Word.’

“The difference in their preaching is dramatic. Before, they preached about the experiences of their lives. They went to the Scriptures to find verses to back up their story. Now, they base their sermon on the text and apply it to their lives. As a result, we are seeing God add more people to our churches. I have now been put in charge of Christian Education for my denomination and have access to many churches . . . 48 in my region alone.”

So much for not having a position to influence others! Jonathan is living proof that God’s Word is sufficient to equip men (even those lacking confidence!) for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Faithful partners like you make this possible. Thank you!

To God be the glory!

Craig Parro

PS: The country where Jonathan lives is one of the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians (according to the “World Watch List 2018” report by Open Doors USA). Please consider a gift today to advance the gospel in dark and dangerous places.

*His name has been changed due to security concerns.

“…His passion is channeled by the text itself” | Kenya Update

Why are you wasting your time with more training???

. . . Pastor Paul’s friends wondered. After all, their friend had attended seminary in the U.S. Why would Paul, a Kenyan pastor, need more training?

Paul knew why, and he shared it on a recent visit:

“[Some] training is quite general. LRI gives the tools to divide the Word and to share. . . . If you don’t have a map, you can get lost. If you do have the map and the way to get you there—that is what the training does.”

Having a roadmap to the Bible is great, but how does it translate to preaching? Who better to ask than Paul’s wife, Abigail:

“His teaching has become more clear and to the point. He doesn’t just appeal to emotions. Paul is still a passionate preacher, but his passion is channeled by the text itself.”

Preaching the text of Scripture not only lets God’s voice be heard by Paul’s congregation, but it has brought together leaders in a nation fragmented tribally and denominationally.

“The training unifies us. . . . At the end of the day we think the same. It doesn’t matter where you came from, your background, your training; this training brings people together. I can invite a friend [from a different denomination] to speak at our church. . . . We have become friends and partners in the ministry.”

I hope hearing Paul’s story brings joy to your heart! What a mighty God we have who brings people together to partner for His kingdom’s advance. We thank God for your partnership and making stories like Paul’s possible.

In His service,

Craig Parro

PS: We praise God that our training is truly cross-educational, bringing together different denominations and folks from different education levels. God’s Word is an equalizer! What if your gift this month helped bring unity to the Body of Christ in this way? What a cause for rejoicing that would be!

From Fear to a Passion to Preach: The Story of Pastor Vir

Dear Partners & Friends,

We almost lost Pastor Vir at our first training session in the Philippines. As usual, we started with the book of Jonah – in part, because it’s short, it’s simple, and besides . . . everyone loves a good story!

Everyone was hugely encouraged . . . except for Vir. “I almost quit after the first workshop,” he recounted. “Everyone there had a far greater understanding of God’s Word. I thought I could never catch up.”

You see, Vir was a banker before becoming a pastor. God called him into the ministry, even though he had never been to a Bible college or seminary. Vir loved God’s Word but frankly had no idea what to do with it.

Fortunately Vir stuck with us. Fast forward five years, and he’s become the biggest fan of the training he received. Why? His lack of confidence has turned into an unquenchable desire to speak God’s Word. In fact, now Vir gets monthly invitations to preach and teach at churches in and around Manila. Vir has become a gifted and faithful teacher and preacher of God’s Word.

What a transformation!!! From a heart of fear and discouragement to a heart that burns with a passion to proclaim the Word.

You are part of Vir’s story. You’ve prayed. You’ve given. Now we hope you will rejoice with us for what God is doing by His Word and by His Spirit in the Philippines.

For the sake of Christ’s Bride,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Recently a member of Vir’s church was installed as a new Army Air Force general. At the induction ceremony broadcast on national television, the new general invited Vir on stage to pray for him in his new role! Clearly, the Lord is expanding Vir’s influence. We hope to expand our training in the Philippines so many more “Virs” can get the training that they desperately need. Please, would you send a gift today so that might happen?

“The pulpit now is no longer a burden, but a blessing” | Costa Rica Testimonial

We love telling stories of God’s work around the world. We love it more when you can hear the pastors we train tell their own stories of transformation from God’s Word.

Costa Rican Pastor William recently had this to share with our team:*

Sadly, I was at a moment in ministry where my sermons were dry and irrelevant. I even evaluated my own sermons and said, “It’s so boring to listen to me preach!” Every Sunday I would freeze up and tell myself, “Oh no, I have to preach again!” – not knowing what to preach. The moment came where I wrongly chose to use sermon outlines others had made. This discouraged the church.

LRI’s training has been a great blessing to me and has revived my passion for preaching. It has helped me desire to study the Word of God. Now our church is experiencing great spiritual growth. The pulpit now is no longer a burden, but a blessing.

God has done beautiful things through the preaching. The elders now say, “Pastor, how your preaching style has changed! And it is changing our church.”

LRI’s training has been a blessing to me, and I want to be a blessing to others. We have had the opportunity to teach others and go to other countries like Nicaragua. We are already going to work with pastors there in communities where perhaps the pastors have not had the opportunity to be trained, or if they have, they are struggling like I was. This training has been a huge blessing for them as well. . . .

Many thanks to those who have supported this ministry and those who took this training to us. I am truly a different person.

Praise God for Pastor William’s transformation! Praise God for how His Word is building up this Costa Rican church and churches in neighboring Nicaragua. Stories like this are why we do what we do, because, as our mission states, we long to see the Word of God flow powerfully through every church to every nation.

Thank you for your partnership and helping make stories like William’s possible.

To God be the glory!

Craig Parro

PS: You can help bring this kind of transformation to pastors like William by making a gift to the Latin America region.


Watch Pastor William tell his story below:

* Edited for clarity and readability

Empowering Faithful Word Ministry in Cuba

Scroll down to watch Julio Cesar tell his story.

Dear friends and partners,

Why is Leadership Resources so effective in equipping pastors to teach God’s Word? One word: EMPOWERMENT.

Take Cuban Pastor Julio Cesar, for example. He’s experienced other courses in expository preaching before. “Most of the time these courses become a monologue or a conference. The value of LRI’s training is that one learns also from the students. We are all part of the learning process. It’s a double role, serving as a student and a teacher.”

Participation in our training is key. We want to do more than offload information to students, we want to empower partners with a shared vision of advancing movements of God’s Word around the world. This means not only giving pastors tools to preach and teach the Word, but gauging their progress and providing feedback to make sure it’s working.

Julio Cesar gets it.

“TNT [Leadership Resources’ training for pastors] is really cool because students develop thoughts and sermons based on the principles we learn. This fuels us and also gives us feedback. At the same time, the student can be reproducing this training in home groups, Sunday School, and other places. . . . TNT has helped us greatly.”

Through faithful men like Julio Cesar, a movement of God’s Word is taking root in Cuba. And training in Cuba wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for key partners from Brazil and Ecuador who have completed training with LRI and now travel to Cuba to train with us. This is empowerment in action!

A movement of God’s Word is afoot in Latin America . . . but we face funding challenges in this region. Latin America has many more pastors like Julio Cesar who are desperate to learn how to preach God’s Word with God’s heart.

Would you consider a special gift to help accelerate the spread of God’s Word in Latin America and beyond?

In Him,

Craig Parro

PS: Watch Julio Cesar share his testimony below:

Preaching the Word with Clarity and Confidence in Central Asia

Dear Friends and Partners,

Turstan* leads our work in one of the “-stan” countries of Central Asia. Born into a Muslim family, he came to faith in Christ as a teenager . . . one of the few believers in his country. After completing theological training, Turstan was asked to translate for our Leadership Resources team as they made their first visit to his country. Turstan jokes, “I didn’t know it was the beginning of ‘snookering me’ into LRI.”

When we asked Turstan what drew him to LRI, he responded, “Simple is genius.” What he meant is this: LRI’s training is simple but profound – it makes the Word of God accessible and understandable both to preachers and to their congregations.

One preacher told Turstan that before this training “we got stuck in our own web. The harder we worked to make things clear, the more we confused even ourselves!” Now he preaches from the Word with both clarity and confidence.

Turstan is an amazing leader. He passes on what he has learned throughout his own and surrounding countries in Central Asia. He’s on the road constantly and, in fact, asked us to pray for his young family, since, as a dad and husband, he’s gone so much. Would you take a moment to pray for them?

Turstan is one of 176 national pastors leading LRI’s training around the world. Last year these pastors teamed with LRI staff and trained almost 5,000 pastors and leaders. Many of those who participated passed the training on to thousands more.

You are a part of this Movement. By God’s grace, as you read, pray, and give, 176 pastors are launching and leading indigenous, sustainable Movements of the Word that have now spread to 47 countries. Thank you so much. Rejoice with us!

With gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

*Turstan’s real name has been withheld for security reasons.

PS: Our 48th country launches this month, equipping pastors in the Middle East. Due to security reasons, many pastors must be flown to a tolerant, neighboring country for training. While this adds considerable cost to training, it is an incredibly strategic opportunity to impact an entire region with the Word! Please give . . . generously!

When Preaching the Word is Costly

To us, preaching the Word is a no-brainer. To people like Pastor John from Kenya, it is a costly choice.

John used to be a “rhema” preacher—that is, one that ‘followed the Spirit’ in preaching—which really meant saying anything that came to his head at the moment. After studying 2 Timothy’s command to “preach the Word” during a TNT (Training National Trainers) workshop, John repented of his preaching approach and began to preach Word-saturated messages, beginning with Jonah.

Many left his church, and one woman even said, “Tell the pastor we’ve had enough of his Bible studies. Can he start preaching the way he used to?”

With this pressure from his church, would John keep preaching the Word?

When Doug Dunton (LRI’s Director of Africa) reconnected with John, he not only confirmed that he was still preaching the Word, but he also shared that his church was growing in ways he had never before seen.

“Where’s this growth coming from?” Doug asked.

“It’s not the same kind of growth, but it is growth of transformation and regeneration in people’s lives…We can see the difference of God’s Word in our lives. “Through new converts,” John said. “It’s not the same kind of growth, but it is growth of transformation and regeneration in people’s lives… We have a church membership now of people who are strongly founded on the Word. We can see the difference of God’s Word in our lives.  And we thank God for where He has taken us.”

John doesn’t want this incredible transformation to stop with him—he is equipping other Kenyan Pentecostal preachers in TNT principles to help them follow God’s command to “preach the word.”

Thanks to the prayers and support of partners like you, courageous men like John can faithfully shepherd their people with God’s Word.

With much gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

PS: Doug Dunton told me recently that some of the men we train have the opportunity and desire to pass on TNT principles in South Sudan, even though a civil war is decimating the country. We need to provide funds to cover their expenses for travel and lodging. Would you consider a special gift to help Sudanese pastors learn to preach God’s Word with God’s heart?

Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump? Transformational Preaching in the Philippines

Dear Friends and Partners,

Shouldn’t preaching be more than an info dump?

Instead of preaching his own sermons, Pastor Larry read from Bible commentaries for an information-heavy preaching ministry. After beginning TNT, he learned God’s purpose for information in the Bible isn’t only to inform the mind, but to transform lives. Now equipped to study and preach messages for himself, Larry’s preaching brought new, Spirit-backed power.

Cely, a woman in his church battling stage-four bone and liver cancer, took notice of the new Larry. God was changing her life and her church due to her pastor’s TNT-influenced preaching. She soon found out Pastor Larry was training other pastors all over her country, including in her hometown. “How can I help? I want to sponsor the training there because I know what God has done in my life through you.”

Months later, after arriving at the airport in Cely’s hometown to begin TNT training, Pastor Larry and Pastor Neil heard someone shouting their names from a distance while at baggage claim. It was Cely! She had made the trek against her doctor’s orders to join the two and a half day workshop.

Larry asked Cely if her husband, who isn’t a believer, knew she was funding the training. She replied, “It’s actually from him!” Perplexed, Larry said, “He’s not a believer—why would he want to support this?” Cely recounted her husband’s words, “If this type of preaching can bring about this change in my wife, it’s worthy of my financial investment.”

Cely has since gone to be with the Lord. At her wake, her grieving husband told Pastor Larry, “Tell me what you need and I will still support the training.”

Hearing of God’s goodness in the Philippines made our hearts rejoice. Would you join us in prayer for many more Filipino preachers and congregations to be transformed?

Yours in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: Our opportunities to train in SE Asia and the Philippines have outpaced our resources to fulfill them. Would you consider a generous gift to see many more transformed preachers like Larry in SE Asia?

Like Father, Like Son: Planting Healthy Churches in Nepal

The son and grandson of Christian workers in Nepal had no desire to follow them into ministry. Besides seeing his father endure persecution and rejection, Lazarus Thulung experienced a great loss on the very day he was born. His mother died in childbirth.

The father, N.D. Thulung, with Hindu ancestry, became the first person to offer the gospel to his village in Nepal. But as N.D.’s wife lay dying, the pagan villagers offered no help, concluding the gods were judging him. They refused to even assist with her burial.

In his bitterness, N.D. questioned God for allowing his suffering. Yet he gave his son a hopeful name and persevered in ministry. Driven from his village, he moved to another region and successfully planted several churches. Over the years, N.D. witnessed God’s faithfulness to both change his son’s heart and draw the young man into ministry. And he has now seen the Lord raise up Lazarus to become a recognized leader in Nepal’s church-planting movement.

Lazarus Thulung with his father, N.D.

Training Indigenous Pastors

Leadership Resources International (LRI) exists “to equip and encourage pastors around the world to teach God’s word with God’s heart.” LRI’s Director of Asia oversees LRI’s efforts in five countries of the Himalayas, including Nepal, which he visits every six months to instruct national pastors in biblical exposition as part of their Training National Trainers (TNT) program.

In the fall of 2008—the same year Nepal’s Hindu monarchy yielded to demands that included more religious freedom—both Lazarus and his father began LRI’s training in their country. By this time, Lazarus had completed college and grown in his faith through the ministry of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). He had also attended a Filipino seminary and returned to Nepal with a big goal.

“I had [a] vision to plant churches in every village [sic] of Nepal by 2020,” Lazarus said.

To advance that goal, the younger Thulung partnered in 2006 with a church planting organization, ServLife International. In his 10 years as Director of Himalayan Development, Lazarus oversaw the planting of approximately 117 churches in 34 of Nepal’s 75 districts. He reported that more than 4,200 new believers were baptized through 2016.

Despite Difficulties

Nepal is a small country about the size of the state of Arkansas but with ten times the population—nearly thirty million people. And most Nepalis live in valleys along mountainous terrain or in other rural areas difficult to access. This country’s challenges include issues of illiteracy, health, and dire poverty that breeds child labor and human trafficking. It also struggles to recover from widespread devastation after a 2015 earthquake.

Besides the physical obstacles in reaching Nepal with the Gospel, a great religious and cultural divide separates East and West. In a 2014 article for The Gospel Coalition (TGC), Michael Heitland, president of ES4M (Equipping Saints for Ministry), stated that Westerners will fall short in reaching Nepalis, who “suffer from the spiritual darkness of either Hinduism, with millions of deities, or the self-deifying religion of Buddhism.”

ES4M works predominantly in Nepal and shares LRI’s focus of equipping leaders to handle God’s Word properly. The church in Nepal is “on the move… Christianity is exploding,” Heitland said.

According to current statistics by Operation World, a church has been planted in every district of Nepal. And at least some believers can be found in nearly all of this country’s 380 people groups and castes.

Working Together to Exalt God

The efforts of both LRI and ES4M are bearing fruit in Nepal by investing in indigenous pastors according to 2 Timothy 2:2, “entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (ESV). Both LRI’s Director of Asia and Heitland have also supplied church leaders with needed biblical support materials—Bibles and books provided without cost by TGC International Outreach (IO). Though mostly in English, the resources are useful to many Nepalese pastors who read and speak the language.

LRI’s Director of Asia views IO’s Packing Hope materials as supplemental to the LRI training. “They are God-exalting, Christ-honoring, and Scripturally centered,” he said.

Those resources for Nepal have included several books by John Piper, such as, A Sweet and Bitter Providence. Based on the story of Ruth, the book helped N.D. Thulung to see God’s hand in working all things for His glory and for the good of His people.

Another book by Piper, Life as a Vapor, encouraged Lazarus and his wife to live in light of eternity as they grieved the death of their adolescent son—born with cerebral palsy. This book helped Lazarus to better understand the trauma in his life and to help others who face sorrow and loss.

Beyond Nepal’s Borders

N.D. and Lazarus Thulung both graduated from LRI’s four-year TNT program, which qualifies them as “mentor trainers.” They have since passed on their training to more than two hundred other Nepalese church planters, according to LRI’s Director of Asia.

The father and son now serve as strategic partners in LRI’s work in expositional training in Nepal and neighboring countries. Their separate churches are under the umbrella of Jyoti Great Commission Church, a fellowship of churches in Nepal.

Since passing his leadership role with ServLife to another man in late 2016, Lazarus further helps with the training of Nepalese and other Asian pastors in the U.S. These pastors have established churches among the diaspora population in several large cities—Atlanta, Houston, and Columbus (Ohio).

Including N.D. and Lazarus, LRI currently has fourteen trainer-led groups in Nepal. Their efforts, along with the work of other faithful and courageous pastors and ministry partners in this country, are multiplying leaders and healthy churches well beyond this country’s border.

Kevin Halloran serves with Leadership Resources, an organization that equips pastors worldwide in expositional preaching. He’s a member at The Orchard EFC in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he helps lead the Spanish ministry.

Patti Richter writes and edits International Outreach stories for The Gospel Coalition and contributes faith articles regularly to several publications. She lives near Dallas, Texas, and teaches children’s Bible study at Lake Pointe Church. 

[Lazarus Thulung photo provided by ServLife International.].

Learn more about partnering with Leadership Resources to equip national pastors in biblical exposition.

Stay connected to Leadership Resources by joining our monthly eNewsletter.

Does Passing On TNT Training Work in the Real World? An Answer from the Jungles of Brazil

Dear Friends and Partners,

You’ve probably played the Telephone Game where a message is whispered from one person to the next. By the end, the final message has morphed into something entirely different, often hilariously so.

I think about the Telephone Game when I’m asked: how much gets lost as your training is passed on to other generations of pastors?

Travel with me to an Amazon village where a TNT (Training National Trainers) graduation took place two years ago. Your mental image is probably pretty accurate: The church has a tin roof—hardly any sides to the building—sitting right along the river. An alligator actually came out of the river during the training. David Merkh, with a twinkle in his eye, told us, “And now he’s starting TNT among the alligators!”

The pastor of the host church was 3rd generation TNT—in other words, he was trained by a pastor, who was trained by a pastor, who was trained by our LRI team. This 3rd generation pastor, who belonged to a remote tribe accessible only by boat, was chosen to give the final message.

David Merkh (see video below)

David Merkh, one of our 1st TNT graduates, told us the story. David is now the leader of TNT in Brazil and so was invited to the graduation. When he first saw the pastor, he wasn’t impressed, thinking: “Hmm, so they chose this guy? I wonder did he really get it after these 4 years???”

The pastor then began to preach from the book of Acts and David was blown away! He told us the pastor “powerfully and boldly preached, explaining the text within it’s context—getting to the heart of God in the passage, and applying it directly to our hearts. He did not mince words.”

This barely-educated pastor, a young man, wasn’t intimated by David and the other leaders coming all the way from São Paulo. Said David, “No, he just said ‘this is God’s Word, it’s God’s authority.’ It was very, very powerful.”

David confessed to us how embarrassed he was by own his lack of faith. He told us, “I guess I wasn’t trusting the training.”

The explanation for the powerful transformation in this young tribal pastor is God’s Word. God’s Word has come to us across many generations and has never lost its power. Thank you for partnering with us to launch Movements of this powerful Word!

With gratitude in Christ,

Craig Parro

President

PS: We have TNT training on-going in 40 countries. Some are significantly under-funded. Please, would you send a gift today so that we might impact remote tribal pastors as well as church leaders serving in the largest, most densely populated cities of the world?

     

    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

     

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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