I returned from a training site in India last week that was such an encouragement! The focus of what the Lord was doing landed on my heart with great joy repeatedly throughout my time.
I shouldn’t be more specific about the location simply because any attention on those believers could make life and ministry more difficult for them. India has been identified as one of the ten most dangerous countries to be a professing Christian. Several in my class told stories of persecution. They weren’t speaking of these events as sensational or abnormal. They recognized this was what Jesus told us would happen. He is better than this life by far.
I’ll try to keep this note, that could get very long, brief. In order to do that I will set the stage and then write about three individuals.
The national leaders have done a phenomenal job focusing their work on multiplying leaders. There are several churches that have been planted, a Seminary is functioning well and has been strategically supported by teachers from TLI. I carried books for their next two classes in my luggage. The team I was part of was there for the third course in our non-formal curriculum. We had about sixty students in four groups. We were served by some gifted translators as the course was taught in Hindi. Which brings me to my first story.
Immanuel was my translator. He is a gifted follower of Jesus, translator, and has a great sense of humor. He is a faithful brother and I was so grateful for his wisdom. He also served a strategic role in Jesus’ multiplying kingdom. Immanuel had two young men (also in my training group) he was working with to be future translators. When either of these young men occupied the chair next to me I was reminded of the hard work of multiplication. It was harder for me. I’m sure it was harder for the students. I could tell easily it was so challenging to the young translators. But God has made his call to invest in young, emerging, developing leaders so clear. It’s clear to me the growth of young leaders is an opportunity for me to grow in gospel grace. It’s just hard, but we MUST remember Jesus is capable of building His Church through imperfect leaders, even old experienced leaders.
Next, I was privileged to have the only ladies (four) in my group. Part of the training requires each trainees to present a brief explanation of the biblical authors main point of a specific text, how that text fit the purpose of the Bible book to which it belongs as well as the Bible as a whole, and how this text might be applied in their church setting. I challenged these women to imagine they were speaking to a group of women. All four were humble learners, but (I believe her name was) Surya presented with clarity and passion. At the conclusion of our week I thanked all four of these women and challenged them with a vision to teach the Bible to women, with biblical conviction and clarity. I was so encouraged by Surya. An interesting side note… In the photo above, I was seated, Surya was standing.
Finally, I would like to introduce you to Arab (seated beside me in the photo below). Yes, that’s his name. Arab was a strong student in just about every way you can imagine. He is a big, powerful man who speaks at a volume about three notches above everyone else. Unless he’s excited and it only goes up from there. He was fully engaged in our studying, in a way that usually indicates a deep passion. When I learned more, I was taken to my knees. Arab had recently retired from a career in the Indian military. He had done well and saved a good deal of money. He used the money to buy land. Toward the end of his career he came to know Jesus Christ as Messiah and King. Following his retirement his wife and his two sons rejected him because he was a follower of Jesus. He told them he could not deny his faith in Christ and they would not receive him home. He told me, the only way he could see to honor Christ as well as his family was to give them the property he had purchased, to continue to follow Jesus and pray that He would open their hearts to believe. I was humbled once again to stand with a brother of such faith and to pray with him for his family, and that God would use him powerfully.
So, I thank you once again for allowing me to be with these brothers and sisters in Christ. Every prayer, and every contribution makes this possible. I have never been worthy, but by God’s grace I have been called. Some unexpected but exciting shifts have caused me to add a week of training in Uganda to my schedule. Lord willing, I will leave August 29 for Gulu. October 25 I will leave for training in the Philippines. That trip will be extended in order for us to visit another potential training site with our national partner. If this plan plays out, this will complete an amazing year. I’m so blessed to be with leaders from around the world who advance the kingdom of Jesus every day. Multiplying leaders like YOU!