As I said in an earlier blog post, Mike and I began this journey by taking short term mission trips to Peru with some of our kids. Those trips centered around taking Bibles to villages on the Amazon and Napo Rivers. In many of those villages, we would ask, "Who is the Pastor?" and often the reply was, "We have no church and no pastor." The people were eager to receive a Bible, and would immediately open it and begin reading it, but there was no one to disciple them in their faith.
We spent that trip meeting with pastors in Iquitos and in villages in the jungle and talking to them about what we were beginning to see as the need God was asking us to address... the need for pastors in the villages to shepherd their people.
On that "fact finding mission", we learned that:
- Pastors from the city will not go to the jungle to pastor a church unless they are called to the "mission field", as that's how they view the jungle;
- Men in the jungle have the primary goal of providing for their family, so leaving for any extended length of time to attend college (if one were even available, and if they could afford it) is not a viable option;
- If a village is going to have a pastor, most likely he will have been born and raised there, with the calling and desire to bring the Good News to his own people;
- Religion classes are taught in the public schools, so there is a basic understanding of the Bible, but that is very different from applying its principles to everyday life.
So first, God started laying out the vision, but we had no idea how to make that a reality. While I have many years of experience teaching the Bible, we have no practical experience training pastors - we're not even pastors! But, for some reason, God was sharing this vision with us and we assumed He wanted us to do something with it, so we just started praying that God would show us what that "something" was.
Meanwhile, our daughter Tori introduced us to Train & Multiply. She was ministering in Japan and was being trained to use T&M in evangelism there. We had just gotten our donor packet from OMS (One Mission Society) when we sent a financial gift to help Tori get to Japan, and in that packet was the report from ECC (Every Community for Christ) sharing the results that were being seen in various places around the world using T&M.
I vividly remember sitting at the dining room table having breakfast with Mike, reading through that booklet out loud and seeing report after report of how God was moving - particularly in South America. I cried as I suddenly felt equipped to do what we were being asked to do! That night, Tori sent us a message from Japan saying, "Train & Multiply is exactly what you guys need in Peru!" (With every message we've heard from God regarding ministry, He has confirmed it through someone else.)
We agreed to call OMS and talk to them about using T&M in Peru and how we could be equipped to do that. Larry Freed, Assistant Director for Church Multiplication at ECC, returned our call and was excited about what God was doing in Peru, and agreed that T&M seemed to be a good fit for the ministry there. He invited us to attend a Train & Multiply training at OMS in August.
Long story short, we did attend the training and we are both now Licensed Organizers with Train & Multiply, and we are about to begin training our first group of men to be pastors in Peru in a couple weeks.
Train and Multiply uses simple New Testament methods to train church leaders. It combines pastoral and leadership training with church planting and development, to train leaders in such a way that churches and cells will multiply naturally.
Our prayer is that God will begin raising up men in the jungle and calling them to be spiritual leaders in their own villages and that through the training they receive, churches will be planted and many will accept Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Please pray with us as we seek to make that vision a reality through the ministry God has called us to. To God be all Glory!
Coming up next...The Story of Nueva Esperanza...One man's calling.