When we think about Christian workers in ministry we often reference Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” So what happens when you have workers that are ready to go? These individuals have encountered God, feel called to serve and are eager to share the gospel message that transformed their own lives. What does it look like to equip local leaders to effectively preach a holistic gospel message to the people and communities around them?
It is not a one size fits all approach.
In our work, we connect with a wide range of local people in many countries ready and willing to serve. They vary in education. Some are illiterate, never having stepped foot in a school. Others have completed their masters degrees. They have access to a variety of resources. Some are day laborers who do not own property. Others are leaving the professional world to transition into ministry work. Even where they are located is greatly diversified from remote and rural countrysides to the heart of urban sprawling cities. For this reason we do not have a one size fits all approach to equipping local leaders. We work with each of our local partners to create and support the initiatives that meet the needs in their context for their workers. Every one of our partners provides training programs to equip local leaders.
In Moldova, our local partner runs a Leadership Studio. It provides certified leadership training programs with highly developed curriculum that involves technology including professional videos, powerpoints and online material. Not unlike something offered in Canada. Another partner in India, where many of the church planters have little to no education, uses oral story telling of the gospel, training workers to care for new believers and developing counselling skills to deal with family issues. As well, they work with the communities they serve to meet the needs identified, like clean water, education and business loans.
The interesting thing is that despite these wide differences, we have found that God is powerfully using each person with a heart ready to serve. These leaders are all fluent in the language and culture where they are ministering and share relatable life experiences to the ones they serve. They are also risk takers. Willing to make great personal sacrifices in order to share the gospel.
One of our local leaders in rural West Bengal, India was a day labourer who worked on local farms before he became a church planter. He had no education and was a non-reader. After he was touched by the gospel and surrendered his life to the Lord, he would spend his spare time walking to the communities around him, introducing himself to families and listening to and then praying for their needs. At times miraculous healings would occur through his prayers or people would feel peace whenever he visited. He would share the gospel story and set up a Bible study in the family’s home if they were open to it. These groups then became house churches and then church plants. Despite his lack of education and resources he planted 8 churches in 6 neighbouring villages. When asked how we could support his work he asked for a bicycle so that he could visit the communities more often. He also asked for a microloan to raise some animals that would help provide income to sustain his ministry work. Eventually we worked together to provide deep tube wells for several of the communities that lacked sufficient clean water sources. We also partnered with local house churches to build church buildings by matching their local contributions.
This is how we equip local leaders working with our partner ministries. Our partners provide the discipleship of their workers, encouragement, support and the connection to resources. We partner together to expand the gospel work and introduce people to Jesus and His transforming love.
Every partner is different and every context varies. We work to equip local leaders in a variety of ways that increase their impact. We supply physical or audio Bibles for believers, training, discipleship and leadership programs, help with transportation needs in bicycles, motorcycles and boats, partnership in church building, wells or other larger community development projects and provide support for church planters who rely solely on tithes and offerings of poor congregations. In these simple ways we invest in and grow some incredible church planting movements around the globe. These acts of partnership allow us to be a part of the incredible work God is doing right now through local leaders.