Missionaries and churches – they should strengthen and sharpen each other. It should be win-win. In our calling to train pastors in developing countries, the Lord made two things clear to me. First, He called me to give priority to the poor. I realized I couldn’t be a full-time pastor here and an effective Kingdom worker there. I’ve pastored long enough to know what it takes to shepherd and equip believers well – though I’ve realized time and again how much I still have to learn about doing that effectively. And I have spent enough time with pastors in developing countries to know what it would require to take a big swing at encouraging, training and resourcing international church leaders. I couldn’t do both effectively. As Howard Hendricks said, “The secret of concentration is elimination.” God made it clear to us that He wanted us to give priority to the poor.
Second, He called us to encourage and strengthen the American church. Early on in this journey, I told a missions friend and mentor: “I’m not a career missionary. I came to this by a different road – through 24 years of pastoral ministry in American churches. And I believe part of God’s call to us in developing PPI is to encourage and strengthen American churches.” Wow, has that proven true!
Over the last nine months, we’ve had the privilege of spending time with a number of pastors and churches in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and New Jersey. Our first prayer has been to encourage and build up brothers and sisters in Christ, to be a listening ear to church leaders and, as appropriate, advise in a Kingdom direction. Then, of course, we have asked the Lord to help us present PPI well and guide the church in whether or not He wants them to partner with us in training church leaders in poor nations.
We’ve met gifted, faithful pastors and leaders. We’ve talked with many committed followers of Christ. God has His people in every community! Our appreciation and love for Jesus’ church has grown. Our passion for churches to sharpen their focus on making disciples of all nations has been fueled. I’m convinced that our greatest need in the United States – as in Haiti and elsewhere – is for every believer in Christ (well-equipped by church leaders) to clearly, compassionately share gospel truth and to live out that truth every day in our families, neighborhoods and workplaces. This is Job One for Jesus’ church. Everything else is background noise.
That’s our heart. That’s our desire as we continue to develop Partnership of Pastors International. Learn more about joining our support team HERE.
So what a joy to spend the last two Sundays with New Life Christian Fellowship in Saginaw (see pics below)! We loved partnering with Pastor Ken Cline, Brooke, Tom and Ashlee on the Hub for Haiti. The Lord strengthened us in Him through worshipping the Lord with this family of believers. We were fed by Pastor Ken’s practical and passionate biblical teaching. We were encouraged in our conversations with many brothers and sisters. Our prayer has been to encourage and strengthen these friends in Christ, and it gives us great joy to think that God has used us in some way to do that. As the Apostle Paul said, we should be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Romans 1:11-12). That’s the win-win of God’s Kingdom!