The Lord gave fruitful ministry in a remote village where J.S. and his family have been ministering for several years. J.S. is a graduate of STN and presently teaching in several areas of India. Our hearts are touched by the sacrifices of His people.
Archives for 2017
One of the biggest life lessons that I’ve learned from my ten years of participation with Shepherding the Nations is how one person can make a difference. God has been faithful over the years to take the little that I have to offer and make it count for eternity. I am so thankful for those of you who have been faithfully giving – it has really made a difference! God has used the resources you have given to further His kingdom. Many have been trained, many have heard the gospel and many have been saved. I can’t personally go to India every year (though I would love to!) but here are some things I can do:
I don’t know about you, but I love the convenience of shopping at Amazon for all kinds of stuff. When I use smile.amazon.com, a small percentage of everything I buy goes to STN. It doesn’t cost me anything additional, and every little bit helps. If you haven’t signed up for this yet, it’s so easy. Just go to https://smile.amazon.com, sign into your account and then select Shepherding the Nations as your charity. Then, everytime you shop, go to smile.amazon.com and a donation will automatically go to STN. (More about the program here.)
Sponsorship of Materials
Part of our family Christmas giving this year was to give donations for STN books and Bibles in honor of our family members. It was such a blessing to give a gift that was meaningful, sacrificial, and would bear fruit that would last for eternity! When we accept a pastor or church planter into our training program, they will receive a set of learning curriculum including 10 books in the BTCP series. (Biblical Training Centre for Pastors) They also receive a study Bible, and a concordance. These materials are available in the local languages of the pastors that we train in Latin America and India. The cost of one set of materials is about $100. These materials are so appreciated, used and treasured by our trainees!
Would you consider making a year-end gift to STN to sponsor materials for one of the pastors that will be trained in 2018? You can sign up online.
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. (2 Corinthians 8:1–5 – NLT)
As I read that passage in 2 Corinthians 8, I am amazed by two things:
- the sacrificial giving of the churches in Macedonia;
- the sacrificial giving by all of you.
God has been using your generosity to enable STN to train more pastors and church planters. Existing church leaders and churches are being strengthened to impact their own villages more effectively, and church planters are going out to new villages with the good news of Jesus. Right now, we are training over 500 people with the BTCP materials (322 men in India and Nepal plus 180 people in Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala and Southern Mexico). I just received a report yesterday that there are 125+ more men in India & Nepal who are waiting to be trained. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We are getting requests from other countries in Central & South America and now some requests from countries in Africa.
Year End Giving
As we approach the end of 2017, I know a lot of people are thinking about end-of-the-year giving. If you aren’t familiar, at the STN International office we are all volunteers; none of us are paid. We LOVE serving through STN and we are thrilled with the privilege of participating in what God is doing, but we don’t have paid people heading up fund-raising efforts. And to be quite honest, it’s not something that we currently are very good at doing. That is why we pray. Would you join me in praying for God to abundantly provide for this ministry? Here are some specific needs we are praying for God to provide:
- Training materials. What does it cost to train one new person? At current prices, we spend about $100 for the materials that each person needs (10 BTCP books, a study Bible, and a concordance). That means each time we add a new student we need to raise an additional $100. Please pray for at least 125 people to give $100 each so we can provide training materials for the men we want to start training in 2018? Or pray for one person to give $12,500 to cover all of them.
- International Director. Ryder Kumar has been in India now for a little over 2 years. He is the catalyst & overseer of the ministry in India and Nepal. He is currently about $1500 per month short of being fully supported. Please pray for 15 donors to give $100 per month to bring Ryder up to full support.
- Latin America Trainers. We currently have six men who serve as STN Trainers in Latin America. They are teaching the BTCP materials to over 180 students. Most of these students will finish their training by the end of 2018 and then we hope to start training new people. STN supports each of these trainers at $375 per month and we currently have $25 per month coming in for one of them. We are able to pay them because of a large gift we received to start the ministry in Latin America. For the training to continue past 2018, please pray for new donors to sponsor these men. To cover the additional $2225 per month we would need 22 donors to give $100 per month.
- Church Planters. At this time, we have over 100 graduates of our STN training, most of whom are actively involved in pastoring an existing church, planting new churches, and/or training more pastors and church planters. In the next 18 months that number will grow to over 600. For these men to go to unreached areas and plant churches they need financial support. Currently we are supporting 33 of these dedicated men. Please pray for the Lord to raise up an army of donors willing to give $100 per month to support more of these church planters.
- Cash donations. This can be done by check through the mail (postmarked no later than 12/31/17) or online at the STN website.
- Stock donations.
- House or property donation.
- Contact a Foundation on behalf of STN. Ask them to make a one-time donation to support this ministry.
Thank you for supporting STN so faithfully with your prayers and gifts. Jesus is building His church all over the world and you are a vital part of it. May God bless you richly as you give yourself to making disciples of all the nations. Until the whole world hears!
In Bolivia the institutes are already entering the second phase of the program, the attendance is varying. In Santa Cruz it remains with 24 students, in Cochabamba 22 students, La Paz has dropped a little because some students had to travel 90 minutes to reach the Church. For this reason we are seeing the possibility that next year we send a teacher to the city of “El Alto” and there we would have more than 20 students. La Paz now has 12 students since 10 no longer could travel the distance. But still the institutes are doing well.
Pastor Karel Golcher visited our church this year and was the preacher at our Family Camp. The Institute he directs in Guatemala is already starting the third book and they have 18 students.
Honduras had to stop classes for two weeks due to heavy rains but they are back in class. The Honduran Institute is outside of town and has 45 students.
Classes were also stopped for 2 weeks due to bad weather and the first earthquake of 8.2 that hit Mexico. The Church did not suffer damages, although some students and families of the Church suffered some damages in their houses, but thankfully no injuries or loss of life.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. (Phil. 1:3-5 – NASB95)
At a recent STN International Board meeting, we were discussing how faithful STN’s prayer warriors and donors have been since the very beginning. As an organization, we really don’t do a lot in the area of fundraising. We often wish we could do more, but our board is comprised of all volunteers and we don’t have the time to focus on that component of the ministry. That is why we are so thankful to God for all of you and the way you support this ministry. Some of you have been supporting STN since we incorporated 10 years ago. Words cannot express how grateful we are for your generosity. The gospel is spreading into unreached areas and churches are being planted because of your faithfulness.
Because of your sacrifice in giving, the Board feels very accountable to use the funds as wisely as possible. We prayerfully seek the Lord, research what the needs are around the world, and then focus our energies on what we believe will make the maximum impact for Christ. As the Lord opens new doors for ministry we seek Him to know how to best utilize the resources He has provided for maximum impact. Right now, that means we are focusing more of our attention and financial resources on regional trainers.
The First 100
In the early years, we were training 100 church planting pastors in India and Nepal, and fully financially supporting about 40 of them (including two medical doctors). It took us about six years to train those men and they are being used mightily of God in unreached villages. Over the past few years, the training ministry has expanded into more areas of India and Nepal, and we started new ministries in Bolivia, Honduras, Guatemala and Southern Mexico. Instead of training 100 men (twice each year at two training centers in India over a 6-year period), we are currently training 500 men in about 18 different locations in six countries. Because they are able to meet weekly, the training can be accomplished in about 2 ½ years instead of 5+ years.
The Current 500
Right now, STN has over 100 people who have graduated from the BTCP training. Add in 500 people currently in training and we have a total of 600 who will be finished with the training by 2019. We are asking each of those people to find at least 10 more people to be trained. What kind of exponential growth are we considering? If we multiply by 10 every three years:
- Year 2019 = 600+ trained church planters
- Year 2022 = 6,000+
- Year 2025 = 60,000+
- 2028 = 600,000+ trained church planters going to unreached parts of the world where they can reach the lost, plant healthy churches, and multiply again and again.
Why train so many pastors and church planters?
There are nearly 3 billion people currently in unreached people groups with little to no access to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those 600,000 church planters would have to each share the gospel with 5,000 people in unreached people groups to reach the 3 billion currently unreached. And more people are born every day!
The challenge with training that many men is not lack of vision, desire, or commitment. The challenge is the financial cost of supporting them after they are trained. Even at $100 per month per church planter (full support in the poorer areas of the world), the total cost would be staggering to the imagination. Just supporting 600 men would be $60,000 per month. Supporting 600,000 men would be $60,000,000 per month. Our current plan is to continue to support some of the church planters, but the future focus will be primarily on supporting the regional trainers. These regional trainers need our financial support so that they can each devote themselves to train, resource, and encourage hundreds of new church planters.
These men will provide on-going support and accountability to church planters as they go out by faith and plant churches for the glory of Christ.
Please pray for the financial resources to support our current regional trainers as well as more of them in the future as the Lord directs. If you know of any individual donors, small groups, churches, and/or foundations that would like to get involved with STN, please send them our way. The Lord keeps opening doors into new areas of the world and we need a lot of ministry partners to join us.
Thank you again for your partnership in this growing ministry. We know that you are giving sacrificially, and we are confident that our God “will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). May you enjoy His goodness each and every day, and may His grace and peace be yours in fullest measure!
When STN International board discussed the issue of giving certificates to graduates of STN India, nobody knew that one day a group of 12 brothers and sisters from a small remote village in North India who were detained by the police in a custody would be released because of this graduation certificate!
Pastor A.K. was one of those 35 who attended our Lucknow Bible training seminar for five years. It was difficult for him to go through the discipline of doing assignments, staying up late in the evenings to study, and finishing the five year program. But it has proved to be very rewarding! Not knowing what was coming the future, A.K. continued his studies and on October 31st, he received a graduation certificate which he kept carefully at home.
He went back to his village and continued to serve the Lord, taking care of his small congregation. On Sunday, July 23rd, something happened that is not uncommon today. Local police called A.K. to report at the Police Station.
He then asked his congregation of 65 baptized brothers and sisters who happened to be from “H” background, “Who would like to go with me to the police station to confront an ugly situation?”
Twelve faithful and bold believers stood up and said, “Brother, we will.”
All of these marched to the police station to be questioned on religion, conversion and to be confined in custody. The police officer asked, “Why are you converting people?”
A.K. answered, “I don’t, sir, but God does.”
The officer asked, “Why are you preaching religion?”
A.K. said, “I don’t preach religion but peace; I preach Christ, and pray for the country.”
Turning to the 12, the officer continued the questioning, “What’s happening with you all? Why are you changing religion?”
The simple brothers and sisters, uneducated and illiterate, replied, “Sir, our lives are changed, our testimonies have become different, as A.K. brought us message of the Gospel. We had bad things happening in our houses but we are delivered and relieved.”
The police officer then turned to A.K., “Where did you get education, is there any proof?”
Avadesh, called his son at home. This son was afraid because his family was at police station. He was crying. A.K. said, “Don’t cry, and just get the certificate of STN graduation.”
A.K.’s son quickly got hold of this certificate and ran to the police station. The officer looks at the certificate carefully and considered the situation. (What happened at this point is a marvel!) The police officer said, “This group is well educated, they have a certificate, just release them.”
Pastor A.K. is financially supported by faithful brothers and sisters from STN International. These faithful supporters will have their reward in eternity.
Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
India / Nepal
- For the 100+ men who have been through STN’s training program to faithfully apply what they have learned to their own lives and to their ministries.
- For STN’s trainers to be safe in their travels and faithful in accurately teaching God’s truth to their students.
- For the approximately 300 men currently being trained by STN to be diligent students. Also that they would apply what they are learning and teach it to others.
- Wisdom in administrative and legal issues that must be done in the STN India office to comply with requirements of the government.
- For the India government to approve the FCRA paperwork that was submitted recently.
- For the STN India board to be a unified team and to work together effectively in carrying out the mission of STN.
- For the Lord’s guidance in appointing directors who will oversee the ministry in specific regions of the country.
- Safety in travel around the country. Driving can be very dangerous.
- For Ryder Kumar’s preaching and teaching ministry in various churches to be fruitful. For many of these churches to become partners with STN in reaching unreached villages for Christ.
- For Ryder’s full financial support to be raised.
- For the Lord to provide monthly support for 8 pastors in Nepal who currently don’t receive any pay.
- For Pastor Eddie Bueno as he oversees this ministry for STN International. For good health, endurance, wisdom, and a good working relationship with the regional trainers.
- For the leaders of the three training centers in Bolivia to be used mightily of God as they train people for future church planting ministries (Pastor Tito Montero in La Paz; Pastor Daniel Ortiz in Cochabamba, and Pastor Richard Buitrago in Santa Cruz). Pray for their 70+ students to diligently study & apply what they are learning.
- For the leaders of the three training centers in Central America (Pastor Karel Golcher in Guatemala; Pastor Jose Antonio Pino in Honduras; and Pastor Marco Muñoz in Southern Mexico). Pray for their 100+ students to diligently study and apply what they are learning.
- For the Lord to provide the funding for this ministry to grow and expand into other countries in Latin America.
We are blessed that our STN India board is very cooperative. Board members live significant distances from each other and often in different parts of the country. This creates certain pragmatic issues. We are so thankful for technological help such as ‘what’s app’, ’email’, and ‘the phone’ as ways to stay connected.
Funds are coming from within India! This is a great encouragement as well as an answer to prayer! The first church to support STN financially is El Shaddai in Hyderabad where our team has ministered God’s Word from time to time. In addition, our STN graduates have been making efforts to raise funds under difficult circumstances.
Ministry in the North and Nepal:
I took a long-desired trip to Northern India in May 2017. A number of things were accomplished:
- Faculty gathering: Three of STN’s graduates who are faithfully and diligently laboring in SEVEN remote areas of North India. They reported how the Lord has been making their ministry abundantly fruitful.
- Odisha: One of the backward states of India in the Central region, and the place where the Australian missionary, Graham Stains, and his two kids, were brutally burned to death for their faith. J.S. teaches this group and several others. He was one of the many BTCP students who were profoundly impacted by the seminars of STN International and by those who taught them over a period of five plus years. J.S. has a deep burden for this area, so he travels a long distance by train to equip and train 32 students. He spends an average of three to four days in this area each month. This group was in BTCP Book #8 in May and hope to be done with all ten books this year.
- Bihar: Another backward state in North India where Buddha was born and received his “enlightenment.” J.S. has 10 students in this needy state who are studying Book # 6.
- Jharkhand: This area used to be a part of Bihar but is now an independent state. J.S. has 17 students who were in Book #2 in May.
- Basti: It is located towards the NE of the state, called U.P. J.S has ten students who were in Book #3 in May.
- Sitapur: It is amazing that STN has a church plant in this area, the stronghold of Hinduism. The instructor is D., one of the STN graduates in 2014. He graduated on October 31st and started meetings with a small group of people on November 2nd (just two days after his graduation.) D. was so profoundly impacted by the training that he could not wait any longer to see a work begin in his area where he works as a principal of a Government Primary School. D. has ten students and out of this we have two ladies doing BTCL. The group was in Book #3 in May.
- Unnao: This is another stronghold of Hinduism where one of our STN graduates, K.S., has a strong base of several hundred believers from a Hindu background. K.S. had mentored many people over the years, including D., who has 16 students (three of them ladies). This program meets twice every month.
- Kanpur: Another man who was mentored by K.S. is L.P. who was a 2014 graduate of the STN training program and now teaches 14 students in his church facility. They meet twice each month for eight hours on Saturday and were in Book #3 in May.
- Nepal: M.S., one of our STN graduates, came all the way to Lucknow to attend our faculty meeting. He left the meeting taking 25 copies of BTCP Book #1 to start a new class. The students are extremely poor and cannot afford the books or the food during the day when they meet.
Ministry in the South
STN holds seminars in the following areas:
- Hyderabad: there are three separate groups meeting in Hyderabad: 1) Rehoboth with Pastor R. and T. They both graduated from STN’s training and recently completed teaching all ten books to a group of eight students. These students have now gone back to their regions to continue their ministries. 2) Pastor P.P. (graduate of TMAI’s training school in India) is teaching people in his church. 3) Pastor P. A. is teaching 14 students at our STN India office every Saturday.
- Konavaram: a remote area in Andhra is scheduled for seminars under the leadership of V.K. from Oct/Nov. This area happens to belong to a tribe that is involved in witchcraft, sorcery and is located in a very difficult place.
- Palakonda: V.K. is training 37 participants in this city in Eastern India. Reaching the remote village of Palkonda was not easy where two of STN’S graduates have begun BTCP classes to equip and train 37 leaders. We did 23 hours in 3 days on the road.
- Raepally: V.K. is teaching 25 students in this remote area.
- Narsannapalem: This is another remote place where eager Pastors are being trained by J.J. (a graduate of STN’s five plus years of training).
- We are so blessed to see productivity in all these locations. STN’s vision to reach remote villages where 85% of India’s population live is happening!
A large number of people are contacting STN India with a desire to network with us. Our most recent contact is a graduate from The Master’s Seminary with M.Div and Th.M degrees. Pastors from different areas are getting connected through the ministry of STN. People from all over India and Nepal want us to train them. Even in Delhi, we have people interested and eager to be trained.
I am thanking the Lord that everything is going according to plan! Shepherding The Nations is thriving in Central America and Mexico. Pastors came from Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Dr. David Nelson and another pastor came from Miami, Florida to bring the training (January 16 – 19, 2017). They were all very eager to start and were greatly impacted. Unfortunately, I was not able to participate in this training as I had hoped, due to health issues. My desire and prayer is to be able to attend the start of classes of all three institutes – that is if God allows it and my health situation improves. Further BCTP training institutes started on Friday, February 24 with a minimum of 20 students per institute.
The three STN institutes in Bolivia took an end of the year break and started classes again in February, beginning with book #4. The zest and enthusiasm from the pastors has not diminished. Pastor Daniel Ortiz from Cochabamba has asked me if I would open another institute on an additional night in another area of the city. He said that there are about 10 students who would like to take the course but it would be easier if he travels to them.
I thank God for everything that is happening in Latin America!
But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24.
When God stirred our hearts to go back to India and direct the STN program, Flory and I had no idea what to expect. We knew we would be challenged in one way or another but to quote China missionary C.T Studd, “Some wish to live within the sound of Church or Chapel bell; I want to run a Rescue Shop within a yard of hell.”
15,000 Reached in India
Between September 2015 through December, STN India has reached approximately 15,000 people with the Gospel, directed by His hand alone. We were able to visit 25 churches in the North, South and Northwest parts of India, sharing God’s Word, fellowshipping with His people and interacting with STN graduates assisting them in promoting STN India. In this endeavor, we have driven 8,000 miles. God has provided our home, transportation and divine appointments to minister both to the men and women in India.
In November Flory and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary and house dedication with the local church. We were able to obtain all the legal documents necessary to make our home in India and had our first STN Board meeting to establish the direction of the ministry. There have been many opportunities for me to preach in local and village churches. In February, I was able to preach to a group of 3000 at an Annual School function and ministered to 20 Pastors in the outskirts of Hyderabad.
In late October-early November we had the pleasure of hosting Tammy Werth from our TBBF family. She attended several meetings in different locations, shared her testimony were Flory holds several of her regular meetings, and visited the STN India office. Tammy was able to visit a museum and did a little site-seeing.
Flory has been very busy as well. In December of 2015, Flory lead a group study at a ladies meeting in Kanpur, and then throughout the year she has been able to minister to children at a Christian Orphanage and an old age, gifting them with Bibles and books. She was also able to minister the Word at a one-day women’s retreat. At another one-day ladies meeting in a remote village, 65 ladies attended while Flory shared God’s good news! God has opened many doors for Flory to share with the ladies in areas such as Vijayawada, Patmos and Kallur! All in all, there were 12 ladies seminars along with monthly Bible studies at El Shaddai.
Below are several additional opportunities this past year:
- Preached at EHOW
- Meet with elders of local assemblies.
- Toured West Bengal and met with STN graduates
- Flory taught at a Ladies seminar where 120 ladies attended.
- Baptized 7 individuals in September
- Participated and led several counseling sessions via phone and in-person
In closing, we would like to end it by quoting the Apostle Paul, “and they reported all that God had done with them.”
To God Be the Glory,