Missions Trip to Africa
After arriving in Zambia, our team began traveling from village to village preaching the gospel in the open air. Many of the people in the villages had never seen white people or heard the gospel before. By God’s grace, they were eagerly listening to our message and we saw many come to know Christ. I particularly remember a Catholic man who was radically saved after one of our preaching events. The day after the event, the man came back, asking how he could start a church in his village. His face was shining as he told us about his desire to see his friends, family and whole village come to know Christ. I was thrilled about his passion for sharing the gospel, but deep down, I thought to myself, “Who is going to disciple this man and equip him to start a church?” I didn’t have an immediate answer to my question but kept pondering on it in the back of my mind.
A Seed Planted
The mission-trip to Africa had a profound impact on me. The Lord didn’t call me to pack my things, move to Africa and become a missionary, but my time of ministry in Africa kindled a desire in me. I wanted to teach and train men and women in their own country to fulfill the great commission by preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations.
I kept asking myself, “How can we equip these believers for ministry?” But as life went on, my dream to shepherd the nations slowly faded into the background. Little did I know that the Lord had not sung the last tune on that song.
Discovering Shepherding the Nations
Moving forward about six years, I providentially began working at The Bridge Bible Fellowship in California. As I got to know my new church family, I learned that several of the pastors and church members had started a non-profit organization named Shepherding the Nations (STN) back in 2007.
I went to look at STN’s website and found their missions statement:
“To glorify God by developing a global partnership which trains and supports indigenous pastors, who will be involved in planting healthy churches that know Jesus Christ and make Him known.”
Say what? If I’m not mistaken, it sounds a whole lot like the dream the Lord placed in my heart years before in a small dusty village in Africa. I began to talk with Pastor Randy about STN, and he shared with me the impact the ministry is having in the lives of hundreds of believers in India and South America.
Our talks about STN led to planning and our planning led to the purchasing of airplane tickets and the purchasing of airplane tickets led us to India. In October, I came home from a two-week mission trip to India with STN, where we have been training more than 300 men and women to minister the gospel more effectively through the teaching of the Bible.
National Conference for Expository Preachers
During our time in India, we held a three-day National Conference for Expository Preachers. I was encouraged to see the hunger for God’s Word in India—the same hunger I saw in Africa. The men who attended the conference were eagerly listening as they were learning about expository preaching, and they were passionately engaging in their discussion groups after each session. No one sat passively listening; everyone joined the discussions with much excitement and commitment. There was so much to learn. So much to take away from the teaching. So much to consider, reevaluate and embrace. It was incredible to watch.
The men traveled from far and wide to attend the conference. A couple of men traveled an uncomfortable 25-hours in a train to make it to the conference. Other indigenous men came from a rural and dangerous area where militant Hindus daily persecuted them and where Christians have been burned alive in the past.
Many of the conference attendees expressed their thankfulness for the time, energy and resources we had sacrificed to come across the globe to teach God’s Word on how to become better preachers and leaders in their churches. A man told us the enormous impact the conference had on him as tears were running down his cheeks. He said that he had learned so much at the conference that will help him become a more faithful minister and preacher of God’s Word to his congregation.
The day after the conference, we held a graduation for 200 students who had faithfully spent more than 500 hours working their way through the ten BTCP books to receive a solid biblical foundation on which to build their Christian lives and ministry. The following week, we went to Northern India, where we graduated an additional 41 faithful students.
Several of the graduates will be planting new churches to reach and disciple more Indians in the near future, but their commitment to Christ doesn’t come without a cost. The threat and persecution of these Christians is a daily reality in India, and our brothers and sisters in Christ need our prayers as they remain faithful to the Lord in reaching the lost in a raging storm.
Only God knows the ultimate impact of the conference and our ministry in India, but I’m confident we will see the effect for many generations to come.
The Future of Shepherding the Nations
I’m excited to continue my work with STN in the future. I’m eager to see how the Lord is going to continue to expand the ministry, its reach and the number of believers equipped to teach God’s Word and plant healthy churches.
How Can You Get Involved?
If this article is stirring a desire in you to train believers in impacting their country for Christ through STN, I ask that you take a moment and prayerfully ask the Lord to show you how to get involved with this ministry either by praying or giving financially.
photo credit: Alan McDole