Over the last year Stephanie and I have had a growing sense that the Lord was moving us to devote ourselves full-time to the work of missions. In his kind providence, the Lord used countless little things to confirm and grow this desire in our hearts. God has graciously led us to an ideal situation in every way. About two weeks ago I formally accepted a position on the staff of Training Leaders International (TLI) out of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN.
Training Leaders International (TLI) is a ministry dedicated to providing theological education to pastors around the world. The last 100 years has seen the explosive growth of Christianity in the Global South, so that 75% of the world’s Christians now live in Africa, Asia, and South America. But it’s often true that where the church is a mile wide, it’s an inch deep. It’s estimated that 85% of the 2.2 million evangelical churches worldwide are led by pastors with no formal training.
TLI seeks to meet this need in three ways: (1) by sending pastors, professors, and advanced graduate students on short-term teams to provide theological education, (2) by serving as a sending agency for those who wish to teach full-time in seminaries overseas, and (3) by planting schools in places where there is no access to theological education.
The position will be based at TLI’s home office in Minneapolis where I will work to advance the vision of TLI. Among other things, my responsibilities will include organizing, recruiting for, and leading 4-5 teams a year to locations around the world where TLI is training pastors, writing curriculum, mentoring and training those traveling for TLI in various aspects of cross-cultural ministry, maintaining relationships with pastors we are teaching, writing for missiological journals, preaching and teaching on missions, etc. I see this position as a gracious gift from God bringing together my burdens, desires, and giftedness with a great organization. It’s an ideal fit, and we’re both excited and grateful!
The single most difficult part of this process and the subsequent decision has been the fact that it means we will be leaving a church that we love very dearly. Telling the church family we were leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Pray that the Lord would sustain the church during this time of transition, and grant us unity of mind and spirit. Pray that the Lord would provide a godly, warm-hearted Shepherd-Teacher whose ministry will be Scripturally-proportioned.
I’ll be staying at the church until October 1st to help in the transition.
In making this decision, we are stepping out in faith to follow what we believe is the Lord’s call. We would covet your prayers that the Lord would sustain and grow our faith in this next year. We are excited to see the grace of Christ produce greater fruits of holiness in our hearts.
As is most often the case when working with missions organizations, the position is support based (we have to raise our own support). So I will begin support raising March 1st while remaining in my current role as pastor until October 1st. We hope to move to Minneapolis sometime in early 2014.
We gladly recognize that the Lord’s work is accomplished in community. So we welcome your help! If you’d like to be part of supporting us just follow this link and the instructions laid out there. We’re praying for approximately 5 churches and 35 individuals to financially partner with us in the next 9-12 months. If you think you or your church would be interested in supporting us, I’d be happy to talk with you.
Our sincere desire is that everything touched by this transition will move towards giving glory to God and bringing good to his people. Thank you for praying with us to that end!