Tag: pastor training

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

My adventure with Haiti has been spread over many years, most of them before I ever bothered to visit the country itself. When he was in first grade, my son Hunter raised money on his own to support the Church of God orphanage, the House of Blessing, in Petionville, Haiti. This was the start of my friendship with the nation and people of Haiti. Along the way I have learned some important lessons and I am sure I will continue to learn with each trip (by the way, this is one of the most important reasons for short-term mission trips: learning!). Here are a few lessons that came to my attention as I prepared our Haitian dinner last night at church.

First, God will send you helpers of all kinds. Welcome them, accept anything they can do. Then celebrate with them the accomplishments. As I began cooking yesterday, one of my wife’s teacher friends asked if she could help. All afternoon her and my wife helped me cook, chop peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and then get all the food to the church and the tables setup for dinner. Stephanie is a young teacher who made friends with my wife last year at the school where they both taught. She has come to be as close to me as a sister and although I did not expect her help yesterday, I think God sent her to be there when the work would have probably overwhelmed me. When I visited Haiti several weeks ago, I met some people who had simply been available at the right time when Yvan Pierre needed them. In any ministry, but especially in mission work, the ability to build a team from those who are available rather than those who are qualified is essential!

Second, real ministry is a relational and community event, not the work of just one person. Even when one person is the visionary and the leader of what happens, they are powerless to create anything meaningful. Partners are essential! Not just workers and far more than mere supporters. Partners capture the vision of what is going on and can discern their own contribution to that larger vision. The shared contributions of many people make the ministry or mission far more successful than one-man shows or single focus programs.

Third, sometimes the discernment of a call is not a single datable event, like God calling Samuel, but more of a progressive unfolding of God’s will for you. I think God usually has to work this second route with me! If he had showed me at 16 what I know now, I would have probably run like Jonah!Instead, God has led me step by step into my current ministry. My current ministry activity is thrilling in both the emotional and spiritual sense, it is challenging in so many ways! Only my life experience has prepared me for these challenges. So I have learned to be faithful wherever I find myself in ministry and not only perform well in that position, but also look for what God might be trying to teach me through the phases of my life.

On my most recent visit to Haiti, I spent a lot of mornings and evenings in prayer. One thing God revealed to me is that my essential calling is still to be a pastor. Although now I am more of a pastor to pastors, the nature of what I am and what I do is unchanged from my initial calling. With this in mind, I am learning to not only submit to God’s leading but also to submit to the human leaders he places in my life. God has sent me “Apostles” who can expose me to new pastoral opportunities and help me discern specific tasks. Just as I trust God, I must trust that in placing me under the authority of these individuals, he is placing me right where I need to be to accomplish his will through me.

Leadership and Loyalty

Leadership and Loyalty

One of the most disappointing experiences I have had as a pastor is the disloyalty of folks who have at first spoken their commitment to my leadership, but then turn against me when the personal cost of discipleship becomes too great for them. So here are a few of my thoughts on leadership and loyalty.

First, loyalty begins in the life of the leader. Whether a pastor or CEO, the leader must be loyal to the institution or organization and especially to the folks who he or she expects to work with them in the organization. For a pastor or missionary, this means they must first of all be committed to the people they are called to serve and to any organization through which they are called to work. For me this is why I choose to work for and through International Christian Development Missions. This is not the only good organization that is working in Haiti and they care certainly not the only one I could work with. However, their vision and mission matches very closely with what I have discerned as God’s call on my life. What is more, I know the leaders in ICDM and am comfortable submitting to their guidance and direction for all that I do.

Second, loyalty is centered around human relationships. If I do not know people and allow them to know me, then my leadership will by default fail! If you are a pastor or missionary, this is even more critical as you cannot serve and love people you do not know and share life with. It is not enough for me (personally) to just visit Haiti on a regular basis. I must also know people who live there, work there, and have their families there. In spite of numerous trips to Haiti, I first began to sense my relational connection this past January. I met folks like Marcdala, Jean Noel, Abraham, Verlen, Gina, and Djimsy. Knowing these people and staying in contact with them when I am here in the states, is a key loyalty builder for me. The more I know them and love them, the more drawn to Haiti I become. And through them, I have the potential to meet and know even more people. With each expansion of my relationships comes an expansion of my loyalty to and love for the Haitian people.

Third, loyalty develops when people see that you are not going to walk out on them in the hard times. I have watched many congregations of the church who were on the verge of great growth simply disintegrate because a leader became overwhelmed and walked out too early. Again, this is loyalty of the leader for the people, but without it, there can be no expectation that others will follow and stick to the task. My prayer is that I am never guilty of this in my work in Haiti. My hope is that God has called me to this task for the remainder of my earthly life. There are challenges ahead and obstacles that I must overcome, but this is the journey and mission God has called me to. What can I do except follow?

Dearest to my Heart

Dearest to my Heart

My passion and vocation at this stage in life is the training and equipping of pastors and church leaders to lead and transform their communities for Christ. This is why the most recent update from Rosemond Pierre has got me so excited! Over the last few weeks training has gone on in La Chappelle and Pierre-Payon in Artibonite; and several locations in Port Au Prince. This training is not only in the fields of theology and ministry, but also in leadership and community development.  With the central role pastors play in local communities, this training is both significant and necessary.

Since there are no strong theological training centers in Haiti (universities and colleges) and since sending pastors and leaders to other places for training is costly, the best remedy is to train them on-site. Through our Portable Bible School and programs related to our School of Evangelism, ICDM provides both initial and ongoing training for pastors and leaders of all denominations. This training is biblically sound, academically rigorous, and practical in the extreme.

This effort is spearheaded by Pastor Rosemond! So far, these programs have provided training to over 5,000 local pastors in Haiti. These training programs are so effective that other mission organizations have sought our advice in helping them reproduce our success in their nation and setting.