A few weeks ago, I heard a great analogy that describes the role of pastoral and leadership training throughout the developing world…
“Pastoral and leadership training here in America is like opening another restaurant – there’s one on virtually every corner. On the other hand, pastoral and leadership training throughout the developing world is like opening a lone food bank in the midst of starving people!”
I believe that the most effective way, in most situations, of fulfilling the Great Commission is by training the nationals to evangelize, disciple, equip, encourage and minister to their own people. The nationals know the local language, culture and customs, which allows them to immediately begin ministering to their own people without having to face the hurdles of learning a new language and culture.
Several years ago, I was struck by a magazine advertisement in a Christian periodical that showed all of the different types of Bibles available from a particular publisher here in America (note picture to left).
In almost every country where we do pastoral and leadership training, the local pastors are fortunate to have just one complete Bible in their own language. They have no “Study Bibles” available to them.
In a number of locations where we’ve conducted trainings, our staff have brought along copies of the new ESV Study Bible to give to pastors and leaders who can read and understand English. After giving them the new Study Bible, you would have thought that we had just given them a million dollars! They literally hug and hold their new Study Bible like it is their most treasured possession.
I use this illustration often when describing why GTN does what we do… “If you saw ten men trying to carry a heavy log and nine of the men were carrying the lighter tapered end…and only one man was struggling to carry the wider heavier end, which end would you jump toward to give your help?”
As great as the needs are here in America (and we truly have many), compared to much of the developing world, they have 10% or less of what we possess in terms of churches, ministries, and spiritual resources.
Research shows that 95% of pastors throughout the developing world have little to no theological training for their ministries. This is why ministries (of which GTN is one) that bring good biblical training to these indigenous pastors around the world are so vital.