2 Timothy 2:2 - And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
I have written many times on my blog about how the thing that drives us over here in Zambia is our passion and commitment to train leaders who train leaders who train leaders. In essence, we want to work ourselves out of a job. We are not about buildings and programs. We are about building people. And the pastors here that we work with get it. The other day I was talking to one of our pastors involved in ACTION Pastor's College who was speaking of his future plans. He said that after he starts his own Bible College using the material and training that he has received, "you won't be needed anymore!" What a great compliment and encouragement to us. May it be so!
Well, last Friday we took a big, experimental, step towards this transition. All the Fridays in May I put on a three hour morning conference at a church in a local compound to teach pastors how to preach. I have taught a lot of conferences here in Zambia, but the difference with this one was my desire to get "our" pastors teaching other pastors in their local compounds. So I asked five pastors, Patson, Martin, Alfred, Peter and Joseph, who live in the same general area to help me teach the pastors in their compound how to preach. The plan was for me to spend the first hour teaching the structures and skills of preaching and then for the next two hours to have our pastors preach. This not only gave them the opportunity to encourage these pastors and leaders with timely words and experienced truth, but also it enabled them to show how to preach what I just taught. Week after week, my pastors preached their hearts out and they connected with the church leaders in a way that touched the heart and the head. The experiment was an overwhelming success, even more than I could have imagined. Pastors were encouraged and moved to tears by the powerful, culturally relevant teaching from their friends. They were able to see how a simple, helpful sermon structure that is culturally crafted for Zambian pastors actually works. They were given hope that preaching can be a joy again and maybe even fun.
Over the course of the month, I grew increasingly delighted as my pastors were the ones reviewing the sermon structure each week to the leaders, explaining principles, answering questions, sharing about Bible Reading Plan and how important daily bible reading is, and even passing out the certificates of achievment during the graduation ceremony! It was as if I wasn't even there, and it made my month. During the last hour on the last class, one of our pastors shared about a class that he would be starting for any pastor who wanted to learn how to study and interpret the Bible.
So, I am encouraged. Encouraged to see Zambian pastors who understand the plights and difficulties and sufferings of life in Zambia encouraging their fellow Zambian pastors in a way only they can do. Encouraged that our huge investment in a small number of pastors is beginning to pay off. Encouraged that they are getting it that the training they are receiving is just a means to an end to train others. Encouraged they they understand deeply the responsibility that they have before God to train up the next generation and equip their own generation. Indeed, it is just the beginning, but I am encouraged. Now, may I encourage you to keep praying for us so that we may equip and train these pastors in a way that prepares them to help train the next generation of pastors in Zambia.