Ephesians 4:11 – Preparing Pastors
Ephesians 4:11 – Preparing Pastors

Ephesians 4:11 – Preparing Pastors

Greetings from Uganda!  This trip continues to be a blessing as we see doors opening in many places!  In Uganda, we have trainings with several groups in Kampala, Soroti, and Bukwo (near Mbale on the east side of Uganda).   In each place I am greeted by the DML team from that country, and they join me in teaching and handle all the follow-up. I will be here for about eleven days before going to India for the last leg of this trip.

While I am in Uganda, another DML team has arrived in Sierra Leone (Dr. Gaga from Nigeria and Rev. Lisa Travis from Liberia) to begin the work of DML with the Wesleyan Church.  We pray for these new seeds being planted!

Our time last week in Nigeria with Nigerian Baptist Convention in Ibadan was very fruitful!  This is a very large denomination with more than 10,000 churches and strategic ministries in so many places.  We were blessed to have the President of the Convention join us, along with several of the Vice-Presidents.  It is unusual to have leaders at this level sit for several hours because of so much activity.  And this week was especially a challenging one for them – they launched their new day-care program for the elderly AND they held a youth convention for 20,000 youth, the largest convention they have had for some time.  We stopped in at the youth convention on our way back to Lagos and it was AMAZING!  [I was pulled onstage by the President’s wife to join in the worship and dancing!]  I can’t imagine the logistical challenges of 21,000 people (that was the count when I was there – I don’t know how high it actually got.)  Pictures are below.

As we continue in our discussion of preparing all Christians to be mature, this week we look at being pastoral.  This is yet another gift that is offered to foster growth in the body of Christ, to strengthen the church (the people of God).  Pastors can be seen as shepherds, who nurture and care for the flock.  Typically, this work is seen in the church when gathered, but as all Christians are part of the priesthood of believers (1 Peter 2:9), we see our spheres of influence as our parishes.  For most of us, that is our homes and workplaces.  What does it mean for us to be pastoral in those settings?  Shepherds are to lovingly watch over the sheep.  They must be listeners and followers of the Good Shepherd to do this well.  There must be integrity of heart as well as skilled hands.  Shepherds care not only for the physical health of the sheep, but also spiritual, emotional, and mental health.  

I believe that there is a good understanding of this in our homes, as we seek to parent our children and love our family members.  

But there is less of an understanding of this in our workplaces, whether we function as employers or employees.  In both cases, we have an ability to be pastoral, to be caring for those around us, looking at the whole person.  This means we need to be prepared to listen and learn about their life and their challenges.  It means we are prepared to offer a kind word, a prayer, or a word of encouragement.  This is not a responsibility that is only for those in organizational authority, but it can go in all directions – you may need to be pastoral toward your boss.  There are many lonely people in this world who do not feel that they have someone who will listen in love.  

So we need to prepare ourselves for this.  And the best way to do this is to learn from the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep.  May God help us!

A teaching moment with the Nigerian Baptist Convention
The leaders of the Nigeria team: Solomon Aliyu on the left and Dr. Abraham Gaga on the right.
In the center is Rev. Dr. Israel Akanji, the President of the Nigeria Baptist Convention, with his wife in the burgundy on the left.  On the right is Dr. Elizabeth Aderounmu, the Director of the Social Development Ministries, who was our host for this conference.
This is just a portion of the sea of youth that make up a crowd of 20,000.  It was truly amazing, and we pray that the Holy Spirit met many people there, reminding them of His love and delight in each one!