In his new book Hearts, Heads, and Hands, David Sills writes,
“After years of working with pastors and leaders around the world, some missionaries realize the syncretism that has passed unnoticed for years. Moreover, they realize that we must return to a strong emphasis on training leaders and teaching pastors.”David Sills
This statement is true for many parts of Southeast Asia, especially in rural areas where there are pastors who have very little training and very little access to good biblical and theological resources. So, their default ministry practices come from the things they’ve subconsciously absorbed from their cultures – both in terms of worldview and leadership philosophy. This is one reason why SE Asia has so many unhealthy, immature churches that have overt syncretistic beliefs and practices.
HeartCry missionary Alah’bi Komang and I have a burden to teach and train pastors in these rural areas. Along with ill equipped pastors, there are also many rural churches that have no pastor at all. In Alah’bi’s Baptist denomination alone there are a little more than 400 churches. More than 100 of them have no pastor at all. It’s very difficult for these churches to have any degree of spiritual maturity when they have no one trained to teach them God’s word. So along with helping to further train rural pastors, we’ve been praying and talking about ways to train and send out young pastors who could shepherd these churches.
This past month we taught a group of pastors and evangelists in the central province of our island. We gathered together for a short, one day seminar focusing on God’s word as the basis for ministry. Many of these churches, like so many in the West, have thought very little about how their ministry methodology should be shaped by and built upon God’s word. Alah’bi taught on the supremacy of God’s word, and I taught on how a church shaped by God’s word looks, as well as how leaders practically minister to shape their congregations by the word of God. Please pray that God would use the teaching in these pastors’ lives. It can sometimes be difficult for younger ministers to gain a hearing with older ministers, especially since the SE Asian cultures in which we minister are “ageist” cultures that give a high value and respect for age rather than merit or competence. It’s our prayer that God would use his word in spite of our insufficiencies, perceived or real.
We’ve also made plans to visit several other rural areas in Southeast Asia in the upcoming months; Lord willing, we will be teaching groups of pastors already in the ministry, as well as those in Bible schools preparing for the ministry. Please pray that the Lord would help us as we prepare for these trips, and that God’s word would work powerfully among his people.