“It was like watching a miracle.”
That’s how one WordPartners trainer described the transformation of a group of pastors from one Middle Eastern country.
The session in which the miracle occurred focused on analyzing the historical context of the book of Jonah—hardly the first place you’d expect a powerful moment to occur!
One of our trainers led the session that helped the pastors discover that the prophet Jonah was willing to prophecy about the expansion of Israel’s borders (as recorded in 2 Kings 14) but was unwilling to preach to his enemies the Ninevites. Why? Because he knew God might be gracious and forgiving to them.
One of the pastors raised his hand. “We are like Jonah! We are afraid of our Muslim neighbors and don’t want to reach out to them.”
Another chimed in, “We’re not just afraid of them; we hate them!”
Four or five others confessed the same thing and began repenting before the group, committing themselves to not be like Jonah but to bring the gospel to their Muslim neighbors, an action that could bring heavy persecution.
The training is not only transforming hearts but also transforming preaching. One pastor we’ll call Faraj for security reasons reflected on the change in his preaching:
I would normally go into the pulpit unprepared and just “get a word from the Spirit” and preach whatever came to mind. I am committing to preach from the Word from now on!
One WordPartners trainer shared this anecdote about Faraj’s new commitment:
The transformation we saw in Faraj was amazing. The next day after one session he said he was confused and couldn’t put it all together. Little did we know that our national coordinator had picked him to lead the Luke 15 devotional the next morning!
The next morning Faraj did great. His structure was clear. He connected the elder brother to the Pharisees and to Jonah. He even did some Biblical Theology, going back to Genesis! Afterward, I said, “Faraj, that was great—I thought you said you were confused!” He said he never did it that way before but thought he’d try putting what he was learning into practice!
God continued to bless His Word in the second workshop six months later.
After a short time of worship, our national host invited pastors to share what God was doing in their hearts. At least three pastors confessed that they had been seriously contemplating leaving pastoral ministry, but after studying 2 Timothy together, they were encouraged to continue. One pastor confessed that he was nearly going to go back to being a lawyer until he came to the 2 Timothy workshop and God convicted him to carry on in the ministry.
While our work in this country is still in the early stages, we see tremendous potential. Our national leader has recently been appointed as a regional overseer for pastors in his denomination. This role provides a great opportunity to influence pastors in this region, the perfect situation to see WordPartners training impact many. Additionally, we hope this country will serve as a regional training hub where we can invite pastors from neighboring hostile countries to receive training.
Why are you wasting your time with more training??? . . . Pastor Paul’s friends wondered. After all, their friend had attended seminary…Read more