Exciting Changes in Our Ministry (Part 1)

AJ teaching Biblical Theology in Tlalixtac, Oaxaca

This past year, and especially the past few months we’ve sensed a growing burden to be involved in training national—and especially indigenous—church leaders. As you may know, we first moved to Mexico in 2004 to pursue a ministry of training national pastors.  My passion to train pastors in Mexico goes back to my early years in college and even my childhood. I grew up in a missionary family, and my dad was very involved in training nationals. In college God impressed upon me the incredible need to follow the Bible’s pattern in 2 Timothy 2:2 of teaching faithful men who will in turn teach others. I attended seminary and graduate school with the ultimate goal of returning to Mexico to train national pastors.  Our first appointment on the field was with the Christian University of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico where I taught college ministry courses, held conferences for pastors, and mentored men preparing for ministry. In 2009 the Lord brought us to To Every Tribe where our ministry has focused on church planting among unreached indigenous people, and now, for the past two years, we’ve served here in Oaxaca, providing leadership for our ministry’s church planting teams.

However, during our time in Oaxaca we have come to see an incredible need for training indigenous church leadership. Here are some observations we’ve made:

  • In the context of southern Mexico, the most effective way to see churches planted among the unreached indigenous community is generally to train indigenous nationals to do that work.
  • The mountains of Oaxaca are home to hundreds of indigenous churches that desperately need leadership training. Most of these churches were started by people who came to Christ while away from their village (to work, visit family, etc.) and then later returned and shared the gospel with their own people.
  • The doctrine and practices of indigenous churches are often unhealthy due to a lack of sound teaching. Many indigenous churches don’t grow or reach their communities simply because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of Scripture.
  • There is an enormous need for leadership training that is appropriate for the culture and needs of these indigenous leaders. In many cases these are oral cultures with no written language or Scripture in their language.

The last two years God has given us a number of opportunities to be involved in church leadership training, and this has been a growing passion and burden for us.  The past few months we have discussed this burden with our friends, family, and church leadership and strongly feel that the Lord is leading us to begin to focus our time, gifts, and energies on indigenous pastoral training here in Oaxaca.  We remain convinced that the Church’s great responsibility is to make disciples of every ethne—that is, every nation or people group. We are also convinced that a vital element in the disciple-making process is training church leaders who are mature and are themselves able to continue that process (2 Timothy 2:2). It is our desire to now concentrate our ministry in Oaxaca on this part of fulfilling the great commission.

Click here for part 2.

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