In case you're wondering, we've been without internet access for several days. I wrote the "What Would They Do Without Americans?" on Saturday night, and have been holding it on my computer for two days. In the meantime, life has continued to happen.
Here's the quick summary:
On Saturday, we wrapped up our training in Asela, Ethiopia. It's been an amazing time. This is a cooperative effort of a dozen different denominations, all working together to minister holistically in their communities. Their work includes poverty response, agricultural education, economic development, pastoral training, and church planting. All of this is a full-hearted effort to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it impacts people's entire lives.
This training has also been done in partnership with Joni and Friends. They have a desire to minister to the needs of disabled persons in developing nations. We were part of the training they held for pastors, challenging and equipping them to reach out to the blind, the deaf, the lame, etc. Then we served a "banquet" for several hundred disable people in the community. Hard to describe this experience. It's hard enough to be handicapped in the US- can you imagine what it's like in a desperately poor nation, where many people believe that your disability is a curse from God, or a result of a demonic possession? I'll post some pictures.
After driving to Addis, we had several amazing meetings. We spent hours with the leadership of our in-country partners. It really looks like this training is going to be passed on to literally hundreds (thousands) of pastors and church leaders all over the country. One of our TNTers will be training 28 teams of three workers. Each team will be going to a different region of the country, where they will be passing on the training in the local area.
We have also been spending time with a new friend from Kenya, who came to "spy on the training" (his words, not ours). He leads an organization that is working in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, and Uganda. He's recently been asked to begin working in Malawi and india. His organization is in the process of training 10,000 pastors, and they have helped to plant hundreds of churches. He is going to pass the LRI training on to everyone of the pastors they train.
Think about it- those are just TWO of the guys we're training! There are about 58 others. They each have their own story, and they don't all plan to impact 10,000 others. But when you begin to multiply the numbers, it's amazing. What if each of the TNTers trains 10 others? That's about 600. And what if they pass it on to others…and they pass it on to others. We have African church leaders telling us that TNT has the potential to have a deep impact all across this continent of over 650 million people.
I don't know if that's true, but I do know one thing- if it happens, it's clearly GOD who did it. LRI is just a bunch of average (or maybe even below-average) people. Maybe God is using us, because it will make it obvious that it's a work of God, and not a work of men.