Sunday, July 29, 2018
The first outreach was for the team to host a 2-day retreat at Tenjo House for 16 girls and 16 boys, so they could take a break from their normal lives and have the team encourage, empower, and share the love of Jesus with them. These hand-picked 11- to 13-year-olds were struggling in life, and needed love, a different perspective, and hopefully a deeper relationship with Jesus. While the team focused on camp activities with the kids, Darin and I, along with our dear friend and Spanish translator, Brigitta, were whisked away by car to a remote community to invest in a small church staff with leadership and evangelism training.
As we slowly navigated the dirt roads in the small community, we wondered where Conviventia was taking us? How safe were we? Eventually our car stopped in front of what appeared to be a store front with doors that opened wide to reveal a stage and pulpit. We had arrived early to Iglesia Christiana Lugar De Encuentro Con Dios (LED), where LED Pastor Alvaro Virviescas was still preaching his Sunday sermon. An usher motioned for us to sit in the front row. We were more comfortable viewing the stage from the back of the church as we waited for Pastor Alvaro to finish his message.
When asked to use a restroom, I was led up the staircase into the Sunday school class and out a door onto a second story patio, where a shed was built that housed the toilet. Women were cooking food in the classroom and smiled, probably wondering: “Who are these people?”
Returning to my white plastic chair, our group waited in the open doorway until the service ended before taking the stage. Darin stood outside playing hand-slap games with the kids as the Spanish sermon continued. After the service, the parents and kids circled around us, shaking our hands, saying “hello”, and asking lots of questions. With Brigitta translating, we asked and answered questions about us, our family, America, and the big state of Texas.
The soda and bowl of egg/cheese stuffed arepas were put out for the congregation so they could socialize, drink, and eat. Yum! I loved how the church was not just about the service but about the community. Eventually the families dispersed, and the church leadership remained to hear what we had to share on leadership.
Our main leadership focus was to define leadership, describe leadership gifts, and discuss how to apply them for the benefit of the Kingdom. Our hope was the church leadership would come away knowing that…
…everyone is leader, because everyone has influence!
Because we were able to describe leadership in tangible ways (visionary, strategic, tactical, team-building, etc.) and share critical skills for success, the staff expressed eagerness to apply these concepts. We also framed leadership in a Biblical context—servant leadership. In cultures of material poverty, I believe servant leadership can be difficult to put into practice as many people struggle with daily survival. Leaders tend to become defined by title, status, or position and not necessarily by the condition of their hearts. I could tell these people were thirsty for leadership.
After our discussion, CDA Pastor Carlos spent an hour training the church leadership in the interactive 3-Circles tool for evangelism. Little did we know that Pastor Carlos had another persona—Charlie the Clown—a character who loves to perform magic tricks while sharing The Gospel. Our message and time spent together was warm and welcoming. We hoped to see many of the leaders again when we returned to the community later in the week for the medical outreach.
This was our first opportunity to take leadership training outside America, and I can honestly say I could travel the world helping people become better leaders. Several messages I took away from my day in the mission field:
- Don’t underestimate the impact you have on other people when you just show up
- Be generous with your time, talents, and treasures, because you make people feel valued
- Put yourself in uncomfortable situations, because you’ll always learn something
- Lead with your spiritual gifts and see how people respond when they know you care