Jim and Shari Whittle report….   It started early Sunday morning at Baggage Claim in Mumbai – 45 minutes for the first bag to come off the belt.  Then our airline didn’t have a counter in the new terminal so we had to rent a taxi big enough for 4 people and 12 bags to get to the other terminal.  Sunday afternoon as we rested, the worst noise imaginable was outside our window – AC fan broke. Monday morning we awoke with no water and didn’t have hot water for a couple days.  No worries – conference starts Tuesday and we have a day to get ready.  After breakfast Monday I casually asked Swarupa what time to come back for lunch.  She said, “Lunch is at the conference.”  Uh-oh!  We were starting in 2 hours – time for cold bucket baths!

On Thursday we flew to Delhi and took two taxis to the hotel – the rear taxi got lost. Friday we woke early for a 5 hour van trip for the six of us to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra.  We arrived at lunch-time and pulled up to an empty gate – where is everybody?  Oh! – the Taj is Muslim and it’s Friday – closed (That’s why the highway was empty).  We were able to take pictures across the river from the garden, and the fort/palace was open – awesome.  Five hour drive back to Delhi.  We awoke at 3 am Saturday to catch the only flight to our weekend destination in the Himalayas.  Flight is delayed 3 hours then cancelled.  They put us on a flight to Chandigarh (half way) and booked taxis for everyone – we were in 2 of course – 10 hours later through the Himalayan switchbacks we’re near our hotel but lost in the dark in the rain on the narrow road on the mountain. A day of rest in the beauty of the mountains has turned into a 19 hour trip.  Then 8 hours of driving on Monday to our conference. Sunday was nice at the top of the world.

The beauty of this whole montage of trouble is that the Women’s Conference and the Marriage Conference were fabulous. The scriptures were faithfully taught, marriages were immediately impacted, and Curt and Gina began what is hopefully a long partnership with ELI.

 

Women’s Conference

This conference was the third of a series of three Women’s Conferences, and the subject this time was  leadership development in women’s ministry. In order to develop leaders it is necessary to identify specific ministry skills and habits, and then establish training to bear that fruit.  We have identified 10 basic habits for a leader, divided between loving God and loving Neighbor.  The vertical habits are Scripture reading and study, Prayer, Daily Repentance, Corporate Worship, and Giving.  The five horizontal traits correspond to the vertical: Evangelism & Discipleship, Hospitality, Reconciliation & Forgiveness, Service, and Generosity.  It’s not possible in three days to train people in all these areas.  The conference was designed to give them an overview and a beginning framework to build upon.

Marriage Conference

Chandigarh is a new region for ELI & CGM (Christ Gospel Ministries) and our starting path is always marriage.  By starting with training in a Christ-centered marriage we address the greatest need in the pastor’s family and their church.  It also avoids arguments that come from beginning with theology and doctrine and hot buttons, and yet the gospel of grace is revealed as the foundation of life in God’s kingdom.  Family illness and travel issues led to a smaller conference than usual, but the relative intimacy allowed for more interaction along with Q & A.  It’s so refreshing for us to see the gospel address cultural errors, with the result being public confession of sin by husbands who are harsh with their wives.  We saw plenty of fruit of repentance in three days.

Thank you for praying for us!!
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Another cause for praise occurred on Wednesday, when I [Rick Renninger] spoke with a young man (+/- 30 yrs) I met 9 months ago when Jim and I taught a Leadership Conference on 1 Timothy here in Chennai, India.  His name is John Paul.  Last July I learned that he started a house church and within one year 19 people had made professions of faith.  John Paul is a physical therapist who gives all the time he can to evangelism and leading his church.

He told me that he reaches out to poor people; people who do manual labor and may only find work a few days a week.  Since last summer there have been fewer conversions, and even though some people have stopped attending his church, he currently has 25 people gathering together for Sunday worship.  Praise Him!

But here’s what really blew me away!  Having no idea how he would answer I asked John Paul this very open-ended question:  “In the past year, what has most encouraged you?”  Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “The Leadership Conference on 1 Timothy!”

John Paul hungers to grow in his understanding of the Scriptures, not only to encourage and feed his own soul, but to teach others also.  And praise God that that is just what he is doing, teaching 1 Timothy regularly.  In this, he is representative of what many others are doing as well.   In fact, when I was in Rwanda Theophile, who serves as a bishop for some 60 churches, told me that it is a requirement for ordination that a man seeking the pastorate must take ELI’s Leadership course on 1 Timothy.  This ordination preparation for pastors is not occurring by ELI staff, but through Rwandans who have been taught the material (2 Timothy 2:2).

Thank you for your partnership with me in promoting healthy Christ-exalting churches that impact Majority World communities by the transforming power of the Gospel!

Rick Renninger

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Dear Sir,

I would like to express our sincere gratitude and thankfulness for your admirable teachings from ELI in our regional seminars.  It is not an exaggeration here if I say that your teachings have transformed our churches in western Uganda and northern Uganda.

ELI helped leaders in being more confident and made them fearless in public speaking, which has now become an added advantage in carrying out the good news of Jesus Christ.

It is purely you who made our leaders settle comfortably today and I will remember your help forever and support.  Thank you very much brother, in anticipation of your same affection and guidance to us in future also. I would like to express my sincere gratitude through this letter for the erudite exposure of your own self to guide us for ministry challenges and church growth.

Not only on spiritual growth alone but my churches have now realized that they need financial breakthrough and so far I have got about 4 saving groups which are now developing to be a Saving and credit company we are now in a stage of registering, this came as a result of some topics covered by the ELI topics which have talked about the HOLISTIC ministry of Jesus Christ.

By the time before we started pattern ship with ELI we had a 40 churches, which was not coordinated, with untrained leaders, unruly but Iam  proud to say we have 65 registered churches and 8 new churches which we have planted this year and as a result I had a vision of northern Uganda which I had failed but now we have 4 churches planted by mbarara region in the south of Uganda.

I have registered many pastors who want to study a bible college after testing the material of teachings in Eli.

Your teaching is like resurrecting a sleeping dog of Africa; they have what it takes but sleeping with it.

Thanks be to God that ELI through Dr Joel McCall William, has been instrumental ever since we met him, it was God who directed this group of missionaries to our region and country.

The spirit of churches is now minimum unlike the former days when disagreements was arising on daily basis due to lack of training.

I have always admired you; in my previous years of learning also you were the same in helping us to grow in the lord. You have been always very compassionate in solving our doubts about our good God.

Yours faithfully,

Rev George Byabagambi

Director, Mbarara District Full Gospel Churches

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Most churches in America never multiply or plant a daughter church.  Some say the number is over 95% of churches that fail to multiply.  The reasons vary: for some it’s not in their plan at all, for some the only multiplication is a missionary far away, for some the plan  keeps getting pushed backward in time because of expense, and for some the plan to multiply is simply too hard to accomplish.  If you have 100 in attendance and your plan is to multiply at 400, there’s a large statistical chance that your church will never have 400 since only about 3% of churches are that large.

The primary reason that churches don’t multiply is the failure to multiply leaders.  The Lord Jesus had 3 close friends, then the twelve, the 70, and the 500.  He picked 12 to be his apostles and poured his life into them so that they might be his face to the world.  This is what leaders are meant to do – replicate.

In India, when we hold a three-day Leadership Conference teaching through 1Timothy, on the second day we ask this question, “how many of you are training elders?” And the universal answer is that they are not.  In a room of 100 pastors there might be two who are actually training others to lead.  Most of them are struggling to lead churches of 25-30 people and these leaders are barely surviving.  It is the breath of life when we show them from the Bible that God’s plan is for a plurality of leaders in the church – we’re not wired or expected to lead alone.  You can visibly see stress leave and joy come at the thought of sharing the emotional and spiritual load of shepherding God’s people.

Our calling at ELI is to train leaders who multiply.  Like Nehemiah, we seek to train leaders who will train leaders who are responsible for the fruit and success of their portion of the work.  Like Paul expressed to Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

In order to be successful, a leader needs three things: Knowledge, Skill, and Motivation.  Like the three sides of a triangle, these aspects of leadership are connected together.  Pastors and Elders need Knowledge of the gospel, the scriptures, theology, and church history; they need Skill in shepherding, organization management, training others (discipleship), teaching, preaching, prayer, evangelism, counseling, and marriage; they need Motivation to overcome the many obstacles within and outside the church to move forward in exalting the name of Jesus and leading His church.  Those three work together – Motivation is necessary to gain Knowledge or Skill, and of course, Skill and Knowledge improve Motivation.  All of this tied together by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, in places like India and Africa, many have significant Motivation as a result of being delivered from deep spiritual oppression by the power of the Gospel.  As a result of their Gospel Motivation, many preach Christ to others and small churches are born before the leader gains much needed Knowledge and Skill.

At ELI our purpose is to resource and train international leaders who will in turn train others so that the fame of the name of Jesus would grow.

 

If you would like to contribute, you can do so online  http://www.equippingleadersinternational.org/get-involved-2/

 

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Back from the meeting.  These guys (Joseph and Noah) are SO excited about this MINTS program!  They were spontaneously telling us about some of the results that have come.

One of the new guys is a Methodist minister (Joseph taught him the two courses that Don and I taught in February to catch him up – that in itself is exciting!) who, after taking these courses said “I have learned so much! I’m going to make sure that this material makes it into the training of the ministers and lay leaders in my area.  There were areas of the Bible that I thought I knew, but I see now that there is so much more!”  Impact!

And Joseph went on to say, “Everyone who has taken these courses is now preaching expository sermons!”

And Noah chimed in:  “Not just a verse, but the whole passage.”  Joseph’s church is going through Ephesians in Sunday School verse by verse in an expository fashion.  He meets with his teachers on Saturday to train them for the next day.  “It has changed us!” he said, “and we are growing in our understanding of the Bible.”

[I’m relating this from memory, so the words may not be exact, but the sentiment is.  And it was seconded by the excitement in their voices and on their faces.  Something is happening here.]

PRAISE GOD!!!  They are getting it and putting it into practice!  This is such an encouragement to my heart.  I dearly love these guys and they are leading the next generation of the church here.  I’m looking forward to teaching them Church History and seeing what affect that has on their actions and thinking.

Dan Steere

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