Thank you for bringing this teaching on Romans!
The entire team has done an outstanding job of communicating as God has answered your prayers for us.
I [Joel] began the conference summarizing Rom 1-10. Imagine, it took 2 1/2 hrs to summarize what took a week to teach last trip. This set the stage for the rest of Romans.
So we began on Romans 11-12. We moved from the certainty of our salvation in Christ to the ways we begin to change in our Christian walk. “I appeal to you therefore by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice…”. Working through the gifts, grace, love to others, how to respond to an enemy who harms us. Imagine sharing such a message with people who have lived with years of war, unspeakable brutality, broken economy, and hardship on every front. Romans says “give water and food to an enemy.” They wrestled. Sometime you would hear a lot of voices break out as they spoke to one another.
Yet, as these areas unfolded, they continued to drink in the teaching of God’s Word. Then there were moments of celebration. Singing. Fervent prayers of thanks to God. Smiles. Praise God! They don’t hide their amazement at God’s Counsel.
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.
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.
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!!
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!