January 8-20, 2019
I have to admit, traveling for days, time changes, language barriers, sleeping in different accommodations and struggling with the often accompanying health issues can be a hardship.
During this past trip several of our team members wrestled with the effects of diarrhea. I, Rick, was the enjoyable evening meal for over 90 mosquito bites. I looked like I had a case of measles!
I don’t often share these things because compared to the many trials that Paul suffered to spread the Gospel to the utter most parts of the world (shipwrecks, snake bites, imprisonment, hunger, beatings… 2 Corinthians 11:24-28) or the hardships that many of these pastoral couples face, the health issues that we have faced are really nothing more than inconveniences. They are a reality however!
So, one might still ask, “Is it really worth it?”
|Our mission at Shepherds’ Support is to encourage, equip and engage pastoral couples so they can finish well in both their marriage and their ministry thus reproducing fruit for Christ throughout the world. At the end of every conference, we are always moved by how gracefully God shows up to work in the lives of each couple to do just that.|
Most pastoral couples have very few people, if any, in their lives whom they feel they can turn to with personal questions. Throughout the conference in Peru our team was very open about challenges that we had faced in life, family and ministry. This opened the door for couples to approach us and share their burdens. We were asked about finances, parenting, recovering from failures in marriage, sexual relationships, burnout…. They needed someone to tell their story to who would listen, understand and offer a gracious word of encouragement, counsel and prayer.
One couple shared, “We have been in a ministry that serves couples and church leaders throughout Peru for over 25 years, but no one has ever come to encourage and equip us. Thank you.”
Another pastor wrote, “I think, just like me, many pastors are leaving renewed, strengthened and greatly blessed. This retreat has filled me with inspiration!”
Our aim is to better equip couples to preach the Word faithfully and serve others. One pastor shared that he was excited to take the things that he learned and share them with the pastors and churches along the Amazon river where he lives and serves. A woman shared in tears how much she enjoyed the teaching from the book of Colossians and wanted to continue studying it. She realized how practical it was for growing in her relationship with God, marriage and others.
One pastor wrote, “I give thanks because I have learned that the foundation for fullness in my life, marriage and ministry is my intimacy with God. We greatly needed this time in the Word with God and with our spouse. Thank you for your counsel.”
One pastor’s wife wrote, “These days have enriched my life and my marriage, and I am leaving looking forward to happily helping other couples.”
God is creating a network of Peruvian couples to pastorally care for other ministry leaders and He allowed our training conferences to bring together pastoral couples from a wide variety of churches and regions to foster this. We realize that our time with them is short and their needs are ongoing, so we work to intentionally help them network and engage with each other in a trusting environment.
One couple, who had been wrestling with deep wounds in their relationship for the past 14 years, came to talk with us. They have never felt free to seek counsel locally for fear of rejection (all too common in Peru and other countries), and said that the conference was their last effort to find healing. After meeting with several of our team and sharing their story, we asked if they would be willing to meet with a Peruvian couple who attended the conference last year. They had been struggling with many of the same challenges and had seen God victoriously lead and heal them. They agreed.
On our last day this pastor came to us and said, “My wife and I have just spent several hours on the beach praying, confessing and burying rocks in the sand symbolically representing our past sins… For the first time in a long while we are hopeful again. Thank you.”
The new relationship they formed with the Peruvian couple is giving them support, fresh insight and encouragement and God continues to bring healing to their wounds and relationship.
So is it all worth the effort? Yes!
We are so thankful for the many ways that we saw God deeply work in the lives of all who attended. We were all challenged to grow in our intimacy with God, our spouse and in our family. Pastor Don and Claudia Erickson taught principles for inductive Bible Study and brought Colossians to life in personal and practical ways.
God consistently demonstrates His care and sovereignty over each conference by bringing together just the right people to form our teaching teams. We are so thankful for the sincerity that Sid and Zane Williams brought to our Peru team. God used their stories and illustrations to touch and open hearts in a special way that seemed especially relative to this group.
Our Next Conference
Cameroon and Chad, February 8 – 17, 2019
This will be our first training conference in French speaking Cameroon and we are looking forward to partnering with Pastor Marius, who has a heart to unite the church and develop disciple making movements through authentic relationships with Jesus Christ and one another. We would love for you to follow us on our trip so we can share how the Lord is at work in the lives of these dear couples who serve so faithfully.
We are all grateful for your partnership in this and for your ongoing prayers for these humble servants of the Lord. Thank you!
And the Shepherds’ Support Board:
Steve and Connie Troxel,
David and Beth Butler,
Jack and Nancy Shirley,
Sid and Zane Williams
Our next training conferences are happening soon!
Cameroon and Chad , February 8-17.
May – Ukraine. July – Cuba. August – Belarus and Moldova.