Nicaragua Pastors Conference Update #2
On the first day of our conference here in Managua we were scheduled to start our first session at 10:00 AM. A little before 8:00 AM I headed to the meeting room to go over last minute details and pray with our team.
To my surprise, the line to sign in and pay registration fees was already stretched across the lobby and growing by the minute. As I walked by these early birds, I made eye contact with quite a few of them. Because this is my fourth time to speak here, we exchanged warm smiles and joyful nods.
Several of the pastors jumped out of line to give me big hugs. Despite the language barrier, their message was clear -- thank you so much for coming back to see us again!
One pastor pulled me extra close and whispered in my ear, "Do you know why all these pastors love you so much?" After I shook my head he continued, "It's because you don't just teach us the Bible. You always give us powerful messages we can go home and share in our own churches. That's why even though we have to listen to you through a translator, you're our favorite speaker."
After sincerely thanking him, I continued toward our meeting hall with a brain full of conflicting emotions. I felt grateful, motivated, awkward, humbled, and encouraged all at the same time.
I also felt a little guilty that I was given credit for something that doesn't belong to me.
Like when Peyton Manning gets praised for throwing a touchdown pass and he knows a dozen nameless assistant coaches had called the ideal play after analyzing hours of game film. Not to mention the giant linemen who had protected him long enough to spot his favorite receiver who was wide open after running a perfect route.
That pastor didn't realize it, but he was actually celebrating the DNA of Walk Thru the Bible. It was bred into me by leaders who came before me. And hopefully it will characterize everything we do long after I'm gone.
We try to always train as we teach. To equip as we encourage.
Our ministry has never been about sending Americans to wow the rest of the world with our communication gifts. We exist to empower nationals to serve their own people with excellence and passion. We live for the miracle of spiritual multiplication that Paul challenged Timothy to pursue in 2 Timothy 2:2.
As I greeted the rest of our team, I broke out in a huge smile. That pastor had no idea that this year's conference was going to be even better than previous years. After my three messages on Barnabas and the power of encouragement, Alejandro and Victor from Honduras will present six sessions of our new church-wide Bible engagement campaign, called God's Grand Story.
And during their final session they will give each pastor a DVD with all six sermons and small group lessons voiced over in Spanish along with a reproducible workbook. Each hungry pastor will head home with everything he or she needs to launch their own campaign to ignite passion for God's Word in their own church.
And by the end of that final session, I'll be flying home to Atlanta, and all 240 pastors will just have to find somebody else to hug!