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Shepherding A Child’s Heart

The purpose for your authority in the lives of your children is not to hold them under your power, but to empower them to be self-controlled people living freely under the authority of God.”—Ted Tripp
One of the hardest roles in our world is being a godly father and husband. Have you noticed how family men in movie and television roles are often portrayed as lazy, stupid, irrelevant, or “bad guys?” No wonder men often flounder trying to lead their families in godly ways! Every child needs a dad who models the loving ways of our Heavenly Father! As a couple, we bless our fathers for their love, protection, provision, wisdom, and stability through our youth. It would have been very difficult during 23+ years of missionary adventures to persevere and rest in our Lord if we did not have fathers who faithfully follow(ed) and trust(ed) the Great Shepherd to regularly let us see healthy pictures of fatherhood.
This crucial concept of shepherding a heart, rather than trying to direct one like an autocrat, can be hard for pastors to figure out too. In this age, many pastors serve as administrators more than as fellow congregants. As we build-up pastors and lay people to lead Discovery Bible Studies (DBS), an integral spiritual emphasis of Community Health Evangelism (CHE), the struggle in transition is obvious. Pastors relearn ministry. They learn to relinquish their desire for control over the actions of others and instead start modeling trust in the Holy Spirit to use the Word in the small group studies that they oversee to guide the hearts, minds and acts of their flock even when they are not present. The shift of approach leads them to see their role as vital, but more about equipping than commanding. Without the shift, the groups do not multiply. Why? The average believer learns in a DBS to hear the voice of the Chief Shepherd and choose to obey. Participants gradually cease depending on the pastor to solve their every problem and begin to understand their role in leading others to be in the Great Shepherd’s fold. This kind of lay leadership is critical to any church planting movement that can change a nation.
Verlin fellow-shipped this week with one pastor who is making progress in finding a new balance in ministry. Pastor J. oversees about 20 far-flung works for his denomination in our region of Cote d’Ivoire. Though he’d asked us for a motorcycle a year ago, he was recently blessed with one by the faithful of his local church to whom he’d introduced DBS. He has grown to know that he cannot depend on them for everything and see the churches multiply. So he has seriously taken up the gauntlet to train the faithful in his church in DBS so that they can become multipliers as well. At the same time, he has begun raising chickens and has learned how to successfully do bee-keeping from Free Will Baptist pastors we trained in CHE. He represents well the paradigm shift that begins when a church transitions from a maintenance mode mentality to one of growth that uses models which encourage disciple-making movements. In this photo, you see together two fathers who have started over 10 Bible study groups in the last year.
Prayer and Praise
  • Pray for a new DBS that one of our trainers is starting near the marketplace this week. It is designed to help people of another major religion study through the key sacrifices in the Old Testament that led to the final Sacrifice that God provided, Jesus. It’s then a short-step to ‘all who believe will be saved’.
  • Pray that the harvests of hundreds of thousands of believers who have come to Jesus in North Africa and parts of Asia will be duplicated in our area of West Africa.
  • Pray for Christian men to have boldness and confidence in leading their families.
Your partners in the Gospel,
Verlin and Debbie

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