Beloved Family, Friends, and Partners in Ministry,
Greetings from the balmy breezes of the northern shoreline of Honduras! We have just concluded our Discipleship Training Conference here in El Porvenir this afternoon and we wanted to share our extreme gratitude for your investment of your prayers and your finances, which made this experience possible. Just to remind you, Cindy and I have been serving alongside of our dear friends and colleagues in ministry, Billy and Donna Hires. All four of us are overwhelmed by the ways the Lord made Himself known during the week. We were privileged to hear the first-hand testimonies of the participants as they shared with the entire group during our Celebration Service this afternoon.
Since you couldn’t be here to witness our time together, we have sent along a few pictures that give you a glimpse of the precious women and men that we have been training throughout the week. We have also copied below some of the responses of the participants as they reflected on what God has been saying and how He has been working in and through their lives as a result of their participation.
Three of the men shared that they have already been using the discipleship materials, which they had experienced, and that we had given them after our training sessions. They were immediately implementing this new material in their churches and in small groups.
One man put it this way, “You took off your belts and spanked us, but we received it with joy. It was a deep word shared with God’s grace. We were not resistant to your message, even though it was not easy to hear.”
“We now understand that we have a responsibility to pass the baton of the Gospel to others.”
“I realize it is my responsibility, not only my pastor’s, to make disciples! The church is NOT to revolve around the pastor, but the ‘Great Commission’ is for the entire church family.”
“We are challenged to move outside our comfort zones [to make disciples of all peoples]!”
“I was awakened by the disobedient example of Jonah as he turned away from God’s command. Missions is hard work and we must have God’s heart for other people groups. We must be more passionate about the lost than about our own comfort and security.”
One of the women stood up and shared how moved she was as she heard the first ten testimonies from men and how their lives had been transformed by the training. She saw and heard a serious commitment to disciplemaking along with action plans regarding what these men hope to accomplish.
In speaking of Billy and myself, one of the men said, “It was great to meet men who will go anywhere to teach about making disciples.”
One of the men is a college professor in a Bible school and he has committed to train ten pastors with the materials that we provided him with this week. He is meeting with them this Sunday to go over the strategy and will assign them five men each to begin discipling. As he said to all of us, “So many times we receive teaching of the Word, but we don’t put it into practice!”
One man said: “I have learned that our mission is not just to evangelize, but to make disciples. When we evangelize, the people many times soon fall away or simply don’t grow. We have learned that when we disciple others, then they will remain in the faith. We need to pass the baton to others!”
One woman mentioned, “I have learned the task is not only for pastors, but for all of us! Bless you and please come back giving us these precious lessons.”
One pastor said with great passion as he faced his Honduran brothers and sisters, “They (North Americans) came to tell us what we were not doing. They see great qualities in us to be great teachers. We are not ignorant; we’re just disobedient. They came and spoke to us and we all said, ‘Amen!’ But if a Honduran says it (the teachings we presented about making disciples and joining Jesus in His mission) we say, ‘who is this brother who has come to criticize us? We have become a mediocre church! Do the missionaries have to come and tell us to believe what God’s Word has been saying to us all along? If they see the work we can do, they will say, ‘We don’t have to come back again to Honduras!”
During our celebration time, Humberto and three other pastors demonstrated the process of discipleship by passing the baton from one to the other to show how we pass the treasure of the Gospel. Following the men, the women demonstrated the truth of how Timothy came to faith (II Timothy 1:5). Cindy represented his grandmother and passed it to Elizabeth, representing Timothy’s mother, and she passed it to “Timothy” who was Elizabeth’s 15 year old daughter, Basty, who gave her heart to Jesus on Thursday afternoon. Basty then passed the baton throughout the
congregation representing all the disciples who would come to faith!!
We closed our celebration by having the fifty participants move to the sides of our meeting room and walk among the nine flags that were hanging around the room and pray for God to move among his people in that country. It was a powerful and humbling sight to behold as these precious Hondurans passionately prayed for these neighboring countries. Then as a grand finale, we asked them to all come downstairs and gather around the Honduran flag and pray for God to move mightily throughout their own country. This was an experience that I wish each of you could have experienced. It was powerful!
Cindy and I can’t begin to thank you enough for standing with us in our new role and for believing in us as we seek to train up national leaders to disciple the nations. We feel very inadequate for the task, but at the same time we feel that God has been preparing us throughout our lives for such a strategic opportunity as this.
Looking forward to seeing you soon and sharing with you in person what God has done among us this week.
With gratitude and appreciation,
Denny & Cindy Heiberg