Barren desert was not what I’d imagined as the terrain of northeastern Brazil. Natanael, a discipleship-mission director I met at our Annual Equipping Event in Sao Paulo described the desperate need, both spiritually and physically in this drought-stricken region of Piaui. It was here that the Lord led him and his wife Viviane, to partner with nearby churches to bring the gospel to a village with little hope and no believers.
The first discipleship school was founded on prayer, so the disciple-makers eagerly responded to an invitation to pray for a sick young woman. She was healed and became the first follower of Jesus in that town.
As a good mentor and discipler, Natanael is not afraid to get his hands dirty and work alongside his apprentices. Students from the second discipleship training began building a church / discipleship school with Natanael in that town. There are now 7 followers of Jesus and about 25 people from 4 families that gather for worship and teaching. Natanael has plans for the 3rd training school this summer and to dig a well that will benefit the entire community in which they serve.
It was in early March that Natanael, along with 40 directors and staff from Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama and Brazil, met for a time of encouragement and equipping for our discipleship program directors. We were hosted at a youth camp and seminary just outside Sao Paulo, Brazil, where we received some great teaching and workshops on the theme, “In the Name of Jesus”.
Highlights included worship, teaching and friendships formed over ping pong and the most lopsided pool-table imaginable.
We also took home significant nuggets of wisdom on mentoring and multiplying leaders. A good mentor:
- gives of oneself
- needs to be teachable as well
- is objective, direct and honest
- maintains confidentiality
- models what they teach
- doesn’t use the mentee for one’s own ends, but helps them reach their potential
- observes, listens and cares
- helps identify gifting
- motivates towards growth
- shares the secrets of their success
These Annual Equipping Events also provide opportunity for mutual encouragement, prayer and fasting, accountability, nurturing mentoring relationships, and training for more effective leadership. They help fan the flame and renew vision so that local clusters of churches will keep on reaching out to those who are unreached with the Gospel. Events like this one in Brazil are integral to maintaining an average rate of retention of 82% of our discipleship-mission training programs.
Please pray for Natanael and the other Latin American disciple-makers that are training and reaching those with little hope in their region, with the love of Jesus. Pray that the practical help and Good News lived out by these disciple-makers would transform their region, for God’s kingdom.
by Jason Pohl, Canadian Director