International (MNN) — Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re invincible; it means your hope rests in Someone who is.
In today’s world where headlines consist of record disease breakouts, child beheadings, refugee crises, and you name any number of violent conflicts, it can be easy to forget that.
Global Advance exists to reaffirm, encourage, and strengthen pastors and church leaders around the world in their pursuit to carry out the Great Commission. They believe God has appointed these leaders around the world in a timely and purposeful fashion.
Dr. David Shibley of Global Advance says, “We believe that God has sovereignly positioned pastors and church leaders and marketplace leaders all over the world: positioned them for the fulfilling of the Great Commission that they have indeed come to the Kingdom for such a time as this.
“And as antagonism to the Gospel is growing around the world, these courageous men and women are raising up a wonderful standard that is not only holding back forces that are against the Christian faith, but also they are advancing the cause of Christ around the world.”
Such a time as this
All around the world, Christians are facing violence, opposition, financial hardship, etc. These struggles are not always a result of their faith, but they will almost always result in their faith being tested.
The Middle East is an especially dangerous place to be a Christian right now. Shibley says, “As we know, there is enormous attack against Christians in many pockets of the Middle East. But it’s also spreading. So this month in August, we are involved in four training events in three different nations.”
These summer marketplace events not only equip leaders with practical business skills, but it also encourages them.
Shibley says, “We go to encourage pastors as much as we can in those very areas.”
The pastors Shibley and his team are going to minister to are from a city that is under siege, historically a Christian city now overrun by Islamic radicals.
“Some churches have been burned; Christians’ homes have been torched and burned. These pastors live under constant threat, as do their families.
“So yes, the scene has changed. We need to refresh them and encourage them and to come in from the outside to them to let them know that they’re not forgotten by the rest of the Body of Christ. This is enormously important, and that’s why we’re going in the name of Jesus to strengthen these truly frontline shepherds.”
And they do need some encouragement, as Shibley explains. “We are seeing in many of our conferences now and training events up to 30% of pastors who have been seriously contemplating leaving ministry– discouragement coming from all sides, not just the standard discouragements that are part of ministry.”
On top of violence, financial challenges continue to be a real struggle.
Encouraging one another
“But we’re also seeing the grace of God come into play, and wonderful things are happening in the lives of many of these pastors and church leaders,” Shibley says.
He is confident that this month they will encourage many beleaguered pastors in their lives, families, and ministries.
This is how they work: “We stand by them and train them in the very best way that’s known, and that is face-to-face. I think it’s very important to get in their world and to encourage them to come in from the outside and to literally come alongside them and to identify with them. And when we can to go to the churches, to go to their homes, to pray with their families.”
These meetings are temporary, but their effects are long-lasting.
“That can take them for a very long way–just knowing that someone really cares who represents the Body of Christ from another part of the world,” Shibley says.
The team plans to pray individually with the pastors and church leaders, to provide ongoing training and new resources. They want to encourage them with the long-term view that the Lord is in control, watching.
Going to these events can be risky for national pastors. Sometimes they are martyred heading to the conference or leaving it.
Shibley asks that you pray for their safety. He asks that you pray for the teams as well with the outbreak of disease. Pray for God’s Spirit to grace and anoint the teams so they might minister effectively.
“Scripture is very clear.” Shibley says: “We are one Body of Christ, and when one member suffers, we all suffer. When one member rejoices, we all rejoice. And so, just to identify with them and to come in solidarity with them is going to be a great thing.”
To learn more about marketplace missions with Global Advance, click here.