In the fall of 2012 I was with some friends from Phoenix Roasters on a coffee plantation in northwest Panama. Our new friend Lorenzo Caballero (pictured above with Greg Sweatt of Phoenix Roasters) was taking us on a tour of the farm and we stopped for a while by a river and worshiped in a sanctuary not made by human hands. Lorenzo kept repeating one word: multiplication (or rather, multiplicaćion since he was speaking in Spanish).
Years later, I was on a flight to Europe and had sat next to a retired missionary. As we talked I shared with him a goal that I had shared with many people over the years; that my goal for ministry was to replace myself. He challenged me to stop using that phrase, encouraging me to strive to multiply myself rather than replace myself—and he was right. After I really thought about it, I realized that it was the same thing Lorenzo had told us on that warm day under a canopy of leaves by the river. This is the core of disciple-making!
Fast-forwarding to the present, I was recently reminded again of my time with Lorenzo all those years ago. It happened a few weeks ago when I was meeting with a pastor in a small Ukrainian village. He told our group that as he is getting older he is looking for someone to replace him. He pastors in a Gypsy community so not just anyone can take over his ministry; it has to be someone who has a deep love for this specific people group, and that makes it somewhat difficult. For multiple reasons the Gypsy community in Eastern Europe is already not well-loved by most, but this pastor, as well as our friends at Nehemiah House, do love the Gypsy community, and it’s easy to see.
As I heard him speak of the desire to “replace” himself, I thought about Lorenzo and the pastor I had met on that transatlantic flight years ago. I felt compelled to challenge him (as I once had been) to stop thinking about replacement and begin moving towards multiplication. To say he really liked it would be an understatement! In fact, we stopped right there and prayed to God, asking that He would multiply this ministry and this faithful servant’s impact on the world. We have tentative plans to work with this community next year when we return to Ukraine. We hope to hold another Pageant of Hope as we did this year as well as a second one focusing on this pastor’s Gypsy congregation. You can read more about the latest work with the Pageant of Hope in our recent blog post, but here are a few pictures from our recent time in Ukraine!
Over the past year the English Connection has begun to multiply. In January of this year our second team went to Guatemala without me. As much as I missed the chance to see our kids again, I knew that it was a necessary step for our organization. As they served in Guatemala, I returned to Czech Republic to continue the work here. Additionally, this year our friends at Coaling Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, are assisting us in fund-raising for the summer camps we support in Ukraine. This allows us the freedom to take on more opportunities as God opens doors.
Be in prayer for how God can use you in our multiplication process. Whether it is through serving, giving, or praying we want you to be an active part of the multiplication equation God has entrusted to us. We give thanks to God for all that He has done and will continue to do through each of us as we partner together for the sake of the gospel.