Part pastoral trainer, part curriculum developer, Ms. L has authored Bible courses for rural pastors over the last 30 years of her full-time missionary work. With a lifelong training background that originated from twelve years teaching high school to then teaching aspiring pastors and leaders at a Bible college, she now uses her skills and training to draft easy to understand and distribute Bible courses.
Australia serves as the home base for this roving missionary. Her curriculum has traveled across most continents and been used in about 15 countries. Now she wants to share her resources with the pastoral leaders and trainers of the GProCommission!
We are excited to share her work with you so that you can train more pastors effectively to the glory of God. Ms. L has materials available in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian and Malagasy. To request a resource in any of these languages, please email us and put “rural resource request” in the subject line.
Read on for our full interview with Ms. L below:
GProCommission: What is the biggest challenge you face in training rural pastors?
“I suppose it is that I do not train a lot consistently, directly, face to face, as every few months, I am usually in a different country. When I visit a region, my role is more to equip the head pastors (who were my former Bible college students many years ago) with adequate material for the pastors in outlying areas that they minister to directly. Often, they take me to do a regional rural pastors conference, but I may not get back there again.
“This photo is of about 69 pastors in Malawi who had never been able to have any formal or Bible training themselves and lived in remote areas. I ran into leaders there and we set up a three-month school where they could come to train. They would stay at the local Bishop’s property, sleeping on mats on the floor in poor conditions, just to get the training. I left the Bishop 69 photocopies of about 20 courses in English and some in Portuguese for those living near the Mozambican border. That was two days of photocopying, but the copies provided two years worth of three-month courses of five-day training sessions.”
“The number inflated to over 80 rural pastors, but sadly the Bishop died towards the very end of the two years. His wife continued the work, held the graduation for those dedicated rural pastors, and also faithfully kept teaching the 21 stragglers so they could finish as well. Those 69 pastors are now back out in their villages and rural churches, using the same photocopies we gave out each three months to train their church members. Most of their church members are illiterate.”
GProCommission: What is the biggest challenge you face in writing these courses?
“My biggest challenge is to provide outlying rural leaders with clear, relatively brief courses (for easy photocopying) on a subject area for which they or the church don’t have a firm biblical foundation. In many of the rural churches, even if the people have Bibles, they can’t read/understand them much, especially if their education levels are low, because the Bible translation they use is usually the King James, which uses word forms (thees and thous) they have never heard of.”
“Hence, the simple courses I write on a book of the Bible, e.g. Romans, are only twelve or so pages long and designed to encourage the people to read the Bible and follow through, as they do their weekly lesson, chapter by chapter, in the church together. Thus, such courses are not complex, only focusing on one or two main concepts in the chapter rather than a verse by verse exegesis, which would overwhelm them.”
GProCommission: How many pastors are you committed to training each year?
“It doesn’t work like that because I am always moving around. In Bolivia, I taught at least three or four regional pastor’s meetings of over fifty leaders each and left them some copies of courses. Many will duplicate and get these out to their networks. But I will probably not see those pastors for three more years, so I can’t really say that I am training them myself. Obviously, it is not formal (traditional) training, but more filling in gaps and strengthening weaker areas.
“One example is a young man in Kenya, who I met by ‘accident’ at a conference. He asked for my email, then took my courses, and over the last few years has planted a solid church simply using the courses–not that I recommend this, exactly, as I hope he is preaching and writing his own material by now, too.”
GProCommission: How long have you been training pastors?
“I have been doing full-time missionary work for nearly thirty years and in the last ten years, particularly, the Lord has narrowed my focus to helping with and providing written biblical material/courses especially for rural pastors who have never had the opportunity to go to Bible college or access to reference books or the Internet.”
GProCommission: How did you get into pastoral training?
“Out of the blue, God called me to be a missionary in Bolivia. Over the years I noted that usually there were enough workers/missionaries in most areas except for those equipping, training and encouraging rural church planters who had little biblical training. So I aimed to fill this gap wherever I was. God opened doors and I just kept going. I would often invest in strong leaders by purchasing as many good Christian books as I could find, but then noticed that they couldn’t read thick and more ‘complex’ commentaries, etc., so I then began to write my simple, short courses which weren’t as intimidating.”
“As I see it, many rural pastors already are great in evangelism, presenting the Gospel and getting people saved because they know their culture, language, etc., far better than any foreigner. However, many lack discipleship and training. So my courses focus more on discipleship and biblical training material, especially as the main or only Bible translation available in some areas in some languages (Spanish, Portuguese and Russian, for example) is still King James.”
GProCommission: What is your ministry and educational background?
“My ministry background is serving as an Australian Assemblies of God missionary for twenty years (mainly in Bolivia, Mozambique, and Ukraine), and then ten years permanent itinerant ministry basically as an Aaron or Hur, helping and better equipping the permanent ‘Moses on the ground’ national pastors, etc., and especially rural pastors. Education-wise, I have a BA in Bible and Theology and also a Masters in Theology.”
GProCommission: What is your action plan?
“I don’t really have one; when it’s time, I just go to the next country, pray and look at what the main areas of need are and then do my part to fill it by writing and teaching. Really excited that I am going to Spain next to work with Bolivian immigrant church planters there. Although they do not really have the same challenges of a rural church, many things are similar. Bolivians appreciate the written material, especially as many of my contacts there come from a basic educational background.”
GProCommission: How much do the courses cost?
“They are all available free to anybody [with] no obligation, [and] no need to use my name. I am not looking for promotion, fame or a name, etc., just to be a little link in the chain, to increase the training of–especially–rural pastors, many of whom have lower literacy levels, have had little opportunity to go to Bible college, or have little access to biblical and theological resources, etc. That is my main vision.”
GProCommission: How many courses are available and in what language?
“I have written 30 – 35 courses for training rural pastors or planting rural churches. Most are 10 – 12 lessons on a topic and the whole course outline is under 20 pages to enable cheap and easy photocopying and distribution. About 30 of the courses are in English and Spanish, 20 are translated into Portuguese, and a couple each are in French, Malagasy and Russian. Although I speak Spanish and Portuguese and used to speak Russian, I hired professional national translators to do these, so the language is good.”
GProCommission: What do the courses consist of?
“The courses are designed to be biblical, of course, and are quite simple, but also very practical and full of various applications, testimonies, and stories, that are important to Africans and Latinos especially. Most courses on a topic consist of 10 – 12 lessons, and each page is a lesson outline. I have mostly tried to keep the courses under twenty A4-sized pages for various reasons, for example, low literacy in many rural church planters or their new congregations, or cheap photocopying in these countries if the leaders want to send out their new church planters with a couple of courses. Many rural pastors in some countries where I work won’t try to read thick or small-print books as they are too complex or daunting for their literacy levels.”
GProCommission: How do the courses work?
“Although simple, the idea is that the person leading the group, whether new church planter or cell group leader, can take the page lesson outline, seek God, and then expand it or delete parts before he actually gives the lesson. The lessons are in Word and not PDF software format partly for this reason, but also because in some countries (like Bolivia), the page sizes, page formats, and printer formats are different than mine and one lesson does not fit on one page without adjustment, etc. If anyone wants to use any of the materials, they should feel free to format or change them in any way.”
GProCommission: What materials were you able to use from the GProCongress?
“I loved most of the parallel sessions and testimonies, but particularly I used a lot of the day session teachings on growing healthy pastors, healthy churches, and healthier societies. I wrote a basic course using this material. That material, in particular, helped me to minister better to rural pastors in Bolivia the last eight months, and I will use it in the future wherever I go.”
GProCommission: What did you learn through the GProCongress?
“I loved the focus on how healthy pastors lead to healthy churches, which lead to a healthy, Christ-impacted society–loved this so much that I wrote a mini-course summary on this. One thing truly memorable was getting to meet many rural pastors from different nations. Although sometimes with the heavy rain I was stuck on the bus three hours, it was a hidden blessing because I was able to listen to multiple pastors’ stories and offer them the courses. Many were delighted and wrote me afterward, and I was able to email them courses as attachments.
“After the GProCongress, delegates from Kenya to Rwanda to Haiti, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, India, Kenya, Myanmar and more, requested the courses by email, and I sent off many batches. On receiving them, they were very grateful. Some said they used the courses at pastoral training sessions, most particularly liked the one ’Becoming More like Jesus,’ and many asked me to visit them, do conferences, etc., which hasn’t been really possible as I am on my own circuits, but I will consider popping in if I am in the vicinity in the future, as my health holds.”
We are delighted to share Julia’s resources with you. To request a resource in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Malagasy and Russian, simply email us and put “rural resource request” in the subject line. Please write and let us know how you are using these courses so that we may share and rejoice over the testimonies together!