By Rev. Jonathan Baird
Are you ready for an adventure? Then as the bumper sticker says, "Let go and let God." The truth is, is that we are all seeking, or at least we should be seeking, an adventure when it comes to our Christian lives and to the life of our congregations. However, many times we seem to be stuck in the rut of trying to balance the budget and trying to keep the doors to the church open. But, is this what the Christian life and church life are all about? I, for one, don't think so. You see, when we decide to let God, and ourselves, out of the proverbial box and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, life will indeed be an adventure. I know this because the Lord has led me on an adventure that I never thought that I would be on.
A couple years ago, as I was sitting in my office minding my own business, the Lord put it on my heart to teach and equip church leaders and pastors in other parts of the world. I always had a passion for mission work; in fact when I was on the mission field, usually doing humanitarian work, I felt that God's will and my purpose in life connected. After being ordained as a pastor I also found out that one of my God-given gifts and passions was to teach the Bible. Therefore, I knew that what the Lord was asking of me lined up with the gifts that He had given me. But, where to begin? As is usually the case, when the Lord calls us to do something, He doesn't tell us the whole story, but just a little bit of the story at a time. As Psalm 119 says, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Nowhere does it say that God promises to light up the whole path ahead of you.
I knew that those church leaders and pastors, that the Lord wanted me to teach, had very little resources and they could barely afford to travel away from their towns and villages, let alone go to seminary or Bible college. Many times, a group of believers would get together and select the person that they wanted to lead them, but that person had no Biblical training. Very often they were, and still are, working with their hands, to provide enough income to support their family.
Needless to say, they found themselves in over their heads with the pressures and responsibilities of serving the Lord in their respective communities. Therefore, I began the process of putting together a curriculum with three parts. The first is on the Essentials of Christian Leadership, which discusses the basics of our faith, spiritual warfare and the necessity to be filled and led by the Spirit, among many other topics. The second module is on Church Growth based on Acts 2 and the final module focuses on Evangelism.
When I had completed writing these modules I was still in my comfort zone, but now I had to step out of the boat. Therefore, I put together an email to family and friends explaining what the Lord had put on my heart to do and to ask for their prayers and financial support. I remember pressing the send key and praying, "Lord I sure hope that this is your will." I know now that it was indeed the Lord's will because the support that I got was nothing less than miraculous; the Lord Himself provided. The reason that finances were needed is that, unlike in Canada, the one putting on the conference needs to pay for the pastors and church leaders travel expenses and food while at the conference. If this were not provided, very few would be able to attend.
Not only did the Lord provide the resources, He also provided the opportunities.
Rev. Jonathan Baird, right, speaks at Jacmel, Haiti, with interpreter Pastor Placide
The Lord has done some marvelous work through 2nd Wave Ministries with the fewest number of attendees being 117 and the largest group that I taught being nearly 500. This was in Haiti in the towns of Jacmel, Petite Goave and Thiotte. Although I would like to travel to other places, Haiti seems to be the Lord's focus for me at this time.
There is such hunger for God's Word in the lives of these men and women, such hunger to know what the Bible has to say and how to put it into practice for God's glory. The presence of the Lord is so strong during these conferences that I am left in awe when these men and women stand up at the end of a conference and tell of what the Lord has done in their lives through the teaching.
Attendees at Jacmel: "There is such hunger for God's Word in the lives of these men and women."
The Lord has a plan and a purpose for the church in Haiti, in other nations, and in Canada. He also has a plan and purpose for you and your church. How do you tap into that? It is very simple. Tell the Lord that you are available, be prepared to let Him out of the box that Presbyterians sometimes like to put Him in, be prepared to get out of the boat yourself and fix your eyes of faith on Jesus and surround everything that you do with lots and lots of prayer. God is on a mission and He is waiting for all of us to sign up for the adventure of a lifetime.
Postscript, March 9, 2018: God willing, I will be heading back to Thiotte, in the mountains of Haiti, to teach on Church Growth in May. We are expecting even more than our previous 200 pastors and church leaders because in Haiti word spreads quickly. At the first seminar in Thiotte, which was on the Essentials of Christian leadership, some pastors and church leaders did not come because they didn't know me and thought I would teach them some strange doctrines. However, the word is spreading that this teaching is needed to equip the local churches to do all that Jesus has called them to do in their communities. The Lord is moving in mighty ways in these seminars as He corrects, encourages and even rebukes (2 Timothy 4:2) these pastors and church leaders through the 2nd Wave Ministries teaching. God is so good, His Spirit is moving in mighty ways, and it is so exciting to be a part of His work in Haiti. But, you are also part of that work through your prayers and financial support. As you know, in Haiti, these pastors and church leaders need financial help to travel to the seminar and they need to be fed while there. The women of the church do an amazing job cooking for so many over charcoal stoves and all they need is the money to buy the food.
Rev. Jonathan Baird is founder of 2nd Wave Ministries. He is minister at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, Peterborough, Ontario. Email him at <email@example.com>. For more information go to 2ndwaveministries.com