I’m not always good at being a friend. In fact, I prefer to be alone most times. In that sense, it is difficult for me to be pastoral. Thank God we’ve got others on our ministry team that fill in those gaps and help me to be more of what’s needed for the people we serve as a unit. We’ve got some with pastoral gifts, others very powerful in evangelism, some with apostolic & didactic characteristics, and yes, some prophetic.
In the Cloud Forest Region of Ecuador, where we serve, and in the myriad of pocketed communities, we have a solid Ephesians 4:11 team who have developed and who have grown together for the glory of God and His service of worship. (Romans 12:1) Mult-generational discipleship has happened, IS HAPPENING, and will continue to happen as long as we remain committed and faithful to the call each of us have as individuals and as a team.
A couple of weeks ago, one on our team was offered a well-paying job in another region of Ecuador. It was one of those opportunities that was too good to pass up. Normally, I’d be very excited for a person that had this kind of opportunity. But, he is the most “pastoral” among us. His leaving our team would have left a gaping ministry hole in the region. I didn’t have the opportunity to counsel with him during his decision-making process. He told me of it afterwards.
After spending much time in prayer and talking with his family, he decided to stay on in the region and not only continue, but “step up” his pastoral work with the people and with us. Some of you reading this have met him. Some of you have assisted him financially. Some of you have prayed with, laughed with, and have been inspired by him. He is truly one of the humblest people I know. He’s been part of our “Discipleship Group” for over 4 years and continues to surprise me with his capacity for serving others. His theology, mostly, works out through his friendship.
Bottom line, he decided to stay. He gave up what could have been a lucrative financial blessing for him and his family and with great discernment, recognized that his departure would have adversely affected the current work of service. Even though my wife and I have sacrificed much for ministry and continue to work in a region where no others wish to, we were both humbled by his example. He’s a friend to us and to those to whom he ministers. But, he is also friend of God.