Petros Network’s holistic approach trains indigenous leaders to put the gospel into practice so that all of life in their village will be lifted for the better. In the developing world, religious leaders are often highly respected figures in their communities. Sometimes this is due to people’s respect for spiritual leaders, but more often, it is because they fear them. For example, there is common folklore in Ethiopia and Sudan that some spiritual leaders hold the power to turn into hyenas or other animals. If displeased, this allows “the priest” to conceal their human identity, and attack with the intent to control, hurt, or steal. Then again, some religious leaders walk in extreme piety or wear ritualistic robes to be set aside and worshipped as those closest to God. Whatever method of spiritual intimidation the religious leader may use, this can be confusing to people as their hearts long to form a connection with a God who loves them and cares for them.
Showing a Different Way
When our missionary church planters go into their unreached communities, they want to demonstrate they are “different” than the other religious leaders, drawing hearts not to themselves, but to Jesus. The process is simple. Missionary church planters teach people to love God with their whole hearts and to love others in the same way they love themselves. The combination of the great commission and the great commandment (two hands of the Gospel) pleases the heart of God and produces a Redemptive Lift in that community.
Tesfaye’s Story of Redemptive Lift
“I accepted Jesus into my heart at a conference I attended with my friends. After that, God gave me a burden to share the Good News of Jesus with others. When the opportunity came to join Petros Network as a missionary church planter, I knew it was God’s calling on my life. I am serving in a difficult area where most people are Muslim or believe in traditional religions. I am a spiritual leader, and I am trying to share that I am not like the Muslims and not like the other “religious leaders.”
Sharing the Good News of Jesus is at the forefront of my heart. I pray every day that God would give me more opportunities to share his love with others. God has been faithful to answer this request. It has been only a year, and God has blessed my ministry. He has helped me to share the Good News of Jesus with 451 people. Fifty-eight people made the decision to follow Jesus, and 75 have been baptized in water. I have 6 new leaders in my church, helping me to care for the people. We have many challenges, but God continues to use me to build his church!
Missionary Church Planter = Transformational Leader
Petros Network teaches us to be Transformational Leaders. We are to SHARE the Good News of Jesus and BE the Good News. This is the Jesus way. Being a follower of Christ means showing the love of Christ, especially when it is difficult. Galatians 6:2-10 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This Gospel way is not like the other religions or beliefs of my people.
A Tragedy Creates an Opportunity
The rainy season in Ethiopia is very big. For days and days, it rains and rains. There is often flooding, and it can be dangerous as rushing water takes over the land. Flooding in my area has caused thirty of my church members to lose their homes. Thirteen families have also lost their farms! The buildings were destroyed, and the land was disrupted and made bare as the water overtook it all. This means people were left to die without hope. The people cried out and were afraid. God strengthened my heart to collect wood, sheet metal, and other materials to rebuild the demolished houses. As their pastor, I encouraged my people and helped to care for them as I have shown them how to live and love like Jesus. First, I pray with them about what concerns them. Next, I invited some of them into my home or found temporary housing for their family.
Showing the Jesus Way
This has been a big tragedy! It has also been a time to show the love of God, and teach people how to trust in Jesus as our source of help. As I share my faith in Jesus, not every opportunity produces a miracle, and not every conversation has an ‘ah ha’ moment. However, God’s ways are not our own, so sometimes something as simple as sharing my home could be exactly what is needed to draw a heart to Jesus.
I am so grateful to be sponsored to serve God with my whole heart and life.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Sending out Church Planters + Providing Compassion and Care
Produces Redemptive Lift