Project Description

A Glimpse of the GProCongress

June 14, 2016

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Greetings from Bangkok (1 min 55 sec)

Ramesh sends his greetings from the GProCongress venue right before thousands of pastoral trainers from over 100 countries gathered. To view the video, click the image above.

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GProCongress Preparation (1 min 37 sec)

To get a glimpse of the GProCongress venue and the on-site team as they prepare for this historic event, click on the image above.

June 15, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (1 min 50 sec)

Click the image above for the on-the-ground footage from the GProCongress!

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GProCongress Begins!

Planes arrived from many nations today, filling Suvarnabhumi Airport with thousands of GProCongress participants. As these men and women boarded buses for the Impact Convention Center, a palpable excitement lay thicker in the air than even Thailand’s muggy tropical summer. Dr. Richard would later tell these pastoral trainers in his opening address that today began a historic gathering of “critical people in God’s scheme of things,” who were “doing something on a large scale to make a dent in the quickly growing number of new believers needing shepherding pastors.” But even before Dr. Richard’s speech began, as these pastoral trainers funneled through registration lines and dinner lines, it was clear that they felt the historic nature of this opportunity. Old friends reunited, new friendships quickly formed, and leaders from countries far and near filled the hall bursting with readiness to tell someone why they were here and about the great need of the many hundreds of thousands of people in their nations they hoped to reach with the Gospel of Christ through the multiplying of trained pastors.

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Four Great Realities Drive Us to Action

“Sawasdee!

Hello from Thailand” and “Greetings in the name of the Most High God the Lord Jesus Christ.” Thus began the opening ceremony of the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers. Participants filled an expansive hall this evening, raising phones to capture the lifting of thousands of voices of praise to the Lord in a unity of purpose: to accelerate the training of pastors worldwide for the sake of church health and societal health globally. Ramesh reminded us of four great realities that drive us to action: (1) The world population has reached 7.4 billion people, and our efforts to reach them must accelerate along with population growth; (2) Each day, 50,000 new believers are baptized, creating a need for 1,000 more trained pastors to shepherd them well; (3) In the next four years, 5 million new faith communities will be planted, yet at the current rate, up to 70 percent of them will fail in the first year; (4) While at least 2.2 million pastoral leaders are functioning as shepherds, only 5 percent of them are trained for pastoral ministry. The need is great. The energy here to attack the need and launch a new initiative of connected, strengthened pastors is also great. Praise be to God Most High. Pray with us that participants will settle quickly in their accommodations and be refreshed from jetlag so they can approach the coming morning with the same passion and energy.

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The Greatest of These Is Love

A great presence of love, humility, courage, and wisdom filled the start of the GProCongress. These are the characteristics of a great Thai leader “who walked with God, and then was not.” Though mourning the untimely passing just 47 days ago of friend and fellow GProCongress visionary, Rev. “Enoch” Yuttasak Sirikul, Dr. Richard and several of the Thai organizers sensed his loving presence with them as they dined together before the opening ceremony, celebrating the work that had gone before and the work to come in the next four years, and especially the work of a man who had a vision to see Thailand and the world grow in faith. Rev. Sirikul’s wife Laya and son Noel joined them for the meal and were honored on stage during the opening ceremony. In every venue of today, Thai volunteers from Campus Crusade and iServe reflected Rev. Sirikul’s smiling hospitality and his love, humility, courage, and wisdom. We thank them greatly for the service they are providing to so many. Please join us in praising God for the way in which He has continued Dr. Sirikul’s work through the Rev. Dr. Manoch Jangmook, who quickly took Dr. Sirikul’s place to keep the Congress on schedule.

June 16, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (1 min 49 sec)

Click the image above for the footage of parallel tracks and worship times at the GProCongress!

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Planning

After praying and hearing from God’s Word (2 Timothy 1), participants today gathered in the exhibit hall with fresh faces, eager to meet the table groups that they will strategize with all week. Dr. Richard reminded them of the work ahead: “This is a working Congress, not an inspirational event. It is a working, planning, thinking, praying event.”

Table mates got to work Seeing the Need, hungry to launch into discussions of what it means to be unhealthy pastors, both for themselves and for the pastors they train. In support of one another, they asked the question, “How do we do this together?” A loud murmur rose in the room as praying and thinking and planning began in earnest for their individual contexts. 

In the afternoon, participants chose one of eight tracks moderated by experienced leaders. These tracks began drilling down to specific issues, developments, curricula, and innovations in six areas of pastoral engagement: Biblical, Theological, Spiritual, Missional, Cultural, Educational, as well as Opportunities and Obstacles in Pastoral Training. As with the plenary sessions, translation was available in several languages, including French, Spanish, Thai, and Arabic.

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Praise and Prayer

Time flew by in the evening session as the air charged with worship. Joy and tears and celebration arose to the Lord. Dr. Bekele Shanko said, “We in this room are enough to change the world. But first we must be changed.” Men and women turned to one another and confessed their sins and failings, releasing them to God.

After today, after this week, after the next four years, “The world will never be the same again,” Bishop Ephraim said, “but many of you have rarely heard words of thanks.” Participants offered encouragement and appreciation to one another for their service and their sacrifice. Sister H, prostrate before the Lord in prayer, broke into tears when she heard the words, “I appreciate all you have done in the name of the Lord.” Leaders, pastors, and lovers of the Lord, men and women of many organizations, many local churches, many nations and continents–all over the room, they joined hands and raised them in unity and celebration as one body. Those at the GProCongress have initiated a vision, a way forward, for bringing health to the bride of Christ. Please pray for the days ahead.

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“You Are the Blessing People!”

Pastor M raises up disciples in his church while trying to find enough resources to clothe and feed and educate the poor children of his community.

Pastor A must determine how to support the pastors he trains as they plant churches in rural villages in India, where no work and no tithes are available to support their ministry.

Reverend M works to train pastors in his area of Kenya and has been dismayed to discover some of the pastors don’t even have a Bible.

Despite immense adversity in gaining a visa, a visa that finally arrived only ten minutes before his flight was to leave, Pastor T knew God was calling him to come to the GProCongress. God has shown him the cost of untrained pastors in his area. He knows Bangkok is where he must be this week to increase the health of the churches in Cameroon, even if his wife was the only one in his church to understand his persistence and sacrifice to come.

Sister L cares for 153 orphans in Thailand. She looks at all the nations represented around her, and her smile lights up the room. She sees the thousands of pastoral trainers and funders and facilitators, the coaches, the staff, the volunteers, the people of many tongues but one Lord. “You are the Blessing People!” she says, “the blessing people who have come to Thailand, and through you my country will begin to know the true God.” These “Blessing People” will change the world.

June 17, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (1 min 18 sec)

Click the image above for the footage of Congress participants strategizing with one another, praying and encouraging each other.

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Energetic Engagement

Before this Congress, vast miles stood between these thousands of representatives from over 100 nations. Now at the end of day two, that distance has shrunk. Energetic communities are forming as Congress participants eagerly engage with each other, digging into the problem of the unhealthy church. These communities will become a heartbeat that soothes the isolation of leadership, pumps resources to pastors, and nourishes the body of Christ by continuing and accelerating the training of pastors.

From this connected and strengthened position, pastors will fulfill the mission of the church, the great call to make Christ known throughout the earth. The mission is glorious, but requires much courage, as speaker Pastor Oscar Muriu, Senior Pastor of Nairobi Chapel, reminded those gathered for the evening plenary session: “No great advances have been made for Christianity by men and women who are unwilling to give up their lives. The one who wishes to live for Christ must die to self.” Those who are only pretending, Muriu said, will flinch at the moment of testing.

“Yes,” he added, “it is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows by cultivating an insignificant life.” Each one must answer for him or herself this question: “Do you want to be brave or safe?”

With the heartbeat of community over the next four years, God willing, we will be brave together.

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GProConnext

Participants have enjoyed widespread collaboration and encouragement the past couple days, but the history-making Congress ends in five days. What then? With GProConnext, the community and resources of the Congress follow them home to continue connecting, uniting, and strengthening the participants for the next four years and beyond.

GProConnext.com gives continued access to personal coaches for strategy and accountability, ongoing forums for training and best practices, and an ocean of resources in many languages. Chat tools that translate languages will allow, for instance, an Arabic-speaking pastor to chat directly and in real time with a Spanish-speaker.

Detail from a US visa document. Selective focus with point of focus in the center of the picture. Note to image inspector: the speckly edges (which could be mistaken as being sharpening artifacts) are actually due to the metallic ink used in the printing process.

When Visas Don’t Come

As many have heard, some local embassies in the embarking countries greatly delayed and then denied visas to pastors planning on attending the Congress, costing these pastors dearly in lost funds, time, and opportunity. In the strength of the Lord, however, these pastors have helped one another to find ways and means to travel back to their hometowns. Many have let us know over the past two days how they continue in prayer for the success of the Congress in its historic mission.

We mourn with them over the suffering they encountered on the Lord’s behalf, and we share with them the disappointment of their not being here with us. We also invite them to stay closely in touch with us as we march forward to decrease the deficit in pastoral training. GProConnext.com will allow them (and others who could not attend the Congress for various reasons) access to the vital connections, training, resources, and coaching the Congress has launched for pastoral trainers worldwide.

June 18, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (1 min 10 sec)

Click the image above for the on-the-ground footage, including an inspiring clip of Congress participants praising the Lord in their own languages.

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Embracing Brokenness

As the last notes of the lively praise music wound to a close, the morning emcee asked again Pastor Muriu’s question, “What are you living for that was worth Christ’s dying for?” Silence spread through the venue. As much as all participants here desire to live for Christ–some even dare die for Christ–they know that we often fail to die to self. And when we have unhealthy pastors and unhealthy churches, unhealthy societies have nothing to rein in their disease.

Dr. Jesus Sampedro, cofounder of Global Leadership Consulting, spoke of the five characteristics of unhealthy societies: a distortion of reality, a corruption of self, lost significance for individuals, a collective loss of hope, and erosion of the spiritual capital of a nation. Then participants got to work at their tables, confessing the unhealthy aspects of their specific contexts. It began as a somber, vulnerable examination of unhealth in our societies. Then tentative suggestions grew to spirited reflection as table groups began to lay bare the problems and the church’s role in perpetuating them, such as focusing our prayer on our own misery and not also for others, or retreating from society rather than engaging it.

Participants began to recognize the great need to address the issues of society from the inside out. It is not enough to preach a portion of the Gospel, but we must teach the whole counsel of God and the transformed life. We must embrace the reality of our brokenness and our role in healing society.

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Balancing Act: GProConnext

For too long an unhealthy rivalry has festered between the formal and nonformal sectors of pastoral training. One issue has been whether to prioritize the speed of delivery (nonformal) or the quality (formal). Other contentions address ease of access, cost, and the benefits of a systematic approach. Saturday morning, the two groups took steps toward a reconciliatory stance.

Four panel members (two from each sector) stood on stage in a meeting of hearts and minds and confessed what their respective sectors often did poorly. They acknowledged that they should respect the strengths and needs of each other. Participant questions brought out further distinctions and developments that each sector has begun to adopt to counter its weaknesses. It turns out that the formal sectors have begun to find more ways to provide access to pastors with more diverse economic and education backgrounds. At the same time, many in the nonformal sector have seen the benefits of a more systematized approach that allows for easy access yet also delivers a greater depth to those who wish to continue into higher levels.

As one speaker noted, the GProCongress has reached yet another unique moment in history. Throughout the next four years and beyond, “GProConnext will play the role of joining the best of each sector and putting both sides on an equal level.” Access to training expertise from both formal and nonformal sectors is just another reason to log into GProConnext.com.

June 19, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (4 min 57 sec)

Click the image above to view footage of the global communion service and a joyful reunion of Dallas and national GPA graduates.

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Every Tribe and Tongue and People and Nation

As the GProCongress participants gathered today to worship the Lord, they sang “How Great Is Our God.” The words rose from their lips in a multitude of languages, but from their hearts in a unity of praise. Then, as they read portions of Revelation 4 in concert, the sense of being with the saints before the Lord’s throne filled the room so distinctly that the people burst into sustained cheers and celebration. It was a privileged glimpse of burning hot worship from a multitude of tribes and tongues and people and nations, a rare occurrence on this side of heaven.

Kindle Anew

Dr. Ramesh Richard, convener of the Global Proclamation Congress, further strengthened his brothers and sisters in the Lord, reminding them that “Your ministry itself is a gift, not a burden.” He exhorted them, “If you want to quit your ministry tonight, okay, then quit tonight. But in the morning, start afresh. Kindle anew the fire of your ministry daily. Fan the flames. Your fuel comes from God and will never run out.”

Blessing the Thai Ministry

Dr. Richard asked the Congress to participate as the Lord led them in an offering for the Thai Campus Crusade for Christ to train more young servant leaders like the ones that have so faithfully and diligently served all week. Participants gave generously, many from their own need, and about $14,000 (USD) was collected, enough to send 280 Thai students to a week-long training.

Communion

Participants capped the powerful message and worship time with a celebration of communion. Representatives from every inhabited continent stood before the congregation of committed believers: pastors, pastoral trainers, coaches, leaders, funders and donors, guests, staff and volunteers. They read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, asked the Lord’s blessing, and invited the congregation to serve one another the body and blood of Christ with brotherly love.

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Dallas and National GPA Reunion Lunch

If joking and gentle teasing are a sign of brotherly camaraderie, then the members of the Dallas and national GPA cohorts present for the Reunion Lunch on Sunday are definitely brothers.

Graduates of Dallas GPAs from 2006 to the present and national GPAs from nearly as many years met for lunch, fellowship, and ministry updates at the Miracle Grand Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. All graduates were recognized by class year, and at least one third indicated that they were now working on advanced degrees either in formal or nonformal settings.

Dr. Richard remarked that RREACH had now seen the completion of 49 national GPAs, which is four GPAs ahead of schedule. With appreciation, he told the graduates, “You have been the infrastructure for the 10-year human capital campaign.” He also encouraged the continued multiplication of pastoral trainers and pastoral training by launching new national GPAs from each previous one saying, “We like order, but we’re not into control. The farther down the line the training goes, the better.”

Several master coaches and special guests were also present.

June 20, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (2 min 10 sec)

Click the image above to view a short participant interview, along with footage of Congress attendees working together. 

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Collaboration 

“Our people are looking to politicians to bring change, but God in heaven…God in heaven…is looking to you, pastors and churches, to bring change. You are the light; you are the salt of the earth; you are the health of our society,” Delanyo Adadevoh, Vice President of Campus Crusade for Christ, said this morning. This salt and light–these pastors and leaders–went to work around their tables, discussing what changes were needed in their lives to increase their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical health.

Panelists then explained the importance of examining context, constituency, and content when determining what curricula model to follow, and the GProCongress affirmed the following strategic assumptions in pastoral training: “Formal and non-formal training play strategic roles in specific ways to address pastoral and health needs, especially where the church is growing. The non-formal training of pastors needs the depth and quality of formally trained pastoral trainers. The formal training of pastors cannot keep up with the breadth and quality of large numbers of untrained pastors.” Participants spent the remainder of the morning time collaborating on their goals and action plans, preparing them for the next day’s session.

June 21, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (2 min 32 sec)

Click the image above to hear from GProCongress participants and coaches on their takeaways and plans for the next four years.

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God is on the Move 

God is moving in Bangkok, blessing the historic Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers. Deep collaboration is happening in the sessions, during the breaks, and even on the transportation between the lodging accommodations. As one participant commented, “God is taking over the development here. I’ve been to a lot of conferences in Asia and around the world and I’ve never seen connection of this kind, at this level, and this deep before.”

Even this morning, as the buses bringing participants to the Impact Center were delayed by heavy traffic due to the rain, the passengers–once strangers from different countries, now brothers and sisters in the Lord–responded to the interruption by singing hymns and spiritual songs and sharing their testimonies with one another.

Story after story has arisen in the past couple days of divine providence arranging “chance” key connections and strategic collaborations between people who might otherwise have never had an opportunity to meet. This Congress has been the conduit for a greater vision–God’s vision–for what is possible to bring health to pastors, churches, and societies around the world.

 

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Implementation

A greater vision is only as valuable as the action it inspires. All week, participants have been making connections, discovering unity among diversity, and being strengthened in the faith and ministry by fellow servant-leaders. It has been a working Congress of “prayerful thought” in dependence on the Lord, “thoughtful decisions,” and “decisive action.”

This morning, after a time of spirit-filled worship, Dr. Richard named these last 36 hours of the Congress sacred. He reminded participants, “Your presence here is critical.” The mood was solemn, weighted by the gravity of the task and the stretching of faith. With the support of table mates, participants wrote down their personal plans and their commitments for training pastors over the next six months and the next twelve months. They wrote down obstacles they have identified and strategies to overcome them. They wrote down solutions they could provide to help their table mates overcome challenges. They pledged to report their progress to one another on a specific schedule.

“The Word of God is not bound,” Paul said (2 Tim. 2:9). The Church that Jesus is building will prevail, to the detriment of the kingdom of darkness. Pray with us that these men and women of God will prevail as they put His vision and His word into action.

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Changing Lives

Unhealthy pastors create unhealthy churches and societies; healthy pastors create healthy churches and societies. At the core of the GProCongress’ mission to accelerate church health and societal health is the training and transformation of pastors.

“The Enemy’s most workable strategy is to weaken the church internally rather than externally,” Dr. William Subash said during the morning exposition time of 2 Timothy. “Spiritual, moral, and doctrinal weaknesses of the members become the breeding ground for the Enemy to create stressful situations in growing local churches.” Pastors must be able to lead doctrinally, inspire morally, and serve humbly. They must go beyond the spoken sermon and become the living sermon.

Edmund Chan exhorted participants on Monday evening, saying, “Truth doesn’t change lives; truth applied changes lives.” He said that too often, “the application is missing because we encourage the congregation or our small groups to apply Scripture on a cognitive level without accountability.” The key to life change is remembering that “mentoring has four simple steps: (1) Discover truth; (2) Apply truth; (3) Reap benefits; (4) Pass it on.” Most pastors and Christians only do half the work. They discover truth and immediately pass it on, skipping the applying of truth and reaping its benefit. Therefore the church is weak and without blessing.

But here at the Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers, God is moving. He is implementing His plan through His servant leaders. The Congress is nearing its close, but its global action plan is only just beginning. Tomorrow the GProCongress launches thousands of connected, united, and strengthened pastoral trainers to apply what they have learned here, to go out and preach the Gospel, to equip the saints for every good work, to be examples of godly conduct, and to be about the business of changing lives. To God be the glory.

June 22, 2016

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GProCongress Video Update (2 min 8 sec)

Click the image above to catch a glimpse of some of the participants’ final moments together, along with footage from the GProCongress closing banquet.

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The Launch of the GProCongress 

“Every event starts the day after; otherwise, we’ve just gotten together for coffee.” As activities in Bangkok came to a close, Dr. Richard reminded participants that now the GProCongress truly begins. The banquet hall is empty. Bags are packed. Commitments have been made. Participants will take their new vision back to their homelands–plans and strategies to train more than 92,000 pastors in the next 12 months alone–and begin its implementation.

It has been said, “The kingdom of God advances at the speed of relationships.” Unlike other conferences, the participants of this Congress do not go forth alone. They have become connected to each other and a network of resources, united in purpose and vision, and strengthened in their spirits to do the work: to fully proclaim the message so that all the nations might hear (2 Tim. 4:17). They will continue to have access to this support, encouragement, and accountability through GProConnext.com.

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Raising the Vision

Forty coaches helped participants prepare 1,000 plans for training pastors. Made up of a balanced team of marketplace strategists, life coaches, and those experienced in ministry, the GProCongress coaches facilitated the mapping out of workable strategies for pastoral training according to the heart of each leader. Rather than imposing structure and ideas on the participants, the coaches employed strategic questions to draw out solutions native to each person, context, and participant group.

In eight short days, with the aid of the coaches, several participant groups came together and pinpointed obstacles that had prevented cohesive collaboration in the past, confessed to one another their individual contributions to the obstacles, and raised their vision from a loose network of individual plans to a collaborative national plan that will positively affect societal health.

With national coordinators spearheading the endeavor, accountability will be a main feature of GProConnext and the next four years.

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Becoming and Training Healthy Pastors

Dr. Malcom Webber challenged the GProCongress participants with a statement and question: “God dwells in us in all of His fullness. How much of the Holy Spirit do you reveal to your church and the world on a daily basis?” For men and women moving out into the world to launch a new or renewed vision for pastoral training, this question was key.

These are men and women who are advancing the kingdom of God by taking in orphans, starting schools in their homes, taking the Gospel deep into rural areas, creating reconciliation ministries between perpetrators and victims of genocide, and suffered beatings with bricks bashing their heads. Some of these pastors must work as hard at survival as they do the ministry. Were they planning on gritting their teeth to attend to the task, or were they first prayerfully, thoughtfully, humbly seeking the divine life, and then allowing the ministry of the Gospel to flow out of that?

“The centrality and the pre-eminence of the Lord Jesus–this is the answer to the crisis of pastoral health,” Webber said. “Let us not settle for anything less than union with Christ. . . . This is what the nations are waiting for.”