Scripture exhorts us to “encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble” (Isaiah 35:3) and to “strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble” (Hebrews 12:12). As a persecution ministry, this is obviously a part of our mandate, but with so many exhausted, weak, and feeble . . . where do we start?
I believe the Father gives us a clue in the instructions he gives to Moses prior to his death, “Charge Joshua, encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people” (Deuteronomy 3:28).
The Father’s plan for Israel’s success was to exhort Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua – the godly leader who would go at the head of the people. Last year, we sent a pastor who is gifted in encouraging exhausted and weak leaders into a Muslim stronghold area in Africa to implement exactly this strategy. He told us something that really solidified this vision for us: “Touch a pastor, you’ll touch a church. Touch a church, you’ll touch a city. Touch a city, you’ll touch a nation.”
Pastor Greg spent four days training, strengthening, and encouraging 2000 pastors and key church leaders that we had gathered from 19 different denominations and 21 towns and villages. The pastors had arrived at the training weary and battered from continual persecution from radical Islamists, many of them ready to give up their calling. One of the pastors told us, “Mere words cannot fully express the unspeakable impact of the four days of training. My life and ministry vision is totally refreshed.”
The revival in the hearts of the pastors spilled over into three days of ministry to around 20,000 people from around the region. The team estimated that on the first night, about 90% of those in attendance were under 25 and 40% accepted Christ – including former Muslims who knew they were risking their lives to take such a stand. More than 2,000 rushed into a soccer field one night to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
One of the church leaders told Pastor Greg that the ministry to the pastors alone probably impacted an additional 20,000 people in their home churches.
“Our region is known for famine and drought, but today we have seen the fresh visitation from the Lord touching our lives and region,” said a senior government official. After the trip, we learned from our partners on the ground that the “visitation” the official spoke of had continued. Town drunks were actually stumbling into churches in the region asking what they must do to be saved!
In our line of work, touching pastors is touching the men and women on the front lines of persecution who literally lay down their lives for their flocks. This kind of ministry is enabling pastors who are faltering in their calling to return to their suffering congregations and encourage them to continue “rejoicing in hope” and “persevering in tribulation” (Romans 12:12). We are strengthening the weak hands and feeble knees of those who will strengthen the church, and in turn, the nations.