It was a small struggling church in the village of San Pedro in state of Oaxaca in Mexico. As with all the villages in the area, San Pedro (its Spanish name) also had an Indian name, Yaneri. The people were known to be contentious in their culture. In fact they were known as “conflictivos” because there were always in conflict with one another. The church was not immune and there was a serious division in the church. Of course it was over who was going to be in control.
Simon, the pastor, was faithful to all seven of his village churches, including San Pedro. He traveled to each in a circuit and provided much-needed Christian leadership for the churches. Nevertheless, he could not provide counsel, instill reconciliation, do the needed evangelism and outreach as well as the regular pastoral duties of preaching, teaching, baptizing, discipling, providing communion, marrying, and burying.
John and Becky Forcey, served with the Tecate Mission, and moved to Oaxaca from ministry in Baja California several years ago. John’s desire was to train leaders in the local churches so they would not be solely dependent upon the overworked pastor. Over the years he discovered that the material he was using did not have the desired outcome in the village churches. It was too academic. A person could go through the extensive course material, pass the tests, and still not demonstrate additional leadership in the church.
One year, however, John started working with some new material called, “Train And Multiply.” It was developed by an American pastor who worked with the small village churches in Honduras. It was an answer to prayer. The new material was well received by the leaders in all seven of the churches. The church leaders in San Pedro seemed especially motivated. “Train And Multiply” was designed to put practical pastoral tools in the hands of the church lay leaders. The leaders needed to supply the initiative.
There was fertile ground in San Pedro. They were taught by obedience-based training. They went through how to evangelize. The next week they were asked, if they did it. Did they pray for their family, friends, and neighbors? Did they talk to them? The next week they were asked the same questions. The leaders and people started evangelizing because they were tested, not for their knowledge, but for their obedience. They were taught how to do the Lord’s Supper. Then they led in the observance of the Lord’s Supper in the church. They were taught how to baptize a new believer. Then, instead of waiting several months for the pastor to counsel and then baptize the believer, they counseled and baptized new believers.
A revival swept through the villages, especially San Pedro. Many who had fallen away from the church came back. Reconciliation healed old divisions. People prayed for the salvation of their parents, their in-laws, their children. God worked in and through them.
If you were tested on your obedience to God, would you pass?