Strengthening Churches Together: The Why

Written by Lee Heyward on Wednesday, 14 November 2018. Posted in Blog

Strengthening Churches Together: The Why

Dear Friends,

Here’s some great news. When you give a financial gift to BrookLink, YOU are sending us to train pastors who then train and send off their own people. Truly in this way we are strengthening churches together!  Last year alone your financial gifts helped BrookLink and its affiliates travel to 8 countries, on 15 different teaching engagements, impacting 2,250 brothers and sisters in Christ. Together, we are having tremendous impact on the global church! And still, 85% of churches in the world are led by men and women who have no formal training in theology or ministry.[i]

In his book Gaining By Losing, author J. D. Greear uses three kinds of ships to illustrate the mission of the church. Some Christians see the church as a cruise liner, offering Christian luxuries for the whole family like sports, entertainment and funny time-conscious messages that meet felt needs. Other Christians believe the church is more like a battleship. The church is an institution that focuses on finding the targets, firing the guns and fighting the culture war. The third type of church is like an aircraft carrier, which is designed to equip and load up the planes and send them off elsewhere to carry out the work assigned.


BrookLink strengthens churches! Our mission is to help pastors and church leaders see their churches as aircraft carriers, not battleships and certainly not cruise liners. What does this mean? Church leaders must understand their role is to equip other leaders in their congregation in order to send them off. Paul understood that an essential part of any healthy ministry is long-term leadership development. He wrote to his young protégé, Timothy,

“The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2)

It's Not Just the Brewers Who Win

Written by Lee Heyward on Thursday, 18 October 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Great teams positively influence the community around them. Did you know that in 1954 the Milwaukee Braves became the first team in Major League history to attract 2 million fans? The excitement in Milwaukee has reached fever pitch these past few weeks, as the Brewers compete in the National League Championship Series. Fans remember the many years since 1982 when the team last made it to the World Series, and they watch each at bat with hopeful anticipation. Even if you aren’t from the Milwaukee area, you can relate to this climate of optimism and enthusiasm. 

Cities that boast a winning team just seem better! Ticket sales are better, business is better, attitudes and moods are better, even the hot dogs taste better. Things aren’t perfect. They’re just—better. When a team is doing well, the city benefits too!

While witnessing what has been happening in my city, it occurred to me—a team that wins is much like a church that wins. When churches are winning, communities win too! Conversely, when churches are losing, the communities around them miss an opportunity to benefit from them too. 

That’s why our rallying cry at BrookLink is to strengthen the church—to help the church win! Because when churches are spiritually healthy, the church is better—and so is the community the church is a part of.

Luke, the writer of Acts, makes this observation:
“When he (Paul) had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned…strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith…”Acts 14:21-22 (ESV)

Paul understood that when you strengthen the souls of disciples, you make a church better. And better churches make better communities. This is why BrookLink is so passionate about strengthening the souls of disciples—the souls of pastors and preachers, leaders and learners. We believe when we coach, mentor, equip and train church leaders, we are helping churches and the communities they are part of to do what they do—better!!

Several weeks ago, the Brewers announced they have sold their 3 millionth ticket this season. They had 37 sellouts in 2018—a franchise record. The Milwaukee Brewers have loyal supporters, and so does BrookLink. Because of fans like you, BrookLink and its affiliates have traveled on nearly 60 trips to 30 countries, impacting over 5,400 church leaders.  It’s your interest, participation, cheers and support that have enabled us to get this far! Thank you for the role you play in strengthening churches around the world.

Gratefully,

Prayers Being Answered

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 25 September 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Did you know that Armenia is a landlocked Christian country in the Middle East surrounded by non-Christian neighbors? This summer while in Armenia, we were thanking the Lord for the 350 pastors and church leaders from different denominational traditions that we were privileged to train and equip. One gentleman, an elderly Armenian Orthodox priest who had recently fled from Aleppo, Syria after his church had been bombed, approached me each day after our training, placed his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, “God bless you, we are in much need of this training.”

Recent studies suggest that only about 5% of the world’s pastors are formally trained. These untrained pastors regularly minister in areas of the world where the church is growing numerically. Yet church health often does not accompany church growth.

The apostle Paul understood that weak leadership affects the health and wellbeing of the church, cripples its effectiveness and compromises its mission. Throughout the book of Acts Paul prioritized, “strengthening the souls of disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith…” (Acts 14:22; 15:32,41; 16:5; 18:23).

This is why strengthening pastors and church leaders —training and equipping them—is what invigorates global mission. It’s also why your financial gifts are so important to BrookLink. Your generosity not only provides on-site, long-term, less-expensive resourcing to pastors and church leaders; it also builds the capacity of churches to fulfill the mission mandate of Jesus.

God has graciously given us favor among several significant networks across Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of the Middle East. We are in the process of inviting new “Facilitators” to help us meet the demand for training overseas. Immediately following our Facilitators Summit last month, BrookLink received a request to partner with an organization in the Middle East to assist in the development of their child and family curriculum, as well as train those who will be teaching.  We praise and thank God for this affirming sign that BrookLink’s mission is needed. We are committed to training in these areas of the world, but we need your help to do so.

Here are ways you can help:

  • Pray that God’s plan will be fulfilled.
  • Pray for those who are asking for training, that God may uphold them and provide for all their needs.
  • Pray for discernment to best resource our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
  • Pray for the financial needs of BrookLink, that we may be sustained and able to say ‘yes’ to the invitations before us.

Would you prayerfully consider becoming a monthly financial partner to help BrookLink “strengthen” church leaders serving in under-served areas of the world? Or would you consider a one-time gift to enable us to say ‘yes’ to the invitations before us?  As of September 2018, we have raised just under 50% of our projected annual expenses. Every single gift, no matter the amount, makes a difference. Please consider making a gift today. 

Summer Update

Written by Lee Heyward on Wednesday, 15 August 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over. School is already in full session in some parts of the U.S. and the fall season is around the corner. The summer has proved to be fruitful for BrookLink in several ways.

ARMENIA – JUNE 2018
BrookLink’s first opportunity to equip, teach and encourage Armenian believers happened this summer. Women’s conference meetings and leader’s training took place. Here is what Stephen and Rozik Kashian, the founders of Armenian Relief Mission, had to say about BrookLink’s ministry.

“It was a pleasure for the Armenian Relief Mission to partner with BrookLink for a pastoral leadership training.  We had two conferences in two separate cities attended by 348 church leaders and lay workers.  The participants were very pleased with the in-depth teachings they received.  Even before we all left Armenia some of the pastors had already taken material developed by Lee and used it in their home churches. Armenian Relief Mission desires to have continued partnership with BrookLink for similar conferences in the future.”

   

GO FURTHER – JULY 2018
In July, Lee was the featured speaker at Southbrook Church’s “Go Further” series. For five nights, folks from Southbrook gathered to learn about God’s grand story and their role in that story. John and JoAnn Moehr attended and commented afterwards:

“As believers, we appreciated the “Go Further” presentations by Pastor Lee. We feel we are growing closer to God after looking at God’s story of his interactions with human beings since creation!

The material Lee presented, along with the small group discussions, answered important questions for us as we looked at both our individual and corporate responsibilities as followers of Christ. Lee’s messages were thorough, drawing deeply from Scripture, causing us to desire a more active participation in God’s Greatest Story!”

  

FACILITATORS SUMMIT – AUGUST 2018
Earlier this month BrookLink gathered with 12 individuals from across the U.S. and Canada to have conversations around expanding our ability to say yes to invitations to train and develop leaders. Many of those in attendance are eager and already engaged in helping us train and equip national church leaders. 

Without Hesitation

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 17 July 2018. Posted in Blog

Dearest Friends,

It’s no secret that the Apostle Paul headlines much of the New Testament as a missionary, preacher and church planter. What often gets overlooked however, is a practical consideration. The success of Paul’s ministry, to a certain extent, was due in part to the spiritual and financial support of countless men and women around him.

Take for example the church at Philippi. This church, considered one of Paul’s most beloved, time and again ‘partnered’ with Paul to insure the gospel was preached and his work amongst churches could go forward. In fact, in the early days of that church’s beginning, the Philippian church was the only church that supported Paul (cf. Phil. 4:15).

Paul never hesitated to express his appreciation to the people who partnered with him. And I will not hesitate either!

In last month’s newsletter we updated you on BrookLink’s ministry and made you aware of our financial needs. Many of you responded by sending a one-time gift or an additional gift. Thank you for your gifts. God continues to supply our needs through your generosity and faithfulness. As Paul reminded his friends, so I wish to encourage you that your gifts, “are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Phil 4:18). Your costly devotion and sacrifice to God’s work pleases God and inspires me every day!Paul concludes one of his shortest letters with a promise: Those who are generous toward the things of God will find that God will be generous towards them and will supply every need…in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).

Thank you for your partnership—spiritually and financially! While I derive much joy and encouragement from your kindness, my joy is intensified because the hearts of the men and women we equip across the world have been refreshed through you.

With deepest gratitude,

C. Lee Heyward

Go with the Flow

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 05 June 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

When you do a google search for the word FLOWING, Dictionary.com says it means “proceeding smoothly or easily, circulating or proceeding from a source.” You inspire us at BrookLink to continue being a flowing stream moving ahead smoothly from our source, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In John 7:38-39, Jesus reminds his followers, Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” And John the evangelist helpfully adds, “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.”

This striking image brings to mind pictures of the boundless depths of power and grace, of significant progress, impact and influence, all of which are attributable to the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit! Not only this, but the Spirit’s work, like a flowing river, spills out and over into the lives of those within its sphere of influence.

Your life and my life are like a river and the Spirit in us provides the dynamic, the grace, energy and power to make an eternal difference wherever we are.

Traveling to an Ancient Land

Written by Lee Heyward on Monday, 21 May 2018. Posted in Blog

Dearest Friends,

A few weeks ago, many of you attended the 9th annual "Windows to the World" event at Meadowbrook Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It was a special evening of sharing the stories God has been writing through BrookLink. You have played a part in writing BrookLink’s story and for that we are forever grateful.

  

Next month, for the first time, I am traveling to Yerevan, Armenia. The opportunity to train and teach Christian leaders in this part of the world is both humbling and astounding. I’d like you to meet my friends, Stephen and Rozik Kashian. I met this amazing couple in 2013 and learned of their medical outreach ministry in their home country of Armenia. Last year, Stephen and Rozik invited BrookLink to travel with them to Armenia to equip and train pastors and church leaders. On June 13, Terry and I will join the Kashians, along with Pastor Keith Doyle and his wife Kerry on a mission to Armenia. Read what Rozik has to say about her home country and learn more about the ministry partnership with BrookLink. We invite you to pray for us as we GO!

 “Situated along the ancient trade routes of the Great Silk Road, Armenia is a small, mountainous, landlocked country that boasts a storied history longer than most other European nations. It is here, at Mt. Ararat, that Bible references indicate Noah's Ark came to rest after the Great Flood. And it is also here, in A.D. 301, where Gregory the Illuminator established one of the earliest Christian civilizations.

Armenia prides itself on being the first nation to embrace Christianity as a state religion, and today the former Soviet republic remains defined by its many religious sites. The rich cultural heritage of Armenia is its treasure, and through its people, it has survived centuries of political upheaval, the tragedies of war and genocide, and a 1988 earthquake that killed 75,000 and left hundreds of thousands homeless and poor.

Near and Far

on Monday, 16 April 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Today I feel doubly blessed! First, I have the benefit of your partnership and support, and now I have the pleasure of thanking you! Your extreme generosity has already made a significant impact in 2018, not only across the ocean but here at home too!

You have helped to strengthen and resource men and women who provide pastoral oversight, leadership and vision to a network of churches across Nepal. Your sacrifice and kind-heartedness are helping to build relational and missional bridges in the Czech Republic that will reach a predominantly secular and post-Christian population with the gospel. Thank you so very much!

Lee with students in Nepal

Lee preaching in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Lee leading a discussion in Prague, Czech Republic

Your faithful stewardship is also serving to strengthen, influence and impact churches in good ole Milwaukee! In March, I was invited to preach at all three weekend services at Southbrook Church in Franklin, Wisconsin. This past weekend I was preaching at Meadowbrook Church’s two morning services. Listen to these two recent sermons on our website. In addition, Terry and I on separate occasions, have taught the Southeast Wisconsin Perspectives Class—an opportunity to inform and influence people from all over our city about God’s global mission to the nations. In July, Southbrook Church has invited me to teach five consecutive nights at their “Go Deeper” week.

None of these opportunities would have been possible without YOU!

Staggering Statistics

Written by Lee Heyward on Thursday, 22 March 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Did you know that the ratio of theologically trained pastors to people in the U.S. is 1 pastor for every 230 people? Yet the ratio of trained pastors to people abroad is one pastor for every 450,000 people! **

If you are like me, you may need to read that again – only one pastor out of nearly half a million people outside of the United States have access to any kind of theological training.

When church leaders are inadequately prepared to minister, churches are vulnerable to false teaching, authoritarian and abusive leadership practices and compromised ministry.

BrookLink’s mission is to help address this reality!

I am pleased to introduce you to our friend Esayas Ersabo. Esayas is a young and influential leader in the Ethiopian Kaleheywit Church. The network of Kaleheywit churches began 90 years ago and today consists of 1,310 churches scattered across nine districts.

When Esayas was a participant at Elmbrook Church’s International Center in Wisconsin in 2015, I had the privilege of introducing him to the work of BrookLink. Esayas asked BrookLink to come and “help equip their pastors on how to prepare and preach quality sermons in their churches.”

Because of your financial gifts, BrookLink was able to go to Ethiopia in November 2017 to train pastors and ministry leaders representing eight districts within the region. Through your continued support, BrookLink will be able to accept a return invitation this year. Esayas is enthusiastic about building a long-term partnership to provide training for Kaleheywit pastors, “until the church sees significant improvement in their skills of handling the Word of God.”

Ethiopia is one example of how your gifts are influencing pastors and churches across the Majority World.

Will you join us in equipping our Ethiopian brothers and sisters and others like them? Make a one-time gift or set up a recurring monthly gift today!

Windows to the World Event

Written by BrookLink on Monday, 19 March 2018. Posted in Blog

Sunday, April 29, 2018

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