Strengthening Churches Together: The WHAT

Written by Lee Heyward on Monday, 10 December 2018. Posted in Blog

Strengthening Churches Together: The WHAT

“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.

Acts 14:21-22a NIV

Dear Friends,

As my wife, Terry, got off the plane from West Africa in Detroit, Michigan, I was boarding a plane for East Africa in Chicago, Illinois. We spent Thanksgiving Day apart this year. But don’t feel too sorry for us. We were on Kingdom business and following His lead. Last month we talked about why we do what we do at BrookLink. Strengthening the church is WHAT BrookLink is all about. We were invited and available, so off we went.

“Thank you, Pastor Lee for coming! Will you come again?” were the words I heard over and over again from the leadership team in Soddo, Ethiopia. BrookLink facilitator and dear friend, Ian Lawson, and I spent three full days teaching eager pastors. Their receptivity was energizing and their questions were engaging. This is WHAT BrookLink loves to be a part of around the world. Leaders equipping leaders, to sustain and strengthen movements that exponentially expand the Gospel. 


Our answer to those dear friends is “YES, we will come again!" The prayers and financial gifts of so many have made this “YES” possible.

With just 20 days left this year, you can contribute towards our goal of $70,000 to continue the work of strengthening churches together in 2019 and beyond.

Equipping the church of Jesus Christ has been the WHAT for BrookLink from the beginning— ‘equipping’ pastors, church leaders and churches not just in East Africa, but in over 50 countries and 8 U.S.-based churches, classes and small groups—for the past ten years wherever we have been welcomed and invited, we go.  But we have not done it alone.

An Important Letter from Lee

Written by Lee Heyward on Thursday, 29 November 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

I am humbled and blown away by your response to #GivingTuesday. Your dollars have allowed BrookLink to serve and minster to thousands of church leaders and pastors around the world and here at home for the past 10 years. Without your support, this work would not be possible. I am writing today to update you on what has been going on for the past couple of weeks.
 
Please let me tell you a story.
 
Webster’s Dictionary defines FULL CIRCLE as, a series of developments that lead you back to the original source, position or situation from which you began. 
 
Allow me to explain. 2018 marks a special year for Terry and me. Forty years ago, we were married and as young college graduates, adventurous, and full of newfound faith in Christ, we spent our honeymoon driving from Atlanta, Georgia to a new job in good ol' Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Days after arriving we attended Elmbrook Church where we met the then Senior Pastor, Stuart Briscoe. With his British accent, his usual positive attitude and engaging style, Stuart encouraged us to get involved in Elmbrook’s High School ministry. After two years of serving as volunteer youth leaders, Stuart invited me to join Elmbrook’s staff as an Associate Pastor, where I served for three transformative years.
 
After completing seminary in Chicago and at Stuart’s prompting, a small group from Elmbrook Church invited me to return to the Milwaukee area to help start a new church called Northbrook. We purchased our home, settled in the suburbs, raised our family and nurtured a burgeoning congregation northwest of Milwaukee. After 23 years serving as Senior Pastor of Northbrook Church, God clearly called us to full-time international ministry and we launched BrookLink in 2008.
 
For the past ten years, I’ve crisscrossed oceans to lands beyond—connecting, equipping, empowering and releasing church leaders to lead, learn and love well in their national contexts. More than 50 countries, eight U.S. churches, thousands of leaders, lots of miles, and adventures aplenty—God has been abundantly faithful to BrookLink! Additionally, He has surrounded us with a host of extraordinarily generous friends who have supported BrookLink’s efforts prayerfully and financially.
 
Three years ago, I was having coffee with a dear friend—a mentor of sorts. He looked at me with his piercing eyes and asked, “Lee, why don’t you do more for church leaders here, what you do so well for churches overseas?” His question was like a whack on the side of my head. I responded, “Because we go where we are invited.” I’ve pondered my friend’s question ever since.
 
Which brings me FULL CIRCLE.
 
Elmbrook Church—the same church from which I started in ministry is undergoing a pastoral transition. The Elmbrook Council of Elders has invited me to step in for a season and serve as their Lead Pastor. After long consultations and with the full support of BrookLink’s Board of Directors, I have accepted their invitation and will begin full-time on January 1, 2019.
 
Perhaps you’re wondering, “What about BrookLink?” I will continue to serve as President of BrookLink, giving overall vision and direction to the ministry. We remain committed to Strengthening churches and Gospel movements around the world by equipping, empowering and releasing leaders. BrookLink’s team of trainers is expanding, and invitations in 2019 and beyond keep coming. BrookLink’s Board of Directors along with my superb ministry staff have tirelessly stepped up to formulate a plan to keep us visible and growing. Our pledge to you as partners is to communicate these plans in the months to come.
 
The Lord is leading and guiding.
Please continue to pray that we will listen closely and follow well. 
 
Strengthening churches together,

C. Lee Heyward
 
PS: I invite you to reach out to me with questions. I would be happy to share further details of this journey with you. You can contact me at info@BrookLink.org.
 
 
Click here to read the announcement Elmbrook Church sent to its congregation today.

You Made This Possible

Written by BrookLink on Wednesday, 28 November 2018. Posted in Blog

Thanks to over 25 generous donors, we raised more than $13,000 and exceeded our #GivingTuesday goal!

 
 

Strengthening Churches Together

Your generosity is astounding! Our fundraising goal for #GivingTuesday was $5,000 and with your help, we were able to raise just over $13,000! And let's not forget the group of faithful donors who pledged to match up to $5,000 bringing the overall #GivingTuesday total to over $18,000. Thank you for helping strengthen churches around the world!

In just one day, your generosity has helped to provide Christ-centered training and coaching to over 90 pastors and church leaders around the world, including here at home. Thank you!

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." 1 Chronicles 16:8

Thank you for your prayers and gifts through our #GivingTuesday campaign! It is amazing to see how this day is impacting the world around us, and we are grateful for the part you played yesterday, and each day, in supporting the mission of BrookLink


Truly we are strengthening churches together!

THANK YOU FRIENDS of BrookLink!
 
"Generosity is impossible apart from our love of God and of His people. But with such love, generosity not only is possible but inevitable." 
~ John MacArthur

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday

Written by BrookLink on Monday, 26 November 2018. Posted in Blog

One more day until #GivingTuesday

Buy a gift for yourself on Cyber Monday, but don't forget to share the love with others tomorrow, on #GivingTuesday!

Your gift to BrookLink has the chance to be DOUBLED thanks to a generous group of donors who has committed to match the first $5,000 raised online.

So what's all this again?

Tomorrow on #GivingTuesday, as people around the world support important causes, donate to BrookLink to help bring Christ-centered training and coaching to Christian pastors and church leaders throughout the world. Spread the word to friends and family who also want to make an impact.

 

Let’s strengthen churches together!

7 Days Until #GivingTuesday

Written by BrookLink on Tuesday, 20 November 2018. Posted in Blog

Double Your Impact

After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the back-to-back days of deals, join us in kicking off the holiday giving season on #GivingTuesday!

We are just seven days away from this global day of giving. BrookLink is raising money to provide leadership training and coaching to pastors and church leaders around the world. For every $200 raised, BrookLink can bring teaching to one leader in the developing world.


#GivingTuesday Match


We’re also excited to announce that a generous group of donors has stepped up to match the first $5,000 raised online.

Now is your chance to make TWICE the impact! 

Ways to gear up for #GivingTuesday:
• Donate today to lock in your gift and make twice the impact
• Follow us on Facebook for exciting updates
• Share this message with friends and family and encourage them to join the movement

We’ve got just one week left until one historic day of giving.

Let’s strengthen churches together!

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

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