Partners in His-story

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 23 April 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Everyone has a story. When meeting people for the first time I am eager to learn their story. Good stories grab our imagination, invite us in and broaden our understanding!

Did you know that over 70% of the Bible was written in story form? The Old Testament tells about God through the stories of His people. Even Jesus used imaginative stories to tell the world about God’s compelling love for human beings.

Here’s the really cool part—God not only writes His—story, but He writes the lines of my story and your story too! And oftentimes He writes the storyline of our lives to make something known about His!

For the past ten years, BrookLink has traveled to over 30 countries hearing stories and serving our fellow partners in the Gospel.

No matter where we find ourselves — whether China, Kenya, the Czech Republic, a closed Muslim country, or even the good ol’ USA, I am a huge champion of partnership in mission. BrookLink places high value on collaborating with ministries, mission organizations and movements no matter what part of the world we happen to be visiting. I am also well aware that partnerships internationally rarely go very far without partners back home! You have been such a partner!

Ten Years and Counting

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 26 March 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

It is my hope this letter finds you in good health and experiencing the abiding joy of relationship with our God and Father during the Lenten season.  As we enter springtime, our hearts delight in extended daylight, rebirth and growth.  At BrookLink we are humbled and thrilled to be celebrating ten years in ministry and are steadfastly focused on why this ministry was created a decade ago.

"It is estimated that more than 80% of pastors around the world have little or no biblical training – that’s more than two million pastors that are not equipped to help believers in their churches understand and apply God’s word." Langham Partnership

Without strong leadership the spiritual vitality of a church cannot be shaped and fostered, and the community that surrounds it fails to benefit.  The risk of poorly trained pastors and leaders can result in "a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you…" (Galatians 1:8 ESV).

There are many barriers to international leaders including costs, availability of effective teachers, access to dependable and culturally-appropriate curriculum, and for some, even persecution.  Through your faithful support, BrookLink helps our partners overcome these barriers by providing free in-person training within their cultural context, so that they may spread the gospel of Jesus Christ among their people.

 

We recently surveyed our international partners, and here are some of the challenges they are facing:

  • Need for more trained leaders in theological education, discipleship and expository preaching
  • Connecting secular people with the gospel with great relevancy and truth
  • Need for more trained leaders in organizational management and staff development

Here are specific prayer requests we received:

  • For personal strength and inspiration in mission. -European church planter
  • For God’s presence, protection and provision as we serve in [Middle Eastern country]. -Middle Eastern movement leader
  • For the Lord to lead urban professionals to Him. -European church leader
  • So that [our network of churches] would grow deep to grow wide. -African movement leader

The HOW

Written by Lee Heyward on Thursday, 27 December 2018. Posted in Blog

The HOW

Dear Friends,

In the final days of 2018, my hope and prayer is that you will know the nearness of Jesus Christ and how he entered the world in humble fashion “to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

At BrookLink, we count it a privilege to know this same Jesus, and to be involved in equipping pastors across the world and at home to proclaim Him too!

In recent weeks, we’ve shared WHY BrookLink exists: Church growth in both domestic and international contexts outpaces leadership development. Consequently, pastors are overworked, leaders are under-developed, the work of the Spirit is quenched and the church’s mission is compromised.  We have shared WHAT BrookLink does: Leaders equipping leaders, to sustain and strengthen movements that exponentially expand the Gospel. 

But HOW do we equip these pastors and church leaders? 

We receive an invitation, assess the needs of the church leaders with sensitivity to their context, customize the training to meet those needs and then build upon those relationships to learn how and when to be of service again.

And HOW does this serving make a meaningful difference?

When you invest in leaders, you impact networks. You influence the global expansion of the Gospel.

And HOW is this made possible?  There is only one way.  With YOUR support.

The WHAT

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

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

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.

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