A Summer Update

Written by Lee Heyward on Wednesday, 24 July 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

BrookLink’s theme in 2019 is “From One to Many."

What began ten years ago as a hope and prayer, you have made possible!

Rejoice with us!

In June, BrookLink was invited to return again to Ethiopia to minister in the Kale Heywet churches. Pastor Timothy Ryder of Waukesha, Wisconsin and Pastor Ian Lawson of Alberta, Canada traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to lead church leaders through three days of training. Using lively discussion and readings, Tim and Ian spent these days resourcing and equipping forty doctoral students who serve as key leaders in these churches. Pastor Ian reports, "I am routinely impressed with the passion and the zeal of the Kale Heywet church of Ethiopia - currently 9,000 congregations and 1,000 church plants. This is a mission success story of the SIM who sent missionaries there one hundred years ago. Today she is a thriving and dynamic indigenous church reaching their own people with the gospel and sending their own missionaries to other countries on the African continent. How thrilling it is to help equip some of their pastors on the front lines!"

No sooner had Timothy and Ian returned to the U.S.A., when Pastor Jan Ryder (Timothy’s wife) boarded a plane for the same place. This time to train more than 40 Children and Family Ministry leaders, who minister weekly to thousands of children among the Kale Heywet. Pastor Jan writes, “It was exciting to learn about the family together, understand more of how children grow, use creative teaching methods to spark curiosity, and apply Biblical principles to practical aspects of ministry with children and families. I think the most useful session may have been one dealing with how children experience grief and trauma.”

These opportunities would not have been possible without your generous support.

Meanwhile, on the completely different continent of Europe, BrookLink affiliates Dr. Dan and Lynne Green traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to teach and train pastors and church leaders serving in this largely atheistic city.  Dan and Lynne have been offering their theological and counseling training and insights to the Czech people for 20 years with the last 4 years being under BrookLink’s banner.

Furthermore, would you please pray as Drs. Paul and Lisa Sinclair travel with BrookLink in August to two key cities in northeast India? They are uniquely equipped to conduct five weeks of doctoral-level teaching in the areas of Spiritual Formation and Grief & Trauma. Needless to say, it would have been impossible for me to step away from my responsibilities here in the U.S.A. to invest five weeks in India. The Sinclairs are excited to be a part of BrookLink and helping us move “From One to Many.”

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

A Special Year for Our Ministry

Written by Lee Heyward on Sunday, 27 January 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! As 2019 begins I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude to God for what YOU have made possible. I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to you for your generous gifts to BrookLink. Due to your extreme generosity, BrookLink strengthened nearly 4,000 church leaders in 5 countries and finished 2018 well positioned financially for the work ahead. Truly we are “strengthening churches together”!

“Praise the Lord. Praise God for his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” - Psalm 150

2019 marks a special year for BrookLink’s ministry. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary of equipping and empowering Christian leaders! It’s also the year we will focus on, “From One to Many,” which you will learn more about in the coming months. Additionally, I’ve just begun my engagement with Elmbrook Church as their new Lead Pastor which means going forward you will hear from me, along with who are others involved in BrookLink’s mission.

The BrookLink staff, Board of Directors and Facilitator Team are dedicated and engaged to continue BrookLink’s global partnerships and commitments. We are receiving new invitations, and we are nimbly adjusting to what God has put in front of us. Just this past week our Child, Youth and Family Ministry team had a follow-up meeting with our friends in the Middle East, with whom we are partnering to develop a yearlong curriculum.

Child, Youth and Family Facilitators

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.

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. 

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.

New Year, New Opportunities

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 16 January 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to YOU for your generous gifts to BrookLink during 2017. Due to your extreme generosity at the end of the year, BrookLink finished 2017 in a strong financial position.

In Psalm 65 David eloquently praises God saying, “You crown the year with your bounty, your carts overflow with abundance” (vs. 11). Picture a richly laden cart dropping its contents in its tracks. God has crowned our year with his bounty and David reminds us to praise him for His abundance toward us.

But I would be remiss if I did not recognize that oftentimes the way in which God provides and prepares us abundantly is through the glad generosity of His people. It is your prayers, friendship and generous financial support that have positioned us to embrace and embark upon the new opportunities before us in 2018. Thank you!

During these last two weeks of January I will put on my professor hat as I travel to Katmandu, Nepal to teach students who serve and labor in the midst of growing government opposition and hostility. BrookLink has been invited to teach a master’s level course that will go toward the completion of a degree from a school we have worked with previously. Pray for sweet times of connecting and encouragement in these new relationships.

Thank you for sowing generously, for giving cheerfully and for partnering with us faithfully.

Every blessing,

Your Faithful Generosity

Written by Lee Heyward on Wednesday, 27 December 2017. Posted in Blog

Imagine living in a country where sharing your faith in Christ is outlawed. That’s exactly the situation in many places BrookLink is invited to train. The freedom of many Christians is increasingly under threat!

This January in one such country, BrookLink has been invited to teach courageous followers of Christ.

This will be the first of many influential training opportunities BrookLink will have in 2018.

  • Your faithful financial support makes it possible for BrookLink to go!
  • Your generosity equips men and women to serve Jesus in hard and desperate places!
  • Your prayers sustain us as we strengthen and encourage believers!

There are still a few days left in 2017 to make a financial gift to BrookLink. If you have already made a year-end contribution, please accept my deepest gratitude! You can still contribute before year’s end, by sending your check postmarked by 12/31/17 to:

BrookLink
N105W20939 Oak Lane
Germantown, WI 53022

You can also make a gift on our website right now.

Your gift today will enable us to do the good work in 2018 to which we have been called.

May God bless you richly in the New Year!

Grace and peace,

From the Field | Ethiopia

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 21 November 2017. Posted in Blog

REPORT 1

It’s a beautiful morning in Addis Ababa. Tomorrow begins a week of training in a foreign land. Covet your prayers!

REPORT 2

Good morning!

Arrived in Soddo, Ethiopia yesterday after long 6-hour car ride. Waiting when we got here we’re 150 pastors anxious and hungry to learn.

Soddo is the birthplace of the Kaleheywit Church over 80 years ago by SIM missionaries. Now it’s largest Evangelical Denomination in country.

These are joyous people, full of life and extremely eager to dig into the Big Story of Scripture. We’re having fun learning how to teach and preach God’s Word with accuracy and relevance. Please continue to pray!

REPORT 3

Enjoyed my visit with my friend Luelseged Alemayehu, who works with Great Commission Ministries (CRU) in Ethiopia. He served as my translator while here in 2015.

REPORT 4

Had fun today with Kale Heywet Pastors—Ethiopia’s version of modern-day Bereans who, “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what he said was true.” (Acts 17:11)

 

REPORT 5

Happy Thanksgiving friends! Finishing my week up with Kale Heywet Pastors. Head to home sweet home tomorrow night! My heart overflows with Thanksgiving to God for His mercy, steadfast love and the faithful prayers of his people. So many amazing moments from this week!

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