Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Our First Pastors Conference

The conference that almost didn't happen, turned out to be a great success. From May 18 - 23 we hosted about 150 Pastors and other church leaders at Munay Wasi for a conference of the International Thompson Bible Institute. It was a great time, each of the pastors got a bonded Leather Thompson Bible, and we introduced the Instituto Bíblico y Teológico de Apurimac (the Biblical and Theological Institute of Apurimac.) This has opened the doors for us to work with many more churches. And it has encouraged them to participate in the construction of THEIR Bible Institute. Many churches are now planning on bringing bricks, sticks and manpower to help get the building up and to provide potatoes, corn and animals to feed the students. God has blessed wonderfully. From this has also come 2 satellite institutes.

But, right now, I want to tell you about something else…I want to tell you about God answering prayers, in a wonderful way, for the conference to even happen.

With our first conference we wanted to do several things: Make a good impression with a quality conference, introduce Kausay to pastors from all over the Department of Apurimac and from all denominations, and provide a useful resource for the pastors. The Thompson Bible Seminar was a perfect match. They have been around for a while providing a great Bible and an introduction to Bible Study Methods and Preaching while they teach how to use all the tools that The Thompson Bible has. There is no Bible that is quite as useful here, it has tons of helps in the back (not just the useful Chain references) - Archeological information, a little Manners and Customs type of material, surveys of the Bible in general and each book with outlines and more. It can become a whole library for the Campesino pastor (who usually has no other books).

We spoke to the Peruvian representative of the seminars, my good friend Paco Laos, several times beginning last year and in February we set the dates for the conference (actually 2 conferences running back to back) in this May. Then we began a vigorous publicity campaign. Most of Apurimac has no mail or phone service, so we printed up brochures and sign-up sheets and sent them with people as they were going around Apurimac - one brother from Incahuasi came to Andahuaylas to sell his coffee crop and we gave him several brochures to pass out in his zone, which you take the bus as far as you can then go by mule and then by foot to reach. He passed the brochures out in his area. In this way, we passed the voice (as we say here) throughout the entire Department. And by May 4th we had about 160 reservations - which are all that would fit in two 3-day seminars of 80.
Then on May 6 the Thompson people wrote me an email saying that we would have to cancel due to too many commitments, not enough Bibles and financial problems in the States. What a blow! We instantly communicated with the Kausay leadership and all of us prayed, then Tammy and I wrote an email explaining our situation here and asked if they could reconsider. We didn’t know how we could reach the dozens and dozens of pastors in the far reaches of Apurimac in less than 2 weeks. And we were so concerned that having to cancel our very first conference would send a very bad message. But, we suddenly felt very calm and I felt that I had to check my e-mail again. This was only 2 hours after we received the bad news. When I opened my e-mail there were two emails from the Thompson folks. They felt that they had no choice but to try to do the conferences here, and they would come – even though they weren’t sure where the Bibles would come from. While I was reading that, I got another e-mail with the wonderful news that they had several Bibles more than they at first thought. In fact, they had 160! In less than 2 hours we had a positive response! So the conference that almost wasn’t, happened and now about 150 pastors have a great Bible and know how to use it. Praise God for His working in and with His people!