Who will help mother hen?

Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who lived on a farm. She was11259946_10207703891419926_3496470160248274047_n friends with a lazy dog, a sleepy cat, and a noisy yellow duck. One day the little red hen found some seeds on the ground. The little red hen had an idea. She would plant the seeds. The little red hen asked her friends, “Who will help me plant the seeds?” “Not I,” barked the lazy dog. “Not I,” purred the sleepy cat. “Not I,” quacked the noisy yellow duck. “Then I will,” said the little red hen. So the little red hen planted the seeds all by herself.

When the seeds had grown, the little red hen asked her friends, “Who will help me cut the wheat?” “Not I,” barked the lazy dog. “Not I,” purred the sleepy cat. “Not I,” quacked the noisy yellow duck. “Then I will,” said the little red hen. So the little red hen cut the wheat all by herself.

When all the wheat was cut, the little red hen asked her friends, “Who will help me take the wheat to the mill to be ground into flour?””Not I,” barked the lazy dog. “Not I,” purred the sleepy cat. “Not I,” quacked the noisy yellow duck. “Then I will,” said the little red hen. So the little red hen brought the wheat to the mill all by herself, ground the wheat into flour, and carried the heavy sack of flour back to the farm, and carried the heavy sack of flour back to the farm.

The tired little red hen asked her friends, “Who will help me bake the bread?” “Not I,” barked the lazy dog. “Not I,” purred the sleepy cat. “Not I,” quacked the noisy yellow duck. “Then I will,” said the little red hen. So the little red hen baked the bread all by herself.

When the bread was finished, the tired little red hen asked her friends, “Who will help me eat the bread?” “I will,” barked the lazy dog. “I will,” purred the sleepy cat. “I will,” quacked the noisy yellow duck. “No!” said the little red hen. “I will.” And the little red hen ate the bread all by herself.

For few, perhaps the libertarian or the staunch individualist, the story has a happy ending. But for most especially from a communal worldview, the ending is quite sad primarily because a lack in participation in the work resulted in a lack of participation in the celebration and enjoyment of the bread.

12038253_10207703890739909_6636751037505945013_nNow I readily admit that all analogies at a certain level break down.  But, I do think that this bedtime story if interpreted as a parable serves as a spiritual warning to the church. Jesus has purchased a group of people with his blood. He has called his church to help him in the gathering of them from the nations. In this calling he has asked some to send and some to go but all to be involved. Yet for some reason, many Christians simply ignore this command or consider it as, not applicable to them. The one who loved us and gave his life for us continually calls out to us, “Who will help me gather my sheep?” However our response is repeatedly and chillingly, “Not I.” As we have met with supporters time and time again, it has been our senders who have repeatedly lamented over the lack of support and interest in world missions in view of the sheer magnitude of the harvest.

On the last day, there will be a glorious grand feast. It will be a spectacular wedding. The time will have begun for the saints to rest from their labor because their deeds follow them (Rev. 14:13). The center of the celebration will not be centered upon the food though. It will be upon the lamb who was slain receiving the reward for his suffering, his bride – a people from every tribe, tongue and nation. The question remains to be answered “What will be racing through your mind in that moment when look back at your earthly life and you think back to a time when you could have said, ‘I will?'”

 

 

 

 

The vital role of leadership in the church

Traditionally Matthew 9:38 has been a key text in the mission of the church to emphasize the call of missionaries to overseas work among the nations. Jesus declared to his disciples:

  • The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

No doubt this has been a primary text for various mission boards and para-church ministries throughout the previous decades. However, what has been often overlooked is the reason behind this proclamation. For just a moment, the narrator gives us an omniscient view into the mind of Jesus. In verse 36 the narrator explains:

  • When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

As Jesus is ministering among the people through teaching, preaching, and healing, he sees them in their greatest need. His thought although subtly through imagery speaks directly to that need. They were an oppressed people. And that oppression is directly linked to the absence of a leader. Thus, the root issue that incited Jesus to invoke the call of the harvest was that of leadership.

Now we know that there was a form of authority in Israel, a mere two verses earlier is the mention of a faction in the religious establishment, the Pharisees. However, their statement exposes their heart condition and their utter failure in true Mosaic intercession and humble leadership. While Jesus rescues the people from demonic oppression, they have the audacity to declare that he is actually in league with the devil.

From this climax, we watch as Jesus commissions new leadership to gather and lead his sheep. In very significant salvation-history imagery, Jesus calls new leadership by giving authority to twelve disciples to gather the house of Israel. One can’t help but recall the great prophet-priest of the distant past, Moses, as he gathered the twelve tribes of Israel in Egypt and prepared them to be led out of bondage and slavery.

We must recognize the absolute necessity that the proclamation of the gospel, the call of sinners to repentance and faith, the making of disciples, and the reaching of the nations can only be accomplished through solid Biblical leadership. This is precisely the reason for our ministry’s primary focus, namely pastoral training and mentorship.

There is one weakness in Filipino missions work especially in the province. Leadership development has often suffered at the expense of evangelism. Missionaries and church planters often spend a predominate amount of time evangelizing and planting many little churches. Because of the influx of converts, pastors are installed with little training in Biblical interpretation and even less preparation for the discipleship of their flock. Thus, missionaries often have been great at fulfilling the first part of the Great Commission, namely baptizing, while neglecting the second portion, that is teaching them to observe all the commands of Jesus. We want to place the Filipino church in a better position for spiritual maturity and purity by emphasizing the latter.

Now, how shall we go about accomplishing this? The Bicol region is composed of six provinces with roughly six million people. Currently there is no Protestant seminary that offers a M. Div. program. There are several small Bible schools which have the equivalent education level of a Bible Institute. Our desire and prayer is to establish a seminary that is very helpful to the development of the pastors’ Biblical understanding and leadership development.

Our philosophy is slightly nuanced from traditional Western models in that we want to maintain the emphasis upon Biblical knowledge and interpretation, while supplementing it with a robust leadership development track. This second unique feature will train the students in methodology for successful development of their own spiritual discipline and how they can successfully train leaders from among their flocks. Essentially, we want to develop leaders who can train leaders.

Historically, Western seminaries have left this area for the most part to the local church. That model is only successful if local churches have a strong discipleship and mentorship program and are cooperating in tandem with the seminary. However this is typically not the case. Moreover because of this separation, the students often see something quite different (I speak as one from experience). The student does not see this larger picture. Rather, they see in the seminary the pursuit for Bible knowledge as the ultimate goal and the highest good. Additionally, if the student enters the seminary without being joined to a strong local church with good mentorship, they never actually receive the necessary training in the spiritual disciplines and discipleship methodology. It seems that this may often be the reason for poor discipleship programs in the church and lack of spiritual maturity among congregants. Leadership is the key component.

Therefore, it is our plan to merge these two major areas of development for future pastors. Biblical interpretation and leadership development will form the foundation of our curriculum. We believe that this holistic model will have tremendous benefit for the local church in the Bicol region and ultimately for the advance of the gospel in Asia.