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Brother, Are You in a Tree?

by Bryan, missionary to Southeast Asia | Apr 2024 | Heartbeat, HB Asia, HB Creative Access

Brother, are you in a tree? That is an actual question asked during a training conducted for pastors in Creative Access Country-NP. The answer was – yes, that pastor really was in a tree. The location of his village meant he had to climb a tree to get cell service to join the pastor’s training event.

This man is just one example of the reality faced as we equip those who lead churches across Asia. The diversity of Asia is reflected in the diversity of locations, languages and situations where our leaders pastor Free Methodist congregations. This extreme diversity means the Asia Area needs to be adaptable and have a multifaceted approach for equipping leaders.

Gethsemane Leadership Training (GLT) is the Asia Area’s pathway for pastoral education. Think of it as seminary training offered to people right where they are already serving in ministry. In Asia, it is not unusual for those preparing for ordination to already be serving as pastors. Our work is to come alongside them as they lead and learn. GLT offers leaders 12 core modules engaging head, heart and hands. These modules focus on key skills needed to thrive in leadership over the long haul.

In Asia, there are leaders who have Master of Divinity degrees and others who have limited literacy. We have leaders in urban centers with great infrastructures and leaders in rural areas where electricity and internet access are limited. Some leaders serve in places where they can lead and worship openly and others serving in creative access areas where discretion is key. We have leaders who are full-time pastors and leaders who are bi-vocational. Adding to the complexity is the diversity of languages and cultures.

Embracing the diversity, we work to engage leaders in their context through three main training modalities:

On-Site – Our team travels to a specific location and spends three to four days with a group of leaders walking them through one of our modules.

Zoom – Zoom is the only way for us to equip leaders in certain creative access countries.

Video – Twelve core modules are being brought to video, allowing us to engage the diversities of language and culture.

Keeping the focus on relational learning, leaders gather as cohorts with a local mentor who answers questions and helps the students apply the training to their ministry context.

God is amazing us as we see pastors engaging in this training, even up in a tree!