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Continuous Learning: A Blessing for God’s Church

by The Developing Healthy Leaders Team | May 2024 | Heartbeat, HB Ecuador, HB Latin America

“I don’t have time. I don’t have money. I’m too old.” These are excuses people often use to stop learning.

Pastora Mariana Mafla, the mission district leader in Ecuador, believes continuous formation is a duty and a necessity for every person in the church. Despite being in her sixties, continuing her education has blessed her spiritually and ministerially.

Mariana enrolled in the “How to Preach the Old Testament” diploma course for three reasons: her obedience to a Free Methodist commitment to pastoral training, a desire for personal growth, and the need to better guide and nourish the congregation and district she leads. She knew she could not give what she did not have.

The course provided her with academic tools to understand theological issues, and the Word of God ministered to her through the learning process. For example, understanding the Law is based on God’s character strengthened her identity as a spiritual leader. She acquired tools to develop good sermons and share the Word of God in a relevant way with those she serves. In addition, taking the course connected her with other Latin American leaders with whom she collaborates and who provided vital prayer support for Ecuador during the recent unrest there.

Pastora Mariana inspires and models the importance of continual training in Ecuador. Thanks to her example, two other leaders have completed a diploma course, 19 Ecuadorians are active in CenForME (Latin America’s online ministerial training platform), and the district opened a training center being utilized by 16 leaders. Mariana is motivating others to study, even those resistant in the past, because they can see a positive impact in her life and ministry. Ecuador is experiencing the transformative impact of education because they realize there is always an opportunity for growth.

When people say, “I don’t have time. I don’t have money. I’m too old.” Mariana says, “Ceasing to learn is unhealthy for any child of God!” The blessing is personal, but the church is also blessed when a pastor learns. She says the church must understand the importance of sound, biblical training. She advises, “Train leaders, learn to delegate, and involve the church in allocating resources for ongoing training.”

Pray churches in Ecuador will continue to grow as together, pastors, leaders, and members become more passionate about experiencing God’s presence through ongoing formation.