Its all about the people and they are broken. When your live in a country of millions of people who are living in darkness and deception what is the best way to help them? In year 2000 we went looking for help. We went looking for nationals whom we could employ as aid workers to help us do our jobs better. We didn't find any. Most residents of Gondor are muslims and there just were not any available believers to be found. In 2001 my best friend Gimli went with his wife to Ithilien to live and work there on the borders of Mordor. Bilbo and his wife went to Mordor. This was a painful part of our plan. We were to push to the edge, attack the darkness. We were going forward. But that left me alone to do disaster response and reach the villages of Gondor.
In 2003 the Boss told me to try again to get a national team. At first there was no response and I wondered if there was anyone ready to get out to rural Gondor and help the villagers who had no access to the truth at all. I put off starting a training program for as long as I could and finally the Boss said, 'Begin on August 4th'. So, I put out word that the program which would be composed of disaster preparedness and response as well as community development, servant leadership, and church planting would begin on that day. On the first day of the training ten guys showed up and we got started. It was a great and challenging time. Two months of intensive interaction with ten guys. I would teach one or two of them a lesson in the afternoon and the next day they would teach the lessons I taught them to the group. I was only in front of the whole group on Monday morning for a devotional or two. It was all done in the local language which was a huge challenge for me!
The last week of the program we went to a village in the south and did a disaster preparedness seminar. Anfalas was a dry and dusty place and we knew that they would not have many disaster needs there but we had done work there in the past and I knew they would welcome us.
After the training I chose four who would be our disaster management team (DMT). So, I assume you can see this coming: Frodo is the team leader. With him are Sam, Merry and Pippen. But these guys are not charactors in a story, they are flesh and blood and worse than that they have a HISTORY. Let me explain. After the training was over two of the guys ended up leaving their local church. Now, this was problematic as one of my goals was to have local churches support the church planting work we were doing in the villages. It turned out that Frodo and Merry were elders in a local church and the lead elder (pastor) had a power struggle with them. That is why he recommended them to my team. He was not trying to support our work, he was trying to get rid of a problem. Sam was a key leader of a large organization in Gondor. He worked for them for almost seven years and had done bold evangelism in countless villages. He became burned out with the manipulative leadership of the organization and quit about four months before he came to us. Pippen was a young man who had been discipled in a large group with heavy handed leadership style and I would learn that he too had been used up and burned out. So, after a wonderful two months of training I discovered that far from having the best that the local churches could offer me they had given me their broken, burned out rejects. After working and praying with these guys for a year Pippen had to be let go. He was replaced by Bolger who left last year to the West. Now another man is in his place, Ted. We will see if Ted keeps up with us or not. So, why am I saying all this? Because I would not trade these guys for anybody. No one else would have gone down the road we have gone down. No one else would have striven so hard to reach the villages of Gondor with the truth. We have learned alot together but one thing I have learned more than any other thing. It is all about the people and they are broken. We must invest in broken people. Not just any broken people, but the ones that our Boss is calling us to.
Next post will be what God has done in Anfalas- it's the best story yet.