Wednesday, June 4, 2014

More Locations. Same Mission.

Teaching at Vision Leadership Institute, Meki

Meki is a city located about 80 miles south of Addis Ababa.

This year, we opened a training center there with 90 ministry leaders attending the two-year program!

Vision Leadership Institute, a collaborative ministry of several U.S. and Ethiopian groups, is a mobile training center. We go where the needs are. Churches hear about us and invite us to their community.

When a ministry is successful, there is always a temptation to keep expanding it.

The original vision of Vision Leadership Institute was and is to provide free two-year college-level theological education and pastoral training to those ministry practitioners in rural areas of Ethiopia. So the temptation is NOT offering the training in a growing number of cities (2 in 2011, 3 in 2013, 4 in 2014).

Our temptation has been to offer more than two-years of initial training. Those who have completed our initial training have been strongly encouraging us to offer them more. We certainly see the value of it.

This year, once again, this was the main topic of conversation when we met with groups of VLI alumni in Debre Zeyit and Shashemene. They would like two additional years of in-depth studies in all of the subjects we teach. Our U.S. team wrestled with it throughout our trip.

In the end, we unanimously decided to stick to our original mission and not to offer any more than the two-year program.

We are excited and humbled by their hunger and eagerness. However, we believe that the free two-year program is what God has directed Vision Leadership Institute to provide.

Jesus also said no to growing ministry opportunities.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39)

His ministry in Capernaum was going well. In the morning, disciples were ready for another day of ministry. A crowd seemed to be already gathering, waiting for Jesus. "Everyone is looking for you." There was a sense of anticipation in the voice of his disciples.

But Jesus directed his disciples to move on to the next towns. "But, Lord, we have a bigger crowd today, waiting for you!" I would have objected the Master's plan.

The Lord was clear on his mission. "I may preach there also, for that is why I came out." He didn't let the growing popularity of his ministry or the pressing needs of people distract him from his mission given by the Father.