GIVING CHALLENGE PROJECT
Laboring Under Persecution
“For twenty years, the Church in our country labored under significant persecution. The benefit of this persecution, though, was that it brought us together in unity.”
As I tell you more about Johann’s story, please consider this opportunity to double your gift to help A3 bring its leader development into the world and impact more leaders.Leaders like Johann need our support, especially where the Christian faith is still in its first generation. In these areas, the seeds of the Gospel have been growing for just 30 or 40 years. Everything is new. But, just like we’ve experienced across Asia, they need help and mentoring.
An A3 staff member was sitting with Johann (not his real name), a key national leader in a country which I cannot name due to security reasons. With visible emotion, he was sharing the journey that he and his fellow leaders had traveled for more than two decades.
One of the surprising results of life under persecution is that it often strengthens the unity amongst the Christians suffering under its weight. Many national leaders serving the Lord in countries experiencing persecution have told us, “Persecution is what has grown the Church in our country.”
The irony is, however, that when the persecution eases, hard-won unity can be difficult to maintain. Johann continued...
“The persecution eased about five years ago. More and more, our younger leaders are going their separate ways. They don’t realize how precious the unity of the Church has been, and what is at stake if it withers.
“That is why we are willing to consider the A3 program. We believe that you might be able to help us to preserve our unity—and help us to pass the value of unity along to the next generation of leaders.”
Leaders begin to explore independent paths—and the unity can begin to crumble. “When the persecution ended in our country, the Christian leaders began fighting amongst themselves,” a leader shared with me some years ago. “We need more persecution!”
A3's Learning Communities Unite Leaders
This is precisely where A3 brings value to help leaders stay united.
Building and nurturing the unity of the Church is one of A3’s core values. It is why our cohorts are drawn from a diverse spectrum of denominations, theological perspectives, and people groups. When the Church is unified, great things for the Kingdom are possible. When the Church struggles with disunity, the cause of Christ is crippled.
That is why we were so gratified to hear this leader’s heart. He was explaining why he was helping to organize an Orientation Session for leaders in his country. At an A3 Orientation Session, leaders get a “taste” of what the A3 program could be like, with the opportunity to then decide whether or not to commit to the full, two-year A3 leader development program.
First Generation Leaders Need Mentoring
Leaders in these areas where Johann is from are first generation. They are on fire for the Kingdom but have no mentors to guide them through the challenges and hazards of pastoral ministry and spiritual leadership. Overwork is endemic; ignoring one’s family for sake of the work is applauded; lack of maturity and experience can lead to unhealthy competition; burnout is almost inevitable. But you can help change all that.
Again, this is where A3 can make a real difference. We are currently deep in Johann’s region, which we cannot identify to protect the safety of our new friends. These are places where the Christian faith is under pressure and persecution.
What we can tell you is that we are now engaged with dozens of leaders in these countries who are not just hungry, but desperate for the kind of transformational learning community that A3 can provide. New programs are being launched even as we speak, with more programs in the works for the near future, which you can help make possible.
Another thing this region shares with so many other “first generation” regions is economic hardship. A3 funding covers the hard costs of these programs—funds for meeting places, food, transportation costs for the faculty who volunteer their time to build into the lives of these leaders, and more. These leaders are running the programs on a shoestring; your contributions to programs like these will go far.
Matching Challenge for A3
Will you encourage, empower, and equip this next generation of first generation leaders? A gift of $50, $250, or $500, doubled by a $1 million match, would be a tremendous encouragement to Johann and help launch A3 leadership cohorts in many places across the globe.
Thank you for reading Johann’s story and for your faithful support through the years. We deeply value your ongoing partnership with A3 in the Gospel. It is an exciting time!
Yours for equipping emerging leaders,
Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., Ph.D.
* P.S. - The names have been changed to protect the identity of these leaders who are living in danger of losing their lives.
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