If I were to count the times I heard the phrase, “Living by Faith”, while in the Amazon with JMI, I would be counting to a pretty high number. Two times a year, a group of leaders converge at the John Pac Center outside of Manaus, Brazil, to receive training, encouragement, support, and to build connections with other leaders from all over the state of Amazonas. To say this experience is life-giving and life-changing is a massive understatement.
For those who may have never had an opportunity to see a Jungle Pastors’ Conference first hand, I will be the first to say, my words and descriptors fall short in painting the picture of what really happens at the pastors’ conference. The room is filled with men and women, some who began a journey to the conference 12 days prior to it starting. The leaders are both young and old, with varied years of experience in pastoral ministry. The places where they serve include remote villages only accessible by small boats, and communities that are hearing the message of the gospel for the very first time! The access to resources in most of these communities is limited, and pastor after pastor spoke of financial hardships, struggles to provide food for their own families and spiritual darkness that would often blow my mind as a comfortable, North American pastor… yet, the talk about all of these needs was always overshadowed by a deep dependence of faith in God, and trusting that He would provide all they needed to fulfill the calling He had placed on their lives.
Throughout the conference, our team taught on subjects like servant leadership, ministering to children and families, and how to help couples in crisis. We taught them about ministering to moms, church finances, how to navigate change and how to develop other leaders in their own congregations. We came with some of our best practices, handouts that had been translated into Portuguese, and listening ears. However, we were the ones that walked away blessed and encouraged, as cliche as it may sound.
The pastors’ conference reminded me once again that God is doing something incredible in the world that can only be described by Him. His word is advancing through these remote villages and I am grateful to have been a part of encouraging some of those workers in the harvest field. This conference also reminded me of the responsibility we have to support, pray for, and lift up these pastors day in and day out. As a result, some of you may want to email JMI today about sponsoring a pastor or leader this next year, to give them an opportunity to be a part of the conference….my wife and I sent that email immediately upon returning to the US.
Commit to pray for what God is doing, and to lift up those doing this work. May we all grow in our ability to live by faith, and may we find that phrase appearing in our lives more and more, as we live out His calling!
~ Jason Hale, Rolling Hills Community Church, Campus Pastor