“May I repeat this challenging, nine-month program? It has been difficult, as a busy pastor, father, and husband, to find time, but my ministry has been so blessed. I need to repeat it.”
I was totally taken aback. The program is exhaustive and rigorous. But this question from one of my students exemplifies the hunger among our European ministers for training to reach the harvest.
As superintendent of the 11 countries of Western Europe, I am helping today to train dozens of such dedicated church planters. It clearly shows that Europe is far from being a lost cause! During the last 37 years, I have been training ministers here … the light has been shining ever more brightly into the darkness. Churches are growing after being planted. Just as in the case of this pastor when he successfully took the Ministerial Internship Program for a second year. His church became six times the size it was before. This story has been repeated at the national level in many of our countries where the MIP continues to be taught.
The Church of God is here to answer the call of Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Even now, there is a campaign to “Send the Light” to four of the major cities of Europe: Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, and Moscow, as part of an 11 cities worldwide outreach into the darkness. Souls are not only to be won, they are to be discipled as Jesus commanded through training in the Word. We are excited to do our part.
Training ministers to lead is at the heart of what Jesus did for three years during His earthly walk. The training was to follow—imitate Him and then pass on His teachings. The disciples were instructed to lead others likewise. As Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).”
Training is also at the heart of what the Church of God has undertaken in 183 countries around the world—to FINISH our commitment to the Great Commission through the MIP, CIMS, and our Bible schools: Focus, Invade, Navigate, Intercede, Send, and Heal. All these aspects done intentionally and together will raise up a new generation of prophets among the youth as our General Overseer has called for in the Jeremiah Project.
This is what Kathy and I are doing in Western Europe. Helping equip a mighty army of new ministers, lay and credentialed. Many are in ministry as couples. Some are women being mobilized and empowered by the Holy Spirit in various women’s gatherings organized by my wife, Dr. Kathy Watson-Swift. I will never forget the words of one lady co-pastor, “Our ministry has been through such fiery trials that we were asking God if it was time to resign. But after this women’s conference, God has given us new vision and determination to stay the course!”
Training leaders is an essential task! Let us continue to train to lead.
Superintendent, Church of God in Western Europe