I love leading a mission agency that exists to reach and teach the neediest places of the world. I regularly point out that we are not called simply Teaching International Ministries, even though teaching leaders and pastors in biblically faithful and culturally appropriate ways is admittedly our strength. Rather, we are Reaching & Teaching International Ministries. We send teams and career missionaries to reach into areas with no church with the desire to plant sound New Testament churches, train biblically qualified pastors and leaders, and utilize multiple ministries for deep discipleship.
Many pastors contact me looking for ways to get their church involved in overseas evangelism, church planting, and mercy ministries, but also for opportunities to teach pastors and leaders where there is no training available. Some have been on mission trips and have seen the biblical illiteracy, have heard well-meaning national brothers preaching unintentional heresy, and have seen men and women in leadership who have never even been discipled. They see what Reaching & Teaching does and they want to come help. We rejoice with all who do, and say, “Welcome!”
The trips we conduct give men and women the opportunity to travel to far-flung places to see how God can use them in short-term and even career missions. Because God cannot lead someone based on information he or she does not have, we know that these trips are often a window through which people can see God’s plan for the next steps in their lives. Yet, in addition to blessing national believers with training, team members also receive great blessing in return. Those of you who have been on trips with us could give ample testimony to that.
We seek to train the whole Christian in the content that they should know, the character formation that should be true of every disciple, and the preparation in skills for Christian ministry. The curriculum we use, Hearts, Heads, and Hands, will be published by LifeWay in September in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with more languages coming next year. One of the key truths we emphasize to national pastors is the pastoral qualification to be apt to teach (1 Tim 3:2) – and to be apt to teach includes at least knowing what to teach. Yet, growing as a Christian pastor, leader, or disciple is about much more than academics and head knowledge.
This truth is seen so clearly in the good hand of God’s favor on the life of Ezra. The Bible teaches why God was blessing Ezra so in 7:10,
“For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
Therein we see three keys for having God’s hand of blessing on your life and ministry: knowing, obeying, and teaching God’s truths to others.
Study to Know God’s Word
Ezra had dedicated himself to study God’s Word. To be a good teacher of God’s Word you must first be a student of it. And to be a good student, you must learn to hear the voice of the Lord teaching you through it. The Lord’s Servant says in Isaiah 50:4-5a, “The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear.” If the Messiah was sustained by God’s Word, then certainly we must be as well! David also speaks of the blessings to the one who learns from the Lord with an open ear in Psalm 40:4-11. Dedicate yourself to study God’s Word to know it clearly as one who hears it from God with an open ear.
Obey What You Learn
Ezra sought to obey the Law he learned. David spoke of this blessing as well in the very first Psalm, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” He clearly connects loving obedience to the Word with God’s blessing on one’s life, as he does again in Psalm 119:1-2, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” Obeying what you learn is the second key for God’s blessing.
Teach God’s Word to Others
Ezra also dedicated himself to teach God’s statutes to His people. The blessings connected to teaching God’s Word are found in the many commands to do so – from Deuteronomy 6:6-7, where parents are instructed to teach their children, to Jesus commanding us to go to every people group and make disciples and to teach them everything He has commanded, to Paul telling older women to teach the younger ones, to Paul’s instructing Timothy to teach what he had heard to faithful men who could teach others also. This command to teach brings blessings to those who are obedient to do so.
The three keys to have God’s blessing on your life and ministry are to do as Ezra did: dedicate yourself to study God’s Word, practice what you learn, and teach it to others. This is not health-and-wealth heresy; it is biblical truth. The blessing will most probably not take the form of a newer car, a bigger house, a $65 million-dollar jet, or your best life now; Ezra’s ministry certainly wasn’t a life of wealth and ease. But he had the good hand of God’s favor on his life.
You can do all of this right where you are. You can take it around town, or you can do it on a church mission trip, or go with us at Reaching & Teaching. God blesses those who make the study of His Word a priority in their lives, seek to apply it to their lives and practice what He teaches them, and then seek to teach others as well.