By: Esther Zimmerman
In mid-October, 2014, twenty-seven children’s ministry leaders from eleven nations converged on Sanctuary House in Pamunugama, Sri Lanka, for Mobilise Asia 2014, a week of visioning, equipping and encouragement for key country leadership involved in reaching children for Christ in their birth nations. Participating faculty included BCM Philippines director Gerlyn DeJesus, BCM India trainers Mohan Paul and Yesurajan Manuel, BCM South Africa’s Children’s Ministry Coordinator Pat Govender, BCM Philippines missionary Fay Escoton, and Esther Zimmerman, BCM’s Director of International Children’s Ministry.
As with two earlier Mobilise events in Ireland (October 2013) and Ukraine (March 2014), the goal of this event was to grow BCM’s ministry to children around the world through multiplication and partnership. Specifically, the participation of these twenty-seven key leaders would enlarge BCM’s team of global trainers available to lead Train the Trainer (TTT) workshops and coordinate the development of In Step with the Master Teacher (ISMT) training throughout Asia and Africa.
So what exactly is TTT and ISMT? In Step with the Master Teacher is BCM’s children’s ministry leadership training curriculum, a 22-hour interactive program that prepares leaders to make disciples like Jesus did by 1) modeling God’s truth, 2) building relationships, and 3) teaching for response. Train The Trainer prepares regional children’s ministry leaders to head up their own ISMT training programs, thereby multiplying many times over the effective reach of a single global trainer in raising up well-equipped Sunday school teachers and children’s ministry leaders throughout their birth regions.
As leadership from India, Nepal, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Malawi, South Africa, USA, East Asia, and Sri Lanka itself gathered at Sanctuary House, delegates were well aware of many things that could drive the group apart—culture, language, politics, age, ministry background, and experience. Instead, God gave the group a wonderful spirit of unity. One ISMT Lead Trainer from Ireland, who’d committed to covering the event in prayer, commented after watching the week unfold via Facebook, “I was praying in the beginning, but then I just started thanking!”
God truly did abundantly above all one could ask or imagine as He knit twenty-seven hearts together with a common vision. Each day brought new learning experiences as delegates worked through the training materials, worshipped, imagined and planned together. BCM Sri Lanka host Meashed Liyanage made sure there was also time to play. Singing around a campfire, exploring a nearby bird sanctuary by boat, and jumping for joy beside the Indian Ocean were among the week’s highlights.
Throughout each aspect of Mobilise Asia 2014, the goal was to ‘pass the baton’—to share a vision for children and to equip more leaders until every child in every community all around the world has the opportunity to know, love and obey God. Following the event, leaders who participated shared how God had worked through their time together:
South Africa: “Meeting each one of the delegates was just so encouraging and gave me a surge of passion and love for children and to see more children come to know Jesus.”
Indonesia: “We are grateful to do the ministry with BCM, because we have something supporting us to do more, help more, walk further without doubt.”
Philippines: “I’m so joyful that we’re working all over the world as one team. Your [BCM] passionate heart for the children is a big challenge and inspiration for us to keep reaching the kids as well as training others.”
Sri Lanka: “We can make a difference in our world with leaders who are passionate and true to the cause. We can inspire and give hope to the lost through love and compassion.”
As the event finished and delegates flew back to their own countries, BCM South Africa faculty member Pat Govender offered a follow-up challenge to each participant: “My encouragement to each person is that we must not forget what we learned and how God ministered to us during our time there. We must not let it fade away into the busyness of our daily lives and ministry, but meditate on what we’ve learned, apply it and allow God to make us real and radical. We must be real in this ministry if we want to bless God’s heart. His heart aches for the children. And if we are real, we’re going to be radical. We cannot be radical if we are not real. Every single child needs Jesus, and we must let the children come to Him using the tools we have to train more trainers and workers.”
Pray for these twenty-seven delegates as they are now back home that each would continue to be both radical and real as they seek to multiply ministry to their countries’ children. Already, Pat’s challenge and the vision of Mobilise Asia 2014 is seeing fruit. Within a month of the event, in virtually every nation represented, new ISMT and other children’s leadership training events had already been scheduled. God’s heart for this planet’s 2.2 billion children is being shared ever increasingly across Asia and Africa.
The baton has been passed.
Originally Published in BCM World December 2014