By Alan Hunt
Prior to World Orphans partnering with a church in a developing country we spend a considerable amount of time getting to know the senior pastor. We want to understand his heart, history, vision, and strategy to care for orphans and vulnerable children in his church and community. Many individuals in the church community will provide the actual day-to-day care for the children, but the pastor is the spiritual father of both the caregivers and the children. How he leads plays an integral role in how well the children will be cared for.
I just returned from Ethiopia where Pastor Teshale is the senior pastor of one of our partner churches. His church, located in an impoverished community, has two thousand members and with meager resources has planted six daughter churches including one granddaughter church in and around the Woliso area of Ethiopia. Their U.S. church partner, Pantego Bible Church of Fort Worth, Texas, is led by Senior Pastor David Daniels.
Our visiting team of twenty Texans was invited to attend Pastor Teshale’s monthly leadership meeting. At the Sunday evening meeting we had the pleasure of watching Pastor Teshale teach, recognize, encourage, and facilitate prayer as he effectively lead and loved each of his church leaders. Each team of ushers, greeters, elders, teachers, small group leaders, prayer team and Orphan Home Based Care leaders were given the opportunity to introduce themselves and say what they did as a team. Often Pastor Teshale would add additional information of recognition and praise about the person speaking. Then each team was prayed for out loud by all the other teams. And when I say pray, I mean PRAY! Ethiopian prayers are loud, heartfelt and intense, but oh so sweet to our Fathers’ ears. Before the evening was over every team had been prayed for including our Pantego team.
Now this might not seem like much to you but look at the photos of Pastor Teshale’s leaders and you will begin to understand the significance for them and the effectiveness of his leadership. I believe it is Pastor Teshale’s complete reliance in God that enables him to lead his church so well.
After the time of prayer we were all treated to authentic Ethiopian coffee as beans were roasted over a traditional coal fire, then ground and served espresso style. Of course the coffee was accompanied with the traditional Ethiopian snack food….popcorn!
For two hours on a Sunday night we were welcomed into a loving church family as co-leaders. We were given recognition and encouraged as our Ethiopian brothers and sisters did what seems so natural for them. We shared a sweet time of cross cultural language and prayer and we all left confident that God was at work in Ethiopia and Fort Worth, Texas through a group of leaders that will care well for the orphans and vulnerable children in their communities and church families.