Empowering Local Partners

by Kay Parks

“Among the 150+ CPMs we are aware of worldwide, only a very small minority have been catalyzed directly by an outsider. The majority develop when the outside CPM catalyzer(s) vision-casts and trains the near / same culture local partner/believer(s), and together they vision-cast, train, and live out these biblical truths.” -CPM Trainer Stan Parks

One joy of overseas ministry is the local partners with whom we get to work. It’s not only wonderful to walk and work beside them but absolutely critical!

One of my local partners was Flora. She and her husband are local church planters. Flora and I made it a habit together to find people to talk to (i.e. searching for Persons of Peace). We would pray before going out and along the way. Whenever possible, we would visit women we already knew and share with them. We also went into the community to meet new women, looking for those wanting to engage in spiritual conversations.

If I found someone interested in the gospel while on my own, I would invite Flora the next time I met that person. I never wanted anyone in my adopted country to confuse following Jesus with American Christianity. Flora was a lifeline in my ministry. (Not to mention that she was so much fun to know and work with!)

The Good, the Bad and the Messy

We didn’t always feel successful. While many women would engage in spiritual conversations, we almost never found those who wanted to meet with their family and friends. 

Due to our perceived lack of success, we both felt discouraged at times! In fact, if we defined success only as finding a Person of Peace and starting a Discovery Group, we weren’t successful at all! But I’d like to expand the definition of success: In training, we learned that when we work with our local partners (and they work with others), we are to MEWL–Model, Equip, Watch and Letter (keeping in touch after leaving). By this measure of success, I feel better about my efforts.

When Flora and I met together, I modeled ways to share (as she did with me). At times I had to push her to do the talking, so I could “watch” and encourage her in the process. This also lent itself to “equipping”—giving helpful thoughts, praying for her as she shared, and talking about what we were learning. When I consider success in these terms, I feel more encouraged about our work.

Recently my husband and I returned for a visit. Imagine my great joy at finding that Flora and her husband continued sharing with others. They pray, demonstrate Christ’s love, and have seen some Discovery Groups started. Another local worker and Flora now go out to share. Flora is MEWLing (so to speak) and passing on what she has learned.

We both learned to keep doing what we were trained to do. We kept looking for Persons of Peace. We continued to pray. We continued to meet with other women to train and encourage them. Did we feel successful? Not really. But did we give up? Never. Not an option.

Truth be told, I often felt like a CPM failure and was thankful others were modeling, equipping, watching, and lettering Flora as well. But as I look back at my time with Flora I am very thankful. I can see how powerful it was to work with local partners, encourage them, and model persistence. To see Flora continue on and to know other local workers are being raised up encourages my heart in ways I cannot express.

A Reproducing Disciple-Maker Left Behind?

My husband has often said, “It’s not what you can do to start a movement, but what needs to be done.” I believe that praying for and empowering local leaders is the greatest thing any of us can do as we serve to see movements started. So, wherever I am, I will do my best to model, equip, watch, and letter with other workers. Paul’s words ring true when I think about Flora and my other local partners: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:3-6) Amen and Amen!

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers, it was edited with permission.

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