STRATEGY: Case Study: EMMAUS ROAD TURNS 15 YEARS OLD
From: Neal Pirolo <Neal_Pirolo@eri.org> In Latin culture the 15th birthday of a girl is as grand a celebration as her wedding! The birthing of Emmaus Road was as unique as that of any brain child. When it took its first breath of life, we were excited. When it took its first steps into new areas of ministry, we knew it was growing; and as it is now in its mid-teen years, its achievements give us reason to thank God. We rejoice in the privilege to be involved in His Great Plan of the Ages!
1983 Emmaus Road International (ERI) begins publishing its newsletter, KEEPING IN TOUCH. Desiring to keep in touch with those beginning to use our resources and those interested in the ministry of Emmaus Road, we not only informed of dates and events, but began including informative articles. It was, in fact, a series in the KEEPING IN TOUCH titled, "A Mere Drop in the Bucket" that later evolved into a Critical Issues Series which later developed into our book, SERVING AS SENDERS.
1983 ERI begins developing its support team. Recognizing our need for a care group, particularly in prayer, we begin drawing around us people who will commit to regular, sustaining prayer for the ministry of Emmaus Road. We began sending them the PRAISE 'N' PRAYER NOTES, a "prayer closet" work sheet of praise and prayer items each month. There is no doubt in my mind that it has been the prayers of these faithful friends that have sustained us. Thank you!
1984 ERI begins writing essays on CRITICAL ISSUES IN CROSS-CULTURAL MINISTRY. What began quite simply as sharing some thoughts in writing became an every-six-weeks essay that formatted into four series of twelve to fifteen issues per series. Mobilizing Your Church, For Those Who Go, Serving As Senders, and Internationals Who Live Among Us provide thought-provoking ideas for consideration by anyone interested in missions. Though we have discontinued writing new essays, reprints of the articles continue to stimulate missions thinking for many.
1984 ERI begins training cross-cultural workers through the ACTS 29 TRAINING COURSE. Assuming one has a personal call to missions, assuming that call has been confirmed by the church or mission agency, assuming the worker is a student of the word and assuming he has had some ministry experience in his home culture, there is still the need for learning how to live and minister in a second culture. The ACTS 29 Training Course provides that transition from all the theory of academics to the reality of cross-cultural living. The interactive learning center of the classroom, the true second-culture community and the Mexican Christian home provide total immersion in a second culture. Thank you, Randy and Starlynn, Eric and Cindy, and Jan Fraser for being our very first class! This ministry has developed into two ten-week and two four-week sessions per year.
1985 ERI produces its first video and audio training tape series: SPIRITUAL WARFARE. Invited to do a seminar for Calvary Chapel Albuquerque on spiritual warfare, they asked if they could videotape it. They were so pleased with the results, they encouraged us to help them format it into nine one-hour studies. As Dave and I did the editing, he got so excited, he wanted to do a seven-minute introduction tape for the series! With him paying the bill! With nineteen pages of Student Notes and a Leader's Discussion Guide, it has become an excellent resource for small group study. The sound track was then taken off and it has become an audio training tape series more suited for individual study. Thanks, Dave!
1985 ERI begins training church mission committees through the NOTHING GOOD JUST HAPPENS! seminar. One time an avid (but hasty) reader of our newsletter called in a panic! "Neal, why did you name a seminar "Nothing Good EVER Happens?" Her thought added to mine is also true! For nothing good ever just happens!
Our analogy we use in trying to communicate the effort needed to build a strong church missions program is: We want to help you grow oak trees, not mushrooms! Anyone can grow a mushroom overnight, but in the morning it can be knocked over with the flick of a finger. On the other hand, it takes years to grow an oak tree. But once it's established, don't even try to push it over. We deal with seventeen areas of responsibility for the Missions Task Force to consider.
1986 ERI begins a couplet of seminars, FOR THOSE WHO GO and SERVING AS SENDERS. For Those Who Go helps cross-cultural enthusiasts "look beyond the romanticism of missions." We find it excellent training for those preparing to go on short term trips as well as initial basic training for those making a longer term commitment.
It naturally follows that the one who goes needs to develop a care group. Thus, the cross-cultural worker, by bringing to the seminar, Serving As Senders, those considering to be a part of his team, will have a more knowledgeable commitment when they do say "yes!"
1987 ERI produces a four-hour video training tape series: SOLUTIONS TO CULTURE STRESS. A young lady was encouraged to attend our seminar, For Those Who Go. Unfortunately, it was after she came home! As I hit point after point, it hit her: "I should have heard this before I went!" She became the producer of ASAPH Studies in Santa Ana. She was able to arrange the production of the middle four hours of that seminar. The series has become the foundational training of many short term ministry trips. Thanks, Nicole!
1991 ERI publishes its first book, SERVING AS SENDERS. When I mentioned to a friend that it had taken two years from first draft to publication, she "encouraged" me by saying, "The gestation period for an elephant is two years!" Thanks, Julie! Just months after its printing, I was able to present a copy to George Verwer, International Director for Operation Mobilization. Though we had never talked before, upon just looking at the cover, he turned to me and said, "Neal, where has this book been for the last 100 years?" The next day he purchased 1000 copies! And in the succeeding years he has been instrumental in seeing it published in eight other languages... Report after report has reaffirmed that God has chosen to use this resource to begin a revolution in how the church cares for missionaries they send out. Thank you, Jesus!
1991 ERI begins leading ACTS MINISTRY TRIPS. Neal and I had been out on a number of ministry trips--just the two of us. However, on a trip in 1990, we learned of some needs in Romania and Czechoslovakia that weighed heavily on my heart. That trip had been given to us by Jeff Thompson, Director of Eastern European Outreach. One Sunday, after being home for several months, as we were on a walk with Jeff and his children (staying out of the way of his wife who was fixing dinner), I again picked up my theme of, "Jeff, when are you going to send a team with supplies for the Czech and Slovak people?" I remember clearly the scene: Jeff stopped in his tracks, turned around to face me, and clearly stated; "When you are ready to lead that team there!" And the rest is history! Thanks, Jeff! As this report goes to press, a team is returning from China. Teams have been led to as diverse places as the Ukraine, Romania, China, Albania, the Czech Repulbic, Slovakia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Argentina, and Germany. Truly The Field is the World!...
1991 ERI produces its second audio training tape series, BUILDING YOUR SUPPORT TEAM. Recognizing that the book, Serving As Senders, is written to the church and considering that there were a number of resources for the missionary on the subject of team development, we still felt there were some ideas we could offer. Our church had some rather sophisticated recording equipment. I asked of the possibility of using it. My notes in hand, I arrived. I was taken to the nursing room! Crib pads and blankets were draped around a reel-to-reel recorder. I was told, "Push this button to start and this button to stop! I will edit it for you!" Thanks, Scottie! Thanks, Maranatha Chapel!
1993 ERI begins training WBT/SIL missionaries. When we were informed that we had been chosen to provide the "Jungle Camp/Field Training Course" pre-field training for Wycliffe Bible Translators through our ACTS 29 Training Course, I cried! For joy! And for the awesome privilege to train missionaries of the organization through which we had done our field work. As short-term assistants (STAs) we had received absolutely no training. So much of the course material we have built into our curriculum was born out of our own experiences and from listening many long hours to missionaries.
1997 ERI publishes its second book, PREPARE FOR BATTLE! After teaching the lessons of this book for fifteen years, we sensed the value in putting our notes in book form. After four years of struggle from first draft to printing, my word of encouragement came, "What would you expect while writing a book on spiritual warfare!" Thanks, Roman! Frank Peretti, with his imaginative descriptions of the unseen warfare, certainly got the interest of people on the subject, Neil Anderson, and others have written fine works alerting us to many of the advanced battles of spiritual warfare. It is for the very practical training in the basics of the warfare that we provide this resource. With a general "back to basics" attitude in our "advanced" culture, it is good to be sure of the basics in spiritual warfare as well.
It is a joy to once a year share with you the awesome privilege it has been to be about our Father's business. When we think of all the ways He could have accomplished world evangelization, we can be nothing but humbled at the thought that He chose to allow us participation in His Plan of the Ages... Yet, in all of our giving praise to God for these "things", let's learn the lesson of the 70 who had been sent out. When they returned, they were telling Jesus of all of their accomplishments: "Even the demons were subject to us!" Jesus answered, "I saw satan fall from heaven...Rejoice rather that your names are in the Book of Life!" Luke 10:20 For this, most of all, we are eternally grateful!