Perspective on “Perspectives”

Returning from a short-term mission trip to Rwanda in 2004, I felt a burden for the country and its people. As I prayed, I heard God speak into my heart’s ears, “You could go and live there.” When God speaks, I am utterly changed the moment I respond. By his grace, and if he was the one to send and equip me, I told God “yes.”
One of the first things I did preparing for this new adventure was to talk to Pastor Rich Leatherberry. The first thing he suggested was to take the course “Perspectives.” I knew nothing about it, and I wanted to be as prepared as possible. At age 68, I had had very little to do with “missions.” I was somewhat interested in people’s stories as they returned from various far-flung places but didn’t see what part I might have in such work until I went to Rwanda.
What I want you to know is that Perspectives will blow your ideas about “missions” out of the water. Early 2005, I took the course (offered at Belpres) for preparation to go to live in a third world country. And when I came out the other end—yes, it’s a long course (15 weeks) and a lot of reading—I was radically different. I might say: I was born again.
The thing is, I KNEW my Bible. I was and am a Bible student and teacher. The first thing that happened in the beginning weeks was God did an “unraveling” of all my notions about his plans and activities shown in the Bible. The readings and lectures took everything I knew and pulled it all apart, and – praise God – put it back together for me to see it anew. Suddenly it was apparent: From Genesis to Revelation, the scriptures show that God has a plan – a heart – and a mission to reach and to restore all the nations to a relationship with him. I had not seen this before.
Well, that hooked me. Now I wanted to learn how God has been moving over the centuries to accomplish his plan and what cultural awareness I needed to be a part of this. And finally, what strategies God has (and will show us) to use in this ongoing work to reach all nations for his glory.
This “course” is really a powerful instrument from God’s hands for all believers. It is essential for us to know how we fit into his overall plan to be a part of his mission—whether going, sending, equipping, mobilizing, or praying. Praise God for the vision Perspectives unfolds and inspires. It was an essential part of my preparation for Rwanda, and now that I’m back, I’m a strong advocate for Perspectives. I see it becoming an area-wide movement, supported and hosted by many churches in the greater Seattle area, for God’s glory.

 

PERSPECTIVES course is coming to BelPres on Thursday nights, August 30 – December 13!

For more information or to register, go to:  belpres.org/events/perspectives/

Rethinking Change

What brings change?  How do we become different people?  Some say it’s the people we care about and the challenges we face that change us. I think that’s part of it.  As followers of Jesus, we are also shaped by the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Some of our most life-changing moments happen when there is a confluence of these elements. Influential people, wisdom from past experiences and our faith guide us through personal challenges and we emerge transformed.

I experienced deep change when I was a pastor in my previous church.  After eight years as Associate Pastor, the Human Resources Committee suggested I take a three-month Sabbatical.  I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret that.  On the one hand, it could’ve been a good thing and they may have wanted to invest in me – “Pastor, please go and be refreshed.”  On the other hand, it could’ve been a bad thing; they may have wanted to send a different message – “Pastor, please just go away.” I chose to believe the former.

I had three young kids at the time. Going away and leaving my wife alone for several months didn’t seem like a very good idea. My wife agreed.  So I broke the Sabbatical up into several shorter segments throughout the year. During that time, one of the best things I did was to take a class called “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.”  Most of my friends warned me that it would wreck my life; meaning I would never be the same. They were right.  “Perspectives” opened my eyes and heart to the radical idea God is moving in the ordinary and the miraculous to reclaim, heal and restore every nation, tribe and tongue that was lost when sin wrecked our world.  The course showed this to be the central theme of Scripture; a narrative thread of human history and hidden truth embedded within every culture.  God has come to rescue all of us and His name is Jesus!

In the end, the course lived up to its reputation. I was deeply changed.  I finished with the deep conviction God was calling me to mobilize people to be part of this great global revival project. And to make sure I was paying attention, God gave me a sign I couldn’t miss.  Having taken the class in Pasadena, CA, I returned to my Washington home and sat down at my desk to read my mail.  There, on the top of the pile, was a letter from the Pastor Search Committee chair at BelPres.  The committee wanted me to apply for their Mission Pastor position. That was seventeen years ago.

What has brought change in your life?  What can you do to bring change now?  How can you know and connect with God’s call for your life?  “Perspectives” has been one of those transformational experiences for me. For that reason, I recommend it to those seeking change.  It is a big time commitment (15 weeks) and there is a lot to read.  It’s a challenge and challenge is nothing more than a catalyst for growth and an opportunity to be made different.

 

Perspectives is coming to BelPres September 5- December 19 .   

Encore!

“Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart.”

–“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus”

I never dreamed God would have another place for me in global ministry. After serving for twenty years as a director for a mission organization working alongside churches in Europe, I was ready for a quiet transition to retirement, with time to spare for my family and eight grandchildren. Before I could catch a breath, the chair of my missions team and good friend, encouraged me to take the Perspectives course. 

If you haven’t already heard about it, Perspectives on the World Christian Movement is a profound journey that is taught across the nation and around the world. For me, it was a journey of discovery of God’s heart for the entire world, including my neighbor next door. Little did I imagine that it would take me back into almost fulltime ministry as a Regional Director, encouraging classes across the Northwest in communities where there is a vision for churches working together to bring the Perspectives course.

It wasn’t on my screens at all when the Regional Director contacted me to consider taking his place. But, God does have a plan. Retirement is better phrased ‘Encore’. The ‘encore’ in my life has been the opportunity to work with a National and Global Team, and to come alongside a committed core of trained coordinators who are launching classes across Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska each spring and fall. 

One story, among many, shares why I love Perspectives —

Mary is preparing to work full-time with African Inland Mission. The part of her story that will interest you is how God called her, not because she is a missionary kid (which she was), but because she took a Perspectives class. God used this class to touch her heart.

It’s a privilege to have a part in this great mobilization effort. Not only are thousands accepting the call to ‘go’, but because of Perspectives, we are learning how to send them with a strong base of support, to welcome the internationals among us, to pray more effectively, and to consider our part in the Great Commission. If you’d like to learn more, contact Perspectives at: www.perspectives.org.