Stories from Around the World

Written by Lee Heyward on Friday, 20 September 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

"...for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation."
Revelation 5:9

As we’ve shared with you recently, BrookLink’s facilitator team had a summer of extensive travel.  You helped send six members of our training team and affiliates from Europe to Africa to South Asia.  The stories they shared upon their return were inspirational, and we want to share them with you! 

Dan Green and his wife, Lynne recently returned from their 20th annual trip to Prague, Czech Republic, where a recent article states that 66% of the Czech people do not believe in God.  Their time included academic teaching, preaching, consulting with church leaders, teaching in local churches, and connecting with good friends.  Two events stood out to Dan. ADKP, a professional organization for Christians integrating faith and psychological practice, planned a conference around his visit, so he could teach and lead in case consultations. In 2000, within the Czech Republic there were zero psychologists who actively integrated faith and practice. Today, there are more than 60 who seek to intentionally and actively integrate their faith in the clinical and academic work.  Second, a celebration recognizing their 20 years of service included a reunion with former faculty and students. Former students are now in faculty and service provider roles while present and former faculty continue to minister in many roles. Dan says, “This was so encouraging to see. The work of BrookLink is impacting this and future generations.”

Dan & Lynne Green in Prague at ADKP Conference

Additionally, Paul and Lisa Sinclair just returned from five weeks in India. They traveled to the northern Indian States of West Bengal and Nagaland, teaching  two courses for 32 Doctor of Ministry and PhD candidates. West Bengal is primarily Hindu and 1.2% Christian while Nagaland  has the highest percentage of Christians of any Indian state.  Lisa and Paul preached at local Christian colleges as well as teaching the doctoral courses. 

Map of Nagaland

Lisa commented, “We feel that God has allowed us here ‘for such a time.’ These leaders are facing many challenges as the world around them changes. BrookLink's partner organization in India sees itself as God’s mission tool to the world. Such a privilege to be here! Our students represent many different ministries—women, children, orphanages, hostels, pastors, school and Bible college principals, teachers, etc. It is a wonderful place for BrookLink to work to equip, empower and release!”

Celebrating Our Partners

Written by Lee Heyward on Monday, 19 August 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

It is summertime in good ole Milwaukee.  The temperatures have been reliably warm, the ethnic festival season is in full swing, and there is growing excitement around the city about hosting a presidential convention next year. Wisconsin is truly a great place to be during the summertime.

Recently an article was published in Christianity Today about Ethiopia being on the front lines of the next mission movement.  The article struck me in two significant ways.  Firstly, the evidence of seeds sown long ago by missionaries that have grown into what now are evangelical denominations of millions, is awe-inspiring. It recalls the verses in Ephesians, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Eph. 4:11-12). The Ethiopian Church has not only grown numerically, but spiritually too!

BrookLink in Ethiopia in 2017

Secondly, I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I read of the Ethiopian revival because of our faithful supporters. BrookLink has had multiple opportunities to partner alongside and witness firsthand the growth and success of Ethiopia's Kale Heywet church.  It has been a privilege for us to train pastors and church leaders for the past three years, and to have continued conversations with leadership about developing a long-term training partnership with Kale Heywet. This partnership includes expanding BrookLink’s influence beyond pastoral training to include child and family ministry training.  Our ability to “say yes” increases each year, and we are so grateful for your financial support which makes this possible.

BrookLink in Ethiopia in 2018

As the article points out “Africa is a young continent,” noting 6 in 10 residents are under 30.  “Soon the main harvest force will come from Africa.”  The perspective that “missions is not a Western responsibility,” is aligned to BrookLink’s values.  When we train pastors and church workers overseas, we enter their context to equip, empower and release them for greater kingdom impact.  Releasing leaders to influence their networks is how the Global Church is strengthened. 

A Summer Update

Written by Lee Heyward on Wednesday, 24 July 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

BrookLink’s theme in 2019 is “From One to Many."

What began ten years ago as a hope and prayer, you have made possible!

Rejoice with us!

In June, BrookLink was invited to return again to Ethiopia to minister in the Kale Heywet churches. Pastor Timothy Ryder of Waukesha, Wisconsin and Pastor Ian Lawson of Alberta, Canada traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to lead church leaders through three days of training. Using lively discussion and readings, Tim and Ian spent these days resourcing and equipping forty doctoral students who serve as key leaders in these churches. Pastor Ian reports, "I am routinely impressed with the passion and the zeal of the Kale Heywet church of Ethiopia - currently 9,000 congregations and 1,000 church plants. This is a mission success story of the SIM who sent missionaries there one hundred years ago. Today she is a thriving and dynamic indigenous church reaching their own people with the gospel and sending their own missionaries to other countries on the African continent. How thrilling it is to help equip some of their pastors on the front lines!"

No sooner had Timothy and Ian returned to the U.S.A., when Pastor Jan Ryder (Timothy’s wife) boarded a plane for the same place. This time to train more than 40 Children and Family Ministry leaders, who minister weekly to thousands of children among the Kale Heywet. Pastor Jan writes, “It was exciting to learn about the family together, understand more of how children grow, use creative teaching methods to spark curiosity, and apply Biblical principles to practical aspects of ministry with children and families. I think the most useful session may have been one dealing with how children experience grief and trauma.”

These opportunities would not have been possible without your generous support.

Meanwhile, on the completely different continent of Europe, BrookLink affiliates Dr. Dan and Lynne Green traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to teach and train pastors and church leaders serving in this largely atheistic city.  Dan and Lynne have been offering their theological and counseling training and insights to the Czech people for 20 years with the last 4 years being under BrookLink’s banner.

Furthermore, would you please pray as Drs. Paul and Lisa Sinclair travel with BrookLink in August to two key cities in northeast India? They are uniquely equipped to conduct five weeks of doctoral-level teaching in the areas of Spiritual Formation and Grief & Trauma. Needless to say, it would have been impossible for me to step away from my responsibilities here in the U.S.A. to invest five weeks in India. The Sinclairs are excited to be a part of BrookLink and helping us move “From One to Many.”

Partners in His-story

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 23 April 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Everyone has a story. When meeting people for the first time I am eager to learn their story. Good stories grab our imagination, invite us in and broaden our understanding!

Did you know that over 70% of the Bible was written in story form? The Old Testament tells about God through the stories of His people. Even Jesus used imaginative stories to tell the world about God’s compelling love for human beings.

Here’s the really cool part—God not only writes His—story, but He writes the lines of my story and your story too! And oftentimes He writes the storyline of our lives to make something known about His!

For the past ten years, BrookLink has traveled to over 30 countries hearing stories and serving our fellow partners in the Gospel.

No matter where we find ourselves — whether China, Kenya, the Czech Republic, a closed Muslim country, or even the good ol’ USA, I am a huge champion of partnership in mission. BrookLink places high value on collaborating with ministries, mission organizations and movements no matter what part of the world we happen to be visiting. I am also well aware that partnerships internationally rarely go very far without partners back home! You have been such a partner!

Ten Years and Counting

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 26 March 2019. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

It is my hope this letter finds you in good health and experiencing the abiding joy of relationship with our God and Father during the Lenten season.  As we enter springtime, our hearts delight in extended daylight, rebirth and growth.  At BrookLink we are humbled and thrilled to be celebrating ten years in ministry and are steadfastly focused on why this ministry was created a decade ago.

"It is estimated that more than 80% of pastors around the world have little or no biblical training – that’s more than two million pastors that are not equipped to help believers in their churches understand and apply God’s word." Langham Partnership

Without strong leadership the spiritual vitality of a church cannot be shaped and fostered, and the community that surrounds it fails to benefit.  The risk of poorly trained pastors and leaders can result in "a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you…" (Galatians 1:8 ESV).

There are many barriers to international leaders including costs, availability of effective teachers, access to dependable and culturally-appropriate curriculum, and for some, even persecution.  Through your faithful support, BrookLink helps our partners overcome these barriers by providing free in-person training within their cultural context, so that they may spread the gospel of Jesus Christ among their people.

 

We recently surveyed our international partners, and here are some of the challenges they are facing:

  • Need for more trained leaders in theological education, discipleship and expository preaching
  • Connecting secular people with the gospel with great relevancy and truth
  • Need for more trained leaders in organizational management and staff development

Here are specific prayer requests we received:

  • For personal strength and inspiration in mission. -European church planter
  • For God’s presence, protection and provision as we serve in [Middle Eastern country]. -Middle Eastern movement leader
  • For the Lord to lead urban professionals to Him. -European church leader
  • So that [our network of churches] would grow deep to grow wide. -African movement leader

The HOW

Written by Lee Heyward on Thursday, 27 December 2018. Posted in Blog

The HOW

Dear Friends,

In the final days of 2018, my hope and prayer is that you will know the nearness of Jesus Christ and how he entered the world in humble fashion “to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

At BrookLink, we count it a privilege to know this same Jesus, and to be involved in equipping pastors across the world and at home to proclaim Him too!

In recent weeks, we’ve shared WHY BrookLink exists: Church growth in both domestic and international contexts outpaces leadership development. Consequently, pastors are overworked, leaders are under-developed, the work of the Spirit is quenched and the church’s mission is compromised.  We have shared WHAT BrookLink does: Leaders equipping leaders, to sustain and strengthen movements that exponentially expand the Gospel. 

But HOW do we equip these pastors and church leaders? 

We receive an invitation, assess the needs of the church leaders with sensitivity to their context, customize the training to meet those needs and then build upon those relationships to learn how and when to be of service again.

And HOW does this serving make a meaningful difference?

When you invest in leaders, you impact networks. You influence the global expansion of the Gospel.

And HOW is this made possible?  There is only one way.  With YOUR support.

The WHAT

Written by Lee Heyward on Monday, 10 December 2018. Posted in Blog

The WHAT

“They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.

Acts 14:21-22a NIV

Dear Friends,

As my wife, Terry, got off the plane from West Africa in Detroit, Michigan, I was boarding a plane for East Africa in Chicago, Illinois. We spent Thanksgiving Day apart this year. But don’t feel too sorry for us. We were on Kingdom business and following His lead. Last month we talked about why we do what we do at BrookLink. Strengthening the church is WHAT BrookLink is all about. We were invited and available, so off we went.

“Thank you, Pastor Lee for coming! Will you come again?” were the words I heard over and over again from the leadership team in Soddo, Ethiopia. BrookLink facilitator and dear friend, Ian Lawson, and I spent three full days teaching eager pastors. Their receptivity was energizing and their questions were engaging. This is WHAT BrookLink loves to be a part of around the world. Leaders equipping leaders, to sustain and strengthen movements that exponentially expand the Gospel. 


Our answer to those dear friends is “YES, we will come again!" The prayers and financial gifts of so many have made this “YES” possible.

With just 20 days left this year, you can contribute towards our goal of $70,000 to continue the work of strengthening churches together in 2019 and beyond.

Equipping the church of Jesus Christ has been the WHAT for BrookLink from the beginning— ‘equipping’ pastors, church leaders and churches not just in East Africa, but in over 50 countries and 8 U.S.-based churches, classes and small groups—for the past ten years wherever we have been welcomed and invited, we go.  But we have not done it alone.

An Important Letter from Lee

Written by Lee Heyward on Thursday, 29 November 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

I am humbled and blown away by your response to #GivingTuesday. Your dollars have allowed BrookLink to serve and minster to thousands of church leaders and pastors around the world and here at home for the past 10 years. Without your support, this work would not be possible. I am writing today to update you on what has been going on for the past couple of weeks.
 
Please let me tell you a story.
 
Webster’s Dictionary defines FULL CIRCLE as, a series of developments that lead you back to the original source, position or situation from which you began. 
 
Allow me to explain. 2018 marks a special year for Terry and me. Forty years ago, we were married and as young college graduates, adventurous, and full of newfound faith in Christ, we spent our honeymoon driving from Atlanta, Georgia to a new job in good ol' Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Days after arriving we attended Elmbrook Church where we met the then Senior Pastor, Stuart Briscoe. With his British accent, his usual positive attitude and engaging style, Stuart encouraged us to get involved in Elmbrook’s High School ministry. After two years of serving as volunteer youth leaders, Stuart invited me to join Elmbrook’s staff as an Associate Pastor, where I served for three transformative years.
 
After completing seminary in Chicago and at Stuart’s prompting, a small group from Elmbrook Church invited me to return to the Milwaukee area to help start a new church called Northbrook. We purchased our home, settled in the suburbs, raised our family and nurtured a burgeoning congregation northwest of Milwaukee. After 23 years serving as Senior Pastor of Northbrook Church, God clearly called us to full-time international ministry and we launched BrookLink in 2008.
 
For the past ten years, I’ve crisscrossed oceans to lands beyond—connecting, equipping, empowering and releasing church leaders to lead, learn and love well in their national contexts. More than 50 countries, eight U.S. churches, thousands of leaders, lots of miles, and adventures aplenty—God has been abundantly faithful to BrookLink! Additionally, He has surrounded us with a host of extraordinarily generous friends who have supported BrookLink’s efforts prayerfully and financially.
 
Three years ago, I was having coffee with a dear friend—a mentor of sorts. He looked at me with his piercing eyes and asked, “Lee, why don’t you do more for church leaders here, what you do so well for churches overseas?” His question was like a whack on the side of my head. I responded, “Because we go where we are invited.” I’ve pondered my friend’s question ever since.
 
Which brings me FULL CIRCLE.
 
Elmbrook Church—the same church from which I started in ministry is undergoing a pastoral transition. The Elmbrook Council of Elders has invited me to step in for a season and serve as their Lead Pastor. After long consultations and with the full support of BrookLink’s Board of Directors, I have accepted their invitation and will begin full-time on January 1, 2019.
 
Perhaps you’re wondering, “What about BrookLink?” I will continue to serve as President of BrookLink, giving overall vision and direction to the ministry. We remain committed to Strengthening churches and Gospel movements around the world by equipping, empowering and releasing leaders. BrookLink’s team of trainers is expanding, and invitations in 2019 and beyond keep coming. BrookLink’s Board of Directors along with my superb ministry staff have tirelessly stepped up to formulate a plan to keep us visible and growing. Our pledge to you as partners is to communicate these plans in the months to come.
 
The Lord is leading and guiding.
Please continue to pray that we will listen closely and follow well. 
 
Strengthening churches together,

C. Lee Heyward
 
PS: I invite you to reach out to me with questions. I would be happy to share further details of this journey with you. You can contact me at info@BrookLink.org.
 
 
Click here to read the announcement Elmbrook Church sent to its congregation today.

You Made This Possible

Written by BrookLink on Wednesday, 28 November 2018. Posted in Blog

Thanks to over 25 generous donors, we raised more than $13,000 and exceeded our #GivingTuesday goal!

 
 

Strengthening Churches Together

Your generosity is astounding! Our fundraising goal for #GivingTuesday was $5,000 and with your help, we were able to raise just over $13,000! And let's not forget the group of faithful donors who pledged to match up to $5,000 bringing the overall #GivingTuesday total to over $18,000. Thank you for helping strengthen churches around the world!

In just one day, your generosity has helped to provide Christ-centered training and coaching to over 90 pastors and church leaders around the world, including here at home. Thank you!

"Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." 1 Chronicles 16:8

Thank you for your prayers and gifts through our #GivingTuesday campaign! It is amazing to see how this day is impacting the world around us, and we are grateful for the part you played yesterday, and each day, in supporting the mission of BrookLink


Truly we are strengthening churches together!

THANK YOU FRIENDS of BrookLink!
 
"Generosity is impossible apart from our love of God and of His people. But with such love, generosity not only is possible but inevitable." 
~ John MacArthur

Prayers Being Answered

Written by Lee Heyward on Tuesday, 25 September 2018. Posted in Blog

Dear Friends,

Did you know that Armenia is a landlocked Christian country in the Middle East surrounded by non-Christian neighbors? This summer while in Armenia, we were thanking the Lord for the 350 pastors and church leaders from different denominational traditions that we were privileged to train and equip. One gentleman, an elderly Armenian Orthodox priest who had recently fled from Aleppo, Syria after his church had been bombed, approached me each day after our training, placed his hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and said, “God bless you, we are in much need of this training.”

Recent studies suggest that only about 5% of the world’s pastors are formally trained. These untrained pastors regularly minister in areas of the world where the church is growing numerically. Yet church health often does not accompany church growth.

The apostle Paul understood that weak leadership affects the health and wellbeing of the church, cripples its effectiveness and compromises its mission. Throughout the book of Acts Paul prioritized, “strengthening the souls of disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith…” (Acts 14:22; 15:32,41; 16:5; 18:23).

This is why strengthening pastors and church leaders —training and equipping them—is what invigorates global mission. It’s also why your financial gifts are so important to BrookLink. Your generosity not only provides on-site, long-term, less-expensive resourcing to pastors and church leaders; it also builds the capacity of churches to fulfill the mission mandate of Jesus.

God has graciously given us favor among several significant networks across Europe, Africa, Asia and parts of the Middle East. We are in the process of inviting new “Facilitators” to help us meet the demand for training overseas. Immediately following our Facilitators Summit last month, BrookLink received a request to partner with an organization in the Middle East to assist in the development of their child and family curriculum, as well as train those who will be teaching.  We praise and thank God for this affirming sign that BrookLink’s mission is needed. We are committed to training in these areas of the world, but we need your help to do so.

Here are ways you can help:

  • Pray that God’s plan will be fulfilled.
  • Pray for those who are asking for training, that God may uphold them and provide for all their needs.
  • Pray for discernment to best resource our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.
  • Pray for the financial needs of BrookLink, that we may be sustained and able to say ‘yes’ to the invitations before us.

Would you prayerfully consider becoming a monthly financial partner to help BrookLink “strengthen” church leaders serving in under-served areas of the world? Or would you consider a one-time gift to enable us to say ‘yes’ to the invitations before us?  As of September 2018, we have raised just under 50% of our projected annual expenses. Every single gift, no matter the amount, makes a difference. Please consider making a gift today. 

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