To paraphrase Nathanael’s famous question in John 1:46, “can anything good come out of a pandemic”? By God’s power and grace, YES! The International Leadership Institute is a non-denominational ministry that hosts conferences in which leaders are encouraged to rediscover and renew eight core Christian values in their personal lives and ministry: Intimacy with God, Passion for the Harvest, Visionary Leadership, Culturally Relevant Evangelism, Multiplication of Leaders, Family Priority, Faithful Stewardship, and Integrity.
With the help of Mike Oakes I attended my first ILI conference in 2013. The following year we hosted our first ILI conference in Recife with over fourty local church leaders in attendance. In subsequent years we were able to host a conference at least once a year, sometimes twice, but it was always a challenge to find funding for the retreat center, meals, and help with transportation for leaders from distant locations.
When the pandemic hit in March of 2020 ILI’s leadership was already working toward opening up online training. ILI’s leadership pivoted from in person conferences to online and by April of 2021 with the help of Bio Nascimento and other leaders who were already working with ILI we were able to host one of the first online ILI conferences in Brazil.
In 2020 we hosted six online conferences, training 126 leaders by year’s end. By “leaders” we mean everybody from preachers and missionaries to Sunday school teachers and home Bible study leaders. Many who could never miss work to attend a three or five day conference at a retreat site could be in an online conference one or two nights a week.
We all thought 2021 would be our year to “get back to work as usual”, which of course it wasn’t. Well, many of those leaders trained in 2020 caught ILI’s vision for multiplying this ministry and in 2021 by God’s grace we were able to double our number of online conferences to 12 and our number of leaders trained more than doubled to 327! So, YES good things can come from a pandemic!
Online teaching and training lacks some of the warmth and intimacy of in person events. But it gains in it’s capacity to connect and engage people in far away places with very little access to resources who might never be able to attend an in person event. There are advantages and disadvantages to each form of teaching, but as many of us have learned, connecting, sharing, teaching and training online can do a lot of good. Sometimes we just have to work with the tools the Lord has given us.
Thank you all for your prayers and support for our ministry. I’m still praying and hopeful that in 2022 we can get back to more in person leadership training. Please join us in praying toward that and toward the multiplication of leaders throughout the Kingdom.