The last few months have been full of great opportunities to see God moving! I’m going to tell you about many of those things so that God can get the glory. But I’d also like to tell you about some of the things coming up so that you can go with us before our God in prayer. Because I’ve waited awhile since my last update, this is longer than usual, but I hope you find it helpful as you pray for the things God is doing. Thank you so much for being a part of our small team of committed pray’ers. We really value you and your work on your knees.
What God has been doing…
We got to share our vision and what God is doing through Shepherd Project at the Bent Tree Missions Conference in Dallas, TX. Stacey Tuttle (Dir. Of Resource Development) attended the conference and presented the different projects that Shepherd Project has been working on. She had many encouraging conversations with folks excited to hear about our work, particularly with issues of faith and culture. Pray with us for fruit from those conversations and that God would build bridges and lead us to the next works that “ he has prepared in advance for us to do.”
God is building the speaking ministries at SPM! Barb has had a wonderful spring of encouraging and equipping women at five different women’s events (both stateside and internationally) including retreats, conferences and teas. She’s gotten the chance to open up God’s Word and challenge women to lives of purpose and to understand more fully who God is and who He created them to be. Some of these events were geared toward challenging women who already know Jesus and some were geared to women who haven’t yet began a relationship with Jesus. Praise God with us for the ways that the Holy Spirit has and will use the things she taught to cause women to walk more deeply with Him. Craig has spoken at several men’s and youth conferences but has had this semester off at the seminary. God has carved out the time for him to finish some projects that have been waiting in the wings for a long time. It’s been a blessing to have a semester with a bit less travel. On another note, we are getting more and more inquiries every week from speakers wanting SPM to “represent” them. While we aren’t a speakers’ bureau, we would be willing to expand our team if God leads us to folks having a like vision, gifting, and training. We find that entertainers are pretty easy to find, but speakers that are able to constistantly produce content that challenges from God’s Word and engages hearts are much rarer. Pray that God would give us wisdom as we work with all of these inquiries.
“How NOT to Miss God Moving” is finished! Craig’s newest book looks at five different instances when God moved in the New Testament. Each time He moved, some people got it and some didn’t. The book helps us understand what it was that made the difference for them and how we can become people who have the eyes to see His hand working and the courage to jump on board. The book is in its final editing stages and should be back from the printer before we leave for the summer speaking tour. I am really excited about how God might use this work to help His people. Pray for the book to get into the hands of those His Holy Spirit is preparing.
What God is up to now…
Shepherd Project has embarked on a new project to help equip a group of Hispanic pastors in Kansas. After speaking at a men’s conference in Ulysses, Kansas, Craig was approached by the event coordinator about a movement of about 20 churches that have sprung up in the area over that last two years. In a nutshell, this is what he said: None of these pastors had any intentions of planting churches, nor do they have any training in Bible, teaching or pastoral care. They have found themselves in places where Hispanic Christians and non-Christians alike are gathering around them – and looking to them to lead. They have desperately sought help and training from some Christian institutions, but God hasn’t provided help yet. Can you help? Within a few hours, we had a trip set up to return to Ulysses and meet with this group of pastors to hear from them about their stories and their needs. Our time together went wonderfully (in spite of Craig not speaking Spanish and about 80% of them not speaking English). With the help of a great translator and google-translastor, we were able to hear their stories and needs as well as conduct a survey that will help us figure out how best to help them do what God has called them to do. It looks like we’ll be producing several dvd series for them to view individually (they all work secular jobs and cannot meet together, 75% do not use internet or email) and then Craig will either video-conference or visit once a quarter (or so) to help them process what they are learning and answer questions. Please pray a) for wisdom in discerning their greatest needs b) for how best to meet those needs in light of technology and time limitations c) that God would lead us to the best people to meet the needs that we cannot (topics like counseling and leading Hispanic mens’ ministry) and d) God would provide the financial resources for books and other materials that we’ll need to equip them.
And finally, we leave Thursday for the Pure Truth Pastor’s Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe! God has richly provided a great team on the ground in Africa that is taking care of many of the details of the conference. There will be about 300 pastors at the conference, coming from very diverse ministries, bothfrom urban and very rural areas. We will be cooking for all 300 pastors out of a shack with few grills. This is one of the areas where we’ll be leaning heavily on our African sisters but will be there to learn and lend a hand. God has put together an amazing team of speakers, as He always does. We will be taking the Africa Director and the Dir. of Organizational Development for Compassion Intl., the President of Mentor Leadership Team as well as Megan Isaacson (a worship leader with Shepherd Project). There will also be four presenters from Zimbabwe as well, presenting on some of the topics that are more culturally tied. Thank you for praying for the financial piece of this project. God has provided what we need to transport, feed, lodge and teach 300 pastors! We are so thankful!
Please join us in praying for :
safety/health for the team,
for God to show us the needs He desires to use us to meet
that He’d lead us in being culturally sensitive so that, in our serving, we might build bridges and not create obstacles
God’s hand of protection. We’ve been told that there will be unmarked, uninvited representatives of the government in all of our sessions to make sure that nothing is spoken against the current government, as they are approaching elections. Please pray that God would guard the tongues of the presenters and even that He would use them to bring some of these “spies” (as our Lynae calls them) to Jesus Himself. Zimbabwe us also a hotspot for sexual violence and human trafficing, so pray against those as well.
Craig will be teaching everyday as well as working on many conference details, so please pray for an extra measure of wisdom, clarity, and endurance.
Thank you so much for reading and for joining us in prayer as we enter this next chapter. BTW, the Smith fam will be home for only 10 days before we leave for summer speaking. If you don’t get a prayer update while we are Zimbabwe (we won’t have internet or cell service) then I’ll make sure I send one while we are home. I’ll get you some requests for the summer then as well.