He taught them, and he sent them

Leadership training isn't optional, and it isn't an add-on to the "real ministry" of evangelism and church planting. It is an integral and indispensible aspect of evangelism and church planting. In fact, it was Jesus' method of church planting.

Leadership training isn’t optional, and it isn’t an add-on to the “real ministry” of evangelism and church planting. It is an integral and indispensible aspect of evangelism and church planting. In fact, it was Jesus’ method of church planting.

“He summoned his disciples, and he chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles” (Luke 6:13). He spent time with them. He taught them. Then he sent them out. The method, empowered by the Holy Spirit, was so effective that within the first generation of Christianity the gospel had gone across the world as far as Spain, India, Armenia, and Ethiopia.

One of our core convictions is that biblical ministry involves replicating both the message and the methodology of Jesus as much as possible within our unique context. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Like Jesus and the apostles, we teach, plant, and love for the glory of God.

Josh teaching residential students their final theology class of the year.

A month of pastor training

It was an exhausting month of all-day teaching sessions, but we made it across the finish line. We are so incredibly thankful for the freedom and opportunity to train current and future pastors. At the beginning of March, our first residential class completed their final classes. We have 16 candidates for graduation in June. They only have to complete their church planting ministry practicum in order to graduate.

Over the next two weeks, we taught Romans 5–8 to 180 pastors in 4 different 2-day sessions. We are growing hopeful that in May we will be able to gather pastors in their larger groups for the first time since February 2020!

Isaac teaching Romans in the Lower Shire.

Welcoming newly planted churches

Pastor trainings are important times to vet and welcome newly planted churches across the mission. In the Lower Shire, we welcomed 10 leaders to training for the first time, while in Zomba we met 8 representatives from new churches.

We only add newly planted churches to our partnership. We don’t add already established churches, because often they do not share our beliefs and want to join our mission merely for the material benefits they think they will receive. Over time, this would pollute doctrinal unity and bring in a self-centered spirit among the churches. 

That’s why we interview representatives from every church claiming to be newly planted by our partner pastors, and we follow up the interview with a visit to verify the truth. Sometimes this means turning people away. But we don’t want a big mission. We want a partnership of churches united around God’s word and God’s mission.

Josh and Michael (Director of Lower Shire Ministries) interview a representative from a newly planted church.

Making the final preparations for clinics.

Last week, we finished getting everything ready to launch our mobile clinics again on April 8. We have contracted with 5 doctors and clinical officers to serve in our ministry. Over two days of trainings, we were able to meet these physicians and brief them about the logistics of working in our mobile clinics. They are excited to hit the ground running in April.

Our team has been working hard to order medication, package it, and get everything prepared. From April 8–26, we will run 12 days of mobile clinics throughout remote locations in order to meet both the temporal and eternal needs of people across southern Malawi.

Kiki Canerdy will be arriving in Malawi on April 10 to lead the clinic team for the first time since 2019. We can’t wait to have her on the ground again serving through healthcare ministry!

Last week, Stacy Leigh and Janet (Josh's assistant) stuffed the Cruiser full of medication for the clinics and insulation for the school.
Aluminum bubble insulation going up to make our teaching more effective.

Improving our campuses, improving our ministries

With the end of the school year and the rainy season beginning to slow, we use this time of year to make improvements to our campuses in Zomba and the Lower Shire. Right now, we are insulating and installing a ceiling in our classroom in Zomba. By cutting down on the heat that radiates off the metal roof, we hope that the pastors and students we train will be able to get more out of the teaching since they will be free from this discomfort.

Workers must be sent out

The cycles of teaching and sending that we see in Jesus’ ministry are reflected in our ministry year in Malawi. We spend most of the rainy season focused on teaching. Now as the ground starts to dry, like the farmers all around us, we are preparing for the harvest.

“Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2)!

Prayer Points

Picture of Joshua Hutchens

Joshua Hutchens

Joshua Hutchens (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a missionary to Malawi and president of Gospel Life. Before becoming president of Gospel Life, he served as a pastor in Kentucky. He is married to Stacy Leigh, and they have five children.

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