How do you really know what ministers need? For Patrick Johnson, Trans-European Division Ministerial Association secretary, the answer is simple: get alongside them. From March 5-10, he did exactly that, accompanied by Raafat Kamal, president of the Trans-European Division (TED), or church region, of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Despite the occasional snowstorm, Johnson and Kamal were able to spend quality time with ministers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, listening to their needs, and learning how to improve support and mentor leadership in these small Baltic countries.
In a short video interview, Johnson and Kamal shared their reactions to the trip, which Kamal described as “an amazing experience.”
“How can we work together to make the bigger mission a reality?” was the question the European leaders posed to pastors in those three nations. From his pastoral background, Johnson noted the need in all three conferences for developing mentoring relationships among the pastors as well as increased resources.
Baltic Union President David Nõmmik leads an extremely multicultural and diverse Union. As Kamal and Johnson gained a deeper insight into the territory, Nõmmik was grateful for an opportunity to be involved in discussing how pastors, workers, and administrators could be more effective in their work of ministry and how, together, they can create a spirit of partnership between the various levels.
“It seems that the common challenge for our union, where we have three different conferences, is the lack of leadership skills for creating an environment of trust,” said Nõmmik. “Some struggle with implementing the culture of discipleship, and evangelistic outreach.” But, added Nõmmik, “the good news is that our pastors and workers are very eager to learn and grow.”
Several training programs for pastors and lay leaders have already been launched in the region in recent months, including a family life program led by Karen Holford, TED family ministries director and qualified family therapist, and two days of Communication and Media training led by Victor Hulbert, TED Communication and Media director.
Kamal, who said he felt refreshed and energized after the trip, is now discussing with the division leadership team how to provide enhanced support to ministers in those countries. Meanwhile, Johnson shared that their support will include a coaching program for pastors.
Speaking on behalf of the pastors in the Baltics, Nõmmik commented, “We are grateful to God for all the opportunities that He has given us and will still give us in our territory.”