Thursday, September 8, 2016

Catching the Vision

Beware! If you spend any time around the Sowers, you just might catch something. Pastor Tim Webster of Fredericktowne Baptist Church in Maryland, the Sowers’ sending church, discovered that firsthand a couple of weeks ago. Pastor Tim visited Honduras and caught a bad case of the Sowers4Pastors vision!

Pastor Tim has only been at FBC for about fourteen months. During that time, he has done what good pastors do upon arriving at a new home church. He has tried to get to know the people and to understand how the church operates. He knew Fredericktowne Baptist sponsors a certain number of missionaries, but one name kept popping up more than the others. Sowers. He knew Allen visits the church each fall. He knew they work with pastors. He knew they work with the poor. And, he had some vague knowledge that they do something with coffee. So, Pastor Tim set off for Honduras to learn more about Sowers4Pastors and how the congregation at Fredericktowne can help them.

When he landed in Honduras, Allen and Russell were there to greet him. He had met Allen previously. And he has had the pleasure of meeting Boo. But he had not met Russell. He had not witnessed the Allen/Russell dynamic. He said that was the first thing that hit him. He realized this wasn’t a case of slapping up a shingle that says, “Sowers and Son,” where the father makes all of the decisions and the son is just there. He realized, “This guy is key to this thing.”

“The more time I spent with them, the more I loved watching Allen say, 'What do you think?' to Russell,” said Pastor Tim. He continued to explain, “This is a leadership principle. Allen is still there. He’s still needed. But all of the pieces are in place for Russell to take on more and more responsibility. That’s how it should be done.”

Of the 144 feeding centers, Pastor Tim got to visit three of them. They weren’t just drive-by visits. He got to see them in action. He said, “I got to see the women making the food. They were spicing it up. Adding their own flavor. The food had a different taste in all three centers.” He continued, “In the first center, I watched 200 children sitting there completely under control, respectful, and waiting. Three years olds were patiently waiting. They’re very grateful. When Allen visits a center, he takes them candy. To see a kid get a couple of pieces of candy and give me one of them was…” Well, I guess we can all figure out what that was. Gulp.

As he was visiting, Pastor Tim was thinking about getting to partner with the church that will be Fredericktowne Baptist’s sister church. He is eager for his congregation to develop relationships with the people in a sister church. As he met children, he thought, “Those kids are going to be ours!”

The church in Maryland has already packed backpacks through their VBS. He’s excited to think that, in February, some of the children he met will be receiving those backpacks filled with school supplies.

Although he does not speak Spanish, Pastor Tim was able to communicate with the children while playing. He discovered you only have to learn two words to play red light/green light!

At the Pastors’ Training School, he was able to teach through an interpreter. He found the men to be hungry for knowledge, sincere, and devoted.

He saw the bridge projects. “Unless you visit, you don’t really have a frame of reference,” he said. He saw the difference in foot bridges and car bridges. And he realized the Sowers could have made a lot of money by building the much needed bridges. “They didn’t because the bridges are their sweat equity. That’s them earning the respect and right to be heard.”

The non-coffee-drinking pastor got to see the Sowers’ vision of coffee. He saw it being planted. He saw healthy farms growing coffee and thought, “They’re going to be there, too.” Pastor Tim is impressed by the fact the point is to raise more money, not for themselves, but to give away through the ministry.

He spoke of Allen and Trish’s journey and of the crucial part Trish plays in their ministry. Just when their Honduran “dream home” was becoming a reality, Trish said, “We don’t need to live there. Let’s give it to Russell.” She provides meals for the workers. She doesn’t complain when Allen spends months on end in the U.S. As Pastor Tim said, “She has a quiet strength. Without her being so (for lack of a better term) low maintenance, they couldn’t do what they do.”

Ultimately, Pastor Tim would like for Fredericktowne Baptist to send a missions team once a year to put on a VBS. “If that’s our sister church, we need to visit. We need to build relationships. This isn’t about being cost effective. It’s about the people.”

As for himself, he hopes to be able to return to do some teaching at the Pastors’ Training School. He said, “I look at Allen and Russell and see two guys who do things I can’t do. But there are things I can do that they can’t do. Having been a pastor for thirty years, one thing I can do is mentor pastors. There are issues affecting pastors, which are the same everywhere.”

He closed with, “You have to be pretty much dead to not catch the vision if you’re there! You can’t just see it and say, ‘That’s done.’ There’s a responsibility.” - posted by Christi

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