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Pastors’ Conference

January 26, 2024 |  By Sue Morris

Johnson and Esther have a ministry in South Asia to encourage, equip, and help pastors to enlarge their reach in their community. For example, they went to a remote area near the border to hold a pastor’s conference. They were expecting 40 pastors to attend the conference with the hope that the clergy would be trained and uplifted in the ministry. Unfortunately, there had been rioting and persecution in a neighboring village the week before the conference.

Commitment to Hear God’s Word

However, the pastors made a commitment before coming to the conference, “What may come, we will stand for Jesus.” They made this pledge because they knew about the upheaval that had been happening in the area.

Johnson and Esther shared, “There is no safe passage anymore. We have to [go] head-on. This is our responsibility — to stand with the pastors.” All the other attendees and presenters were also committed and ready to face whatever came in order to be able to worship and hear from the Lord.

Johnson talked about one pastor who was attacked recently. The attackers beat his feet so that he could not run and escape them. They did not hurt the church members but beat the pastor in front of them. He realized that they were prepared to come on Sundays and disrupt the services. Therefore, the pastor wisely changed his day of worship to Saturday instead of Sunday.

A Remote Conference

Johnson explained, “Even in spite of all these challenges, the kingdom of God flourishes because of the faithful pastors who are toiling day and night. We came to know the Lord is moving powerfully at the border of Pakistan. So new churches were mushrooming, and things were powerfully happening there. We were requested to come and have the conference to encourage the pastors over there.”

Imagine the surprise that Johnson and Esther felt when 60 pastors came on the first day of the conference, even though the area was so remote that a pastor would have to travel about 6 miles to purchase food. Also, there were no toilet facilities, no electricity, and no fans in the scorching heat. However, the Lord was moving powerfully, and people enjoyed His blessings. On the first day, the attendees phoned acquaintances to share how God was moving. One attendee stated about the pastors who came, “It is amazing how they are passionate for the Word, and they are so committed to the ministry. “

God Moved, More Came to Hear

On the second day, 110 pastors attended! Johnson taught from the book of Acts on how to stand firm in the face of persecution. Coincidentally, during the conference, there were some pastors connected to Johnson’s ministry in another area who were unjustly arrested on charges of converting people to Christianity.
Johnson had to send a team to help them. Fortunately, the pastors were not put in prison but were kept in the police station. On the advice of a member of the Legislative Assembly, the team did not go to the police station but went to the local magistrate instead. The magistrate found that nothing serious could be proved against the pastors. He ruled that they should be freed, and they were. By the grace of God, they had not been imprisoned because it would have been difficult to get them out once they had left the police station. The legislator also kept the police from filing a formal report, which helped the pastors to be released more quickly.
It was exciting for those at the conference to hear that the 20 pastors had been released. Indeed, God was good and gracious to those church leaders. Another wonderful outcome of the conference was that the pastors attending decided to form a pastors’ fellowship to support one another during times of persecution. This is the second conference where a fellowship of local pastors has formed afterward. It seems that the Lord moves, and spontaneously, these things happen.

Why More Conferences?

Johnson then shared the burden of his heart. He said the need to do more conferences to encourage pastors is huge, but there are no resources to fund the events. He is doing his part, going to the events, even when he has to hide by lying down in the car because of safety issues. He and Esther have trusted God and lived by faith for many years. Still, they need resources for the conferences, and Johnson has difficulty fundraising. He does not want to use the pulpit to raise funds. God has provided in the past, and they are praying for His provision through donors who will partner with them.
Johnson explained his motivation: “I see their commitment to Jesus, the passion that they have. So that really motivates us.”

Your Challenge

You can be a part of helping Johnson and Esther, as well as other missionary leaders, to hold similar conferences to refresh, inspire, and train committed missionaries in the field. Because they work in challenging situations, the conferences encourage many to stay in the ministry and keep serving despite the difficulties they face.

Join these missionaries in their work by giving today.

Photo by Eric Vess (2009)