Receiving and dispensing grace

GLOBAL TRAINING NETWORK LEADERSHIP GATHERING

This last weekend was a powerful time of connection, team-building, and spiritual refreshment as over 65 of the Global Training Network staff gathered together in Phoenix for a bi-annual gathering.

The theme for the weekend was “Gratitude and Grace,” focusing on maturity in Christ and hearts that are overflowing with gratitude (Col. 2:7). One of the talks focused on our “receiving grace and dispensing grace.” This captures the heart of our On-Expedition leadership training. As recipients of God’s great grace in Jesus, we want to dispense it near and far.

EIGHT…NO NINE HIGHLIGHTS

One of the highlights for Sharon and me is that eight couples and friends of ours have joined GTN in the past three years since we became a part of GTN. We were all together at the GTN retreat.

Phil and Laina Graf

Phil and Laina
Phil and Laina

Phil and Laina joined GTN around the same time as us. Son-in-law Phil has been my partner in developing the On-Expedition training and traveled with me (Linus) to Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, and Brazil to deliver our training designed to multiply viral, missional, church planting movements. When not traveling, Phil and Laina live in Oxnard, California where they are impacting others by “loving people to Jesus and discipling them into His followers”.

Dr. Hud and Nancy McWilliams

Nancy and Hud
Nancy and Hud

Hud and Nancy have been married for almost 50 years, and partners in counseling and pastoral ministry. I consider Hud our family’s greatest counseling resource. He brings a wealth of wisdom and experience to GTN, emphasizing inner spiritual development. He is, in my opinion, the most Biblically based teacher/counselor I know. Look for the book he has written—“sustaining and increasing your spiritual development over a lifetime”—to be published soon.

Dr. Doug and Joan Dorman

Doug and Joan
Doug and Joan

I met Doug when he visited a course I taught at Columbia Biblical Seminary, after obtaining a copy of my book, “The High-Impact Church.” Doug founded a discipleship ministry called “Your Next Step” and was a church planter. We hit it off and have been friends ever since. Doug and Joan have seven children (wow, we only have six). He likes to tell people he had one for every continent (Sharon and I only had six, as we didn’t really think of Antarctica as a continent :-). Doug is part of our On-Expedition training team and is working on a second doctorate degree. Joan and Doug lead conferences on freedom in Christ, prayer, and marriage.

Thor and Bonnie Colberg

Bonnie and Thor
Bonnie and Thor

Thor and Bonnie have planted and pastored churches in Georgia and North Carolina, where they now reside. I spoke at a church planters conference that Thor organized in Savanah Georgia. Over lunch, Thor mentioned Bonnie’s maiden name was Huckabee. I replied, “That was my grandmother’s maiden name.” Then I discovered that she was from Douglasville, Georgia where my dad grew up. Turned out, our grandmothers were sisters, making us second cousins. Thor trains leaders with GTN in some dangerous places like the Ukraine, South Sudan—and perhaps not as dangerous, Ethiopia.

Steve and Toby Hopper

Steve and Toby
Steve and Toby

I met Steve when he was on the pastoral staff of Crossroads Fellowship in Raleigh, North Carolina. He went from there to work in relief ministry with Cru, locating in the Dallas area. Amazingly, on one of my trips to Dallas, I ran into Steve and Toby at a Costco. Some time later Steve contacted me when he heard that we had joined the staff of GTN. After inquiring more, Steve made the jump to GTN too, and now trains leaders in Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Zambia, and Mexico.

Carl and Carolyn Palmer

Carl and Carolyn
Carl and Carolyn

Carl pastored Cedar Mill Bible Church in the Portland, Oregon for many years. I wrote my master’s thesis at Regent College on this church, as it was ahead of the curve when it came to small group ministry. I was (and still am) ordained at Cedar Mill so had contact with Carl over many years. When I heard that Carl was stepping down as the pastor-teacher, I suggested he consider training leaders globally with GTN. He is an incredibly gifted Bible teacher, and is now training pastors in place like the Nepal, Botswana, Zambia, Nigeria, and India.

Doug and Abby Vinez

Abby and Doug
Abby and Doug

I met Doug and Abby through friends Vance and Nina Sonnenberg. Vance and Nina were part of the Crossroads church we started in Geneva, Switzerland later relocating to North Carolina where Doug was a pastor of their church. Doug and Abby went on to start and pastor a church north of Charlotte, then led the church to leave the Presbyterian Church USA and align itself with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Doug and Abby developed a ministry relationship in Zambia and have joined GTN with a big vision for that country.

Sammy and Marcia Diab

Marcia and Sammy
Marcia and Sammy

Sammy and Marcia are Brazilian. Phil Graf and I traveled to Brazil two years ago to connect with Hope Chapel Maui’s Jason Spence. Jason had told me about the Diabs being discipled in Maui, before returning to southern Brazil where they started Hope Chapel Brazil. Over the ten years that followed this church gave birth to seven more churches. We are now working with with the Diabs to train the leadership of this network of churches. Sammy and Marcia will continue to give leadership to their church, as well as the leaders in their area. They will also travel with Phil Graf, Doug Dorman, and me as we train leaders, that can train leaders, that can train leaders, both in their local area, as well as in other parts of Brazil.”

THE NINTH HIGHLIGHT — Patricia Niednagel
Patricia
Patricia

I would be remiss if I did not mention Patricia Niednagel who has a tremendous ministry in countries like Malawi, India, Mexico, and Cambodia, training women in leadership. We did not play a role in Patricia’s joining GTN, but rather Patricia’s husband Roland played a role in our joining GTN. When I stepped down from CAI long-time friend Roland said to me, “I think you should consider an organization like GTN to leverage your years of ministry experience. You have a big upside ahead of you, more than you know.”

A year later I revisited that idea with Roland who connected Sharon and me with GTN president Paul Madson, then the board of GTN. Our dear friend Roland died a year ago this past Christmas but asked Patricia to make one promise to him, that she would continue her ministry with GTN. She is doing so powerfully.

IN CLOSING

It is a joy and honor to minister with friends…not just those above…but those we have made friends with in GTN, as well as those we are working with internationally. We are deeply grateful for our friends (you) who pray for and support our ministry. We are the recipients of grace in so many ways. Because of that, we are dispensing that grace around the globe.

With great gratitude,

Linus and Sharon

P.S. Please pray for our upcoming training in Uganda February 5-23.


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