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On this Thanksgiving, as we meet with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest, many of us will pause and think of the hunger of those less fortunate.  For some, these thoughts turn into action as they make donations of food or their time serving those in need.

In 2003 we went on a missions trip to Lima, Peru. Our mission purpose was to share ideas on leadership and team building that would strengthen and encourage pastors to reach the hearts of the Peruvian people and prepare them for the Harvest to come.  These pastors came from the mountains of the north, the cities of the south, from the metropolis of Lima, and from the Amazon region to the east.  They were Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Charismatic, Assembly of God, and Presbyterian, among other denominations. 

These pastors knew something about teamwork that is often lost in other countries, and notably so in the U.S.  They know on whose team they belong.  They know that they are on the team headed by Jesus Christ.  They did not bring dogmatic or theological disagreements to the conference.  They knew that the Harvest Day is coming, and they understood that any intellectualizing would prevent them from working together as a team.

These pastors were hungry.  Many of them traveled literally hundreds of miles to reach the conference in Lima.  They came by car, by bus, by train, by foot, or by boat, to have the opportunity to sleep for four nights on cots, fifteen and twenty people to a room, take cold showers, and eat box lunches.  During each session, we often only saw the top of their heads.  They had their heads down, eagerly writing down every thing that they were hearing, so that they wouldn’t miss anything.  By contrast, I recently led a one-day seminar in the U.S.  I asked the participants why they were there, what there purpose in attending was, what did they hope to receive from the seminar.  One woman replied that it was an easy way to get out of a day at work.  Not surprisingly, she failed to return after lunch.

These pastors were hungry.  If you have attended conferences in the U.S., you have seen the excitement of a thousand like-minded people at an opening session. You have also probably seen how the enthusiasm wanes on each succeeding day.  As a professional speaker in the U.S., I always hope that I am not the last speaker on the last day of a multi-day conference.  You know the attendance will be low, and that those who are there will be leaving early to catch a flight home.  The Pastor’s Conference in Lima began on a Tuesday and concluded on Friday evening.  Attendance was at its peak at the Friday evening session, and when it was over...no one wanted to leave...especially us.

These pastors were hungry.  Two of the other speakers, Jim Cymbala from Brooklyn Tabernacle and Kemp Holden from Harvest Time Tabernacle, called on the pastors to step out and present themselves at the altar if they needed prayer, if they were struggling, if they wanted more of God’s blessings.  This may seem a bit unusual, pastors calling pastors to the Altar of God, yet each time the call was made, hundreds and hundreds of pastors stepped out of their seats and rushed to the altar for God’s blessings.

We spent a week with people who truly live, love, and lead with a servant’s heart; among people who truly are hungry...hungry for God.  These pastors are changing the nation of Peru, bringing millions to the Lord, preparing them for His Harvest.  It isn’t often that we get to do great things.  Mother Teresa said, “I can do no great things.  I can only do small things with great love.”  Please know that your prayers and your generosity can play and important role in changing a nation.  Because of you, these pastors will reach people you will never meet, and prepare them for His Harvest.

Latin Equip is a driving force behind this movement of God in Peru. Leadership training is Latin Equip’s primary function. Each year, thousands of pastors and leaders are trained in national conferences, regional conventions, and personal consulting throughout Peru and elsewhere in Latin America. Because only 10 percent of pastors in developing nations have received formal Bible training, Latin Equip puts tools into the hands of these laborers for ministry. If you want to be part of this amazing work of God, prayerfully considering making a contribution to Latin Equip at: http://latinequip.org/donate/

On this Thanksgiving, as you pause to give thanks for the harvest, and as you remember those who you think are less fortunate because of their hunger, remember the pastors of Peru and pray to be hungry like them.  I know I do.