More than 30 years ago, before Southern Baptists discovered Church Planting Movements, CPM’s, and adopted the same for a growth strategy, Pastor Pedro began planting churches. He traveled by foot. He planted thirty-four churches in thirty-two years.
We stopped to meet Pastor Pedro. His son-in-law helped with our translation needs for the Pastor’s Seminar. Pastor Pedro came to the first couple of events associated with the Pastor’s Seminar. He could not make this one. His health would not allow the travel.
He sat in his chair moved by the visit. His tears moved us. We may have not understood his words, but we did understand his heart. Not the one giving him physical trouble. The one that drove his steps, the one that considered the needs of others more than his own.
Quietly and unmotivated by the need to be heard far and wide, Pastor Pedro planted churches.
I recall an event my mentor once shared from his pastoral experience. We Southern Baptists would call it revival that led to evangelism. The church he pastored prayed one million minutes for friends to know Jesus. In fact, they prayed more than one million minutes in the designated period of time.
The consequences of their commitment led to phenomenon that could not be explained by the normal empirical senses. We ascribe such activities to the Spirit. The events were the sort that often keeps the Christian turned skeptic from completely abandoning the thought of God, a person or an event.
News of the revival spread. Soon people were calling. Like Simon in Acts, they wanted the secret to the power. It was and is customary that when such an event takes place we elevate the pastor and consider him especially gifted. Rick had been invited to talk about this event in a number of places, even here in our State. I remember him saying, “You cannot export the activity of the Spirit.”
But, in America we do. We tour and write books about the unexplainable in order to explain how others may do the same. Green rooms are created. Conferences are planned. Books are written. Eager young ministers are lured by the popularity. If we do it like [ ] then one day we too will speak from the big stage.
But, in out of the way places, where men travel by foot for more than thirty years planting more than thirty churches, we find stories that call into question the things we celebrate here in the first world. After all this is our context and that is theirs. We privilege ours and we diminish theirs. We take pride in our theological formulations. We express suspicion of theirs.
If it is all the same, I will find in those steps taken to bear Good News over those years to carry more import that the crowds wowed by the stage and screen. Bill Hybles wrote, Who You Are When Nobody Is Looking. One wonders, with all the fanfare and fanboys, if we would see the proliferation of celebrity if we did not receive our reward here – the praise and adoration of people.
I once read where a leader suggested celebrity is a matter of scale. Every group, small or large, has their celebrity. This leader is himself a celebrity. The move seemed intent to lessen the sting of what is unmistakeable about the American celebrity culture and the way Christians play in the same space. After all, even among Christian writers, there are A-list, B-list, and those who have been told they won’t make the list. There is a difference.
Pastor Pedro, now above seventy, will not make the big stage, in his Country or ours. And, I am glad. His quiet faithfulness speaks louder than the buzz created by our personal or professional PR machines.
May Pastor Pedro’s tribe increase – in his Country and in ours.