The first time Jason Dilday, LIA’s Director of Care and Engagement in the US, visited Africa on a short-term trip, he was surprised when a local pastor said he’d be praying for him. With a Western mindset, Jason wondered what needs someone from the global south prayed for when praying for the global north.

When he asked, the pastor’s response was one that would stick with Jason for years to come: “We pray for you. We pray for your country often, because we understand that between you and God stand many hills and many valleys. But daily when we arise God stands directly in front of us.”

As an LIA team, we often hear about interactions like this between the African and Caribbean pastors we partner with and those who go on trips with us. To share more with you, we asked some of our short-term team members about how local pastors in the communities they visited impacted them. Here is what they said.

What stands out to you about the pastors you met?

Brayley Payne:
“There’s a lot to say about the initial interaction with the pastors we met in Kenya and Ethiopia…. They were loud in their preaching and their presence in the best way. Pastor Michael was unapologetic about how he lived. He talked to us about how he spends so much of his time fasting and denying comfort to become closer to God. It’s something I think about every day.”

Sawyer Dibble: “They give everything, they share all that they have. They are the true body of Christ and share resources, words, wisdom, and their lives with each other, without asking in return. I am inspired by their dedication to one another and to the Lord. The interaction taught me to listen more and speak less, to love more and to judge less, to have more faith rather than more doubt.”

Cambron Rich: “Something that stands out to me about Pastor Roper in Jamaica is how intentional he is with the people in his community. He takes the time to get to know and pray for every family in the village his church is in and he’s pastorally involved in all of their lives in some capacity.”

How did you see them care for their communities?

Tyler Gore:
“All the pastors and those in the church had this deep love for each other…. They were supporting businesses and visiting homes of people who didn’t even know Christ. They were meeting the physical and financial needs of the communities as well…. They desired to be with God and be with their community of believers, and it was something that was truly a priority for them.”

Cynthia Bauer: “The local pastors are extremely connected and involved within their community and among each other. They are very passionate about their community and the well-being of others. There is a strong desire and presence to provide education to their community by establishing Community Health Educators to encourage better health, community savings groups to encourage fiscal responsibility and allow for micro loans among the group, and an elementary school is even held in the local church.”

Brayley: “We saw the pastors care for their congregation in very tangible ways. Pastor Michael’s church was raising funds for diapers for a baby in the church. We also met a woman pastor who ran the school we visited in Mathare. She had the ability to leave the community, but knew she needed to stay.”

How has connecting with these pastors encouraged or challenged you?

“I spent an entire morning walking and praying with Pastor Roper and heard about all the relationships he has and the programs he runs in his community. It encouraged me to see him take time and love his community one family at a time. He put himself right in the center of the community and has given his life to ministering to them.”

Sawyer: “They taught me to think before I speak, to be joyful in all circumstances, and to appreciate every blessing the Lord has given to me. I learned about how to serve, and give without hesitation, because I have a heavenly father who gave his son for me and who owns it all already. I was challenged to go back home and live every second of every day with my identity in Christ, rather than the other perishable things of this world.”

In this season, the global pandemic is taking a major toll on all areas of life. Pastors we partner with have been at the forefront in responding to both the physical and spiritual needs of their communities. We are praying along with Cynthia that they “continue to seek God’s guidance as they proceed with leading people to a Christ-centered life.”