Sofia: one in many millions
Laurie Lind: Entrust staff writer
A one-in-several-million-chance. A blessed accident. An astounding coincidence? Or God’s perfect plan. Sofia could be one of those first options, but we believe she is the latter — God’s perfect plan and gift to our ministry and to her country.
Entrust’s early attempts to network with Christians in Sofia’s country met with varied degrees of success. It’s always our goal to begin in a new place to look for strategic people to guide us in understanding the culture. We begin by asking lots of questions, learning about local ministry training needs, discovering what types of leadership training are most effective in the culture, identifying what sorts of ministry issues are most pressing to Christian pastors and other leaders.
In Sofia’s country, our Entrust team met some key people, took some initial steps toward partnering with some local organizations and held a few ministry training events with participants invited by the people our team had met. Of the few dozen people taking part in those early events was a young student we’ll call Sofia.
Over time, our partner organizations changed. One of our difficulties was that the sort of life-on-life facilitated learning that Entrust specializes in, is quite uncommon in that part of the world. Yet, we find it can be highly effective once people try it and see how the Holy Spirit works in their midst. We met with new people, prayed, paused and waited, prayed some more and sought the Lord’s leading on how best to proceed.
Out of that initial pilot project, even as some aspects didn’t take off, one person emerged. Sofia. Sofia caught the vision for small group, non-formal ministry training from the start. She then walked a small group of people through our Facilitating Relational Learning module. Those people in turn introduced the unique concepts of that module to more people.
Sofia continued to share the vision with Christians in her city and region. Since then, almost single-handedly (by the power of the Holy Spirit and faithful following God’s word), Sofia has established a fast-growing network of ministry trainings in her country. She can account for first- and second-generation learners who are already equipping third- and fourth-generation learners. She has seen regional ministry training hubs established.
In a place where women generally enjoy less power or authority than men, she has been equally effective in training men and counts several pastors among her enthusiastic trainees. In a place that is not particularly friendly to the gospel, where many of the churches meet in homes, she has courageously put together ministry trainings.
Perhaps most impressive is how she has been able to adapt strategically to her own context. She found some of her students were unused to studying an entire manual in advance, prior to taking a course, as Entrust requires. So, Sofia coaches people through the course manual, chapter by chapter. In each online session, she reviews highlights of the assigned chapter and then divides the group into virtual rooms to discuss the chapter content further. “What I admire most,” says Entrust CEO David Goodman, “is that she has arrived at a point where she understands what has made Entrust effective in other contexts and now can respectfully adapt our methodology for maximum effectiveness in her context.”
One-in-several-million? Sofia is definitely that! She is a gifted, courageous young woman whom God is using to multiply biblical ministry training available among hundreds of Christian leaders in her country.