Little sister, huge impact
Sofia is leaving Entrust for her next ministry. She’s ready to step into some new things God is leading her to, in faith. These include taking courses about counseling, launching a counseling ministry, opening a reading room in her flat, and most exciting, getting married and starting a family.
While we at Entrust will miss Sofia, we rejoice at all God has done in and through this amazing young woman. In a country hostile to Christianity, in a society not especially amenable to women in leadership, let alone single women in leadership, Sofia has been one of our most productive ministry trainers.
Sofia joined Entrust in 2018. That year, she held several facilitated trainings, inviting participants from various churches to a neutral site to attend. This resulted in those churches learning about Entrust and what we had to offer. That October, she trained three local trainers and began to foster a local trainers’ team.
In 2019, the strategy changed from holding trainings outside the church to training the leaders of influential churches from within. Small group leaders, preachers and lead pastors of individual churches took the training together. “In this way,” Sofia says, “the churches applied facilitation more widely from the top down. Some of the pastors even got further training and became our local trainers. Four of those churches became resource churches in the region. From that year, I began to develop contextualized training materials and a system aiming to build up effective, reproducible local-based training.”
Then came 2020. A year, we all remember, of almost complete global shutdown thanks to the pandemic. Nonetheless, Sofia says, “2020 was the year of the most training, as we did eight trainings and cultivated 81 facilitators and eight local trainers.”
Sofia tells the story from here.
“By the end of 2020, we raised up 16 local trainers and had four churches as resource churches and partners in the ministry. The local trainers, the contextualized training materials and training system became more and more mature with more trainings done and more churches applying facilitation [methods in their teaching].
“In 2021, due to COVID-19 and the severe faith environment, we didn’t do much training and I spent more time going to different groups that were facilitated by our participants who sought help. With this coaching, by the end of 2021, the ministry was fully transferred to local churches and trainers.
“Those local trainers and resource churches are very influential. In the past 3.5 years, I only did some vision casting in the first half of the year. After that, the local churches and trainers voluntarily introduced the training to their networks, because this training brought very positive impact to their personal lives, ministries and churches. For example, some participants said their communication with their wives or children was getting better, some said they got to know the meaning of servant leadership better, some said they got the courage and methods to facilitate groups, some said facilitation increased the relationship between their church members. And they all see this training came for the right timing in God’s good plan since outside forces pressured churches to focus on small groups.”
Sofia can tell you stories all day. Here is just one.
It takes place in what she calls “a very traditional church,” one which “usually rejected new training.”
“I happened to know one young leader in the church,” she says. He declined her first invitation to come to an Entrust ministry training. But she invited him a second time, just at a time when the spiritual climate in the region was worsening, with the government clamping down even harder on churches and Christians. The young leader “realized a training for group leaders was an urgent need. He talked with the leadership team of his church, and they decided to send him and another leader to take our training.”
At the conclusion of the training, this young man said “he was shocked, as this training had transforming power. He felt his heart changed from only doing ministry to real care for people.” He told his church about his experience, “and immediately his church invited us to do a training in their church. Later he became our local trainer, and his church became our resource church.”
God transformed hundreds of hearts across her country over Sofia’s four years of leadership training. Hearts softened, new sensitivity to the Holy Spirit grew, men and women gained new understanding of the value of each member of the body of the Christ. Transformation spread from church to church, nationwide.
One becomes five
As Sofia moves on to serve God in new ways, she leaves behind not one, not two, but five men who will carry on her work. All five will maintain close ties to Entrust and continue to conduct and oversee ministry training using Entrust materials.
“In the 3.5 years since I joined Entrust, we have been longing for an Entrust staff who can work with me together as a team, but it wasn’t realized,” Sofia says. In other words, God didn’t provide one teammate for Sofia. Instead, he raised up five replacements and dozens of trainers and regional training sites to step in upon her departure.
“Local resource churches and local trainers’ teams have formed. So far, we have 220 facilitators (104 men, 116 women) and 16 local trainers (nine men, seven women). Among the 16 local trainers, there are eight pastors or full-time preachers, two people who serve full-time with another international ministry, two professional coaches, two college teachers and three core workers. This is really a team formed by God.
“I am just a little sister without much network or influence. Even as I leave Entrust, the ministry will continue by local churches and trainers. This is the goal of Entrust. To multiply leaders for multiplying leaders. Transferring training into the nationals’ hands and letting God continue his work.”
Amen! And amen!