MLC: Leading Out of His Abundance of Grace
The Bible study with Bob Marsh is one of my favorite parts of the IBC Ministry Leadership Conferences. During our first morning session in Larnaca, Cyprus, Bob jumped into a study of Peter and began with John 21:15-19. This is the story where Jesus extends grace to Peter after his betrayal at the crucifixion and asks him to “tend my sheep.” Bob paraphrased it in this way: “Peter, I’m not through with you yet. I have things for you to do. The best things are still ahead.” To me, that’s what the MLC is always about — a reminder that in spite of our inadequacies, failures, and struggles serving in international churches, God is not through with us yet. The best is yet to come.
The teaching followed this theme all throughout the weekend. Bob Marsh focused on Peter, and Richard Blackaby spoke about Elijah. I loved seeing the parallels in their stories. God gives them both a high calling, and they both fail in different ways. Yet, Jesus appears to Peter, and God sends Elijah the angel with the freshly baked bread. He encourages them to get up and to take the next step of obedience because He still plans to use them in mighty ways. He will equip them to follow the path placed before them. I was encouraged to draw near to God and seek Him diligently – in the days that feel like a wilderness, in the days that seem fruitless or insignificant, in the days of failure, in the days that require brave steps of obedience, and in the days of victory – so that I can lead and serve out of His abundance of grace.
In between teaching sessions, we squeezed in a tour of the ancient cities of Paphos and Kourion. It was humbling to see the location in Paphos where Paul might have been flogged and then early Christians built a church. We visited “The House of Dionysus,” the home of a wealthy Roman ruler or Paphos citizen and saw beautiful mosaic floors from the second century A.D. All three buses ended up at the theater of Apollos in Kourion around the same time, and we gathered together for a group photo on the 2000-year-old steps. My favorite moment was when our tiny but enthusiastic tour guide, Demetria, glanced at the unmanned entrance counter and quickly ushered us into the Sanctuary of Apollos Hylates. She was determined to sneak in a quick visit before they closed for the day. Stepping among the ancient ruins, surrounded by yellow flowers with the sea in the background was a beautiful way to end our tour.
Of course, I always enjoy our time together at the MLC. During the group sessions, seminars, and small group time with IBC strategy directors and affinity groups, we were able to learn from each other, encourage each other, and find ways to better serve our churches and the IBC. I always appreciate the opportunity to step outside of my context and spend time with people who understand international church ministry life. There were a lot of laughs and hopeful words spoken over breakfasts by the ocean, walks by the beach, and late night dinners on the strip. Now that I’m back in Paris, I’m missing the people, the sun, and the halloumi cheese. But I’m thankful for the MLC and look forward to meeting together again in Dubai next year!
Rachel Hendricks, Paris, France