An ambitious cooperative effort by U.S. and international Foursquare groups is underway to get much-needed resources into the hands of underserved global pastors and leaders.
The new initiative—dubbed Foursquare Resources for Global Leaders—aims to provide thousands of copies of foundational training materials vital for those shepherding the church’s growth in parts of the world where language, access and affordability problems currently prevent or limit their distribution.
The mini-library—to be made available on CDs and thumb drives as well as in print—comprises the core Foursquare doctrinal references: Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, and smaller books The Foursquare Gospel, Women in Leadership Ministry and Disciples of All Nations. Some regions will also receive Doing What Jesus Did.
The project is being spearheaded by Johnell Loop, coordinator of education and missionary training for Foursquare Missions International (FMI), who proposed the program after a troubling conversation with one regional leader.
“He mentioned that he had been in the office of a Foursquare pastor in his region whose bookshelf was virtually empty, except for some materials from the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Johnell explains. “He asked why he had those materials, and the pastor said that was all he had, and that they had been given to him.”
Concerned by what she had heard, Johnell brought the issue to an FMI meeting discussing concerns over doctrinal deviations.
“I had to ask why that was happening, who was at fault, who was responsible?” she states. “And I realized that the answer was, we were, because unless you speak English well enough to read a theological book, there was no material readily available.”
The resources effort has begun with help from a grant from Foursquare Foundation, and is being supported by Foursquare Missions Press and Foursquare Media. The Foursquare Church owns the copyright to the materials.
“When we got word that some of our leaders in other nations have two or possibly three books on their shelves to assist them in the preaching of the gospel, my heart was moved,” says Sterling Brackett, Foursquare vice president of corporate affairs and chief operating officer. “When I heard that one or two of those books were books that we would never recommend to one of our ministers, I felt anger that we had not done a better job in resourcing our frontline team.”
Providing the materials had not been a concern, he says.
“If these dear leaders in other countries could afford to purchase these books, they would have done so long ago,” Sterling explains. “They have no money to purchase resources; therefore, they are not potential customers for our material anyway. In America, we have so much available to us, and we forget that others live so differently.”
The first copies of Spanish editions of some of the materials are already being distributed in parts of Central and South America, with translations also in hand for French, Kiswahili, Bahasa Indonesia and Macedonian readers. The huge project will also involve making the books available in restricted-access countries, and could see thousands of copies distributed over the course of time, Johnell notes.
The project has been welcomed by Paul Otremba, FMI area missionary to Central and South America, who has already given the materials to some of his leaders.
“The pastors and leaders are very thankful,” Paul affirms. “Finally, they can have access to some of the materials that are very important for understanding Foursquare values and doctrine.”
“If we could improve the preaching and teaching of leaders to better, and more effectively, share the gospel with the lost in their countries,” echoes Sterling, “it will be worth it all.”
Steve Schell, a Foursquare board member and chairman of the education, government, and doctrine committees, has welcomed the effort to translate and distribute these key Foursquare documents.
“There are millions of people coming to the Lord all over the world, but discipleship doesn’t stop with a decision,” Steve asserts. “These men and women need to be grounded in solid biblical theology. New pastors and missionaries need to be trained, and you would be amazed at how many church institutes and schools are trying to teach with almost no materials.
“This initiative,” Steve continues, “is providing curriculum for new believers and schools, and the more languages into which we can translate these materials, the more people we will reach.”
Pastors and congregations who want to support this important initiative to resource Foursquare leaders around the world can make donations to FMI.
By: Andy Butcher, a freelance writer living in the Orlando, Fla., area