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‘Experiencing God’ called key to LifeWay’s international effort

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Luis Aranguren sees only one workable strategy for carrying out his role as director of the new international department at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The “Experiencing God” way.
“We don’t know enough about each country to say how we’re going to make our resources available. We must look to see where God is working and join him there,” Aranguren said, referring to a key scriptural principle in the popular discipleship materials.
Aranguren took the helm of the department in March of this year after serving as manager of leadership development in LifeWay’s multicultural leadership department. Earlier he was associate pastor of education and administration at Primera Iglesia Bautista de Coral Park in Miami and held management positions with the Pillsbury Company in the United States and South America.
Aranguren served on the employee task force that laid the groundwork for enlarging LifeWay’s distribution of resources outside the United States and Canada. When he was first approached about directing the new department, Aranguren was reluctant. He was finding fulfillment in leading training events for Hispanic church leaders. And then there was the scope of the task.
“The biggest challenge is the size. I can’t put my arms around it. Sometimes I feel like David before Goliath,” Aranguren said.
But when he works with Latin American church leaders being introduced for the first time to resources such as Experiencing God or The Mind of Christ, he sees firsthand the needs and opportunities before him.
“When I’m in front of people who are hungry for growing and learning and they beg me for what we have, I understand what the Lord is calling us to do,” Aranguren said.
The international department includes three components: 1) international consulting with churches and missionaries, 2) sales and licensing of LifeWay resources and 3) field service (conferences and relationship building).
Four international consultants were named recently to serve in Europe, Africa, Singapore and South America, working with the International Mission Board and Aranguren. They will undergo missionary orientation this fall and begin reporting to their assignments in 1999. Among their duties will be working with churches and missionaries in their region to identify and prioritize needs and opportunities in church development and discipleship. They also will adapt principles of church growth and discipleship to the cultural contexts of the countries in which they serve and identify LifeWay resources available to meet those needs.
The sales and licensing area will be headed by Jim Cook whose unit moves Oct. 1 from LifeWay’s Broadman & Holman division. Cook, who grew up in the Dominican Republic and speaks Spanish, has been representing B&H resources in Latin America and other parts of the world. B&H is the largest distributor of Spanish Bibles through retail outlets in Latin America.
In addition to current sales and licensing personnel, a new representative, Daniel Mays, lives in Australia and will market LifeWay resources in English-speaking regions of the Pacific Rim.
Two field service consultants will work with book distributors, leading conferences on church leadership and introducing LifeWay resources. One, Luis Lopez of Nashville, began work Sept. 1.
Aranguren said a challenge in work outside the United States and Canada is the absence of networks for making resources available to churches. Therefore, he, Cook and others make contact with book distributors who may already be selling B&H Bibles and books and test their interest in marketing church resources such as Experiencing God, MasterLife, Jesus on Leadership, The Mind of Christ, and Step by Step Through the Old and New Testaments.
Interested distributors then set up four-hour leadership seminars for churches led by Aranguren. The first half of the seminar focuses on strategies for strengthening leaders and then Aranguren shows how LifeWay resources can be used to implement leadership strategies.
The response in Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela has been phenomenal, Aranguren said.
In Venezuela, where he was discipled as a new Christian and later called to ministry, Aranguren led a seminar for some of the same leaders who had helped him grow spiritually.
“Their faces lit up and they said they had been praying for years and years,” Aranguren said through tears. “They never knew the time they had invested in me would result in this.”
In the coming months, Aranguren, Cook and others will continue to look for new opportunities. Training events in South Africa, Argentina and Puerto Rico are in the planning stages. In addition to resources in Spanish and English, B&H released a study Bible in Portuguese in September.
“We’re responding to invitations from other countries as they come,” Cook said. “That’s the Experiencing God principle at work.”

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  • Linda Lawson