« December 2017 « Feature
Blessing Beyond Borders
Pastor’s Exchange Program Promotes Outreach at Home and Abroad
“Our Church is a world Church,” says Eddie Canales, founder of the Pastor’s Exchange Program in the Southwestern Union. “When we think beyond our borders and undertake evangelism outside of our division, we not only bless others, but also receive a blessing.”
The Pastor’s Exchange Program is designed to promote global outreach. Each year, a group of pastors from the Southwestern Union travels to another country and hosts evangelistic meetings. A few months later, pastors from that country visit the Southwestern Union and host meetings. Between 20-25 Southwestern Union pastors participate each year.
Eddie Canales, Vice President and Multicultural Ministries, Evangelism, and Personal Ministries Director for the Southwestern Union, started the program 15 years ago. His goal for the Pastor’s Exchange Program is to educate and motivate pastors, both globally and locally. By exposing pastors to evangelism methods all around the world, they learn many new outreach styles. The positive experience will then inspire those pastors to focus on outreach at their home church.
“Pastors are often so wrapped up in the challenges of their district that it can be difficult to focus on evangelism,” says Canales. “The Pastor’s Exchange Program helps refocus and inspire them.”
When the program first began 15 years ago, Canales focused specifically on Spanish-speaking countries and churches because that was his area of ministry at the time. Evangelistic meetings took place in Argentina, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Perú, the Caribbean, and more.
Last year, Canales broadened the program to include English-speaking countries. A group of pastors from the Southwestern Union traveled to Jamaica, and then pastors from Jamaica traveled to churches in the Southwestern Union. Churches from around the world are finding out about the program. They contact Canales, requesting involvement, and the planning process begins. There is a waiting list of global churches interested in involvement with the Pastor’s Exchange Program.
“When someone comes to preach from a different part of the world, it tends to attract people in a different way,” says Canales. “The program benefits both countries involved in the exchange, and in every meeting you see miracles take place.”
Recently, a group of pastors from Colombia held meetings in the Southwestern Union. Over 200 people chose to be baptized. Local church small groups worked with visiting pastors to make this possible. They offered outreach, Bible studies, and friendship to locals interested in learning more about Jesus.
A Colombian pastor from a different denomination learned about some local upcoming meetings, and he came to the seminars and decided to be baptized. Now, his entire church of 600 people worship on Sabbath.
“I think the program is getting better and better because our pastors are getting good at it,” says Canales. “It’s a great way of exposing our pastors to evangelism techniques and enhancing their ministry.”
The Pastor’s Exchange Program creates a ripple effect in communities all around the world. As pastors become excited about ministry, entire churches are inspired to spread the love of Jesus. Church members then work to reach out to their community. Evangelistic meetings are hosted with pastors from many countries, and lives are changed.
Makala James is a writer and journalism graduate from Southwestern Adventist University. She lives in Granbury, Texas, with her husband, Denny. Eddie Canales is Vice President and Evangelism, Multicultural and Personal Ministries Director for the Southwestern Union. He lives in Alvarado, Texas, with his wife, Angie.