Through the Eyes of Wilow Global Partners at the GLS

By: Erin Chan Ding, Willow Global Volunteer Journalist

It’s not unusual to see the world pour into Willow Creek Community Church during the Summit. But a group of leaders in the main auditorium consisted of men and women who nurture close, consistent relationships with Willow. They are pastors and directors of the churches and nonprofit organizations Willow partners with from all over the globe.

Every day, they invest in their local communities, villages and cities in countries like Costa Rica, Jordan, Bolivia, Zambia, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Once a year, Willow Global has the privilege of inviting them to South Barrington to soak in the Summit live, to meet up with staff and volunteers and take their experiences back to their own churches and neighborhoods.

Here’s a glimpse at what they took away from the Summit this year:  

“God is confirming the passion we have for what he’s called us to do. He’s giving us the energy and the passion, and I feel so happy that when I’m tired or stressed, the Lord gives us strength. This is time for us to prepare for what’s next.” 

~Rocío Mora, pastor at Trono de Dios church in San Jose, Costa Rica

“I believe this is a great opportunity to listen. I see the compassion in Melinda Gates’s heart and through the resources God has given to her. She wants to do something deeper and give hope, and she did that. It’s so personal because this is the same thing we are doing.

 And I was also touched by Bill Hybels, when he spoke about leadership and shared about compassion and what was in his heart. To be in this environment is really so great.”

 ~Haytham Mazaherh Marka, pastor of Philadelphia Church in Amman, Jordan, which has served thousands of refugees

 “Emotional intelligence: I’m still working on that. It’s actually very hard. This awareness thing is difficult. It’s a process where you start to acknowledge what triggers your emotions. For me, I’m learning and in the process of being aware of my feelings. My concern about being a church leader is how I can influence others.

Jossy Chacko was saying God has not given us a spirit of fear. If God has not given us a spirit of fear, then why are we afraid? It’s a reminder not to be afraid of anything that’s coming or anything I want to pursue or any challenge that I’m facing now. I just need to rely on God and say, ‘Don’t be afraid. Whatever is going to happen, God is going to take you where he wants you to be.’”     

 ~Victor Cerda, teams manager and local church leader in the Dominican Republic

“Patrick Lencioni got me thinking about the qualities of the people on our team and the combination of their characteristics. I immediately wanted to start evaluating the people my team, and my own qualities, too.”

~Ines Cabellero, a director of Red Viva, Bolivia

“These sessions have been so interesting. In our country, we have 23 different cultures, and to listen to how we can work with people and understand the different cultures for us to reach our goals, and to know how to communicate, this has been very important for us.

Also, the instruction to add value to people is so important, not only for the benefit of communication but also because it has a biblical base. In our daily lives, sometimes it’s very difficult to do that with people we don’t agree with, whatever the country and whatever the context. We can give people value because God has given us value.”

~Samuel España, pastor of Jehovah Jireh church in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala   

“In general, in terms of leadership, this is a huge opportunity for us. It’s really difficult to have these moments where we just sit and focus on leadership. Our organization helps and coaches leaders, so it can transform their communities. All year, we prepare ourselves to prepare them, and these two days are so refreshing for us.

Even though it’s a lot of information, you’re trying to process how it can be applied to you. It’s a totally different experience to be here. It’s adrenaline. It’s everyone sharing the same moments.”

~Zuleyma Chahin, director of programs and projects with Enlace in El Salvador