By Holly Culhane
I had expected a routine Zoom experience introducing Jackie, a new member of the Presence Point team, to a multiplication partner in Perth, Australia. But as so often happens when God is working, the experience was anything but predictable. It was full of paraklesis – the Greek word used in the New Testament for an encouraging message.
Although we had hoped our conversation with Mark would go well, we had no idea what this Principal of Prendiville Catholic College, a Catholic co-educational school with students from grades 7-12 in Perth, Australia, had in store for us. He waited patiently until the formalities of our call were complete and then he excitedly began to share just how comprehensively the leadership team had assimilated shepherd leadership into everyday life at Prendiville.
Mark first introduced Cheryl, a teacher of children with special needs and an artist of Aboriginal descent. She had interpreted the Shepherd Leadership concept, along with The Leader’s Shield, and the three pivotal elements of shepherding well – Provision, Protection, and Presence – onto an oversized version of a message stick, an ancient form of communication between Aboriginal nations, clans, and language groups. The work of art was prominently mounted in the reception area of the school. We listened in amazement. Her work was breathtaking.
Several other testimonies followed and I was stunned. Even as I write this and think back on that day, I’m overwhelmed with the encouragement and affirmation the Father provided through partners we had only previously communicated with via email, the protection He was offering from the discouragement that mundane tasks can bring to an energetic connector in the leadership sphere, and how strongly I felt His presence as He superintended the entire conversation.
He was shepherding me. And He was causing believers on two continents to glorify our Good, Great, and Chief Shepherd with one voice.
Paul’s exhortation to the believers in Rome reminds us Who the Great Encourager is…
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
…and on the 28th day of February at 5:00 in the afternoon, in the year of our Lord 2023, our Father magnificently displayed His ability to do exactly that – deliver paraklesis – His encouraging message through one part of His body to another.
Watch a video on the message stick that Cheryl created and the fabulous story behind her interpretation, below: