Messages from the Executive Director

Russell Thorp

Russell was born in Papua New Guinea (PNG) of missionary parents. He and Pearl married in 1982. After training at Laidlaw College, earning a Master of Theology degree, they went back to PNG and served on the faculty of Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC). Prior to taking up his former role, as Mission Director, Global Connections in Mission (GC3), he was Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Carey Baptist College, Auckland, and prior to that, a senior lecturer at Pathways Bible and Mission College. Russell and Pearl live in Auckland. They are parents of four adult children.

July 2022 – Resilience and leadership

Dear friends, we are so encouraged with your prayerful support for our partners who are training leaders in their own contexts. Contexts that demand resilience and leadership. I am reminded that the apostle Paul faced similar circumstances as he served in weakness

[2 Corinthians 11:27-30] “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”

Click here for updates…

Please read through the updates of the situation in Sri Lanka, CLTC in Papua New Guinea and the Ukraine. There is also link here to LSESD news from Lebanon.

March 2022 – ‘My constant prayer is that this madness would stop’

Thank you for your continued prayer and financial support and particularly the recent gifts sent to support our partner seminaries, scholars, writers and pastors in Ukraine. We continue to uplift in prayer those who have been forced to remain in Ukraine as well as those who have managed escaped to an uncertain future. Please continue to join us in prayer.

A recent update from one of our team on the ground said:

“…Among this tragic and sad news, the good news is that with your prayerful and financial support of the evacuation literally thousands and thousands of the lives of our women and children have been saved. We are physically unable in terms of the time to share all the hundreds of stories of salvation. Many of you are active and even more than active participants of this salvation (I have no better word now) and the EXAMPLE what is to be the Body of Christ, serving each other not with what we do not have, but with what we have, what we have been given by the Holy Spirit in terms of the gifts and talents.”

The consequences of a shelling in Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine. [Source: State Emergency Service of Ukraine, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons].

Podcast updates: Mark Meynell, a Langham Preaching Director, provides three special episodes of ‘On Mission’, a podcast produced by Langham US.  He interviewed Ukrainian church leaders – who are still in the country – about the conditions currently facing Christians. Please do not share these beyond our links. These conversations were recorded from the 8th March.
Due to the volatile nature of the situation there, we are withholding the name of this particular church leader for his safety. 

Listen on Spotify: Updates and Prayer Requests from a Ukrainian Church Leader

Listen on Apple Podcasts: Special Episode #1-#3

Please pray for Ukraine.

Click here to support those who most need it.

Remember the Syrian refugee crisis! See how it overlaps with the Ukrainian one.

Refugees praying for refugees! Who would know the perils of being a refugee except for a refugee who endured and still facing a similar painful experience? The heartbreaking news coming from Ukraine has moved our Together, For the Family community to hold a special prayer session by Syrian refugees in Lebanon praying for their sisters and brothers in Ukraine and beyond

Together For the Family [TFF] is deeply grateful for all friends who responded generously to the emergency appeal to provide heating diesel for needed families during a tough winter in Beqaa Valley.

We are glad to report that with your generous support we were able to help 530 families providing each family with 40 liters of heating diesel.

Almost 80% of our grain and more than 35% of our oil are imported from Ukraine. Due to the destruction of Lebanon’s main grain warehouse during the Beirut port explosion Lebanon has a reserve of grain that would last for one and half months. This is causing much panic as bread is our staple daily food in Lebanon. Your prayers are appreciated.

Donate to Syria

December 2021 – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Generosity has characterised 2021

Thanks so much to all of you who have expressed your support through your giving, prayer, and volunteering this year.

Both individuals and training institutions have benefitted from your generosity. You impact is being multiplied as those trained, in turn train others.

As we reflect on the generosity of God, gifting us hope through the coming of Jesus into the world, I’m inspired by how this is reflected in general life. The story is told of a young boy who sneaks onto an empty stage just before world-famous Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s sold-out concert performance and starts playing “Chopsticks.” The angry crowd tries to shout the boy off the stage, but Paderewski rushes to his side and plays harmony with him through the end of the song, urging:

“Keep going. Don’t quit, son. Keep playing. Don’t stop. Don’t quit.”

Generosity of spirit transformed that moment not just for the young boy, but for everyone in that concert hall and, likely, you who are reading about it right now… Generosity is core to the nature of God and is a visceral fruit of the Spirit in our lives. And that matters even more now than ever before in my lifetime because our culture has (in so many ways) descended into meanness, vitriol, and reaction. Nothing cures those ailments faster, and more deeply, than a generous spirit…

August 2021

Hope for a broken world

In country training of Christian leaders who understand and live the gospel brings hope to hurting and broken communities. In this enews, Hendra shares the impact of his preacher training on his congregation. We learn too of what has happened a year on from the Beirut blast. Hope is being brought to the broken through leaders equipped with the gospel. You can partner with these essential ministries bringing hope in times of fear.

July 2021

Doing old things in new ways!

We want to highlight the way our valued volunteers have worked through engaging with our partner schools doing old things in new ways. The classic example is our ESOL teachers, usually based in Yangon but confined here to New Zealand, who are currently teaching over 40 students in Myanmar.

June 2021

Thank you!

Thanks so much for your timely support.

Prabhu, the Principal of SAIACS says “Thank you for the generous support. We are delighted to see this provision” for special student scholarships, assistance for health care and to deceased alumni and other Christian workers medical expenses because of your generosity.

Your donations are also making an impact in places like Lanka Bible College in Sri Lanka where laptops have been purchased for faculty to enhance online teaching. These colleges provide in-country training for pastors and ministry leaders who are making an impact in their communities.

May 2021

We have all heard of the Covid Tsunami hitting India at present. Video messages like these inform us of the dire situation India faces.
SAIACS has been the longest-term partner school of LDL, operating at a high level as an in-country trainer equipping students for ministry throughout Asia. There are many stories of the wonderful multiplying effect graduates are having. Daily I am seeing stories of Indians in ministry who are being affected by Covid and the desperate situations that this leads to.

Update from Myanmar: We were able to send funds through to help with staff salaries and needs at MEGST and to cover similar expenses in Kalaymo with the partner school consortium there. Continue to pray for safety during the military coup.
Please keep considering donating to the AM Memorial fund.
Update from Christian Leaders’ Training College: Praise the Lord that those infected with Covid are all recovering. Operations in the college are still being affected by covid and measures to keep social distancing.
Ask for the Lord’s continued hand to be seen in these partner schools who are key ministry trainers in their country and regions.

April 2021

What a year it has been. Our programme partners have struggled, yet with your prayer and kind donations, have been enabled to pivot towards online teaching and learning. One of our key values is ‘in country training’. The fruit of investing in training preachers, teachers and writers at the higher level is paying off as these women and men are at the heart of sustainable ministry in local contexts where expat influence is increasingly less. Thanks so much.

Personal thanks from Russell…

February 2021

Multiplying Impact under extreme conditions

This month we bring a story of multiplying impact under extreme conditions.  Elie Haddad, President of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Lebanon reflects on the question: HOW CAN OUR COLLEGE SURVIVE SUCH HARDSHIP?

The years 2020/21 are anything but normal. The pandemic is global, but this has been only one of many calamities that we have endured in Lebanon. On the heels of ten years of an acute humanitarian crisis and dealing with a pandemic in a crumbling health sector, we are currently in the middle of a major economic breakdown with political and social unrest, culminating in a massive explosion in Beirut in August. How can a college our size survive such hardship? The answer is plain and simple: God. It is God’s protection and provisions that are sustaining us throughout. His provisions are felt in concrete ways through our partners. LeaDev-Langham’s Shoulder to Shoulder Strategy is one powerful example. Let’s reflect on the outcomes:

• The pandemic disrupted our operation, as it did for many all over the globe. Thankfully, we were able to take emergency measures to complete the academic year. In addition, we have developed a new strategy for our programs and delivery methods that will shape the future of theological education and leadership formation in our region.

• Financially, by March this year we were tracking to have the largest deficit in the history of ABTS. However, we ended our fiscal year in September in surplus.

• Not only that, but we were able to open up our facilities to welcome quarantining first responders and many families that lost their homes in the Beirut explosion. These are examples of God’s small, and not so small, miracles that carried us through the year. One partner recently asked me if we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My answer was no. We don’t know how long this tunnel is going to be; however, we can see small lights throughout the tunnel. We are experiencing God’s sustaining power in fresh new ways. LeaDev-Langham has provided many of these small lights in the tunnel as it journeyed with us this year. God’s miracles are not only felt at ABTS, but they are also felt all over Lebanon. In the middle of the calamities, we are experiencing God’s transformative, redemptive, and restorative power. At a time of hopelessness and despair, God is transforming our churches to become beacons of hope, faith, and love. The gospel is being proclaimed in amazing holistic ways. These are tragic times in Lebanon, yet they are times of experiencing new life. We are grateful to God for LeaDev-Langham and its supporters. Life after the pandemic will not go back to normal. This new season calls for innovation, for finding new solutions to new challenges. We are grateful that LeaDev-Langham loves to support new initiatives that chart new paths even when there is no map or blueprint. We look forward to continuing this journey together.

Would you support the Shoulder-to-Shoulder appeal that is providing funding to help seminaries and individuals pivot toward online teaching and learning?

Would you support our ‘Beirut’ appeal started in August 2020 as they continue to bring rehabilitation to families and communities under extreme conditions?

Article credit: Overseas Council Australia – Prayer Alert Shoulder to Shoulder Update

December 2020

The gift of presence

What a year it has been! We have all had to cope with the Covid 19 pandemic and everything associated with that. As Executive Director, I’ve finally been commissioned formally into the role.

I want to thank you for your prayers, your voluntary contributions and your donations that have enabled the ministry of our programme partners to continue. We keep looking to the Lord for provision that will enable leaders to be trained effectively for the ministry of the gospel. Leaders who multiply the impact of what you give by training in their own context, men and women of faith who courageously share Christ in difficult places and times.

We celebrate the coming of Jesus to be present with us. The gift of presence is a wonderful gift. The prophet Isaiah records the promise of Christ’s coming: “… the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” Isaiah 7:14.

November 2020

Will you shine a light in needy places this Christmas

“People who believe in the resurrection, in God making a whole new world in which everything will be set right at last, are unstoppably motivated to work for that new world in the present…” 

For “Hope in person surprised the whole world by coming forward from the future into the present.” 

– N.T. Wright Surprised by Hope
son, the gift of hope.  

October 2020

Hope Multiplied

In pondering the phrase ‘hope is real’ I realised that for many people hope is not real. I believe it is one of the most important gifts we can give to another person, the gift of hope.  

The apostle Paul (Romans 15:4) shares that

“everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

In training our programme partners through your support of LeaDev-Langham, these trained individuals are able to participate in the great task of bringing hope to many, many more through the training, discipling and mentoring they carry out in equipping other in sharing the good news of the gospel. These trained individuals collectively reach millions with the hope of the gospel.

In this months e-news we have a brief clip from Ms Ning Ngaih Lian [aka Liannu] from Myanmar who has just finished her PhD. Liannu is the last faculty recruit of our beloved late brother, Aung Mang, founding Principal, MEGST. Liannu is now back in Myanmar teaching at MEGST. Her specialist area is Christian Education [formally known as Transformative Learning]. Liannu’s PhD in this much needed area gives MEGST options to offer a major in Christian Education at MDiv, MTh, and DMin levels.

It is wonderful to note her dedication to Christ and to forming Christ centred graduates at MEGST. Pray that her study impacts her students through her teaching.

September 2020

I’m reflecting on the impact of my father who passed away aged 88 on the 18th of September 2020. We rejoice that he served as a farmer and then a teacher in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and India (SAIACS). In this e-news you can read about that impact as a volunteer for LeaDev-Langham. Jesus said “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” John 12:24. His is an example of planting and reaping. You will hear (and see) too, the impact of your donations to the Beirut appeal. Your donations are having a real impact in restoring broken houses, classes, and lives.

Again, donations to the shoulder to shoulder appeal are making a significant impact.
Also note the continuing trip by Paul and Barby Windsor as they connect with supporters through home meetings. Attending one of these brings a sense of the impact training the trainers of preachers has been having through their ministry.

The impact of Volunteer work partnering through LeaDev-Langham – A testimony to the work of Dennis and Barbara Thorp at SAIACS.

Dennis has recently been promoted to glory (18/09/2020) leaving a legacy of discipling through teaching with his wife Barbara the SAIACS English Enhancement Class. (See photo)

For seven weeks each year (2011-2016), Dennis and Barbara travelled to SAIACS to teach. They dedicated themselves to this while in their late 70’s and early 80’s. Dennis and Barbara immersed themselves in the relationships necessary to make the teaching successful.

Havilah writes “That Dennis was dedicated to his task was apparent in that he braved the hottest months of an Indian summer. He cared for the students, and their appreciation was evident in the little booklet of thanks made to him and Barbara. We are grateful for his contribution to SAIACS and rejoice in a life lived out in faithful service of the Kingdom. Of them was quoted- ‘a good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others’ (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk).

Dennis and Barbara continued to pray for every student while back in New Zealand. We thank them for their dedication and the ongoing impact of their teaching seen in the ability of the graduates from SAIACS. LeaDev-Langham are blessed with dedicated volunteers who continue to bring light and impact as they come alongside our programme partners.

If you are interested in having a real impact through being available for teaching English, providing IT support, facilitating business or farming projects please contact the office through

Dennis and Barbara are the parents of LeaDev-Langham’s Executive Director, Russell Thorp.

August 2020

Thank you so much for your prayer and financial support of LeaDev-Langham. You are greatly appreciated.

I wanted to update you on what our team have been working on recently, and to show you how your support is making a big impact. One of the real challenges our network of Bible Seminaries and individuals in the Langham network throughout Asia and the Pacific face is adapting to working in a Covid-19 world. Many of our partners have been in touch to express their appreciation for the support provided by the recent Shoulder to Shoulder appeal. I want to thank you personally for your thoughtfulness and generosity. Your donations have enabled our partner schools to pivot from physical to online classes. But more importantly many of them have been enabled to keep their staff and faculty at a time where local finances have been low.

CK, Principal of MEGST shares here and Rochelle Hakel-Ranasinghe from Colombo Theological Seminary shares here.

Beirut is very much in our minds at this time and our partners there need all the help we can provide as they struggle to recover from the devastating blast. We are continuing to seek support for The Arab Baptist Seminary as it continues to bring hope to the needy. Here is the latest video from Beirut. If you would like to participate in the recovery follow the link here.

June 2020

It is great to be at level 1. While we have been in lockdown, we have spent time communicating via zoom with our partner school leaders and key Langham preaching trainers. You may have watched some of the interviews we provided in links through our Journey to Pentecost reflections over the 40 days from Easter. Here is the link to our webpage with the daily reflections. Our partner schools continue to operate in trying conditions through waves of Covid-19. They seek to fulfil distancing requirements as a testimony to their observance of the attempts of governments to control the pandemic. In the process they are still missing student fees and other opportunities to raise funds. These schools rely on supporters like those here in New Zealand to enable the training of humble servant leaders in Asia Pacific. I am hoping that if you have not yet, you would now be able to make a special donation to our ‘shoulder to shoulder’ campaign. I have been encouraged with the feedback from our Partner schools who are so thankful for funds sent to them to enable them to set up the equipment required to deliver online teaching and learning, to reconfigure curriculum and to help with operational funding. I want to thank you so much for your interest and prayer.

Russell Thorp
Executive Director

1st April 2020 – Message from Russell Thorp

April marks the beginning of my role as Executive Director of LeaDev-Langham in New Zealand. I want to give thanks to God with you, our supporters and prayer partners, for the 24 years of service Tony and Judy and his team have given LeaDev-Langham. Tony has led wonderfully well. He has built a team of staff and supporters that have carried out our mission to support the training, in their own countries, of Bible teachers, preachers, theologians, and lay leaders, who can shape their nations and generations for the years ahead. Tony will continue in a role as Associate Director – Special Projects.

While our way of operating is being shaped by the circumstances, we all find ourselves in, God’s mission to reach the world with the good news of Jesus through the training of key leaders remains as urgent and strategic as ever. In fact, what has been achieved so far through LeaDev-Langham means there are some well-trained local teachers, preachers and evangelists who are well equipped to continue training in their regions. We give praise to God for that, but with the exponential growth of the church in these regions the task is growing ever larger and more urgent.

With the corona virus our partner schools are struggling with unpaid student fees and with growing community needs they need to respond to. Alongside our Easter and Pentecost campaigns we would like to introduce a campaign that over the rest of the year will enable our partners to not only survive, but to thrive. This is essential. These training institutions for Christian leaders must survive. Not for their own sakes, but for the sake of the church which will minister in this crisis.

An Invitation– We invite New Zealand Christians to stand with us, as we stand with our partners. In the face of our own economic uncertainty in New Zealand we ask you to give to this greater need.

I want to thank you in advance for your continued prayer and financial support for the ministry of LeaDev-Langham that enables key local leaders to grow and flourish in their local contexts.

Russell Thorp

Executive Director

30th September 2019 – LeaDev-Langham appoints new Executive Director

The Board of LeaDev-Langham has announced the appointment of a new Executive Director to succeed founding Executive Director, Tony Plews, who is taking on a new role with the organisation from next year.

At Tony’s request in 2015 the LDL Board initiated a succession process, which has brought us to this point.

Russell Thorp will become Executive Director on 1 April next year. At that time, Tony Plews will assume the role of Associate Director, Special Projects.

The Board of LeaDev-Langham has announced the appointment of a new Executive Director to succeed founding Executive Director, Tony Plews, who is taking on a new role with the organisation from next year.

At Tony’s request in 2015 the LDL Board initiated a succession process, which has brought us to this point.

Russell Thorp will become Executive Director on 1 April next year. At that time, Tony Plews will assume the role of Associate Director, Special Projects.

 Dr Paul Windsor, former LeaDev board member, and Programme Director, Langham Preaching, now based in South Asia, has warmly supported Russell’s appointment, saying, “As a kindred spirit with an easy empathy with the Langham ethos, vision, and mission, I am sure that Russell will quickly make a vital contribution to this developing ministry.

Russell brings a wealth of mission experience to the role from his previous position as Mission Director Global Connections in Mission (GC3), a position he has held for 8 years. Prior to taking up his current role, he was Dean of Undergraduate Studies at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, and prior to that, a senior lecturer at Pathways Bible and Mission College.
Russell holds a Master of Theology degree from Laidlaw College.
In addition to his professional expertise, Russell has significant leadership and community experience. He currently chairs the NZ Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC) Advisory Board, and the CLTC academic Advisory Board. He also has first-hand practical experience working with LeaDev-Langham in an advising, consulting, and training capacity Myanmar.
Russell told the LeaDev-Langham Board: “I value connecting the narrative and values of donors with the narrative and values of recipients so that God’s work expands, and He is glorified in the process.”
LeaDev-Langham Chairman Denis Browne said that the Board is delighted to welcome Russell into this pivotal role. “Tony has done an excellent job for 24 years. After extensive searching and much prayer, we are delighted that Russell has agreed to assume the role of Executive Director. His impressive background and experience will help us enormously as we look to meet the growing demand for our support throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”
Russell is married with four adult children. He is very much looking forward to taking up this significant role. “I value God’s Word as life giving Truth. I highly value Majority World Leaders being encouraged and equipped. I value being strategic with financial support, in terms of what will grow the people of God. I believe in sustainable mission. This role fits perfectly with my core values and commitment to living God’s call on my life.”

Denis Browne

If you would like more information on Russell and future plans for LeaDev-Langham under his leadership, please contact Denis Browne, Chairman