In 2020, WDA implemented a weekly global staff prayer call that connected and unified our staff beyond what we could have anticipated. We stop everything, and we pray. We pray in our heart languages; we sing songs as we feel the leading of the Holy Spirit. We pray for the world, for our ministry work, for each other – nothing is off-limits. We praise the Lord together. So in a new, fresh way, we came into this year’s staff conference with a tangible love for each other beyond just our mutual love and service for Christ. We’re in this thing together, all around the world – we have staff members in 15 countries and 6 U.S. states, to be exact. And we know each other’s names and faces and hearts and voices. You might even say we know each other relationally. And where relationships exist, safety exists. Love and affection, and compassion exist. The ability to grow exists. WDA’s 2021 Staff Conference completely shifted my ideas about being strong & courageous. If someone had told me before Staff Conference started that I would be ugly-crying during my breakout group session about Generous Giving, I would have been pretty skeptical (although I do love a good cry!). As always, WDA hosts an annual staff conference for its employees and disciple builders. Typically, this is a time for department heads to provide updates and show the new materials or training resources that have been developed in the year prior. And I typically go away feeling informed, happy to have seen my colleagues a bit, but exhausted too and in deep need of several long naps. This year was different for a few reasons.
This is the impact relationships have on discipleship too, and even we – WDA’s disciple builders – are never done being discipled. Never done growing.
I grew during this staff conference. And it felt so good, and at times painful as I felt my heart stretching beyond the previous boundaries I had set up around it. But it was the good kind of painful. The ugly crying because I know God is doing a work in me painful. I heard Pastor Ayo Ajiboye address us and acknowledge that this past year has been really hard and that even when we might not understand all that is happening, we can wholeheartedly trust Him. Why? Because “God is not ready to relinquish His title as our Father.” I heard Pastor Ken Adams encourage us to fight the battles in front of us and around us no matter how outnumbered we feel like we are, like Shamgar in the Old Testament, who defeated an entire army with one weapon. Why? Because God is standing at the ready to deliver – we just need to show up and fight for the things worth fighting for. We united in worship together, aiming our praises at our King and fighting our battles in the heavenly places!
Our beloved CEO, Bob Dukes, challenged us in areas of embracing Gospel Unity. What does that look like? What does it mean? What did unity mean to Jesus, and what should it mean for us? What are the areas in my own life that I need to die to in order to chase after unity? Unity was the very thing that Jesus appealed to God for before He went to the cross. The reason He died. He died so that we all might be brought into His Kingdom, as one Body, allegiant to Him alone and full of love for each other.
I heard about the power of telling our stories wholeheartedly – and courageously – because THIS is how we bring more people into the Kingdom. THIS is how we tell of God’s faithfulness. THIS is how we overcome the evil one (“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimonies, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11, ESV). I heard stories of some of my colleagues, my friends, that I have never heard before, and my eyes welled up with tears in praise to God. And over two days, gracious friends from the National Christian Foundation walked us through a Journey of Generosity. Most of us thought this would be something about financial giving. It was so much more than that. It was a discipleship experience. This is where the ugly cry happened, and where I bared my soul to my co-workers (even some in Indonesia, Kenya, and Brazil), about an area of control that I was struggling to let go of because I was scared.
God doesn’t ask us to do easy things. He asks us to do hard, scary things. But He asks us, knowing that in Him, trusting Him, we have nothing to fear. We just need to let go of it and listen to His voice and submit. It’s that simple. We need to say yes to whatever it is He is asking us to do. And our hearts will explode with strength and joy! And our faces will shine with His countenance!
When Joshua was installed as a leader of God’s people, God met with him personally to encourage him and to remind him to not be afraid. “Do not be afraid or discouraged!” He encouraged. “Get ready!” He instructed. “I will give you every place where you set your foot!” He promised. God wasn’t about to lose His title as their Father, their Leader, their Deliverer. He would help them fight their battles and take them all the way to the promised land. He would stay true to His Word, and He did. And He is.
Sometimes being strong and courageous isn’t crossing lands and fighting flesh and blood battles. Sometimes it’s relinquishing an area of control to the Lord – something that you really wanted to hold onto because it made you feel secure. What do you need to yield to Him? Is it money? Is it a relationship? Is it your time? What is keeping you from growing and experiencing the fullness of His life for you and in you?
Since the staff conference, I feel this fresh wind that seems like it is carrying me. I feel a new flame for Scripture. Trusting God and following Christ isn’t a duty. It’s a delight. Pray for this WDA family, as we trust the Lord together and press into what the Holy Spirit is doing in us personally and corporately. There is a fresh wind here, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the ways that our leadership continues to invest in us and disciple us and care about our growth just as much as the brand-new disciple we might be ministering to. Thank you, Jesus. Protect us Lord, and make us brave – for you and for each other.
If you would like to watch any of the staff conference sessions, click on the links below.
Tuesday (June 8)
- New Staff Introductions from Nate Harkness
- Telling Your Story presentation from Todd Miechiels & Zachary Leighton
- Gospel Unity teaching from Bob Dukes
Wednesday (June 9)
- Devotion from Ayo Ajiboye
- The Sermon on the Mount teaching from Nate Harkness
- Inquire about joining a Journey Of Generosity (JOG)
Thursday (June 10