I graduated from the University of Georgia almost exactly a month ago, and in doing so, I left home for the second time. Growing up in Dalton, GA, I spent the first 18 years of my life in the same house. I never knew any other home than my hometown, but Athens, GA, quickly became not just a second home but my true home. And one of the biggest reasons was Dave Johnson, the lessons he taught me, and the good times spent with him and my fraternity brothers studying God’s word.

My faith has always been an important part of my life, but never more so than now, and I owe much of that renewed commitment to Christ to the Bible study that Dave led at Lambda Chi Alpha. I went to church regularly growing up, but I struggled to find time for faith while at UGA for various reasons, but I always made time and looked forward to those afternoons with Dave on the front porch.

I admire and respect his commitment to his faith and his ability to reach college-aged guys like myself who could think of a million other ways to spend a sunny afternoon rather than reading and talking about the Bible. The sense of brotherhood and community fostered in these meetings was truly special, and it made me feel closer to the men in that room than anyone else on campus.

I also had the great privilege to meet with Dave regularly one-on-one in my last couple of years of school, and those meetings have truly helped me explore my faith and further commit myself to the example of Christ. Through this special counseling, I’ve planned and led my own Bible study and begun a deeper understanding of the word of God and how it can be used to my benefit in life.

 

About The Author

Nathan Moore is a graduate of the University of Georgia. His past positions include serving as a sports beat writer for the Red & Black Newspaper and as an MMJ for Grady Newsource. Nathan thinks that storytelling is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave man, and the desire to meet people, change lives, and have fun through a life of storytelling is what has guided him throughout his career.

 

 

 

 

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)

Wednesday (June 9)

 

Thursday (June 10

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About The Author

Jennifer is a warm and joyful soul who loves Jesus, worship music, and chocolate. She has been on WDA Staff for over four years and serves at the WDA HQ in Georgia. She is regarded by her peers as inspired – a leader! – and as one who is committed to excellence.

 

 

 

“God is always at work around us, and He desires that we join Him in what He is doing.”
-Henry Blackaby
 
My wife and I were part of the first group of folks that went through Restoring Your Heart way back in the day.  Jack Larson and some of his team from Stone Mountain led it and did an awesome job of laying the groundwork for the ministry.
 
I am a part of RYH because I have found few things in ministry that are fulfilling and give such purpose to my life. Most of the groups I have led have been with people from my church. In the last few years, I have been leading RYH groups at a ministry called “A Better Way.” It is an 18-month discipleship program for men who struggle with life-controlling issues such as drugs and alcohol. They can join the program voluntarily, be mandated to join by the legal system, or come after being released from prison.
 
Most of these men come from very dysfunctional backgrounds. In the group I am now finishing, only one has not come from a broken family. Six have had family, cousins, or close friends who were murdered or overdosed on drugs. All but one have done jail or prison time. So much pain and suffering has come into their lives that they all have a long way to go to find healing. But God is faithful, and I am seeing their hearts change week by week. 
 

Lesson 7 of the new RYH Processing Pain Workbook has to do with participants giving a blessing to each other. I believed that they would be unable to give something they had never received. I felt led to do the lesson in a different way. I proceeded to research the origin and meaning of each man’s name. The night of the class I asked the men to be in an attitude of prayer. I then went to each man and sat in front of him. I put my hand on his knee and I looked him in the eyes. A blessing comes with a touch, a word, and needs to be face-to-face.

As I spoke to each man, I called him by his name and assured him God found no fault with him. As I explained the origin and meaning of his name, I called him into that identity in Christ. Several men were in tears. Most had probably never heard such things said about them. I could see their hearts open up like flowers as they allowed these deposits to be made into them.

At the end of the session, no one was talking. God had shown up that night and it was undeniable that He had done a great work in the lives of these men. This blessing has made a noticeable difference in how they see themselves today.

 

My name is Gordon MacFarlane, and I live in Fayetteville, GA, with Waynette, my wife of 49 years. We have two grown sons. Blake lives in Cedar Park, TX with his wife Elizabeth and their two children Ella and Will. Our other son Hunter lives in Newnan, GA. He is a full-time fireman in Dekalb and a part-time fireman in Roswell.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 10.48.11 AMWDA Philippines begins to train leaders!

This is a video provided to WDA by our partner. You can learn more about disciple building by reading Disciple Building: A Biblical Framework and about our Materials available for our ministry on our materials pages.
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1st Batch of Trainers


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2nd Batch of Trainers

Come as you are

I received yet another email this past week pointing out the mounting statistics that show church attendance continues to slip. This particular email pointed out that more than 65% of people in my home county claim an affinity to “the church” (adherents), that 46% of those interviewed claim membership to a particular church but less than 20% actually go to church. As I pondered those numbers three questions came to mind.

empty pewWhat have we “the church” done to drive people away?

What has the world done to draw people away?

What do we do to overcome points one and two above in order to welcome people back?

While I don’t want to over simplify the issue, it seems the gap continues to grow between those who understand “church” and those who don’t. It is becoming more complicated all the time; we “the church” have developed our own language, social norms, and even dress code for almost every different church in town. In fact it took me a while to understand the email I received, as I had to look up the term “adherents”.

 

Adherent-(ad·her·ent adˈhi(ə)rənt,-ˈher-/noun) plural noun: adherents

  1. someone who supports a particular party, person, or set of ideas

 

I can only imagine how off putting it must seem to someone who has no knowledge or association with what “the church” is or is supposed to be.  And, for the record, that now amounts to more than half the country if the statistics are correct.

Jeff Christopherson, in his recent book “The Kingdom Matrix” puts it like this:

“The essential distinguishing issue in this new evangelical culture is not the character of our hearts, but the vocabulary of our expression. Our subculture has developed universally understood code words that offer indisputable evidence of our club status….. They are found in our evangelical glossaries and come glibly off our lips; fellowship, brother, born-again, and membership indicate our club-status within the subculture.”

It seems to me we need to make “the church” more accessible.  When did it become important for religion to become complicated? My Bible clearly shows that Jesus spoke plain language and a good bit of his talking was done with folks who did not have a grasp on what the “the church” was all about.

Perhaps a simpler approach is in order.

Come As You Are“Come as you are”—With what you know, how you are dressed, without all the answers, without all the lingo. Come because we care about you, come learn about the One who created you and loves you, come because you are valuable, come because you are going to be met just where you are–and helped to take the next step. Come to a place that is not perfect and wants imperfect people. Come!

I shared these thoughts with a friend of mine. Bob knows a lot about the church, about Jesus, and thankfully, a lot about me. He has attended seminary, preached a lot and has written forty or fifty some publications regarding Jesus and his teachings.  His message back confirmed my thoughts-but he also says so much more.

David, what you described is The Gospel.  It’s The Message about Jesus.  He’s The Sent One who dwelt among us and was full of grace and truth.  When we neglect teaching EVERYTHING He commanded, we neglect Him and His Message, and we end up corrupting His Message.  People do this, at least initially, without intentionally meaning to.  We make it about conforming to OUR image and OUR likeness, or, as Paul said, we hold on to “a righteousness of our OWN that’s derived from The Law.”  It’s a poor likeness, but close enough to trick immature or unadvised people. But instead of glorifying God, it insults and demeans His Name.

Just as I expected he would, Bob spoke right to my heart. Powerful words, words to remind me and to help center me…words of encouragement, and words admonishing me to continue the good work placed before me.

And maybe they are words of encouragement for you too.

Come.

Please come!