New Connections and a Bright Future for WDA Africa
Nairobi 2017 finished Friday with the commissioning of 5 new staff, including new country directors for Congo and Ethiopia. Yesterday, those who are still here drove through Nairobi National Park featuring giraffes, one flustered ostrich, and a big lion fresh off her kill.
The conference I think far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Our 13 African associates connected exceptionally well with each other and our 13 American staff and volunteers, promising to pray for each other and to work together whenever possible. I was thrilled to see them think more strategically about WDA and begin to see it as a truly continental movement.
A few fun highlights from the week!
I bought 13 kindle fires and uploaded ALL our WDA content (bible studies, books, articles, teaching outlines, workbooks, etc) plus a small library of kindle books for their training and personal reading. The response was very gratifying! And more than one of them stayed up til 2AM reading the rest of the week!*I bought 13 kindle fires and uploaded ALL our WDA content (bible studies, books, articles, teaching outlines, workbooks, etc) plus a small library of kindle books for their training and personal reading. The response was very gratifying! And more than one of them stayed up til 2AM reading the rest of the week!
We had a very honoring “roast” for Ken, who started the international ministry 20+ years ago. We shared funny Ken stories and had a time to pray for him as he begins to step back and I take on more leadership. He was also very affirming of me to the guys in my new role.
Having Dan Horne, the chairman of the board there was a godsend, especially as our teams broke into country groups and developed strategic plans for nationalizing their ministries. He brought a lot of good business sense as well as a deep pastoral heart for the men.
It was so fun to have my dad Paul Harkness with me getting to know the guys, sharing a short devotional Friday morning, and then traveling with our group to the safari on Saturday. Of course everyone loved him and it was gratifying to come back with him to Kenya, the first place in Africa I visited with him back when I was in high school!
Restoring Your Heart leader, Nancy Higgins put a fire in everyone’s belly for bringing emotional restoration to their countries. Tanzania, Congo, and Ethiopia are ready to roll as soon as possible! Kenya is planning go through the work books as a team immediately.
I heard literally dozens of testimonies about how God had changed the lives of our staff and the people they minister to through WDA and how this week represented a new page in the history of WDA for them. They are going back home with new materials, a fresh passion, and a clearer vision for how to develop disciple-making movements in their communities and nations.
There are SO many other fun and significant highlights. But the bottom line is this: We connected with God and with each other this week. That was my biggest goal and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Now its off to Zambia! More on that to come!
Muhammad Ali and Joe Frasier faced off in the 3rd matchup of their boxing careers. The previous meetings had them tied one win each. In what was an amazing fight, Ali won by technical knockout in the 15th round. The bout is ranked in the sport as one of the best in the sports history.
WDA sent a team of five men to the Philippines this April, and it was a “Thrilla” as well. For over the last nine months WDA has been establishing a relationship with a ministry partner, James Tioco (pron ch-eo-ko), who leads a ministry called Sowers of the Word (S.O.W). James had contacted WDA after reading many of our books and looking at our website. He believed that WDA had the comprehensive approach that would serve the church in the Philippines. Our Exec VP and C.O.O., David Partfitt, began a dialogue over the phone and by Skype which allowed us to learn about them and them about us. It was clear that James wanted to see WDA help him roll out a discipleship ministry. So this brought us nine months later to our trip to Manila.
David Parfitt, Dan Horne (WDA Board Chairman), Woody Johnson (WDA Board Member), Jeff Pritchett (Chick-fil-A), and I (WDA Church Staff, Atlanta Arts Coordinator, Publishing Leader) began to develop a series of presentations for church and ministry leaders, denomination leaders and ministry partners. We flew to Manila April 27-May 7, and over a week introduce the ministry of WDA to a limited number of people who we hoped would pray, lead and/or volunteer to be WDA trainer of churches. From the beginning, we realized that James could have gathered hundreds of leaders to a one day “training” but we wanted to be strategic in our launch. Limiting the numbers would allow James and Sowers to have a manageable number of people to train.
On Monday and Tuesday we did full-day “orientation” meetings in which we discussed the need for discipleship, the priority of the local church as the vehicle for disciple building, the process, biblical foundation, and our Biblical Framework and the Five Initiatives of Disciple Building, R-CAPS®. Each day closed with a challenge for them to pray, lead a new or existing group using our approach, and/or also be willing to become a WDA Trainer to train churches and ministries to use our approach in their context.
Wednesday we met with potential ministry partners who would commit to pray and fund the ministry of WDA Philippines (Sowers). Our team also spent Wednesday morning meeting with the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) who will be our in-country publishing partner. They will be printing and translating our materials for use beginning in Manila, then to other areas as God provides people and opportunity.
Our last day was a full day with the Sower’s ministry, discussing next steps, strategy and reporting on the results of the earlier meetings. We left the meeting with lots of energy and ideas for how we could move forward.
We were a bit overwhelmed by the many churches and pastors who already were committing to train other trainers. Many were already making plans to begin new groups or multiply existing groups and use our WDA approach and materials. They desired training as soon as possible and wanted to know what materials were ready now! We had financial backers who wanted to know more details and what would be needed to fund this initiative. James said that his phone was full of text messages each night following the meetings as people were responding very positively towards our orientations and vision.
It is by the grace of God that our work in Manila is happening now. Even a few years ago WDA would not have had the ability to move forward with this type of initiative in the way we are able to do today. Over the last two years we have redesigned and printed books for our country and have the ability to take the exact same English materials and have the Philippine Bible Society adapt our format to one which is more suitable in size and affordability for the church there. After being on the ground and talking to leaders, hearing from James and his team, we are positioned to provide materials and training to over 700 people in just this first stage.
We begin by providing leadership training and materials using WDA’s Disciple Building: A Biblical Framework and A Small Groups Manual. PBS will also print all of our Cornerstone (Phase 1 and 2) materials. Leaders will be using Pocket Principles® and Guided Discussions, and the students will get a version that has just the Pocket Principles®. The partners at PBS were very helpful as was the Sowers team in helping us decide how to configure our materials specifically for them.
The churches want to launch their new groups as soon as possible, so we have a goal of 30 days to get new materials in their hands. Our publishing team and the PBS will be working hard in the next few weeks to get books reconfigured and to their printing press. We will also spend these weeks providing short video training segments that Sowers will use to begin to follow up from our orientation and prepare leaders to launch discipleship groups using Getting Started. Over the next 12-18 months, they will complete all of Cornerstone. WDA will continue to work with Sowers to provide training from the U.S. while planning for second trip to roll our Life Coaching Ministry and additional training.
There is the potential for us to see thousands of people building disciples in a relational approach which is able to be adapted for their churches. We have seen a hunger for discipleship as person after person who connected with our presentations also saw the need and understood how our approach to disciple building was progressive, biblical and flexible. We worked very hard to show that one size did not fit all, and that WDA could help them design and build specifically for their country and culture. One leader over hundreds of churches said to us, “You know you have started a fire here.”
We are overwhelmed by God’s providential work in bringing our team to the Philippines, creating a desire for Biblical discipleship, providing people and organizations in-country that are primed to move forward and provide the people and resources for this to go forward.
As of this date we have 81 prayer partners, 71 leaders of new Cornerstone groups, 59 new Cornerstone trainers, 125 new small groups beginning. 35 Youth Pastors trained by a participant using R-CAPS®. The Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship Board, approved our approach and ordered 50 copies of Disciple Building: A Biblical Framework Book.
We are humbled that God would use the five of us men to promote His work. This was not about us as individuals, but it was clear that God wanted to encourage these leaders that they and their church members can have a significant ministry to many people as they continue with us to fulfill Jesus’ commission to make disciples by going, baptizing and teaching to do all that He commanded.
Our team, while still feeling the Jet Lag, returned with great joy and thankfulness for the opportunity to be part of a launch of Disciple Building ministry with a great partner in Manila.
This certainly was a “Thrilla.” There will be much more work but also much more fruit from our trip.
Pray for James Tioco and Sowers of the Word and for us.
Pray for the hundreds of pastors who this very moment are beginning to share what they learned in our orientation.
Pray for the publication of materials, training of leaders and wisdom for next steps.
Thanks for those who pray for our ministry. God is at work all over the world bringing people to himself and raising up men and women in the church who are committed to helping others grow to Christ-like Maturity.
Ken Hewett, WDA’s International Director, recently returned from leader training in Malawi.
We wanted to share his journal.
“We received an e-mail on Thursday night saying instead of going through Amsterdam and Nairobi, I would be going through London (with an 8 hour layover) and Johannesburg. Also, instead of leaving at 5:30 Friday afternoon, I would be leaving at 10:45 that night The 8-hour layover and the late departure meant I arrived in Lilongwe at noon on Sunday rather than at midnight on Saturday.
I arrived in Lilongwe 30 hours after my flight left for London, but my suitcase didn’t make it. I waited around for the next flight from Johannesburg, but it wasn’t on that flight, either. After filling out all the paperwork, I made it to the hostel in time to have dinner and go to bed; then I went back to the airport the next morning and my suitcase arrived at noon. (Whew!)
I took an afternoon bus to Blantyre, then on to Lunzu, where I arrived at 9:30PM. I was really tired, so Paul said we would start the
seminar two hours late today. I really appreciated it because that gave me some time to rest before the teaching began.
I have enjoyed seeing the pastors again. They have all been through the basic training on disciple building, so I am giving them more advanced teaching.
Please be praying for wisdom and strength as I begin my hectic schedule here in Malawi. Ken
Two Days Later: August 22
“On Thursday morning my interpreter, Paul and I hopped on a 15-seater bus headed for Golomoti Center. By the time we were loaded we had 28 men, women and children on board. Each stop some got off and others got on. The lady sitting next to me had a chicken on her lap, which is a usual sight in Africa.
We arrived at my ‘hotel’ at 3:00 and I checked in. I have a bed with a mosquito net and an attached bathroom, which was nice. However, there is no water in the toilet, sink or shower. One of the girls brought me a 5 gallon bucket of water. So with the soap, washcloth and toilet paper I brought along, I’ll get by just fine. Betty and I have stayed in this kind of ‘hotel’ before.
There is supposed to be a restaurant here, but I haven’t found it and I’ve been all over the place. The owner brought me a piece of paper and a pencil and asked me to write down what I want and I’m trying to think of what would be safe. I picked up some water and tangerines in the small village, so with the peanutbutter I brought along, I’ll be fine.
Be praying for me as my second seminar begins tomorrow. This will be a little different than my usual seminars because I will be helping the pastors know how to teach their people to be strong in their Muslim community.
Thanks for your prayers and encouraging words.
Report from Ken:
My church for the second seminar was built of sticks, just like the one for the first seminar. They weren’t made very well, so it was good there wasn’t a wolf (or windstorm) around or it would have all come tumbling down. The pastors in the first seminar were middle aged men who had been pastoring for quite a while. They had been through the basic seminar and they are teaching the Phase II material on Knowing God, which was translated for them by Paul, our associate staff in Malawi.. They only have one booklet for two people to share, so they are praying for finances to print more.
The group in Golomoti was much younger than the first group. They hadn’t been through the basic seminar on disciple building, so we met as long as possible each day, to pack all the information into those three days. On the first day I talked to them about children, young men and old men (from I John). They were really encouraged when we talked about them being the young men, in the prime of their lives with a life of ministry ahead of them. They really soaked it all up and now it will be Paul’s job to follow them up. He’s good at that, though. They were a fun group to work with.
We finish up tomorrow afternoon, then we’ll head to Monkey Bay. I’m feeling strong and the group has been understanding the material. Thanks for your prayers. It is difficult to find water here. Please be praying there will be more in Monkey Bay.
“In early 2012, a Women’s Bible Study from Fletcher, Oklahoma, decided they wanted a project to support in Africa. I had met a group of women from the town of Lunzu, when we previously had a seminar there and these women had said they wanted to help the widows and orphans of the Lunzu area. The Bible Study group in Oklahoma decided these women would make a good project, so they began supporting them. I bought a sewing machine for them and they used the support from the women of Oklahoma to buy thread, material and the ingredients to make bread.
They have been selling the clothes and the bread to make money to buy rice and other staples for the older women who are caring for their orphaned grandchildren.
Before going back to Malawi this year I was able to raise $300 to buy them another treadle sewing machine. On Wednesday a man came to our seminar carrying a sewing machine on his back. The women were so excited! They ran home and got one of the dresses they had made and showed me how the machine worked. They were excited that they would be able to help even more women and children.
Thanks for praying for physical and spiritual strength. I’m doing great. Ken”
“It only took three hours to get from Golomoti Center to Monkey Bay. We rode in an open pickup that stopped wherever people were standing on the side of the road, and if you wanted to get off you just rapped on the top of the cab. We were constantly stopping and starting. I was fortunate enough to get a seat up by the driver with another guy, but Paul and my interpreter were stuck in back. They were able to find a seat on a bag of rice though, so they didn’t have to try to stand up.
I felt like I had died and gone to heaven when we reached my room in Monkey Bay. There was hot and cold water, electricity, air conditioning, and I had a woman named Blessing who cooked for me. I had stopped eating the food in the hotel in Golomoti because it was so greasy. Everything was swimming in grease.
The Monkey Bay group was a mix of young pastors and some who had been pastors for about fifteen years. On Tuesday we had a really lively discussion that lasted quite a while. I asked them if there was anything in the Church in Malawi that bothered them and they said it was the shamanism and witchcraft that was creeping into the churches. They were standing up and speaking and one could hardly wait until the other finished to begin sharing his experiences. They were hugging each other and praying for one another and I finally turned it over to Paul so he could talk to them in their own language. He was really speaking powerfully as he told them the answer to this problem was discipleship, helping their people grow in Christlike character. They all agreed with him and said they wanted to kidnap me so I would stay and help them. I don’t think Betty would like that, though.
I catch the bus for Lilongwe tomorrow morning at 5:30. It’s quite a long trip, so I have to travel on Friday even though my flight isn’t until Saturday. The schedule is for me to arrive home at 8:30 Sunday night, if none of my flights are changed. Thanks for praying for this trip. I’m coming home encouraged by what the Lord is doing in Malawi, despite the shamanism and witchcraft that is creeping in. Ken”
Monkey Bay is a beautiful town on the shores of Lake Malawi. It is a tourist town, so there are lots of places Blessing can find food I can eat and there was plenty of bottled water.
I just saw Ken today as he arrived home Sept 2. Thanks for praying for Ken and all of our international trainers.
As soon as I finished teaching the second seminar we hopped in a taxi for the twenty minute ride to my hotel just outside of Arusha. We got a place for me to stay and after dinner I crashed. Teaching six days in a row after flying 24 hours took the stuffing out of me. Dickson had me scheduled to teach in his church the next day, so I got up early to go over my message, then headed to the church. I was glad that after lunch at church I was able to go back to the room and rest for a bit.
I’ve had a lot of ugali (thick grits) and beef gravy while I’ve been here. It’s really good, but a little messy. You pull off part of the ugali and form it into a ball with a hole partially though it, then you dip it into the gravy and eat it. The pastors and I had a good laugh at Betty the first time she tried eating gravy with her hands. She had it dripping halfway to her elbow, but she got the hang of it really fast.
The pastors in the third seminar have had more schooling than the other two groups, so I didn’t have to do as much explaining and we were able to go a little faster. On the second day one of the men stood up and told the pastors he had been in my seminar in ’97 and how much it has meant in his life and ministry these past 15 years. He encouraged the pastors to listen carefully and take good notes, then to make sure they put it into practice.
The seminars are over, now I will be meeting with some of the men who were in my previous seminars and the man who will translate our material into Swahili. Thanks for praying me through this trip. I’ll hop on a plane on Saturday and arrive home on Sunday. Ken
Read the other Diary Entries
Please Continue to Pray for WDA, Ken and especially the people who have received training in Disciple Building. WDA is having an impact Worldwide through our staff and leaders around the world.
As soon as I finished teaching the first seminar we hopped on a bus and traveled to Maji Ya Chai. That means ‘Water Like Tea’ in Swahili. It’s a good name because the water is as brown as tea and the peoples’ teeth are stained the same color. You can always tell if someone is from this area, or if there is a stranger in their midst.
I spent quite a bit of time talking to Greggory MFinanga, a layman who attended the seminar. Greggory is a really huge guy who is in a wheelchair that’s like a tricycle. The pedals are up at shoulder height and he propels himself around using his arms (which are as big as my thighs). It would be hard enough to get around on paved roads, I don’t know how he does it in all this dirt.
Greggory was excited to find out that he has been discipling young men without even knowing it! He has a couple of small groups that meet regularly and he said they are growing in Christ-like character. Greggory can read English, so I gave him a CD with our Phase II Bible Studies on it. He is looking forward to teaching the Bible Studies and putting all his other material together in an organized way.
Charles’ pastors’ group has been a fun group to teach. I could spend the rest of my life in this area. They are so needy and eager to learn and they have really caught the vision. The problem is to get our Phase II Bible Studies translated into Swahili. Dickson knows a man who can do the translating for just $3 a page. I hope to meet with him when we’re in Arusha for the next seminar. Be praying with me that we can get the finances to help these pastors out.