Would You Walk 13 Hours for Training?

Would You Walk 13 Hours for Training?

Justin Long, Beyond’s Director of Research, recently returned from a trip to a Disciple-Making Movement conference in Africa. The first four days were a “Catalyst Camp” for DMM practitioners. The last two days were a 24:14 African leaders’ meeting for strategy and planning.

“It was an amazing time of worship, stories, and training,” Justin reports. “On the first night, I shared the dashboard* of what God is doing through movements worldwide. Surprised at the scope of the work, one man said, ‘I thought this [DMM stuff] was just something I did in my backyard. I didn’t know it had spread so far!’

Many fellow disciple-makers shared stories: people who walked 13 hours one way to be trained in disciple-making, of COVID and unrest bringing previously unreached people groups within reach of the gospel, of churches started in ghettos and among witchcraft practitioners, of widespread openness to the gospel amongst Muslims, of many previous “mission graveyards” becoming fruitful vineyards, of tens of thousands of new believers, of “Sauls” (persecutors) becoming “Pauls” (evangelists), of people bearing scars and disabilities because they refused to renounce their faith, of whole families and villages turning to Jesus as a result of the love and obedience of Christ-followers.

Please pray for these many African movement leaders who wholeheartedly work among nearly 1,000 people groups and strive toward gospel-movement engagement for the whole continent.


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Passion for God, Compassion for People

Passion for God, Compassion for People

Passion for God, Compassion for People

by Shodankeh Johnson

Practical demonstrations of God’s love play an integral role in Church Planting Movements. They serve as entry points for the good news and as fruits of kingdom transformation in people’s lives and communities.

Access ministries are one of the pillars of New Harvest Ministries (NHM). Since New Harvest began, we have shown God’s compassion, made disciples, and planted churches in more than 4,000 communities in 12 countries. These compassionate engagements have been catalytic in shaping hundreds of thousands of new disciples, and more than ten thousand new Christian leaders.

Compassion is an essential Kingdom value found in the DNA of every Disciple Making Movement. We have dozens of different access ministries. Each one advances God’s kingdom in Africa. Most are not expensive, but with God’s help, they make a great impact. We partner with local people in every ministry. They often provide leadership, labor and materials— things present in the community that can help meet needs.

Heroic Compassion
New Harvest serves many countries from our headquarters in Sierra Leone. When Ebola struck in 2014, we could not stay in safe places disengaged from the disaster all around us. The crisis hit many Muslim villages especially hard, as their burial rites caused the epidemic to explode. Suddenly, because of Ebola, people could not even touch dying parents or children. In that context, several New Harvest leaders volunteered in the most hazardous places. Some survived, but several lost their lives serving others — mostly Muslims.

One Muslim chief was discouraged by people trying to escape his quarantined village. He was amazed at seeing Christians coming to serve. He privately prayed: “God, if you save me from this, if you save my family, I want us all to be like these people who show us love and bring us food.” The chief and his family did survive, and he kept his promise. Memorizing passages from the Bible, he began to share in the mosque where he had been an elder. A church was birthed in that village, and the chief continues going from village to village, sharing the good news of God’s love.

Discovering Felt Needs, Engaging Lostness
For NHM, access ministries begin with assessing the felt needs of a community. When we complete a needs assessment, the partnership with the community must develop mutual respect and trust. After a while, the relationship leads to story-telling and Discovery Bible Studies (DBS). Access ministries let them see the love of Christ and powerfully touch their hearts.

The On-Ramp to Kingdom Movements
Prayer is the foundation for everything we do. So once an assessment is done, our intercessors begin to pray for:

  • open doors and open hearts 
  • the selection of project leaders
  • open hands by locals
  • a supernatural move of God
  • the leading of the Spirit
  • God to provide needed resources

All our prayer centers know the communities being served. They fast and pray for each of them. And God always opens the right door, at the right time, with the right provision.

Prayer is the most powerful and effective access ministry. We are convinced beyond any doubt that strategic fasting and prayer consistently leads to the defeat of dark powers. Sometimes praying for the sick opens wide a door for access. Through persistent prayer we have seen hostile communities opened, unlikely Persons of Peace identified, and whole families saved. All glory goes to the Father who hears and answers prayer.

Prayer undergirds everything we do. I tell people that the three most important elements of access ministries are: first—prayer, second prayer, and third prayer.

Every Project Makes Our King Famous
We do whatever it takes to get the gospel to people so Christ receives glory. Our work is never about us. It is about Him. We make Him known with a strategic focus on unreached people groups.

Agricultural Team
Our first access ministry was agriculture. In places where farming is critical, agriculture becomes a great gateway to serve people. Most farming is subsistence farming, mainly for family consumption. Often no seed is saved for the next planting. This led us to develop seed banks for farmers. 

We trained nine agriculturists who are also trained church planters. These agriculturists/disciple makers educate the farmers. Their training and mentoring led to relationships that resulted in DBS groups, baptisms and eventually churches. Today many farmers have become followers of Christ.

Education Team
When education is an obvious need, our intercessors take this need to God in prayer. While we are praying, we engage the community to discover what resources they have. We find out what they can provide to meet their own need. Often the community will supply land, a community building, or construction materials to build a temporary structure.

We usually encourage the community to pay part of the teacher’s salary. The teacher is fully certified, and he or she is also a veteran disciple maker or church planter. Schools start with a few benches, pencils or pens, a box of chalk, and a chalkboard. The school may start under a tree, in a community center, or in an old house. We start slowly and grow the school academically and spiritually.

When a Person of Peace opens his or her home, it becomes the launching pad for DBS meetings and later a church. We have launched over 100 primary schools, most of which are now owned by the community.

From this simple program, God has also raised up 12 secondary schools, two trade technical schools, and Every Nation College. This college has an accredited School of Business and School of Theology. Contrary to what some might expect, Disciple Making Movements also need strong seminaries.

Medical, Dental, Hygiene
When we identify a health need, we send in teams of well-qualified medical practitioners with medicines and equipment. All our team members are strong disciple makers and skilled in facilitating the DBS process. Many are skilled church planters as well. While the team treats patients, they also look for a Person of Peace. If they don’t discover one on their first visit, they make a second visit. Once they discover a Person of Peace, he or she serves as the bridge and future host for the DBS. If they don’t find a Person of Peace, the team will go to a different community, while still praying for an open door into the previous one.

Ten church planters have been well trained, equipped as dentists. They are accredited by health authorities to do mobile dental extractions and fillings. One of them also doubles as an optometrist. He checks eyesight and dispenses suitable glasses. He does this at cost, to keep the process going and to avoid dependency. Other health team members provide training on hygiene, breast feeding, nutrition, child vaccines, and prenatal care for pregnant women.

A Most Unusual Access Ministry
We do all of this in a Christ-like manner, seeking to make God’s kingdom visible. God moves and makes His presence known. This often starts with one family or an unlikely community leader.

One large community in southern Sierra Leone had been very difficult for us to enter. They were extremely hostile toward Christians. Christians found it difficult even to enter that place. So we prayed. But time passed, and none of our strategies worked.

Then something happened! Young men were becoming ill and dying in that town. It was found that their infections were related to the fact that the village never circumcised their boys. As I prayed, the Lord convicted me that this was finally our open door to serve this town.

We gathered a volunteer medical team and supplies and went to the community. We asked if they would let us help them. The town leaders agreed. The first day, they circumcised more than 300 young men.

In the following days, as the men recovered, we had the opportunity to begin Discovery Bible Groups. We saw great response, and soon Kingdom multiplication began happening with churches being planted! Within a few years, a place where Christians could not enter was transformed into a place where God’s glory shone brightly. The compassion of God’s people, the power of much prayer, and the transforming Word of God changed everything.

Planting Churches
About 90% of our attempted access ministries have led to a church. Very often one engagement results in several churches planted. As we revisit communities we hear many testimonies of individual, family, and community transformations. Compassion for people, making God famous

This article was used with permission and first published in Mission Frontiers.

About the Author: Shodankeh Johnson is the team leader of New Harvest Global Ministries, based in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He is an integral part of New Generations involved in training, coaching, mentoring and prayer mobilization in different places in Africa and worldwide. He has been an active DMM practitioner for more than 15 years. He is a key leader in the 24:14 coalition in African and globally.

Serving God in Difficult Places

Serving God in Difficult Places

Workers laboring in North Africa and the Middle East must be very careful — and very bold — in their disciple-making activities. They are serving God in very difficult places – places where governments and religious institutions are hostile to the gospel and to those who would spread it.

One couple, who we will call *Bill and *Susan, strive to meet new people with whom they might share their faith. They maintain those precious relationships over cups of tea and deep conversation. They train and coach followers of Jesus to make other disciples in a way that will produce many generations. Bill and Susan want those living in darkness to have the opportunity to choose Jesus’ offer of salvation and hope.
This has been especially hard during the COVID pandemic. Bill and Susan have had the virus and know many others who have had it too. Their closest local partner recently recovered after spending many days in the hospital.

Despite the pandemic, the ministry continues. Bill and Susan, together with those they have trained, persevere in their Kingdom work.  They regularly hear of newly formed Bible study groups, and their partners report that thousands have found peace and renewal through becoming disciples of Jesus.

Even in the most difficult places, people are being called out of darkness into His marvelous light. 


The Power of the Gospel in Rural Africa

The Power of the Gospel in Rural Africa

One of our Beyond team members, Neill, was invited to study a movement taking place in Africa. He and a team met with over 100 of the leaders in the movement over a period of a week. These men and women live in very rural areas. In fact, some were late to their appointments because they had defended their crops from wild elephants the night before!

In one particular appointment, Neill and an interpreter were interviewing four young ladies, all of whom had started Bible study groups within “streams” of the movement.  This movement has one stream that has 15 generations of new groups started. For the interview, a plate of snacks had been provided, and Neill had intentionally eaten just two of the cashews. He knew that, while he gets three meals a day, these young ladies, two of whom had nursing babies, usually didn’t get enough to eat.

Halfway into the interview, the interpreter and the ladies began laughing. When Neill asked why they were laughing the translator explained by naming off several observations the young women found interesting about the day.

“We’ve never been in a building where we climbed up stairs.”

“We have never been in such a nice “house” before.” (It was a 5-story hotel.)

“We have never been in a bathroom where you just sit down to “go.”

“We’ve never seen a toilet where it just went “whoosh” and took everything away!”

“We’ve never seen a foreigner before. And he ate from the same plate as us!”

Neill felt very humbled to be with these young ladies. They lead such a basic life but are seeing generation upon generation of new believers coming to Christ. They have front row seats, witnessing and participating in the Kingdom coming to earth.

Are we, who have so much, doing all that we can to reach the unreached with the Good News of the Gospel?

When Buildings are Useful

When Buildings are Useful

Many people have the misconception that Church Planting Movements are opposed to buildings. What we are opposed to is the unwise use of God’s resources.

In some movements, buildings are used for community centers, community outreach, and training centers. This enables a movement to be a blessing to the community, and to train believers with a focus on Disciple Making Movement principles.

Some movements have decided that, rather than constantly renting facilities, they are better off building something or simply buying a property and saving the rent money to be used on other costs. Beyond’s own global headquarters (given to us by God through a donor) is a good example. By renting out most of the building, much of the mortgage payment is covered while we can also provide affordable office space for other ministries and small businesses. We also try to use the building as a vision-casting tool.

Our brightly colored, vibrant “Vision” wall in our offices illustrates how disciple-making movements reproduce churches that start churches that start churches–and includes many faces of the different cultures, ethnicities and continents of the world. The wall gives a global glimpse of our areas of focus and the movements we have impacted–and the massive ⅓ of the world which still has never heard or seen Jesus’ Good News.

About a year ago, a prospective employee was being interviewed for a position. We showed her the wall to help her understand Beyond’s mission. She prayed that day that she would get the job because of the faces on the wall (she did!). She had been a Christian for years and in ministry for a long time, but had never experienced such a burden for the unreached as she did that morning.

This “Vision” wall has similarly impacted many who visit–both believers and non-believers. When the Unreached are just statistics in a faraway land, it is easy to forget. When you see their pictures and look into their eyes, the enormity of the Great Commission becomes more pressing, and more urgent.

If buildings enable practical ministry and more vision-casting and better funding, they can be effective tools for vision-casting and for making disciples of all Unreached peoples. Pray that God would continue to break the hearts of believers who visit us in this building, that they too would get the urgency of Matthew 28:18-20.