Hugging your daughter for the first time

By J.P. Gradone, SIM missionary and Operations Director for ASDM | Zambia in Southern Africa

Pastor Joelson Mwansa was not always a pastor. In fact, people knew Mwansa as the local drunk for many years in his Zambian bush town. By his own admission, he treated his wife horribly and served as a very poor example to his six daughters.

However, Mwansa had an encounter with God in 2013 that radically changed his life—and the desire for alcohol immediately left him. Within days of giving his life to Christ, he felt God calling him into ministry. Mwansa graduated from Bible school and now pastors a church in the Chililabombwe district of northern Zambia.

But God was just beginning to transform Mwansa’s life. When we met recently and studied the Bible together, he was so hungry for the lessons and materials. In fact, Mwana’s biggest challenge as a pastor was not having resources with which to preach. No books, no commentaries. All during his three years of Bible school he received only one book: the Bible. His only other resource was the notes he took in class.

I was shocked, to say the least. African Strategic Discipleship Movement (ASDM), a ministry I serve with that desires to disciple Christians throughout Africa, has 176 discipleship lessons prepared for African Christian leaders to use. Mwansa and I spent the next few hours looking at the lessons and together developed ways to divide these lessons into separate sermons. Mwansa was so encouraged when we were done. He now had several years of sermons in his hand! I also mailed him several resources that will help him in his Bible reading and devotions, including family devotions.

Mwansa’s growth as he began to read, study and teach the Bible with these additional discipleship resources was overwhelming.

To illustrate how powerfully these teachings were to Mwansa’s spiritual growth, he told me the story of his oldest daughter. In Zambian culture, fathers do not interact with their daughters. All communication and interaction is done through the mother. Part of the ASDM discipleship model is to disciple your family through family devotions, so I asked Pastor Mwansa how he was able to do family devotions with his six daughters in that cultural context.

He told me that initially he did family devotions with his wife, who then passed along the Bible teaching to their daughters. After a while, though, the older daughters had many questions that the mother was not able to answer. So Mwansa’s daughters began to come to him for answers. Eventually, Mwansa presented the family devotions to the entire family. These consistent family devotions gradually drew the hearts of the daughters to their father.

Pastor Mwansa shared with me that a few weeks ago, he embraced his oldest daughter for the first time in her life. She is 21 years old. As he told me of this first act of physical affection to his daughter, he and I both cried and hugged one another. The power of the gospel and true discipleship — along with the powerful love of Jesus — dispels all cultural barriers!


African Strategic Discipleship Movement is a ministry that seeks to build a discipleship lifestyle among believers. To find out more about ASDM, visit their website.

Please pray for:

• pastors like Joelson Mwansa who benefit greatly from discipleship resources in their churches and families, and for the equipping, training work of ASDM in Africa.

• the Lord to give ASDM leaders discernment and guidance as we begin to build our next cohort with new denominational leaders from 12-16 new African countries. Over the next two years, these leaders will be trained and mentored as disciple-making leaders.

• God use ASDM to draw the hearts of fathers to their children, the way He did with Pastor Mwansa.



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