“I hugged my daughter for the first time.”
Pastor Joelson Mwansa was not always a pastor. In fact, people knew Mwansa as the local drunk for many years in his town in Zambia, but then Mwansa had an encounter with God.
By J.P. Gradone, SIM missionary and Operations Director for ASDM,
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.
- 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.
- Pray for 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.
- Pray for God use ASDM to draw the hearts of fathers to their children, the way He did with Pastor Mwansa.
SIM’s new Mission and Purpose Statements took effect on January 1, 2016, following a wide-ranging and collaborative process. But what are their moorings in the timeless pages of Scripture? What are their moorings in the broader, lively dialogue on missions today? And how are these statements rooted in our DNA as a global mission in the early decades of the 21st century? This is what this Bible study is all about. Whether you just heard about SIM ten minutes ago, or have been a member or friend of SIM for 50 years, this study will enlarge your understanding of the particular calling that God has been leading SIM to fulfil.
Organisations often change over time, and their statements evolve with them. But this is not the sense in which our statements have changed. In our journey to craft these words, we carefully examined Scripture; we revisited why our founders went out; we observed changes in the world; and we concluded that we must remain faithful to our founding purpose, our founding call and our founding commitments. While strategies, methods and protocols evolve, our statements remain anchored in the original vision God gave to our pioneers.
Now in the season of our 125th anniversary celebrations, there is no better time to return to the simple ‘why’ of our existence, captured in these statements. It is with great pleasure that we present the following Bible study, a complement to our statements. A multi-ethnic team has contributed to this work, and we hope the final result will support you to flourish spiritually and in ministry.
We invite you to engage with it individually, and together as ministry teams, offices, and countries. It can also be printed and given as a gift to friends, family, supporters and ministry partners. New workers in SIM will benefit from this study as well, as they learn about the community of SIM with whom they are serving.
As we have done for more than 125 years, so we do today: we seek the lost who are living and dying without Christ behind diverse barriers to the gospel. By Prayer, we cross these barriers to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this way, may the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea!
HISTORICAL NOTE: A review of SIM’s statements was mandated in 2014 by the International Board of Governors. A review process began the same year, with the assistance of a Working Group who undertook the huge task of developing multiple options for consideration. A proposed statement was discussed by the Board in February 2015, with further input from the Global Assembly in March. This statement went on to all SIM entities for review by their boards and councils. Their comments and input contributed to the final wording, submitted to the International Board of Governors in August 2016, and then unanimously approved by all signatory entities. The new Mission & Purpose of SIM took effect January 1, 2016.