“He sent them (disciples) to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:2
“So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.” Luke 9:6
Jesus trained and equipped his disciples to not only preach about the kingdom, but to engage lives so that the kingdom would be brought to earth as they healed the sick, fed the hungry and delivered the oppressed from evil spirits.
I recognize in myself and others, though, the temptation of Jesus’ disciples to rather minister from a distance. When the crowd of 5000 became hungry after a whole day with Jesus, the disciples wanted to send them away to buy food for themselves. Instead, Jesus pushed them to step into the need and trust him to provide.
It is well documented that west Africa is a region of the world where churches are growing rapidly; but the valid knock on African Christianity is that it is shallow: “a mile wide and an inch deep”. Millions of people attend church every Sunday, yet there is no broad visible transformation in these countries.
In fact, some of Africa’s most murderous dictators, including Charles Taylor in Liberia were regular church attenders and even known to preach! To them, there was no dissonance between attending church on Sunday and slaughtering thousands of people.
Compare that to the remote town of Moseaso, where YLI held a conference last year. Our coaches Isaac and Naomi have returned many times to Moseaso and prayed over a teenage boy who suddenly fell paralized and mute one day after returning home from school. During my own visit to Moseaso, I also prayed with them over this boy who was laying on a cot and able to communicate only by grunting. Over the past year, he has miraculously improved, regaining his speech and use of his body.
A couple hundred miles north of Moseaso, coach Adam Brown has been praying and working tirelessly to bring a clean water solution to a village where he has been proclaming the gospel over the past couple of years. If all goes well, by the end of May the people of the village will have clean water year around for the first time. It is exciting for me to see springs of H2O and Living Water flow from the lives of the coaches!
As the leader of YLI, an indicator for me that our leaders in Ghana are maturing in the YLI vision is when I see their lives more and more consistently mirror what we teach about living a lifestyle of love among the lost and the power of deeply discipling a few.
Through the YLI coaches’ actions of not just preaching the gospel, but also allowing the kingdom to invade Africa through their lives, a new generation of Christian leaders with a deep transforming faith is being planted in west Africa