YLI Intern Addison continues  Naomi’s work with displaced children in Sunyani

Addison is a YLI Intern who was discipled by Naomi Awuni, who we lost to liver disease in November of 2020. Naomi’s King James School was started after she visited makeshift villages of displaced people living in the forest outside her town and saw they were not receiving education. As part of Naomi’s hands on discipleship training approach with Addison, she would take him to visit the villages with her to share the message of Jesus, and help alleviate some of their suffering.  

None of us expected that Naomi would die last year, but Addison knew what to do to continue the work she had started. He has continued to visit these villages and when he is able he takes food for them. He told me that on one of his visits he met a young orphaned teenage girl. He learned that she, who had no education or family to provide for her, had been sleeping with men for food and shelter. Addison shifted into action and found a Christian family to take her in, and using his own money he enrolled her in school. In Ghana, like in the US, few people will associate, much less personally sacrifice for a girl in her situation, but Addison in his quiet way is living as Naomi taught that disciples of Jesus live.


Your opportunity to join in! 

Zach, the YLI Coaches, and the seven Interns have proposed an exciting 2022 plan. The growth in both Ghana and Nigeria means that next year Zach will be traveling more to Nigeria and he will be delegating more of the Ghana leadership responsibility to Jonah, David and Simon, a YLI Intern. 

Each of the 12 Basic and Follow Up weekend trainings listed below will cost on average $400 and will serve between 20-45 leaders per event. The two Leadership Development Summits will cost approximately $1500 each, and the Coach and Intern retreats, which are international in that leaders attend from both Ghana and Nigeria, will cost $2500 each. I am grateful that our model allows us to impact so many young people at such a reasonable cost.

An urgent transportation need

Zach travels a lot in his leadership role with YLI. Up until now he has traveled via public transportation or on the motorcycle we purchased for him several years ago when he was focused just on rural village ministry.  In August, Zach had a serious accident on the motorcycle and spent a full month on his back in the hospital in after undergoing surgery. We are grateful God preserved his life. In order for Zach to keep up his travel pace, we need to provide him with a safe and reliable vehicle. I am trying to raise an additional $10,000 to $15,000 to purchase a used pick up for Zach to drive for his YLI ministry around northern Ghana. If you would, please pray about an additional gift to help us with this purchase! 

Naomi Awuni, 1965-2020

Dear Friends of Young Leaders International,

November 19th I heard from Sharon Awuni that her mother and our Coach, Naomi, had died suddenly. My friend Naomi was just 55 years old, and joined YLI the same year I did. She was a close friend and a great encourager during some difficult seasons of leadership. We will miss her dearly.

Naomi crowned herself “YLI Queen Mother”. She was the joyful heart of our ministry despite being widowed when her children were young, and the death of her 16 year old son King in 2015. She leaves behind Sharon and an adult son, James, who lives with his wife and baby in Poland. Also mourning with the entire YLI community are the teachers and 130 children at her school, the King James Educational Complex, which she founded in 2015 for the children of migrant farming families.

Over the last 12 years there have been many posts about Naomi on this site, and I have linked a few of them below. Her’s was an incredible life of great faith. May her life remind us that life is best lived with deep love and radical discipleship to Jesus.

This quote from Francois Fenelon captures what I observed in Naomi over the years as her friend and co-laborer for the Kingdom.

Open yourself to God without measure. Let His life flow through you like a torrent.
Fear nothing on the road you are walking. God will lead you by the hand.
Let your love for Him cast out the fear you feel for yourself.

In God’s endless love and wisdom, He would not create a world that did not include Naomi Awuni, and for that I am grateful.

In Christ,
Ash Zook, Executive Director

Learning how to hear God’s voice (and why).

It is subconscious most of the time, but we American Christians tend to have an inflated sense of control over our lives (and others). If we let down our levers of control, and instead enter into a conversational relationship with God, everything changes. It is how life is supposed to be lived for every follower of Jesus.

We have created a 24-hour discipleship retreat on Hearing God’s Voice for 15 young adults (ages 18-28) who have a desire to grow in intimacy with God. We will dive deep into how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Bible, other people, our circumstances and other ways we may not realize.

Bill Job, Daniel Moye, and Ash Zook will be facilitating.

Location: 77 Old Camp Church Road, Carrollton, GA. 30117November 13-14 starting at 5pm on Friday and ending at 5pm on Saturday.

Register: https://forms.gle/vaU4bgVAjfQneVkDA

Cost: Only your full engagement during our time together. It’s not invitation only, but we are intentionally pursuing people who desire to integrate hearing God’s voice into their daily life.

Email retreats@yliusa.org for more information.

Multiplication at the speed of relationship

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 18:8

In June, I spent four days with our upcoming YLI Interns and Coaches in Northern Ghana.  We were camped out in a rented house which afforded us the space to plan, pray, talk, eat and also enjoy some relaxed time together.  The group in this photo includes original YLI Coaches like Vincent, Naomi and Jonah, second generation Coaches, and new young leaders who are now coming from all over Ghana and northern Nigeria.  Out of this group, our next YLI Coaches will emerge and begin to raise up the fourth generation.

With each generation of apprenticed leaders and disciples, YLI’s geographic sphere of influence has expanded.  Collectively, YLI leaders now have direct influence into nearly every West African country!

We’ve learned that discipleship happens no faster than the speed of relationship.

We made an intentional decision long ago not to measure discipleship training effectiveness by the number of people who complete our training process, but rather by the observable fruit in their lives.  Personal stories of transformation and the impact these young people are having in their world are very encouraging!  

This is what I have witnessed this year: 

  1. New disciples are being produced and reproduced.
  2. YLI groups are forming to listen to God’s voice and respond to God’s calling.
  3. New churches are being planted.
  4. Fulani Muslims are continuing to come to know Jesus.
  5. Villages are enjoying safe water for the first time.
  6. School children are being educated and fed.

It is young leaders who have been discipled into a Jesus way of life who God is working through to create this impact. Multiplication and discipleship are show processes at the beginning, but as we see in YLI, it accelerates over time. Thanks for reading!

Pass the baton, but don’t exit the race too soon.

Multiply what’s best in you.

One of the great things about our leadership transition to Gen-2 Coaches is how the first generation, now in their 40’s and 50’s, are giving of themselves to support the younger leadership.


Passing the baton, but not exiting the race.

Discipleship and apprenticeship necessarily culminate with a
handing over of a baton, but
Gen-1 Coaches like Jonah,
Naomi, Vincent, and Solomon
are still participating in the new innovation and growth in YLI.

My first 2019 trip to Ghana was part strategy meeting and part “ministry of presence”.  Coming out of that time, we have begun implementing a plan to train the third generation of Coaches in Nigeria and Ghana.

New Nigerian leaders

Our new work in Nasarawa State has expanded to six young Coaches, women and men who have started going deep in relationship and spiritual growth with 28 university students. 

Spiritual apprenticeship

The Gen-1 Coaches and I invested in Constant Adzomani, a Ghanaian who moved to Nigeria for two years.  In Nigeria, he raised up the first Nigerian Coaches.  Now he travels periodically back to Nigeria to continue to train and encourage them.

Multiplying what is good

It’s sobering and true that for good and bad we will multiply what we are into those around us.  If we live intentionally in our discipleship, we have the best chance to pass on what is best in us.  I am encouraged that although I have not yet met the Nigerian Coaches, I recognize in them what I love about YLI: our focus on love, our values, our mission to empower others not just ourselves.  

This is what the Nigerian Coaches shared with me recently.

“We give God the glory for counting us worthy to partner with Him in this sacred task of building young leaders that will shoulder the affairs of the Kingdom in their generation. Although we are also young ourselves, we do not take this calling and election for granted at all. We have wholeheartedly accepted the task and believe God to passionately pursue the Vision (Going Deep with a Few) and Mission (2 Timothy 2:2) of YLI to actualization in Nigeria.”

“We are not claiming to be sufficient of ourselves but our sufficiency is of Christ who has called us and qualified us as able ministers of the New Covenant and as ambassadors of His Kingdom here on earth. As we conduct ourselves in this task of YLI in Nigeria, it is our earnest desire that we will recommend ourselves to peoples’ conscious and be proven faithful by the Lord Himself who will judge both the living and the dead at His appearing. God bless you all.”

YLI has never been about Jim Moye, Fran Moye, Fent Smith, or Ash Zook.  Long after all of us leave the story, young leaders continue l continue to grow in their followship of Jesus and multiply what is best in them.

It brings to mind the Casting Crowns song, Only Jesus: 

 I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus.

Thank you all for reading, for your financial support, and your prayer.


Why what’s happening in Nigeria is so exciting

“In all my time in YLI, I have not witnessed such receptivity and enthusiasm like in this conference. They were open to share from their lives and ready for deeper relationship.”

–  YLI Coach Constant Adzomani

Jim Moye founded YLI in 2002 through a few deep discipling friendships and we’ve chosen to continue that impulse into 2018.  Depth ensures we continue to see our vision of young leaders reaching their world with the gospel.  We’ve experienced time and again that fostering deep relationships with a few, and making transformation the goal, not numbers, leads to exponentially more long term impact.  Its vital for us to gain trust and relational access below the surface of leaders’ lives.

This year, our relationships with young leaders (through the Holy Spirit) led us into northern Nigeria, a tough but exciting place to minister!  And it has been incredible so far.  Because of our foundation of local relationships in Nigeria we’ve experienced a high level of engagement, even though we are new on the scene.  YLI in Nigeria will soon be it’s own self-sustaining community and organization.  The same process is also taking place north of Ghana in the country of Burkina Faso.

We all make a choice:  Will we do what most people do and stay “surfacey” in our relationships.   Or will be do the hard work and take the risk intentionally going deep with people?   YLI has grown and extended geographically as we’ve followed our relationships with young leaders.

Not compromising on depth of relationships has been a core value in YLI for 15+ years.  It has been a guardrail that has helped us stay focused on the destination (not crash the car in a ditch!).

Do you have guardrail values that focus and protect your lives’ work?

Grateful for you!

First Nigeria 3 day training

A few interesting facts, and why we are so excited about YLI’s natural expansion in northern Nigeria:

  • Ghana Coaches Yakubu Zacharia and Naomi Awuni traveled 4 daysby road to northern Nigeria.
  • Word spread.  33young leaders came the 1st day, 45the 2nd day, and 51the 3rd day.
  • Ghana trained YLI leader Constant Adzomanilives in Nigeria and is responding to interest by forming a leadership team of disciples to hold more training and Coaching opportunities for young leaders.
%d bloggers like this: