First discipleship weekend in Burkina Faso, West Africa

“Your teaching has opened my ears to be able to listen to God on my own”  

– young Burkina Faso leader

Ghana shares the northern border with the country of Burkina Faso.  Although culturally similar in ways, Burkina is French speaking.  Local dialects span country borders, however, which laid the ground for YLI Coaches to hold the first three-day discipleship weekend in Burkina from March 21-25.

Pastors from seven different churches and 46 young leaders participated.  The responses we are getting indicate that God is opening a new door for us in Burkina.  Young people shared that no one had ever taught them discipleship, intimacy with God, or love evangelism.  It was a special time.  New friendships were started from which the Coaches will begin to build discipling relationships.  We pray that in time we will have the first Burkina YLI Coaches.

We’ll be going back to Burkina Faso in September to deepen the training.  Please pray for the Ghana Coaches as they become cross cultural missionaries beyond their own borders!

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Naomi’s “Van-Bus” Project

Naomi’s love, and expertise as an educator and a discipler, was making an impact, but transportation was needed….

In Africa, it is not uncommon for subsistence farmers to pick up and move in order to find a piece of fertile land from which to feed their families. Wherever they settle, many build impromptu villages in the bush with other families and try to survive.  Many go to the Brong-Ahafo region, Ghana’s forest belt, where YLI Coach Naomi Awuni lives.

Naomi, a school teacher, began traveling to these communities to serve and evangelize.  When she saw the children had no education options, she created one — the King James School (named after her son James and her late son King).

Naomi’s love motivated her to sacrifice her aged Toyota Corolla to transport the children, but when she found herself making three round trips to the bush every day, with 12 children in the car each way(!), we saw an opportunity for a strategic investment.  You the YLI Tribe stepped up and funded the purchase of a cargo van which we converted into a school bus to last month.   The children (see below) are excited, and we are so grateful for the impact of your generosity.

From this…

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To this…


To THIS!!!


#smallbatch Listening to God AT Course


A Listening to God Pilgrimage

April 20-23, 2017, YLI #smallbatch discipleship is hosting the first intimacy with God mini-pilgrimage on the Appalachian Train in North Carolina.  Younger leaders of any hiking ability will have the opportunity to learn more about intimacy with God, hearing God’s voice, and will be coached in developing an individualized 30-day experiment to hear God’s voice after the hike.  Our hope is that this experiment will lead to an ongoing deepening connection to God that will lay the foundation to a lifetime of fruitfulness in a life of following Christ.

The cost is $150, but if you are short on funds, scholarships are available.  Hiking gear such as packs and sleeping bags are needed, but loaner and rental equipment are available.  We’ll provide tents, clean water and food.  Both men and women are invited.  In short, if you are between the ages of 20 & 35, willing to hike up beautiful mountains and sleep outside, open to sharing your life with others, and available that weekend, there are no reasons why you shouldn’t join us.


how to pack


Why does disciple making not happen more among us USA church folk?


Although I love the growth and multiplication happening in YLI, I’ve also come to terms with embraced that going deep with a few in discipleship doesn’t have mass-appeal.  And as I’ve had the joy to get to know many of you, I have learned that you are OK with that.  You support YLI because you believe:

  1. Jesus meant for making disciples to be a priority for Christ-followers, and…
  2. There is much evidence that disciple making is a very neglected practice among Christians!

The YLI Tribe (you) are people who desire to continue to grow as disciples and disciple-makers.  If that is true of you, I have a very helpful article from David Mathis of  Seven Costs of Disciple-Making.  (Hat-tip to Bobby Callahan, one of our #smallbatch leaders, for forwarding it).  Just a couple of excerpts…

Mathis first suggests that being honest about the cost of making disciples can help us rise to the challenge, even if others think we are just wasting our time on a “small batch”.

“Perhaps what might help us over our hurdles is not to hide how costly disciple-making is, but to be utterly honest and explicit about the costs, and hold them out in the light for us to see, and then find whether something in us might just rise to the peculiar glory of it all. God makes foolish the wisdom of the world, with its shortcuts and mass production, through the folly of disciple-making. As he did when his Son took a rag-tag band of uneducated peasants, invested in them at depth, and launched them out to change the world.”
2 Timothy 2:2 is YLI’s keystone verse, but do we pay close enough attention to the very next verse?  Mathis makes another great point that speaks to our Coaches in Africa and to us.
“What is the very next thing the apostle Paul says after he gives his disciple Timothy the charge to make disciples who make disciples in verse 2? Verse 3: “Share in suffering.” Should we be surprised? The master disciple-maker himself was put to death on a cross. And Paul is writing this letter from prison to his disciple. Paul wasn’t locked up just for being a disciple of Jesus. If he would have just loved Jesus and kept it to himself, no one would have gone to all the trouble to put him away. No, he was in prison because he was fruitful to multiply his life by making disciples.”
I challenge you to read the entire article and share your thoughts.  Reply via email, post on our Facebook page, or tweet your thoughts to @ash_yli.  Let us continue to encourage and build each other up in our shared work of making disciples!

Sarah Roy Sheppard Moye February 21, 1936 – January 02, 2017



Mrs. Sarah Roy Sheppard Moye, age 80, of Atlanta, died Tuesday, January 2, 2017. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, January 5th at 11:30 a.m. at Davisboro United Methodist Church with burial to follow in the Davisboro City Cemetery. The Reverend Ron Dixon and Reverend John Wesley Moye will officiate. Pallbearers will be Mike Moye, Michael Moye Jr., James Moye III, Daniel Moye, Jonathan Moye, Stephen Moye, and Barry Sutlive. The family will receive friends at the church also on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service at 11:30 a.m.

Mrs. Moye was born and reared in Washington County, the daughter of the late Roy Sheppard and the late Sarah Bynum Greer Sheppard. She graduated from Sandersville High School in 1954, where she was selected as Homecoming Queen. Mrs. Moye spent her adult life in Atlanta as a homemaker raising her children in the love and admonition of Christ and living out her family’s conviction, “Jesus is the driving force of my life”. She was an active member of the Oak Grove United Methodist Church where she was a member of the New Hope Sunday School Class and was a former teacher and mentor to the College/Career Sunday School Class. She was also an active volunteer in mission work in Atlanta. Mrs. Moye is predeceased by her son, Reverend Dr. James Dunaway “Jim” Moye Jr.

Survivors include: her husband, James Dunaway “Jimmy” Moye Sr. of Atlanta; son, Michael Raley “Mike” Moye Sr. and his wife Sharon Whelchel Moye also of Atlanta; daughter-in-law, Frances Smith “Fran” Moye of Carrollton; grandchildren, Rachel Moye Iliadis and her husband Dimitri of Atlanta, Rebekah Elizabeth Moye of Nashville, TN., Michael Raley Moye Jr., of Birmingham, AL., James Dunaway Moye III, Daniel Felton Moye, Jonathan Smith Moye and Stephen Francis Moye all of Carrollton; great grandchildren, Penelope Lark Iliadis and Eleanora Poet Iliadis; siblings, Jerry Gilbert Sheppard and his wife Judy Austin Sheppard and Judy Patricia Sheppard Rakestraw.

Donations may be made in memory of Mrs. Moye to Young Leaders International, P.O. Box 1088, Carrollton, GA. 30112, a charity, her son Jim founded.

May and Smith Funeral Directors is in charge of these arrangements.

Unfortunately, the police did not approve.

If you read the post below about King James school last week, please read this post. Naomi needs prayer and love right now. And she needs practical help too. Here is a message from her this afternoon.

“The sad news is that the police have seized my car (Toyota Corolla) because we’ve been overloading it when carrying children to the school. The car is so small that we will have to drive to the villages 10 times to convey the children. The delays are causing the children’s parents to be late to work. I keep telling them let’s pray for God’s interventions.

The children coming from other villages are now 50. They have spoiled the whole of my car but am not disturbed about that. So we are pleading that you put King James school’s troubles or plight before rescuers to come to our aid to get us a school bus or a van, or just something more spacious than my car.”

It is rare to find someone as generous and non-self concerned as Naomi.  She has held nothing back in investing in these children.  Her love for them in inspiring, but eight children in the back of a Corolla is not the best situation for anyone.  I think a used van would be great, and doable.

If you would like to help, let me know.

When a flood wipes out your school.

Children of migrant workers celebrated in grand fashion.

Perseverance, Hope, Love, Restoration.

Two years ago, Naomi, my dear friend and YLI Coach, opened a small two-room school in Sunyani, Ghana with a giant vision: educate children of migrant workers.  Its called “King James Educational Complex”*

Naomi poured her life (and personal income) into the school, but tragically in May a flood devastated the facility.  Over the last few months of watching Naomi I’ve been reminded of the power of perseverance in leadership.

“Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”     Romans 5:3-4, Berean Study Bible

Some photos of the flood and damage that was done in May


Photos from three weeks ago of the school, graduation, and the teachers.

Perseverance, hope, character, love.  This is how Naomi was able to rebuild the school, keep her teachers employed, and hold her first graduation; all in less than three months.  As a young widow who also lost a child, Naomi is not new to suffering.  Suffering has made her loving, hopeful, and courageous.  Suffering has forged her as a leader.

Naomi is just the kind of leader we strive to reproduce in YLI.  She’s a valuable part of our team.  If you have a heart for education and would like to support King James, please contact me.  If you know of a Christian school or organization that would consider partnering with Naomi, please let me know.  It’s a great investment!

And if you haven’t seen the video about Naomi and King James, please watch.  It’s good stuff.

*The name “King James” was not given because of a particular translation of the bible.  They are the names of Naomi’s sons James, and King.  King passed away two years ago at age 16.



March Madness — for the love of underdogs

a 91 second videochallenging commonly-held leadership beliefs.

Are you the type that is drawn to underdogs?  Did you inexplicably pick UNC-Wilmington over Duke in your bracket yesterday?  Backing an underdog is risky business, but there are few experiences more exhilarating than a David knocking off an arrogant Goliath.

Servant leaders around the world, including in Ghana, are ‘Davids’ — underdogs swimming against a current of self-aggrandizement and corruption (and yes, that’s often true here too).  YLI Coaches like Vincent Asamoah are humble and plucky leaders committed to changing the leadership culture in our world.  Vincent embraced an underdog role when he started a basketball-focused discipleship ministry in a country where soccer is king and many kids have never even held a basketball.

If you have a thing for underdogs, check out the 91 second video and visit Vincent’s page.   See for yourself how basketball, and love, are producing servant leaders in places where “leadership” and “corruption” are all-to-often synonymous.

Grateful for your partnership!

Ash Zook
Executive Director

Jesus in the shadow of the slave market

Salaga Slave MarketOn my last Ghana trip, I visited a town called Salaga, and saw the sign announcing “Welcome to Salaga Slave Market”.  It seemed a far too cheerful way to mark the dirt on which, for hundreds of years, slaves were brought from all over West Africa to be sold.  Salaga was an important way station for the African slave trade, and disturbingly, the slave market operated into the 20th century!

Three of our Ghana Coaches, Zach, Jonah, and Constant, traveled to Salaga last weekend to train and initiate discipling friendships with young leaders.  They sent me some cell phone pictures of the training which I included below.

The story of this community’s history of slave trade, encountering the story of Jesus, is significant.  Many of Salaga’s young people today are descendants of slaves or slave traders.  Our desire is to invest heavily in a few who are interested in discipleship.  I think we will all learn a lot.

Slavery is the most “depowering” evil that can be inflicted upon a fellow human being.  It got me thinking, what could YLI’s mission: Empowering young leaders to reach their world’ mean to Salaga’s young men and women?  The reminder that only freedom in Christ can truly empower a person keeps coming to mind.

We appreciate your prayer and support as we continue to follow Jesus into our world!

In Christ,


What’s new with Shoot4Life and Vincent Asamoah

vincent amos


Vincent has seen Shoot4Life grow over the last six years from ten young adults learning basketball on a borrowed court to a widespread program that is reaching 3000 children.  The ministry now even owns three courts.  Despite this growth, Vincent still focuses his energy on the young adult basketball coaches he is training to disciple kids. Two of his coaches are now are full time staff of Shoot4Life.  Spending so much of his time early on building his leadership team before even involving children has led to the kind of multiplication that many teach, but few have the discipline and faith to stick with.  What makes Vincent such a great leader is that everything he teaches is visible in his own life.

Vincent is 100% dedicated to training strong, committed leaders.  He talks about the joy he experiences as he watches his own son being discipled by a coach who was trained through Shoot4Life.  Many children have come to know Jesus through Shoot4Life which has given Vincent access to minister to whole families.  One boy with a particularly difficult home life entered the program a few years ago.  He now lives with Vincent and is being raised by him.  There is always something new going on with Vincent, because where you find Vincent you will also find vision and action.

Many of the children who come through Shoot4Life come from poor conditions, but Vincent has high expectations for them.   He believes he is preparing them for life.  Vincent’s mantra is that Ghana needs a new generation of leaders who fear God, and he believes that some of those future leaders are learning to play basketball with him.   Knowing Vincent as I do, I don’t doubt it for a moment.

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