Monday, November 26, 2018

Discipleship Makes Her Feet Dance!

I had to start teaching just hours after the long trip from Grand Rapids to Accra, Ghana.  I felt pretty good, but I knew it was a stretch to be my best.  It turned out well and after teaching we were to go to dinner (although I was ready to go to bed).  God’s timing does not wait for my rest!  During the dinner, a key business lady began to share her excitement about the DML message and work.  It is always nice to hear from busy people that the message is appreciated.  But my eyes (beginning to droop) snapped open when she told us that she had shared about the message and upcoming workshop of DML with another Christian business leader; she told her how work is worship and God’s plan is to disciple every member of the congregation to be disciple makers in every corner of the community.  She then really got my attention when she said this important, successful business person got up and danced at the news!  Really, I asked, they danced?  She said yes because it affirms business as a calling through which the message of making disciples is to flow. 

At the heart of DML is discipleship. While business training is critical to our mission, discipleship is critical to God’s desire of developing ambassadors of the Good News. To make effective business people without making effective disciples is to major on the minor part.  We are all called in a variety of occupations, but also called to be disciples who make disciples. DML is first about making disciples and second about making good business practitioners. It is what makes our feet dance and our hearts sing. We love business and making disciples, and we will not do one without the other.
Discipleship in the Local Church Fuels the Ministry
By the end of 2018, we will have formally introduced DML in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana, with initial discussions in Liberia, Burkina Faso, and Togo.  Our focus has been on understanding the best way to introduce DML so that it is both effective and sustainable. 

The holistic approach of integrating faith and work is becoming a major concern for churches and denominations in Africa.  Africa will double in population by 2050 and then double again by 2100 (if current projections hold true).  Economically the African economy is expected to grow 10-fold, from 1 trillion dollars now, to over 10 trillion dollars in the next 30 years. 

The African Church understands that it cannot hide behind the walls of a building if African Christianity wants to impact the continent and world.  African church leaders have seen a correlation between church decline and increased prosperity in Europe and America.  Leaders do not want to follow the same path.  They want to move their model of church from a place to gather to a place from which to scatter.  Discipling Marketplace Leaders (DML) provides a solid Biblical basis for seeing work as a God-given directive (Gen. 1:28, 2:15).  This affirming of work as a holy calling has begun to give leaders hope that the church has relevance in a growing economy.  The rising generation wants a faith that is relevant to every area of life. DML connects the Sunday service with life lived out the other six days of the week.

Our “official” date of launching Discipling Marketplace Leaders was 2016.  Starting with a few dozen participants in 2016 we have seen over 20,000 leaders attend one or more of our trainings in 2018.  We are now being approached by Christian leaders who want to implement the vision and ministry across their denominations.  One denomination has 10,000 churches and over 10 million members.  Another has over 5,500 churches and a million members.  Another wants to field test it in one diocese and then roll it out in other dioceses across their country.

We have the message, we have the delivery, and we are building the structures to help implement this ministry across Africa.  But to do business training without discipleship is to take away from the church its greatest resource for sharing the love of Jesus in every community.  We desire to see every local congregation discipling every member to be released as light, salt, and leaven in every community.  
Discipleship Leads to Amazing Growth (i.e. God is Good!!)
The following table shows the expansion of DML over the past two years.  The cost per person per training is kept low as DML partners with other ministries rather than setting up its own organization in a country.  We also require participants to provide a portion of the training costs.  This keeps the training cost per person to under $10 per event.

2017 (12 months)
(five countries)
2018 (Jan-Sept)
(seven countries)
Introductory meetings/attendance for pastors and church leaders

Not measured
231 meetings
with 570 people
Awareness Creation meetings/attendance
(more formal 2-hour or 4-hour meetings)
8 meetings
With 444 people
73 events
with 16,404 people
Two-day events/attendance for Pastors and Church Leaders
18 events
With 694 people
16 events
with 1,298 people
Seminary Classes/students trained around the theme of DML
4 classes with
43 students
9 classes
with 206 students
Churches using “Thirty Days in the Marketplace”
53 churches
With 1694 members
36 churches
with 6,383 members
Total number of business people trained in one of our three training programs
558 businesses
 860 businesses
Business events/participants involved in advocacy
18 events with
539 participants
33 events
with 1,375 participants
Cities/Countries where DML is active
24 cities in five countries
47 cities in seven countries
Denominations where DML is active
As you review this report, we ask you to try and look beyond the numbers to the faces of men and women who are beginning to understand the role they play in God’s economy.  They are moving out of the shadows and into the light of understanding their call to be God’s chosen ambassadors whose parish is the auto shop, corner kiosk, small market garden and hundreds of other small businesses.  It is in these places where they are in touch with thousands of vendors and customers in need of the love of Christ. The starter gun has sounded, and we have a strong surge out of the blocks.  But we know and understand that we are in a marathon race to see the local church reenergized to move from the four walls of a building to be the Church in the four corners of the community.  Your prayers and support are part of the foundation that makes this ministry possible.  On behalf of the global DML team, thank you for joining us as we seek to disciple the next generation to be God’s light in the marketplace.
If you would like to support this ministry as it expands and grows in 2019, please go to and follow the prompts to give to DML, or to and select "Missionaries-Africa" and then my name (Renita Reed-Thomson).  If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to ICM and mail it to PO Box 129, Monument CO 80132, and add the code 609045 on the memo line. We thank you in advance for your prayerful consideration!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

From the Mouths of Children

This past week, I had the privilege to be the speaker for theBible Study at the Victory Baptist Church in Kaduna, Nigeria.

I have to admit that it was a bit of a struggle for me to get enthusiastic about it.  You see, I had to teach Integrity and Finance with ECWA Seminary that morning from 9-12:30 pm.  Then I had to rush to another Baptist Church where we were doing a two-day workshop for pastors and church leaders from the area Baptist Churches (about 50 pastors and church leaders were in attendance).  I taught there from 1 pm - 4 pm.  I then was scheduled to teach at this particular church from 5:30-8 pm.  There was no time for lunch or dinner (other than some quick ramen noodles which I always keep in my suitcase for times such as this).  Normally, this isn't a problem for me to teach this much.  But the last two and a half weeks had been so exhausting (especially for me as an introvert) and weariness was settling in deep.

I tried to persuade the person arranging this to let me just speak for thirty minutes and then let me go.  But I could tell that they weren't going to budge.  So at some point, I resigned myself to the fact that I would be there for the full evening.

And, as God often has it, it turned out to be a blessing.

The church was in an unfinished building with a dirt floor, with more than 120 people waiting for Bible study to start at 5:30 pm on a Tuesday evening.  Let me emphasize this:  120 people, ready (and on time) for Bible study at 5:30 pm, on a Tuesday evening.  This is unusual.  And this is the average turnout, I was told, for their weekly Bible study.  Most of those in the audience were considered youth (which in most parts of Africa, means under the age of 35).  I spoke on 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 and talked about how work is an opportunity to worship and how we can witness through our work by working with excellence, being committed to our values, and remembering that we work for the Lord and not for man.

I then showed them the first session of the Poverty Cure, by the Acton Institute.  If you have not watched it, I would highly recommend it.  I love watching Session one and two with Africans because you can see the lightbulbs going on.  The first session is called "Charity that Hurts" and it begins to expose the audience to the idea that aid can be problematic, that looking for solutions from the outside is problematic, and that most answers can be found within ourselves (with the help of God) and our community.  I then broke them up into small groups for discussion.  The noise was astounding as people talked and argued and debated about these concepts.  The feedback was great, as it always is when we show it, with people responding by saying that they need to stop waiting for the answer, and instead, be the answer.

But the highlight of the night was that as the adults broke up into about ten groups to discuss what they watched, there was a small group of children, pictured here, who also came together as a small group and they too were discussing what they saw.  When it came time for the leader from each group to share what had been discussed, a nine-year-old girl in the back row, dressed in blue, stood up as the leader for the children's group.  She said something like this, "We also discussed what we watched in the video.  And we have seen that it is good for us to work with our hands.  There are things that we are able to do that we are not doing.  We need to not be fully dependent on our parents but also work."

Praise the Lord!  May a new generation arise that doesn't look outside for answers but knows that as co-creators with God, as image-bearers and reflectors of the Most High God, that they have the capacity and ability to find answers for themselves.

I leave for home today after a very full time in West Africa.  I'm looking forward to some family time this week over Thanksgiving.  I am so thankful to God for His faithfulness, His grace, and His mercy, and I thank God for each of you as well who have encouraged, prayed for, and supported this ministry!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Letting pictures tell the story

[Writing to you from Kaduna, Nigeria where we have DML events, as well as teaching a class for the ECWA seminary Masters students.]

To say that last week in Ghana was a busy week would be an understatement.  But to say it was a successful week, with many answered prayers, would be quite accurate.  We thank God for the past week with our DML partners from West and East Africa.

We spent time in prayer and worship as a team.

We spent time in planning and dreaming of how the Church could reclaim the redeemed marketplace for Christ.

We spent time laughing and fellowshipping together.

We had Yoseph and Sitotaw from Ethiopia.  We had Grace and Moses from Uganda.  We had Elly and Caroline from Kenya.  We had James from Tanzania.  We had Freeman from Nigeria.  We had Joy and Maxcelline from Cameroon.  We had Steve from the UK.  And from Ghana, we had Fanny, Beatrice, Afia, Derek, Yvonne, Rev. Johnson, Isaac, Pastor Adams, and Elder Johnson.

Our thanks to those who prayed for this trip.  Our thanks to those who donated to make this trip possible.

Please enjoy some pictures of our time together.  I wish I could share some video but the internet is too slow for uploading those!

The DML Team, with members from nine countries.  In order to reinforce the teaching of the environmental bottom line, we gave each team member a Brita water bottle and filters; no more disposable plastic water bottles while we were together and they can continue using it in their own context!
We had a worship service together which involved getting up and dancing to the Lord!
Every morning we had devotions with the hotel staff.  Front and center in this picture is Joy from Cameroon.
Dr. Ahilijah, President of Ghana Christian University, sat through our entire week of Training of Trainers, took the exam, and taught with me on Monday.  Very unusual for a man of his stature to do that!  He is an excellent trainer and passionate about DML!  We are thankful he is on our team!
We shared the Lords Supper together.  Serving us (right to left) was Pastor Moses from Uganda, Rev. Johnson from Ghana, and Yoseph from Ethiopia.  Three great men of God who are passionate about serving Him!

Monday, November 5, 2018

"God is moved by faith, not by needs."

This past week we had a delightful time with very thoughtful, experienced, wise pastors, church leaders, theologians, and business people.  The Ghana DML Movement team carefully selected representatives from the following regions of Ghana:  Northern Region, Ashanti Region, Brong-Ahafo Region, Western Region, Eastern Region, Upper East, and Central Region.  All regions of Ghana, with the exception of Upper West, were represented.  Then they selected leaders from Togo and Burkina Faso to join.  And we also had guests from Liberia, and guests representing Sierra Leone present.

We had great in-depth discussions with those who were thinking of the big picture - in fact they are now not calling this the DML Ghana Movement, but the DML Africa Movement.

We were blessed to hear thoughtful comments like this throughout the week:
  • Africa is the most praying continent in the world and the poorest continent in the world.  We need to stop praying so much and start acting!  
  • The Church views businesses like a refrigerator.  We just open the door and help ourselves!
  • You cannot speak of the glory of God if you are not living to the glory of God.
  • Are we teaching people to hear the voice of the Lord or are we trying to be the voice of the Lord to the people?
And the one in the title, "God is moved by faith, not by needs."  While I think we can debate this one, it does get one thinking.

These comments challenge us both as individuals and as a group.

And we also hear this feedback about our time together:
  • We have rediscovered a truth that is in plain sight. As you shared from the Old and New Testament, we began to see what is clear:  Jesus and the disciples spent more time in the marketplace than in any other place!
  • The theological teaching opens our eyes, but the practical teaching has equipped our hands.
  • The training was filled with examples, laughter, and stories.  It gave me a fresh understanding of what it means to be the Church scattered.  We are salt, light, and leaven in the community.  Very, very practical.
Two of the participants shared early on that they had a vision of people walking arm in arm, linked together like a chain.  That in order to change the Marketplace and for the Church to have relevance in the world today, Christians need to come together.  As we closed our time together, we formed a circle and linked arms, and prayed for God to work in us and through us to be the change that we wish to see in our communities, in our churches, and in our nations.

On Sunday, all of our teams arrived from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Cameroon, to join the Nigerian team, UK team, US team, and Ghana team already at work.  We know this week will be very full of activities, but we can't wait to see how God will use this time together to build each other up, and ultimately to build His church!  Please pray for our time together!