"How does it feel?!"
This has been the most asked question that I have received over the last two weeks or so.
I recently became fully funded and am getting ready to take flight to Togo in the coming weeks.
I have been on this partnership development journey for just about two years now. It's been three and a half years since I committed to joining the 6 Degree Initiative in Togo.
I have been traveling and talking to people for the last two years about what we are doing and how I get to be a part of it for the last two years, but being a couple weeks away from my departure date, I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around what is about to happen.
I am moving to Africa!
I am learning a new language!
These are pretty big things and something I don't want to step into lightly.
It truly is surreal... and to be honest, I'm not sure it will hit me until after I have been on the field for a little bit.
Here is what I am learning while preparing for the launch date and transition onto the field:
1. Ask God to show you transitional struggles
I think these will be different for everyone as they transition to the field or any other new area of life, ministry or occupation.
I have been spending time asking God to reveal to me what areas of life I need to grow in as I step into the unknown of moving overseas. The best way I process through things is by journaling. So, I spend time praying and then start journaling my thoughts.
I know myself well enough to know that stepping into a new country, culture and language is going to be especially difficult for me. I am going to be in a place where I can't add a whole lot of value. I won’t be able to understand what is being said and even communicate at the most basic level until I get a grasp on the language.
That is going to be an identity shaker for me.
This is just an example of a specific struggle for me that God revealed to me. Ask God to show you those transitional struggles and begin praying through those.
Yeah, the transition process will be hard, but our God is a pretty big God and can hold you in His arms while you step into the unknown.
2. Pray... A Lot
Man, I'll be honest... ever since becoming fully funded and starting to talk about the departure date, the enemy has hit me hard with serious doubt and fear. The type that can only be prayed through.
In any major transition in life where you are stepping into something God has called you to, it is an affront to the enemy.
It has brought me to my knees most days, asking God for courage and strength.
The transition process requires you to pray a lot!
Invite some people into this with you. Bearing one another’s burdens is something that we are called to do in the family of God. Share the struggles and go to battle in prayer together.
This has made all the difference for me!
3. Say Goodbye Well
This was brought up a while back for me while I was at a cultural training. I kind of pushed it aside and thought this wasn't a big deal for me.
I was wrong...
It hit me that I will be leaving, not knowing the exact time I will be returning. I suddenly felt a strong conviction to let everyone important in my life know how important they really are. Even thousands of miles apart won’t change that, and I want them to know how much they mean to me.
I have been working on doing this by writing letters. This transition is a big step, but I haven’t done it alone.
4. Step into the Discomfort
Something that I have learned in the past 2 years is that when you step into the discomfort you get a front row seat of seeing God do some incredible things.
Any sort of transition is very uncomfortable. It is so natural for us to shy away from the discomfort for obvious reasons but let me plead with you not to run from it.
It is such a beautiful place to be when you look around you and say, " Father, this can only be by your strength". Discomfort is woven into the lives of those who are obedient to the call of God all throughout scripture... but so is Supernatural movement from God in and through those lives.
Don't shy from the discomfort. Willingly and expectantly step into it and watch God move.
Every time I am in Togo, West Africa, I notice something in every village we enter in to.
They all look different. Some look like a blob of cement or clay and others are a little bit more detailed. No matter what, every village has one.
These idols represent a deity that the people in that area sacrifice to. It's like when you enter your neighborhood and there is a sign with the name of your neighborhood on it. This sign represents where you live.
The difference is, you probably don't give up the only meat that you and your family will eat that week, to this stone image.
You don't look at that sign for protection or peace.
You probably aren't concerned with your sign not being pleased with you and as a result becoming cursed.
This is a daily worry and responsibility that these people deal with.
It is so easy to see how the enemy works in this area of the world. I mean we all know the ten commandments, right?
"Thou shalt worship a stone image"?
Kids are born every single day in Togo and grow up thinking that they have to please this stone and the deity that it represents to have a prosperous life. They will worry about not having the proper amount of food to sacrifice to this idol and go without food themselves.
It is so easy to sit back and think, "wow! How could they live that way?". "How don't they see how foolish this is?"
I grew up as a pastors kid and am so thankful and blessed to have been brought up in Gospel centered family that shared the love and hope of Jesus. One day I made my own decision to follow Him and was forever changed.
The reality is, these people have not. They have grown up in a family that clung to the hope of an idol. They don't know about the One True God who created them. They don't know about His only Son who sacrificed Himself for them so that they will never have to sacrifice anything to find favor. They don't know that they can have hope, peace and freedom in Christ.
Romans 10:14-15 says,
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Can you imagine living a life trying to please someone and never being able to live up to the demands? Can you imagine living in fear and desperation, just looking for some hope? Can you imagine being so lost that you just didn't know what to do any more?
The answer to all of those should be, YES!
Because before you knew Jesus, that was you.
Maybe you were lucky enough to not grow up in the eleventh poorest country in the world. What a blessing!
Yeah, your life before Christ may have looked a little different than someone who has grown up in a voodoo culture.
But the result is still the same. You. Were. Lost...
Now, you're not! Now you have a hope! You have Good News to share with those who don't know!
Never take for granted the gift of salvation.
Have you ever questioned your "calling" in life?
"Calling" is a hot topic in the church because it is so important but sometimes we over complicate it.
This message walks alongside Moses and his journey to discover what God had for him.
Learn how to discover your calling!
On my last trip to Togo, I got to witness the incredible Gospel movement that God is starting there.
He is truly lighting up the darkness.
While I was there the team recieved an incredibly generous donation of a partner church and we were able to purchase new property for a brand new church plant.
I had the opportunity to go walk the land and see all that God is going to do in this area.
This story is the perfect example of why we do what we do.
As we were walking through the villages, dreaming of all the posibilities with one of our local pastors, a man approached us.
We were just exploring what could be and will be and this man walks up and says something in French. They translated it for me and this local man had come and said, "I feel like you have something to tell me".
"Are you serious?", I asked.
Did that really just happen? Did he really just come up and ask us to share the Gospel with him?
He sure did!
They spent the next twenty minutes or so sharing the incredible story of our savior with this man who had quite possibly never heard it before.
This could be the very first person in the entire village that heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. He did not come to Christ on that day. Pastor Joshua invited to his church just a kilometer up the road, but in this culture it would be very rare for someone to walk that far.
But this summer (2018) this man will have a brand new church were he and many more in his village could hear the Gospel and be discipled.
Hundred will have the opportunity to make the ultimate decision to trust Jesus as their savior and live forever changed. They will then be discipled to go out and make more disciples.
This is why we do what we do.
The Gospel is needed. It's desired. It's just not known in Togo.
But it's coming! God is moving in Togo and stiring a complete revival!
Join us in prayer for this movement and find out how you can be a part of the incredible opportunity of reaching the unreached.
I had the privilege of taking my second trip to Togo, West Africa this past January (2018). I was going to do some filming for our initiative as well as getting to know the culture and learning as much as possible about what's next for the 6th Degree Initiative.
I was there for two and a half weeks on this trip. I got to see all that God had done since a year earlier on my first trip.
To say the movement had grown would be an understatement.
The first time I was in Togo, we had one brick-and-mortar church plant and we had just bought property for our second... and that was it. We were dreaming and talking about growth but that was where it was.
In just one year we went from on brick-and-mortar church to, two thriving brick-and-mortar churches, 3 house churches that were launched out of the first church plant and 2 other churches partnered with us in our network.
Yeah... unbelievable growth!
Numbers of churches sounds great but the focus is life transformation. If that isn't happening then nothing else matters.
In the year of 2017, we saw over 1,000 people come to Christ in an unreached people group.
This is becoming a movement with exponential growth! God is going before the team and we are just trying to keep up.
As I was observing the incredible movement of God, I started to observe our local pastors who are the ones leading the charge.
I started asking the question, "how are these men leading this incredible movement of God?"
While observing I noticed three specific characteristics that these leaders carried.
The number one characteristic that I saw in these pastors was humility.
They led the people in their church and the neighbors in their village with so much humility.
They approached every message with humility.
They approached every conversation with humility.
When I would praise them for anything they would quickly point it back to God and thank Him for all He has done in their life.
These men are truly led by the Spirit and are completely aware of the goodness and grace of God. That drives them to humility.
The second characteristic that these leaders exemplify is boldness.
Togo is the birth place of voodoo. So the spiritual warfare is heavy to say the least. Yet, these men of God are humbly walking into witchdoctors houses and through the boldness and power of the Holy Spirit, they are seeing lives that have been gripped by satan, transformed and living for Christ.
They speak the Word of God with a boldness that we seen in Paul in the book of Acts.
These men are not timid with the Truth, they live it and speak it in so much boldness.
The third and final characteristic that I noticed in these leaders is something that I think comes from a combination of the first two.
These men walk with so much confidence. A confidence that only exists by the humility and boldness of the Holy Spirit.
They are confident in who God is, what He has done in their lives and what He has called them to do.
This confidence is seen and emanates from them when they walk in a room. It is a confidence that comes from a surrendered life completely resting in The Spirit.
Humble. Bold. Confident. The DNA of a leader in the midst of a Gospel movement. Is it your DNA?