After a decade in the field, an American missionary has the ‘scales removed from his mind’

Philip Renfroe compares the years after his “second conversion” to waking up early in the morning and walking through a very thick fog. As the day progresses, the fog lifts, but early on, you can’t see where you are or where you’re going.

“Even though I had been a missionary for over 10 years,” he says, “in my heart, I cried out and said, ‘Lord, I had no idea I was blind from these things. But I’m asking you to remove the scales from my mind and to help me see the truth from a biblical-worldview perspective.’”

After working for years as a medical doctor in a rural Kenyan hospital–a 300-bed facility serving half a million people–Philip learned new things about Kenyans that changed his whole perspective.

All of this resulted unexpectedly from a great trial facing Philip’s Christian colleagues. But isn’t that just how our God loves to work–to take a hopeless, difficult situation and turn it into something profound and life-changing?

While working through a difficult conflict in the ministry, one of Philip’s colleagues suggested seeking outside counsel. Dennis Tongoi was brought into the picture–he is DNA’s representative in East Africa and the leader of DNA’s partner Samaritan Strategy Africa.

Instead of discussing strategy, budgets and business, Dennis talked about what it means to have a biblical worldview. He explained the impact of animism on African churches and the impact of humanistic secularism on Western churches, giving specific examples that resonated with Philip and his group.

“He was answering questions that I had as a North American missionary well over 10 years,” says Philip. “As he was talking, I can still picture in my mind sitting in the chapel of this Bible college where we were meeting … and the Holy Spirit came to me and said, “Philip Renfroe, you are a secularist.’ I knew in my heart that the Holy Spirit was right.”

Dennis encouraged the ministry leaders to change their whole approach to this certain problem, but his involvement didn’t stop there.

“Dennis Tongoi is a dear friend; I love him as a brother,” Philip says. “God has used him as a mentor to me.”

A few months after meeting, Philip attended a DNA Vision Conference led by Dennis. He soaked up more DNA teachings on biblical worldview and seed projects, deciding his missions organization, World Gospel Mission (WGM), needed to hear these things.

Infiltrating the organization

Philip and Dennis organized another Vision Conference, this time for 70 Africa Gospel Church leaders and 30 WGM missionaries. Out of that grew a vibrant ministry at the local Bomet Prison (learn more about that).

Philip’s next plan was to have Hubert Harriman, president of WGM, meet Dennis. This came to fruition in the lobby of a Nairobi hotel.

“As I sat and listened to him,” recalls Hubert, “the illustrations he used and his thoughts, it reminded me a lot of [famed theologian] John Wesley.”

Dennis (top right) conducts “Trainer of Trainers” workshops as a strategic way to multiply DNA teachings.

Hubert, a former pastor, began to see what Dennis meant by “humanistic secularism”–how he and the Western church had set a division into something that meant to be whole.

There are two rails, Hubert says: the rail of the spiritual (holiness) and that of the social (people’s needs). The tendency is to separate the two.

“I had the same tendency and realized these rails run together; they make a track. If we don’t run these two rails together–parallel–we will get off track,” Hubert says.

WGM is an organization more than 100 years old; an establishment like that doesn’t change quickly. But when its top leadership experiences a head-and-heart change, as Hubert did, movement can be swift.

Hubert and other top leadership dove deeper into DNA teachings, assembling a conference with 20 WGM country directors from around the world to talk about integrating physical and spiritual ministry. The board of directors then agreed to adopt a more intentional focus on wholistic community transformation, with Philip in charge.

This plan enables WGM field workers to go back to established churches and help them discover how to minister wholistically to their communities. New missionaries not yet deployed will be trained as well, and even the 30-plus employees in WGM’s administrative office in Indiana will have a two-day training this coming January.

Hubert wants to show churches: “Let’s not just deal with these four walls; there’s a community around you.”

Contact Philip Renfroe or Hubert Harriman at

A “new” way of evangelism takes root in West Africa

Indeed, wholistic ministry really is the oldest tool for evangelism–Jesus invented it. But in West Africa, where “open-air crusades” have been a preferred method for so many generations, today’s Christian leaders are discovering the power of extending Jesus’ love to the whole person, operating from a biblical worldview.

“The reception to our message was just overwhelming, and participants called for more time since it has been just a day’s vision casting,” says Chris Ampadu, a DNA partner working in Ghana.

In the past couple of months, Chris has helped conduct in Ghana:

  • a mentorship program for Christian professionals from six countries.
  • a training for 169 church leaders on “Love Action as a Tool for Evangelism.”
  • an annual Wholistic Club meeting with 10 leaders, each of whom has 30-60 members demonstrating God’s love in profound ways at the grassroots level.
  • presentations on wholistic ministry to more than 800 evangelistic leaders, followed by new plans for a four-day Vision Conference.

“A church elder from Katanga said [the church’s] demonstration of love to the needy and poor has shocked many people in the village such that two Moslems and three animist women have joined the club, saying they have never seen poor people coming out of their poverty to show such compassion and love,” Chris says.

Teaching, encouraging and bringing God’s healing to believers in Chile

In June, Darrow spent two busy weeks in Chile building relationships with leaders at a local ministry called the Oikonomos Studies Center and engaging with about 350 university students, several pastors and about 500 women from congregations all over the nation.

At the Catholic University of Chile in the capital city of Santiago, he taught seminars titled “Facing the City: A Christian Perspective on Transformation” and “Mind, Exclusion and Poverty.” At the Alberto Hurtado University, he taught “The Christian’s Role in Contemporary Society” — all courses that speak to the local church’s role as God’s primary change-agent.

Angel Tapia (right), the executive director of the Oikonomos Studies Center in Santiago, arranged these sessions and said Darrow’s books are “a ‘wildfire’ in hundreds of young people eager to see the glory of God manifested on earth.”


Oikonomos is a group of Chilean university students and professionals who long to see a social and cultural transformation from a perspective of the Kingdom of God. Born in 2011, the group conducts conferences, seminars and the magazine “Oikonomos” in order to summon their generation to revive the church as a change-agent in modern Chilean society.

Darrow said spending time with these young people was the highlight of his trip. “The students represent the future of Chile,” he says. “To find a group of Chilean students who have a vision for transforming their country, that was pretty powerful.”

From there, Darrow hopped a plane to the city of Temuco, fulfilling an invitation from the Christian and Missionary Alliance. Over the course of several days and while enduring a nasty cold, he taught Alliance pastors from all over Chile and presented to groups of women their true value as God’s creations–the message from his book Nurturing the Nations.


Darrow proclaimed the truth that both men and women are made in the image of God; all have dignity and honor, and all are to be treated with respect.

For the women in this traditionally sexist Chilean culture, to hear these ideas–especially coming from a man–was earth-shaking. Many took home the Spanish version of Darrow’s Book: Opresion de la Mujer, Pobreza y Desarrollo.


For most of these women, this was their first time hearing about God’s plan for male-female relationships and its corruption by the Fall. They learned about being co-heirs of God’s kingdom–not property of their husbands–and about the tender, maternal heart of God.

As Darrow reported, God’s work through these sessions brought up old wounds that now can begin to heal, “setting free” many women from from a great deal of pain.

Fukushima, Japan: being restored from the inside out

When you have just a bird’s-eye view of the catastrophes that laid siege to Japan about 16 months ago — earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster — it could seem impossible to find a loving, restorative God in the midst of it all. But if you get up close, on the inside, you will find incredible power and renewal — you will see Him working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Even in such destruction, He uses the local church to heal, restore, and build His Kingdom. Over the past year, DNA national organization Friends with the Voiceless, Intl. (FVI) has been instrumental in this work.

(From left) Midori and Eisuke from FVI spent time in Fukushima relief shelters, comforting the residents who left their homes behind. (photo from DNA partner Soohwan Park)

A 2006 Gallup poll found that Christianity is the fastest-growing faith among Japanese youth. Japan is thirsty for the gospel, and FVI is helping pave the way for its people to receive it.

As many doctors, nurses and pastors fled the district of Fukishima, the area most damaged by the nuclear disaster, a few stayed — one pastor explaining that he dreamed he saw Jesus walking with His cross toward the power plant.

Aside from physical destruction, in Fukushima, families have been torn apart as many husbands have gone to find work elsewhere. Divorce has skyrocketed. In this country where 29 percent of youth describe themselves as “very lonely” and suicide rates are high, FVI helps unite and equip the Church to bear the hope of Christ.

Since the nuclear disaster, FVI staff members have made 15 trips to the province, conducting “Fukushima Future Forums” with dozens of pastors in attendance. In March 2012, one of these Forums geared for young Japanese Christian leaders had 50 attendees — half from Fukushima. At these events, Christian leaders are invited to recommit their lives to the Lord and commit to rebuilding Fukushima from a biblical worldview.

The first Fukushima Future Forum ended with husbands washing their wives’ feet: a biblical but counter-cultural act in Japan. (photo from DNA partner Soohwan Park)

As a result, while many people continued to flee the province, one Forum participant moved in and planted a church. Another started an out-of-the box “listening ministry,” and a network of young participants formed to practically serve Fukushima residents.

Also at the Forum last March was a pastor from Ukraine who ministered to survivors of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. He offered great encouragement and invited Fukushima pastors to come to Ukraine and meet other Christian leaders with similar experience. That visit is planned for October 2012.

(From left) Eisuke Kanda and Shun Jinnai co-lead Friends with the Voiceless, the DNA national network in Japan. To contact them, e-mail

Samaritan Strategy Budding in Sudan

Stephen Langa, Eastern Africa Coordinator for Samaritan Strategy Africa (SSA), is praising God for the “suddenly opened amazing doors” the movement is having in Sudan. He credits the robust relationship between the SSA offices in Kampala and Nairobi, but also a growing trust relationship between SSA and the Church Missionary Society (CMS).

Sudan, long torn by strife, is largely new territory for SSA. Stephen has worked to “harmonize and coordinate” ministry efforts there, with the goal of building one or more national teams. Dennis Tongoi and the Kenya team had developed relationships with churches in southern Sudan, while Stephen fostered relationships with leaders in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital in the Muslim-dominated north. Notwithstanding the legendary rift between the north and south, he believed it was possible to “forge a common vision and strategy to disciple the nation of Sudan.” That process got a big jump start this year.

Archbishop Dr. Daniel Deng (center) with other bishops and clergy plus traditional chiefs at the Peace & Reconciliation Conference in Juba held on September 2-4, 2010

Stephen attended a Peace and Reconciliation conference in Juba, organized by The Episcopal Church of Sudan, the country’s largest Christian denomination. He wanted to build relationships with church leaders, introduce them to SSA teachings, and explore with them how to equip all Sudan’s Christians.

The conference convened 90 participants, including church leaders from 12 dioceses from southern Sudan, but other stakeholders as well. Government leaders attended, including the Speaker of the Southern Sudan Parliament, the Governor of Central Equatorial State, and the Presidential Advisor on Religious Affairs.

Another key player was the Minister for Peace and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) Implementation. He reviewed the history of Sudan since 1947, before turning to the current status of the CPA. His report indicated that preparations for the January 9, 2011 referendum are far behind schedule. Serious conflicts between the Northern and Southern governments must be solved to provide for a peaceful referendum and a sustainable future.

The presence of government leaders at the conference gave believers the opportunity to demonstrate Christ’s love. Participants were deeply impressed by the “open, frank and non-judgmental discussions,” as well as by the good reputation of the church with the government, the people and the international community.

Conference planners also invited the leader of New Sudan Council of Islamic Affairs to represent the Muslim community. Some of the most powerful dynamic happened when this man saw Christianity in action.

“We were told by the Khartoum government that ‘the Christians in the South hate you and will kill you if the South separates,’” he said. “But now I see that all that is not true. From this conference I have seen that Christians love us and are willing to live in peace and harmony with us”.

Speaker of Southern Sudan Parliament Hon. James Igga greeting traditional chiefs

A similar reflection came from the traditional chiefs in attendance. Stephen reported that one  commented that they [the chiefs] have been marginalized in the past by both governments, but in the conference they felt recognized and empowered and feel that they “can now contribute towards peace in Sudan.”

“One even confided that if the government had invited them they would not have come,” Steven reported, “but since it was the church that invited them, they came.”

The participants were challenged to take these new perspectives to their people at the grassroots level, especially in view of the coming referendum, to equip them to vote “from a point of truth and knowledge.”

The SSA movement benefitted as well by achieving a better grasp of “the situation and challenges that Sudan is facing as a nation.” Stephen believes the SSA can now contextualize their message “from an informed point of view.”

Five ECS dioceses are planning to have vision conferences by spring 2011, and a provisional inter-denominational vision conference in Juba has been scheduled for November 9-13, 2010. Stephen is grateful for the SSA foundation and praying for “good fruit that will result in the expansion of the Kingdom of God in Sudan and beyond.”

The enormous political uncertainties in Sudan comprise a significant challenge to the work of SSA, and that of the church at large. No one knows what to expect after the referendum. Will Sudan be a one-state nation, or two? Christians are praying that God would grant peace to the Sudanese people, that the referendum will be conducted in a free and fair manner, and that both the governments and the people will accept the results.

Churches in Congo Learn to be Salty

How can the church serve its community in order to see positive change?

That question set the framework when 57 participants from eight churches gathered in Idiofa, Democrative Republic of Congo, last June. The event included a Vision Conference and Training of Trainers, all in the effort to multiply wholistic discipleship and equip God’s people for service in their communities.”

Small group session

Delegates included pastors and church leaders, as well as staff from NGOs and community development organizations. During the week they planned 11 Seed Projects to “demonstrate God’s concern to their surrounding communities” including:

  • Painting the blackboards in several primary schools
  • Feeding abandoned children
  • Training young mothers in sewing
  • Assisting marginalized people
  • Building a new source of water
  • Training pupils in  computer skills
  • Cleaning up city streets
  • Training widows to manufacture soaps and food items

In addition to the Vision Conference, 34 trainers were equipped “to spread the vision and oversee activities and Seed Projects” planned during the event.

The conference was organized by a local Baptist church, facilitated by Samaritan Strategy, and led by pastors Byamungu and Martin. Idiofa is 660 kilometers east of the capital, Kinshasa.

Churches represented included: Evangelical, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, New Apostolic, Assemblies of God, Pentecostal Church, and Army chaplaincy. Nine NGOs were also in attendance.

The importance of the training was expressed by one participant who spoke of the web of lies that enslaves our villages and cities … lies have subjugated our nation. In such a reality, the truth is powerful for tearing down strongholds.

Another delegate related how God’s love erases one of those lies, related to poverty.

God’s love pushes us to take care of others. Many people use their poverty as pretext to hide their selfishness. We always have something to share with the other.

Other testimonites of the impact of the conference spoke of the role of the local church. When all other structures fail, it remains only the church to give hope in the world.

People must see God’s glory through the church. The Christian is a letter written for the world … the salt and light of the world.