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.

Mercy Ships Incorporates DNA Training

An innovative ministry of wholistic service has embraced DNA training for its Africa volunteers. For the first time, Mercy Ships sent a volunteer crew to a four-week Worldview and Development training led by Chris Ampadu, West Africa representative for Samaritan Strategy Africa.

“We are very excited about this program and we count ourselves as privileged to have this opportunity to serve Mercy Ships,” Chris said.

Starting this year they want to send all their new African crew members through this Worldview and Development course before they are admitted into long-term work on the ship. A big opportunity, and we give God all the GLORY.”

Twelve crew members from Liberia, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Sierra Leone lived for one month at the Samaritan House Fse-Amasaman campus in Accra.

The four weeks included over 50 presentations including all 43 topics of the BASICS 1 course. Chris was joined by his Ghana team – Patience Mensah, Nora Naana, Joseph Antwi, and Victor Owiredu as presenters. The trainees celebrated their graduation February 4.

“Two guests from the Human Development Deptartment of Mercy Ships joined us to graduate these first crew members from the new Africa Gateway,” Chris said. Gateway is Mercy Ship’s term for their training program.

DNA founders Bob Moffitt and Darrow Miller have been associated with Mercy Ships for years. More recently, Chris has served multiple times as the main speaker for the ship’s pastors conferences in Liberia, Benin, Togo, and Sierra Leone.

“It is just wonderful, the first opportunity to have people stay with me for such a long time and to do a detailed study of these lessons,” Chris reported.

“I have already planned for three conferences in Togo with Mercy Ships this year: March 4-8, 13-16 and April 1-6.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Ethiopia: The Fruit Follows the Toil

Demelash Lemma is Horn of Africa coordinator for Samaritan Strategy Africa. He recently traveled from his home in Ethiopia to the DNA global forum in South Africa where he shared the following testimony.

Demelash was first exposed to DNA teachings at a Nairobi Vision Conference in 1999. For the last 10 years, he has worked with Harvest International. In that time, Demelash has trained over 10,000 local church leaders in 4,000 congregations.

“It has been a great privilege for me to share this message,” he said. He went on to acknowledge that the first six years was difficult, like breaking hard ground.

“The idea was not welcome because of the traditional church things,” he admitted, “but the last three or four years the work has begun to pay off.”

In recent years, Demelash has had opportunity to work with a new denomination, the Emmanuel United Church (EUC), founded about 20 years ago. Today it has 130 local congregations, and all the pastors have completed a Vision Conference. Many have also finished a Training of Trainers.

“These leaders are young, professional and passionate,” Demelash says. “Whenever they plant a church, they start it not only with the idea of soul winning but they also go to the local government and ask how they can help their communities.”

God has used the EUC to serve the brokenness of Ethiopia’s families affected by HIV/AIDS. Each local EUC congregation has taken care of “at least two orphaned kids with clothing, food, school materials, and visiting.” Some churches have even started Saturday tutoring classes with professionals giving their time and expertise. Every member is contributing their time, money, gifts to heal the brokenness of that community.

One congregation in the capital city is supporting 85 orphans and poor families. Each child is “adopted” by one or two church members. Church members are also offering tutorial class every Saturday.

Improvement in church and government relations is one of the benefits of this ministry.

“The local government sees this church caring for elderly people, planting trees, caring for HIV victims and poor families,” Demelash says. “As a result, the government has changed its mindset about the church. Government officials, when approached by funders from the West wanting to help, says, ‘Please go to that church. They know what you should do!’”

This congregation also has 50 home Bible studies, and Demelash expects further stories of impact.

“I am hoping to see the seed projects going to a bigger level and bringing transformation to that community.”

Two Islands … Two Years … Two Vision Conferences

Two years ago the first-ever Vision Conference in this two-island nation was held on Trinidad, the larger of the two islands. Recently, Tobago joined the list of host nations when Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt accompanied Clifton Charles to facilitate a shortened Vision Conference.

Rev. Ramlakhan Ramdial, Senior Pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle, Tobago, and Chair of Tobago Pastors’ & Ministers’ Fellowship, chaired the planning committee which brought the three-day training event to the island. The Lambeau Church of God hosted the event January 20-22, 2011.

Rev. Dr. Clifton Charles, Senior Pastor of the Worldwide Church of God, planned and hosted the earlier five-day vision conference and joined Bob and Darrow as a presenter at this event.

Clifton and Pearl Charles

Seventy-five participants, representing 25 local churches, attended the sessions. Pastors and church leaders were joined by several leaders from various spheres of society, including officials from Health and Social Services, TV Channel 5, and the Tobago House of Assembly.

“What was taught in the Conference was a reinforcement for my ongoing projects that I am doing in my ministry,” one pastor said by way of appreciation. “It served as a booster.”

“God gave me a vision and mission for the ministry,” said another, “and I told God that it was too big for me to even begin to fulfill and that I did not know where to start. Then there was Vision Conference 2011 to show me the way forward. Very timely, appropriate and confirmation of [the need to change] mindsets that were not Biblical but cultural.”

The success of the event was attributed in part to the thorough planning, as indicated in the work of multiple committees, one each for finance, marketing, and site and maintenance issues. Volunteers also saw to the registration and other needs.

Organizers now look forward to the opportunity to advise, help, and strengthen pastors in the projects they are already undertaking. One Seed Project includes the participation of all pastors and church members toward the development and operation of a warehouse distribution center.

– Story developed from a report filed by Agnes L. Williams, conference registrar.