Mama Ester: Planting Seeds of Love


In a small, African village, an elderly woman eagerly tells a Bible story to a group of young onlookers. It is a new morning in Zambia and preschool is beginning.

But this elderly school teacher has not always had smiling faces to look upon.

Her nation, Zambia, in southeast Africa, is set on a plateau with 70 percent of the population living in extreme poverty.


In Zambia, HIV/AIDS is rampant and the life expectancy is only about 40 years. Additionally, 30 percent of the population is illiterate, and many children grow up never having the opportunity to go to school.

As a resident of a rural Zambian village, life is difficult for this elderly lady known as Mama Ester. A disability causes her to use a crutch and she often has to sit in a wheelchair.

However, three years ago, hope came to Ester in the form of a missionary who befriended her. When she realized that Ester was one of the few people in the village who could read, the missionary encouraged Ester to begin a preschool for the young children of the village.

With nothing but a box of preschool material, Ester did not have much to work with, but she accepted the challenge and began teaching a group of young children.

Using an old truck tire as a school house, Mama Ester gathers the children every morning and begins by telling them a Bible story. Then, she divides the children into four groups where they can receive some teaching, read books, make crafts, or play with toys. At the end, each child gets to sit with Mama Ester on the tire and talk with her. Throughout the morning, each group rotates stations, and every child has the opportunity to learn, laugh, and be loved.

Picture 2

Preschool on a truck tire!

Picture 1
Bible story time in Mama Ester’s preschool.

Mama Ester’s work is thriving in her community, and the leaders are taking notice. The matriarch of the village, upon visiting Ester’s makeshift school, was shocked to find that these young scholars could read better than her grandchild who had been educated in a government school.

Today, Mama Ester’s ministry has grown, and she now is teaching many of the village cattle herders to read.  Before they head out to work each morning, many of  these farmers visit Ester to receive the education they never had before. Ester is also training new teachers who are reaching out to the surrounding villages with the love of Christ and the gift of education.

Ester’s ministry is not complicated, expensive, or extraordinary. But by using the resources she had — which happened to be her mind, an old truck tire, and a box of preschool material — Ester seized the opportunity and plated seeds of love in her community.

Picture 3

Ester enjoying the company of some of her bright young students.

The Disciple Nations Alliance seeks to raise up leaders just like Mama Ester. By teaching people how to reach out to their communities with the resources they have, the DNA seeks to bring God’s kingdom to the nations. Although Ester has never heard of the DNA, she is a living testimony of how the work of one faithful believer can bring transformation.

This story was shared by Johannes Aucamp, a DNA trainer who serves and trains African pastors, helping them develop into Christ-like servant leaders who bring transformation and glory to God in their communities. He works as part of Training of Pastors in Africa (TOPIA). E-mail him at, and follow TOPIA on Facebook and Twitter (@TopiaMinistries)!

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.

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

In the DR Congo, cleaning up streets opens the door for the gospel

From Brother Serge, serving the Lord in Kinshasa, the DR Congo’s capital and largest city

For some time, I have been concerned with the physical cleanliness of our community. The streets were lined with litter. Drains were clogged up so much that they became breeding grounds for malaria-spreading mosquitoes — these would claim many lives every day, especially among infants and children.

It was during a training by Harvest (a partner of DNA) that I was challenged to do something about this.

Every Saturday, I took steps to care for this environment where I live. Soon, many neighbors joined me….

Today, you will find a whole group of men, women and even children working together to improve their community. We call ourselves the Wholistic Discipleship Club for Community Transformation.

As a result, we have been invited by many churches to share about this ministry — God’s desire for us to be healthy not just spiritually, but also physically, stewarding our resources and serving each other together.

Towards a Wholistic Life and Ministry … New Book Release

Scott Allen’s newest Bible study book, Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide: Towards a Wholistic Life and Ministry, was recently released by YWAM Publishing.

See a sample chapter and purchase it at the Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide website. You can also order it at the DNA store.

The Bible reveals God as the Creator and Lord of everything. Yet for many people, including many Christians, this comprehensive worldview has become obscured. But God is leading a generation back to an undivided understanding of the kingdom of God and the earth.

Beyond the sacred-secular divide lies a fulfilling, integrated life that unites the spiritual and the physical.

God cares about every part, and we have the incredible opportunity to join him in his all-encompassing, redemptive plan for our world. What are we waiting for?

Go here for more information, including multiple endorsements.

A Brazilian With a Mission

Ana Lucia Santos is a Brazilian woman with a mission. Her efforts were largely responsible for the recent successful conference, Transforme, at which Darrow Miller was a keynote speaker. Ana agreed to tell us a little bit about herself.

1. Please tell us a little about your background and story.

I grew up in the north part of Brazil. My father is a church planter and pioneering was part of our family life. He served in very unusual places, especially among the underprivileged and those in conflict with the law.

When I was nine years old, I received a specific call to be a missionary. At 17 I tried different venues, including attending 18 months of civil engineering school, starting a business and traveling. But God had in mind something bigger than myself, beyond my dreams.

At 20 I joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM). After attending the Discipleship Training School in Belem, in northern Brazil, I served with Mercy Ships for two years and then joined the YWAM base in Tyler, Texas. After completing two training schools (Evangelism and Frontier Mission), I decided to attend Foundations in Community Development training. This school was directed by Christine Colby, and Vishal Mangalwadi, Bob Moffit and Darrow Miller came together to teach at the same time.

By now I understood that missions was more than just saving souls. My heart for the underprivileged was growing stronger. I knew I had been called to see the invisible ones. But I also knew that feeding and clothing them wouldn’t change their lives. I might feel better, but God was directing me to see that even after teaching people how to fish if they couldn’t get into water to catch the fish, the whole lesson would be no more than a busy time of fellowship for everyone involved.

A new believer from a Muslim background once asked me, “What is the Christian way to be just?” As a Muslim he had trusted the Koran to teach him, but as a new Christian he didn’t have answers. For a few days I struggled with this question. I knew Christians had good motives, but we separate the “secular” and the “sacred” and end up using humanistic values and ideas.

I came to see that as agents of transformation we should be influencing decisions at all levels. We must make known God’s truth as the solution for the chaotic and corrupted systems ruling so many nations.

I began to ask God for His favor to get into the offices of policy makers and legislators in governments. Even Christians involved in government are often influenced by a Greek dichotomy and fail to operate from a biblical worldview in the area of justice. Instead of biblical concepts they use humanistic ideas in their life work.

It became my food to see God’s “Kingdom come and His will be done,” to see His Justice and Mercy applied. This is what I want to do until I die.

My desire is to influence decision makers as well those directly affected by those decisions. This why I am choosing this path of justice and mercy. In particular, I want to be directly involved in the rescue and restoration of children and women in high risk situations.

Another personal goal is to continue to help others connect their vocation with the Kingdom of God.

2. What has been your history with the DNA?

I believe my history with DNA started even before DNA started! In 1994 I met Darrow Miller and Bob Moffitt in Tyler, Texas. It was a divine appointment in my life; crazy, but good! Darrow and Bob were trying to see how the messages about worldview, the Kingdom of God, and transforming communities could come together. We were meeting in a classroom but I felt like I was inside a lab. My brain was exploding(!) but my heart was completely happy to know that God was giving me a tool that I must not let go of. I embraced both of these brothers with my heart and since that time we have worked together as much as possible. Whenever I work with them, I grow very much and I am able to take others with me.The DNA message was simple and challenging at the same time. When Darrow and Bob came to northern Brazil to hold a vision conference, more than 700 leaders and pastors attended.

Ana with family members

I joined a Brazilian development organization on their earlier days, CADI, a ministry that was just beginning in the south of Brazil based on DNA teaching. CADI has had strong success with concrete results in education, healthcare, business, and other areas.

Another turning point came after I started relief work at a women’s prison in Northern Africa in 1998. The prison management accepted our proposal and decided to train female guards to replace the male guard who often abused the prisoners. The trainer for the first week was Darrow Miller.

Many of the trainees in Darrow’s workshop were Muslims from the Ministry of Justice department. He lectured on the dignity of the human life, focusing especially on women. He was not allowed to use the Bible, yet was teaching Muslims the truth. I saw firsthand the changes in these women; they no longer treated the prisoners as inferior.

I came to see that we needed to redeem the church’s view of vocation. We needed to reach each individual so they could connect their vocation with the Kingdom of God as their specific calling. In my mind this was revolutionary; this could change the way we have been doing and perceiving missions. I loved it!

3. How has the DNA message impacted your life?

By understanding that “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’” The most impacting message is to see how Darrow doesn’t just teach it, but he lives it. Because of Darrow’s and Bob’s simplicity, even I am able to grasp how knowledge and revelation can come together.

4. What can you tell us about your DNA-type ministries or activities?

For the past four years I have been working with young people from my church. I see it as a golden opportunity, as most of them have graduated, and have been in some type of training (such as a YWAM Discipleship Training School) and they are so open to learn. We started by having field projects combined with our Mentorship Training School. Because people are different, we decided to include in their studies, the spheres of influence in the context of living here.

The experience has been amazing as I can see today how our students and church people talk about worldview, life work, and politics with a different view, having good consequences. It is still a small percentage, but my heart rejoices as I see that it is not just activities, but a small glimpse of what the Lord is doing around the world. I see today in some of our projects children not throwing garbage on the ground but starting to understand their role as God’s agents of transformation. At the same I see others in the field of politics doing and thinking differently because they see themselves now as monitors of laws, calling out the church into God’s mandate in this arena.

Transforme 2010 School Commissioning

5. What most encourages you about the recent Transforme conference?

The possibility to see more people engaged in the mandate of discipling the nations, leaving with a new paradigm and being inspired to connect their vocation with God’s Kingdom.

6. What do you hope to see different as a result of this conference?

I hope we come out with a mentorship network throughout Brazil, where individuals living in mega-cities or on the Amazon where there is little access to information, could exchange ideas and results as the message of Life Work is exposed.

International Youth Movement Launched from Seed Project

Gizachew Ayka serves as director of Win Souls for God Evangelical Ministries, an organization seeking “to bring the street children of Addis Ababa [Ethiopia] out of their misery into a stable life with well-being.” Gizachew also leads Hope for Children, a relief and development organization serving among extremely poor children of Ethiopia.

Gizachew was first exposed to the DNA over ten years ago at a vision conference, facilitated by Bob Moffitt and Darrow Miller, in Addis Ababa. He was invited to the conference by his Sunday School teacher, Demelash Lemma. Today Demelash is Horn of Africa coordinator for Samaritan Strategy Africa.

In this brief video, Gizachew shares the story of a dynamic work that started with two young men at a vision conference and since has grown explosively and is serving needs in multiple countries.

Rev. Meshack Okumu Reports Growth From Small Seeds in Kenya

What happens when seed projects infuse the life of a local church? Rev. Meshack Okumu would say that the gospel comes to life in the neighborhood.

Rev. Meshack Okumu

Rev. Okumu is Project Manager for Samaritan Strategy Africa and serves on the faculty of Carlile College in Nairobi. He recently reported some encouraging developments in his city.

In a small way the church of Christ is impacting the community where God has placed her. As we train, we again and again see the church leadership begin to see the vision of God for the church.

One evidence? Seed projects that are “becoming part of the church life.” As believers see how issues are affecting their neighbors, they mobilize to meet these needs in the name of Christ. Rev. Okumu told of one session, in the Githurai Informal settlement of Nairobi, in which the pastor challenged his people to find ways to put to work what they had learned.

The men decided to do the “women’s work” of sweeping and washing the church. They also collected the garbage in front of their church compound in the community and visited with the neighbour of the church. Through this, they were able to build a rapport with the neighbours and one of them came to know the Lord.

Rev. Okumu is a graduate of Charles University Prague of the Czech Republic. After serving with The Sheepfold Ministries and then World Vision International (Kenya), he joined the faculty of Carlile College of Theology in 2004. The school trains and equips evangelists and pastors for wholistic ministry.

Rev. Okumu also works at the Centre for Urban Mission, overseeing a wholistic discipleship training program in the Kibera and Korogocho slums of Nairobi (with a population of over 700,000 people) for local pastors.

In 2003, Rev. Okumu took a group of 12 pastors with him to a Nairoibi training conference he had been encouraged to attend. It turned out to be his first DNA vision conference.

This vision conference impacted me so much. I was heading a programme in World Vision called Christian Impact and one of the struggles I had was on the integration of proclamation and deeds. The vision conference taught me on how to do that and I committed my life during this conference to do just that.

Rev. Okumu points to another story of fruitful ministry reported by Pastor Henry Okwaro.

Gomongo Korogocho Kindergarten Class

After completing a Vision Conference in 2006, Pastor Henry began teaching the children in his Nairobi neighborhood how to read and write. Out of these early efforts, a kindergarten was born, which has since become a model of ethnic reconciliation!

Some of the worst post-election violence in early 2008 happened in the area of Pastor Henry’s church. Despite the ethnic violence and related security problems, the kindergarten has enrolled 56 children aged 3-8 years. Children from both ethnic groups in the neighborhood are together in the school, and their joint participation has given their families and the community members a picture of how to live together.

For such vigorous developments in wholistic church ministry, Rev. Meshack praises God. And he is grateful to people God has used in his life, including Dennis Tongoi. Dennis is Executive Director of Church Mission Society Africa and General Secretary of Samaritan Strategy Africa, the Africa affiliate of the Disciple Nations Alliance.

Dennis … did a Training of Trainers for me, then he mentored me and now I have been able to teach together with him in both Kenya and Tanzania. We have a number of trainers in Kenya and through their training the churches are now ministering in more practical ways.

Rev. Meshack and his wife, Rose, have five children from 12 years to three months in age.