One of the difficult things about starting something is stepping away just when things seem to be taking off. As you'll hear as in this week's episode, that's exactly what was happening in Zack Woolwine's life. And the exciting thing is that they are getting good reports in their absence.
Zack and his family minister on the Island of Tonga. At the time we talked, they were on furlough, just a few months after things finally seemed to be taking off. And the exciting thing is that they're getting good reports in their absence.
Life in Ministry
After God called Zack into missions ministry, he and his family spent about 2 1/2 years in western Africa.
After their time in Africa, God called them to minister outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. Then God called them to the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. They were the first Youth for Christ missionaries on the island, where they've been ministering for about 3 years.
When we talked, they were on furlough in the US and should be back in the Kingdom of Tonga by now.
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV)
This has been the key to their ministry in the Kingdom of Tonga. They have been focused on generational growth and identifying leaders who are able to teach.
Zack mentioned that one of the challenging questions people ask missionaries is, “How did you know you were called be a missionary?”
As the stories he shared illustrate, it's not always the same. Sometimes God has led them by giving them a heart for a need. Other times, He's guided them specifically.
The call to Guinea was different from the call to the Kingdom of Tonga.
As Zack mentioned, sometimes God's leading has been slow, one step at a time. Just stepping out to help. However, with Tonga it was different – when he arrived to look at the opportunity, God's direction was very clear.
Zack's “moment of revelation” wasn't so much a moment as a revelation over time. As they focused on ministry to the residents of the island, they had their work cut out for them.
Their heart has always been discipleship. Still, they didn't know how to do it the way Jesus did. As they continued to pray, God led them to a book and connected them with people who could help.
As they shifted the focus of their ministry efforts, they began to see people coming to Christ.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about their ministry in the Kingdom of Tonga is that ministry and growth are continuing while they are on furlough.
It was just six months before their furlough that things started to move in the ministry. Zack felt like he was the one pushing the ball up the field in the ministry and was concerned that it would die out while they were away.
However, having invested in some specific leaders, he's happy to be receiving reports of salvations and churches planted.
A Little About Tonga
The island where Zack and his family is very religious. Much of the population is Mormon and would be in one of their meetings on a Sunday. They have a tendency to raise their defenses very quickly, so ministry can be a challenge.
But God's power to transform lives and to save souls is still at work in the world.
Significance in the Marketplace
Zack reminds us that ministers in the marketplace are extremely valuable on a couple of fronts:
- We often have disposable income
- We can minister where we are
He also challenges us to look at our relationships to see if we can identify 5 people to invest in strategically.
Zack has a couple of suggestions for how to “level up” ministry to a missionary.
- Send an email
- Be an advocate
Zack also wanted to remind us that 40% of the world's population has no access to the Gospel. That's a big deal.
- It's not as complicated as we've made it.
Personal Success Habit
- Keep a good sense of humor. Be able to laugh at yourself.
Shifts in Society
This is a great opportunity. Much like the Day of Pentecost, the nations are coming to us. Love them. Invest in them. But don't forget why.
And look into Discovery Bible Study as a tool for discipleship.
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