TransformNation’s mission is to bring the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to transform communities around the world. Sometimes this means directly sharing the Gospel with those who do not know Christ yet; sometimes it means equipping others to.
This month I had the privilege to do both. I recently got back from Ghana, a country in West Africa, where I stood alongside Ghanaians, Nigerians and other Americans with On The Go Ministries as we taught at an evangelism conference during the week and shared the Gospel at a festival outreach on the weekend. Some of us even got to visit schools throughout the week to share the good news there, too.
It really was a fascinating team! We had a local pastor, Apostle Paul (we told him how much we loved his books!), lead us around to each school and introduce the rest of us Americans. Zach and Sierra Blickens of White Ribbon Day opened all our school assemblies with worship music. I’ve served with White Ribbon Day many times, and every time I’m just in awe of how they usher in God’s presence. On this trip, it was incredible to see the joy they brought to students when they sang! After worship, Rick Willison of the X-Treme would do amazing feats of strength. I’ve had the honor of working alongside Rick before, and what he can do is nothing short of beyond belief. He rips up phone books, rolls up frying pans into burritos, breaks boards with his fingers and snaps baseball bats in half. The real kicker is that Rick is able to do all this as a blind man! Everything he did was a symbolic part of the Gospel message, like the baseball bat which represented the Devil’s arm around our throats because of sin. But Jesus broke the hold of the Devil’s arm through the cross, which Rick would make with the two halves of the bat. Rounding out our team was me, the preacher and amateur photographer for the team and Mike Jackson, who was a great prayer warrior for us and the students. It was my first time working with Mike, but it was obvious from the beginning that he really was a man who exuded God’s love powerfully!
It was incredible how God would just guide us on how to present the Gospel in a way that uniquely worked for each school. Sometimes I was the one who shared the Gospel and invited students to receive Christ. Other times it was Rick and Zach, and afterwards I would give students their first steps of following Jesus as His disciples. Each team member was willing to lead or serve with humility for the glory of God, and it was amazing to see how the Spirit enabled each of us to do our part. While many of the children already had a relationship with Jesus, we still saw many students decide to either follow Jesus for the first time or recommit their lives to Him.
After we had finished going to all the schools that week, we decided as a team to show the conference attendees how we did school assemblies. We already knew God was at work there because people were so hungry to learn, and some of them had even made first time decisions to put their faith in Jesus!
Even though everyone there believed in Jesus, I think each of us felt like we were supercharged by the Holy Spirit. Zach and Sierra sang beautifully. Then we faked a power outage since that actually happens a lot when we go into schools, which means we’re without a microphone for the rest of the assembly. Next, Rick broke the “Devil’s arm” and turned it into a cross. He then turned to me. “Matt,” he whispered to me. “Take it away.”
I then grabbed that cross-shaped baseball bat and felt what seemed to be nothing other than the power of God. I preached, projecting the words of the Gospel from the bottom of my stomach all the way to the grounds outside the concrete walls and windows of the church. I didn’t preach a dissertation on theology to these Ghanaian church leaders, but within several minutes just presented the simple Gospel; that we have a wall of sin that separates us from God and the Devil wants us to be enslaved to that sin and drag us into hell. But God loves us, and so Jesus came and He lived a perfect life. He died on the cross and rose again victorious over our sin, our death and the grip of the Devil on our lives. All we have to do is believe in Him and accept what He did as a free gift to us. He did it so that we could be forgiven and have a new life with an amazing relationship with Him that will last forever.
I then asked them if they wanted Jesus and invited them all to pray and receive Him. No one I know of actually accepted Christ, unless there were some beyond the walls of the church that heard and believed, but that really wasn’t the point. God filled us with Holy Spirit to sing, to break bats, and to preach so that these Ghanaian Christians would be equipped for God’s mission when we left. Now, they may not be able to break stuff like Rick can, but man can these people sing and dance! And who knows maybe, God inspired someone to use another unusual talent like Rick’s to share the Gospel. Most of all though, they learned that this can be done as a team and that the Gospel is simple yet incredibly powerful. I am very humbled that God used me in that moment to do just that.
Eventually though, my name and the names of my teammates will be forgotten in that conference hall, but our impact will continue to echo throughout eternity. Because we followed God’s calling to go to Ghana, there are over 60 Ghanaians that are now equipped to share Jesus in their own lives and ministries, perhaps in school assemblies as we did. Regardless of how though, their communities are now being transformed by the love and power of Jesus Christ, and that’s ultimately the heart of TransformNation.