Category: Equipping Leaders

Mobilizing for Missions…from all the World to all the World!

When God led me to Mexico to serve with the Avance Program as a single Asian-American woman, I never anticipated how one year could become fourteen years of cross-cultural ministry, from serving the local church in Mexico to eventually mobilizing Mexicans for global missions!  Over the past seven years, our staff has been able to bring Mexican short-term teams to serve in Latin America, Europe, N. Africa and Asia.  We have seen countless numbers of young people, adults and pastors grow in their understanding and involvement in global missions, and we have had the opportunity to walk with many of them on their journey of following Jesus to the nations.  Never did I imagine that God could use my cultural background to serve as a bridge between the US, Mexico and Asia!

When the UWM leadership team invited me to serve as the Director of Mobilization last year, I was humbled and overwhelmed by the opportunity to help mobilize the Church for global missions, not only in Mexico but also around the world.  One of UWM’s goals for 2020 is to help mobilize 100 non-North Americans for global missions, and it is a privilege to serve with an amazing mobilization team, both Stateside and in Mexico!  Our hope is to help UWM become more ethnically diverse to reflect the changing demographics of the global Church and to continue connecting God’s people to His work around the world.  By God’s grace, almost 60 new missionaries were appointed with UWM this past year, and our prayer is that God will enable us to involve more people in His story to reach the nations!

Our heavenly Father never ceases to surprise us as we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness as His beloved children.   In 2015, God surprised me with a wonderful Mexican man who desired to support and encourage me in life and ministry, and on July 8, Ivan and I will marry in Mexico City.  We know that God has brought us together to bless the nations, so know that you are always welcome to visit us if you come to Mexico City.  “Nuestra casa es su casa” (Our home is your home)!

I thank God for His incredible provision, a wonderful mobilization team, and the amazing privilege of serving together to mobilize the Church for global missions…from all the world to all the world!

By: Wendy D, Director of Mobilization

Called to Missions

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DR Congo: What in the World is Partnership?

Today “partnership” is an overly used term meaning everything and anything, but for UWM it means advancing national leaders, churches, organizations, and movements by bringing together necessary components to see something “audacious” happen. I like the word “audacious” because it’s literary means, showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.”

One bold risk was the establishment of a new effort to transform a generation who suffered genocide, government corruption, and unfathomable atrocities. In the early 2000s Dr. David Kaswera told his wife, Kaswera, “God’s telling me to move home”. Puzzled Kaswera replied, “but we are home.” Dr. David Kasali was president of Nairobi Evangelical Seminary by Extension in Kenya, but David being Congolese responded, “No, home to Congo.”

Now you have to understand at that time the war in Congo was not over and the government didn’t have control of the country. More than Five Million people were murdered within five years as roving militia terrorized the people, robbing, killing, raping, and exploiting people in ways that were indescribable to the world.

By being audacious, trusting God, and bringing together like-minded churches, people, and organizations Congo Initiative emerged as light to this beleaguered nation. Transforming a new generation so they can transform their nation is the goal so through education in several practicums, student community service, and heart transformation a new transformed generation of people is entering every stratum of society, and change is taking place.

This all takes bringing those of like mind together, or “partnership.”

Years ago we found this message scrawled on the wall of one dorm. I think it says it all, “ils n’avaient pas d’avenir mais ils ont reussi. il n’y a pas d’accident” translated; They had no future but they succeeded. This was no accident!”

By: Mark Szymanski, Director of Strategic Partnerships Africa, Latin World, Brazil & The United States

Church Parnterships

Are you and your church interested in partnering with a national church around the world? Please contact us and we would be happy to discuss how to do so.

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By Word and Deed

Two men confronted with truth, two totally different responses.

The elderly man, “White Hair”, down the street, with a simple greeting and asking what he’s thankful to God for today is set off complaining about the problems with his son, the unfairness of God in making some rich and some  poor,  even about the fact that I am wasting money buying 4 liters of milk for my family.   Contrast this with “Joyful Heart”, who soon after starting work as a clinic guard joined in on a day of prayer for some issues at the clinic and asking God to bless the officials involved in the issue.  After that experience, he wanted to read the Word together. By the time we got to Isaiah 53 on the 7th week, he was ready to ask God for forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ , and was soon declaring he wanted to know the Bible better so he can teach others, and was sharing with his friends immediate family, and coworkers.

There are many reasons for the difference.  Father, of course, was working in “Joyful Heart” preparing him for the Word, but another difference is that “White Hair” heard words without having a chance to see gospel lived out.  “Joyful Heart” saw Biblical core values lived out among coworkers and with patients at the clinic daily.  He saw us loving our enemies and praying for those who persecuted us.  He saw dying to self as believing employees put other’s needs first day by day.  He saw seeking God and trusting Him in the context of a stressful clinic days and business challenges.    He saw integrity – the consistent whole (though by no means perfect) of love, service, action, and speech.  Clinic work, business, village outreaches all give a chance for integral mission.  “Joyful Heart” isn’t alone.  This wholeness has drawn “Beautiful” to read Creation to Christ stories with two women coworkers weekly.  It has made Dr. “Sunshine” eager for every Thursday staff Word and prayer time – always the first to read and answer questions in our study.  Each of these exposures to spoken and written truth are integral extensions of service, respect, encouragement, and compassion that they see lived out through the week.

Throughout the world, some sort of ministry that meets needs – whether business, health, education, or other mercy ministries – is a key aspect to most movements of disciple multiplication by demonstrating love and providing access and integrity when sharing gospel truth.  Besides co-workers mentioned above, we have seen Father open many doors to share with people through the clinic in many directions:  patients whose homes we have visited and who we have prayed with in the clinic, young physicians coming regularly for training which includes both medical training and training in the core values of the clinic, government officials who inspect and oversee, and even other business people.   All these people aren’t just being taught truth, they are being impacted and discipled as they see the consistency between word and action of integral mission.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18 (ESV)

By: Worker, Serving in Central Asia

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More Than I Expected or Imagined: Serving Thai Believer’s Vision


Protestant missionaries have been working in Thailand for almost 188 years, and yet this nation, known as the most Buddhist country in the world, still has less than 1% evangelical Christian.  The remaining Thai population is made up of 93% Buddhists and about 6% Muslim.  So why has there been such slow progress in seeing Thais receive the Gospel?  I began to think that maybe we missionaries have not been as helpful as we thought we were.  After studying how Christian movements in the past have accelerated, I was convinced that reaching the city and seeing churches established was the most effective way to reach a nation.

After serving in a campus ministry organization in Thailand for 14 years, I changed mission organizations in 2005 and joined UWM.  During this transition time, I was encouraged by my director to do an informal survey to see what Thai leaders thought about what kind of work missionaries should be doing in Thailand.  After so little progress, I thought this would be helpful to see what Thai’s thought about the how ministry was being done and the missionaries’ role.  I talked with several leaders, but one Thai leader, who was the president of a Thai seminary, told me something that changed the trajectory of how I approach doing ministry.  He said, “in the past missionaries would come to me and ask, ‘Do you have any seminary students you could send me to help me start my church, or my denomination or ministry organization?’  So, we would send Thais to the help the missionary accomplish their vision.”  He said, “this was okay in the past, but now we have Thai leaders who have a vision and are equipped to start churches and ministries on their own. Now, we need the missionaries to come alongside us Thais, to help us accomplish the vision God has given us for our nation.”

At that point, the organization that I was working with had started two very weak churches, one in Bangkok and the other in the Northeast of Thailand. Not only was it propped up financially by us missionaries, there were too many missionaries in both churches and this inhibited the Thais ability to step up and lead.  So when this Thai leader said this, it made sense, and I’ve never gone back to trying to get Thais to help me accomplish my vision.  It’s their nation, and they know their people better than me. Therefore, they are more likely to see Thai people come to Christ.  At that point the Thai leader invited me into what was called, the Thailand National Plan.  This was a plan to see churches started all over the nation.

Over the past 11 years, I’ve been able to come alongside Thai leaders on the local, regional and national level to help them accomplish their vision to reach their nation.  This has been much more fruitful and rewarding in seeing churches started.  Locally, I am partnering with Thai business leaders to establish a church, and just this month we moved into a new facility that was not your traditional way of building a facility.  The business leaders partnered with another businessman who has soccer sport complexes throughout the city, so when he was planning to start a new business in our area of the city, we invested in the business and built our facility within the sport complex.  A creative and more economical way of getting a more permanent facility.   The thing about joining with a national to help them accomplish their vision of planting a church is that, if I have to leave at anytime, the ministry will continue because it was the Thais vision from the beginning.  I see missionaries struggling to turn over the churches they’ve planned or the ministries they have started, and many times the ministry dies because it was never owned by the Thais.

Regionally, our team has come alongside churches and organizations to provide discipleship and leadership training.  Offering this kind of training to many churches has been exciting and the local pastors welcome and appreciate the opportunity to partner with us.  On the national level, as God opened the door for me to serve through the Evangelical Fellowship of Thailand and on a national planning committee thinking and planning for strategic initiatives on the national level.   Over the past 11 years, I have been able to serve denominational leaders and to bring resources, training and ideas to the table help enhance and expand the vision and plans of national leaders working together to reach the entire nation.

One recent example of working with Thai church planters is that I have been able to join with a church planter training team who trained over 250 pastors and leaders in four regions throughout the nations.  These pastors set a goal to start 150 new churches over the following year.  Last year when we followed up on these pastors 134 churches had been started.  Through helping the Thais accomplish their vision God has done more than I expected or imagined.

By: Gregg Nicholson, Serving in Thailand

Practical Training in French for West Africa


In October 2012 while on a sabbatical in France my husband, José, and I attended a Strengthen Your Interpersonal Skills (SYIS) workshop. At that time we were taking a Counseling class at Institut Biblique de Nogent to be better equipped to meet the great need for Practical Counseling amongst national leaders in French speaking West Africa. We were excited to be part of this workshop that we had heard so much about as being a wonderful tool to help with topics such as managing stress, maintaining margins,  listening well, help others solve their problems, etc….

At the end of that workshop we went to the Facilitators and said, “We want this workshop to be held in Senegal, our national leaders are in need of this type of training”. We were challenged to take the Facilitators Training and then introduce the program in our context of ministry.

God is so gracious to us! 3 years later, guess what!?! A training for SYIS Facilitators was organized for the first time in French in Senegal!!! Wow! God really wanted us to see our dream come true. Shortly after taking that training we discovered that a friend of ours, who is the leader of New Tribes Mission (Integral Mission) in Senegal was an experienced English Facilitator for SYIS. We invited him to join us and organize the Workshop in French. He accepted the challenge to do it in French with us. After some months of preparation our dream came true in Dakar this past February.

The need is so great that we ended up having a waiting list since our target number of 24 leaders was quickly reached.

Here are a few of the testimonies:

“I have been to many seminars but it is the first time to be part of one that is so dynamic and practical.” . I was very touched by the role plays.” (National Pastor from Dakar)

“My wife and I were transformed by the workshop. In our family now, our communication has improved tremendously, so whenever we start with our old way of communicating, we stop and either with my spouse or with the children we decide to start over the proper way just like we learned during the workshop.” (African missionaries)

“When can we get a training for Facilitators, we need to teach this to our leaders.” (World Vision Leader)

“I didn’t want to come to this workshop and I was thinking another seminar again!, but my supervisor wanted me to,so I came, But I can tell you, I am so glad I did, I learn so many new things that was needed in my life and in my leadership. I am grateful!” (National Pastor fromThies)

By: France-Lise , Serving in Senegal
France-Lise and José: Regional Leaders for West Africa 

The Unknown World of Other Religions

Colombia is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, and the Colombian evangelical church is overwhelmingly ex-Catholic. According to the Pew Research Center’s report “Religion in Latin America,” 74% of Colombian Protestants were raised Catholic, the highest of any country in the region.

So, it’s unsurprising that the strategies that most churches use to reach their communities are primarily geared toward two groups with different approaches to faith: religious Catholics and nominal Catholics. Ask a typical Colombian evangelical how to have a productive conversation with an atheist, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jehovah’s Witness, or a Mormon, and you’re likely to get blank stares.


Two and a half years ago I was teaching the class “Religious Systems” for the first time at the Biblical Seminary of Colombia, a class that seeks to equip students to understand other religions, sects, and worldviews on their own terms and then to construct theological and pastoral responses from an evangelical perspective. I told students we would make two field trips as a class to learn about other faiths. The first was to a Tibetan Buddhist center here in Medellín.

I recall my students’ palpable shock as the Buddhist sharing with us talked about reincarnation as if it were the most logical thing in the world—and this from a real Colombian, not a person from Asia! After restlessly shifting around for nearly two hours on cushions they normally used for meditation, we wrapped up our time of Q&A with a number of good questions from students, mixed in with the occasional insensitive one that made me embarrassed to be the professor. But the trip worked. Though frightened at first by the visit, students left feeling confronted over their need to learn how to share their faith with people who thought so differently, and encouraged that it was truly possible to build relationships with them.

This semester I have taught the course again, both residentially and online. A few weeks ago, I got an urgent email from my student Roman asking for prayer. “After starting the readings on Mormonism, I went online to request a free copy of the Book of Mormon, but it came with two missionaries included!” Since that first encounter, Roman has continued talking with the Mormon missionaries, seeking to share biblical truth with them and apply what he learned about Mormonism in the online course. He said that one of the missionaries seems more open and seeing the force of what he is sharing, while the other is more closed. Roman told me, “I’m going to keep talking with them until they either stop coming or they convert and accept the gospel.”

Another encouraging moment came a couple of weeks ago, when, after requiring students to have a 30-minute conversation with an atheist, agnostic, or other person who rejects traditional religion, a pastor in my online class shared about a productive conversation that he had with the husband of a woman who had recently begun attending his church. The man is an atheist with an extremely negative view of evangelicals, yet he saw in my student a model of careful thought and humble conviction that have caused him to be more open to establishing relationships with the church and perhaps one day considering the Christian faith.

While I haven’t seen anyone accept the gospel as a direct result of this course, I have been encouraged to see students taking steps of faith to engage with the unknown, and often scary, world of other religions. What they have discovered is that people of other faiths are just as human as us, just as relatable, and just as broken and in need of the gospel. And as Latin America becomes more and more secularized and diverse, I see a glimmer of hope that the evangelical church is waking up to its need for a better defense of the faith—one that doesn’t just work with the nominal Catholic who in theory believes the Bible but doesn’t really understand what it says—but one that responds to the atheists and followers of other religions who reject the Bible and whose worldviews often clash with a Christian view of reality at the deepest levels.

By: Kevin Johnson, Serving in Colombia

Commitment to Discipleship


I’ve been a part of Kay and Ken’s life for many years now. They were both single when I met them and I was just learning their heart language. Jane became my tutor. In my tutoring classes we talked about all aspects of life. Literally sharing life together as I’m now considered a family member after all these years.

Kay and Ken married a few years ago and now have a baby. They have been blessed to have multiple older people in their lives to mentor and disciple them. They were sent out last year to start a new Sunday group.

Kay has been a part of 2 other discipleship classes, both just 6 weeks long then the leader went on to other people. She said she felt like a “project” with some foreigners and even their own native leaders.

One of the things I do is discipleship.  My approach is to spend 2 years with people. Kay and Ken are both great learners. They are currently using the same discipleship materials with their leadership team that I have used. Each person in their leadership team is now mentoring and discipling others in their Sunday group. The discipleship, mentoring, and coaching that I have done with this couple is now being replicated throughout their Sunday group. Great fruit is being produced from this couple. 

– Names have been changed for safety

By: Worker Serving in Asia

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Sharing the Good News

Check out what God is doing through the Global Evangelist Forum around the world!

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Join us in prayer for the Gospel to be spread through the Evangelists that are a part of this Forum. May people come to faith in Christ and in turn share His love with those around them. To God be the Glory!

First Worshipper

When “Lee” first joined us, he didn’t sing in public, couldn’t play an instrument, and knew nothing about music. Today he’s writing songs, plays multiple instruments, and teaches and leads others in his club.

When we started the music leadership school (a.k.a. how to become a worship leader), people came in droves wanting to learn guitar, piano, drums, and voice. After the first week, however, many dropped out as they learned that music leadership required more than just music ability.

The course was based on the concept that being a worship leader meant being the “first worshipper.” We spent the majority of each session exploring the heart of a worshipper from a biblical perspective. As their musical skills developed, students would take turns leading music sessions. This is when gifted leaders began to separate from the pack.

We’d see people who quickly picked up chords and strumming patterns, but couldn’t lead others in worship. We’d also see the opposite—students that progressed slowly musically, but when they led, people would quickly enter the deeper realms of worship. With Lee, we saw the best of both worlds: he progressed quickly in both technical skill and leadership. He had a heart of worship.

I first noticed Lee at a retreat where I was playing my guitar. As I played, he just smiled looking engaged to the music, but somehow pleasantly distant.

Me: “What’s going through your mind right now?” 

Lee: “A song.” 

Me: “What song?”

Lee: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Why don’t you sing it?”

Lee: “There’s no words.”

Me: “How about humming it?”

He started humming the most beautiful song that tied perfectly to what I was playing. Within just a couple of weeks, he was playing and humming songs on the piano. After a few more weeks, he was writing lyrics to new songs. With each new skill learned, Lee would beam brighter and brighter. By the end of the semester, we extended an invitation to Lee to lead the next group of leaders. He accepted and is teaching and leading others today.

By: Worker, Serving in Asia

God’s Agenda Trumps Lesson Plans

There’s a song that says “Lord, change the world, and let it start with me.” That’s right…it starts in us first.  Not only is this my heart’s desire, but it’s also the cry of each Latin American missionary that comes through Corrientes, a mentoring & equipping program in Ecuador that prepares Latin Americans to be Christian leaders around the world, including right in their own country. As we surrender our hearts and our wills to what God is doing, He amazingly does a deep work in each of us and then sends us out to partner with Him as He does a deep work in others’ lives.

During my first year of teaching English at Corrientes, I had two middle-aged Ecuadorian women (Adriana and Natalia) who came to class together every day. They were both missionaries and pastor’s wives who wanted to improve their English so they could better work with international teams that came to work with them.

One day, I’d planned our conversation to center around the topic of education in Ecuador.  It was a subject I knew little about and I thought it would be useful vocabulary for them to learn. We could talk about subjects studied, how the educational system is organized, what students & schools must each provide as far as materials, etc. It turned out that God had a whole different idea though, and He hijacked the conversation in order to accomplish HIS agenda for the day.

The conversation turned to how public school teachers treat and talk to their students in Ecuador. I was shocked to hear that throughout grade school, high school, and even university, there are many teachers who are rude and insulting to their students.  Adriana and Natalia told me that it was common for teachers to declare to students “You’re stupid!”, “You’re ignorant!”, “You’re good for nothing!”, and “I can’t stand you!” In fact, some teachers have even been known to make these insulting remarks to parents about their children!

As they shared this information with me, the Holy Spirit suddenly reminded me that MY profession was teaching; before coming to the mission field I’d been an elementary teacher for many years.  Now years later, God was prompting me to stand in the place of those Ecuadorian teachers who had done so much damage to Adriana and Natalia with their harsh words, so as a teacher, I asked my dear students to forgive me on behalf of those teachers who had spoken such insulting and devaluing words over them. As I asked them for forgiveness, tears streamed down their faces, sobs were released, and God ministered to those deep unhealed wounds in their hearts that they’d been carrying around all these years and hadn’t even realized they were still carrying. God knew though, and He had ordained that THIS specific day in English class would be the day that He would heal those wounded areas of their hearts.

It turned out to be a powerful time of God ministering healing to them, as we all prayed together and they forgave their former teachers for all the negative words they had spoken over them.  God then led me to speak specific blessings over each woman…they ARE intelligent, they ARE gifted and skilled, their unique learning styles were created by God, they are not a mistake, etc.

We also spent some time praying together for Adriana’s and Natalia’s children who were still currently in school, praying that God would protect them from hurtful words spoken by teachers, that they would be able to show their teachers the love that they so clearly needed, and that their lives would be a testimony to their teachers rather than a burden.

What an amazing equipping class! This class period turned out totally different than I’d expected, but exactly the way God had intended. God’s timing for healing and freedom is perfect, and His “interruptions” make for the best classes! God’s heart is to bring all of us into wholeness, and I was blessed that He allowed me to partner with Him in releasing healing to Adriana and Natalia. I’m thankful for the Lord’s perfect agenda and timing, and for His great love that He pours out in these classes. Students come to me for English, but they leave with a whole lot more, as I partner with the Holy Spirit in equipping them. Thanks be to God for His mighty work!

(Names have been changed for privacy)

By: Sue Noroña, Serving in Ecuador