In March 2015, just outside London, wildflowers were emerging from the winter cold and God was moving mightily at the 11th DNA Global Forum: a gathering of DNA trainers, affiliates and friends from all over the world. This year’s group was just over 80 people. They came from 25 countries bearing testimony to God’s awesome power at work in their lives and vocations.
For those few days, it was easy to believe and rejoice in God’s words in 1 Corinthians:
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:55-58)
Loving our Muslim neighbors
This year, we were blessed to have delegates who live and/or work in Pakistan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Morocco and across North Africa, in contexts where Islam is the dominant faith. It was a gift to learn from them about how to love the neighbors whom the world says we should fear or even hate.
From Pakistan, one delegate described how persecution of the Christian minority has led to these believers having a “ghetto mentality”–living only in Christian communities and working only for Christian organizations.
“My goal is to preach to people that [Muslims] are the image bearers of God, and we have to reach out to them,” he said. “We think the goodness of God is only for us and the light of God only shines on us as Christians. But God is much bigger than that, and often we don’t see all he’s doing.”
DNA trainers from Africa coordinated the first trainings of local-church leaders and other believers in Pakistan fewer than two years ago. Since then, more than a dozen trainings have taken place across the country, and many DNA materials already have been translated into Urdu.
Dennis Tongoi (right), a DNA Global Network Leader, shared an update from Tanzania where Samaritan Strategy Africa in partnership with World Vision has reached more than four million Tanzanians with DNA messages of biblical worldview and wholistic community development. When training people from faiths beside Christianity, he says the team does not dilute the content but makes it “friendly.” For example, the “Church as a Window” module is presented as “God’s People as a Window.” They are seeing many come to a saving faith in Jesus through this teaching. We must use “weapons of mass construction,” Dennis said, equating that phrase to loving one’s neighbor. He reported how, because of the positive presence of one local church in its community, Muslims there asked the church to put speakers on the outside of its building so they could hear its teachings.
From Morocco, one young man described how he is working with youth (who make up 20 percent of the population in the Middle East/North Africa region) through social media, music, the arts, social entrepreneurship, business and economics. “We want to see a kingdom generation enlightened with the Word of God,” he said. He specifically asked for prayer from the global DNA community, so please pray for him! Ana, another delegate who works for justice for survivors of sex trafficking in North Africa, explained the need to focus on the relationship in everything we do.
“It’s not about business,” Ana said. “It is relationship that changes lives! Just love people and continue to do what God has called you to do.”
Other happenings that week
Hein van Wyk, a DNA Global Network leader, and José Gonzalez (right), founder of Semilla and this year’s plenary speaker, taught on the importance of covenant in discipling nations. José also unpacked the roots of machismo and matriarchy in Latin America and shared insights on the God-ordained covenant between husband and wife.
LATIN AMERICA: Yarley Niño, a DNA Global Network leader, gave an enthusiastic report on the dramatic recent growth of the DNA in the Spanish-speaking world, including the first-ever Vision Conference in Cuba and several other trainings across the Americas.
AFRICA: Along with the stories mentioned above, the group was blessed to have Demelash Lemma recount the history of the DNA movement in the Horn of Africa where more than 300 DNA Vision Conferences have been conducted since 2003 and where he is seeing marked improvements in local communities’ physical health and self-sufficiency. His testimony was an encouragement to those who now are just at the beginning stages of the DNA movement in their own countries.